How the first 12 months of business should look

Let’s say you’ve stepped out of your corporate job. Maybe you worked at a consulting firm, maybe you’re an architect, a marketing consultant, or even a lawyer. You’ve decided to leave the safety of full-time employment or had that decision made for you to take on the business world.

For many talented individuals, it comes as a surprise when they discover starting their own business requires more than creative genius and talent. You must have some business-savvy skills. You’re going to be steering a ship and fulfilling more roles than just your day-to-day duties.

Fortunately, there’s a strategy for success. If you follow these five steps in your first 12 months, you’re more likely to succeed.

1. 12 months of finances

Work out the average value of each client and how many clients you need monthly in order to put food on the table while you build your business. This is not your long term business goal, this is your immediate must-have available finances. Next, do some research to create a financial projection of how you think your finances should look over the next 12 months, starting with your initial must-have amounts. What is a realistic monthly growth goal based on how many leads you are likely to acquire, how many conversions you make, and what the value of each conversion will be. This can be complicated; your accountant is equipped with the skills to assist you with this.

2. Leading people to you

You’re a fresh entrepreneur so where to start? The first step – identify your source of income. Where will your leads come from? This is the part where you decided who your ideal client is. Once you’ve worked this out, research to find out where they’re most likely to come across your brand – social media, Google search or word-of-mouth referrals.

3. All systems a go

Set up processes and establish workflows to perfect the delivery to clients. Systems and process are the machine powering your productivity, ensuring you’re never overwhelmed or disorganised. It frees up a great deal of time so you can focus on revenue-generating tasks rather than project management. Which programs do accountants recommend you use to simplify your workflows? Here are a few:

  • Excel – data and spreadsheets.
  • Xero – cashflow management, budgeting, invoicing, accounts receivables.
  • Hubdoc – recording slips and invoices and pairing them (with photos) with corresponding payments.
  • Practice Ignition – payment terms.
  • Stripe – receiving credit card payments.
  • Monday.com – project and task management.
  • Content Studio – managing social media accounts.
  • Canva – creating beautiful images for social media.
  • Zapier – streamlining workflows.

4. Teamwork – that’s the difference

You can’t wear all the hats. Burnout is real. With no sick leave, your business could fail if you reach that point. Investing in a team of high-performing individuals can be the best investment you make. The first 12 months are crucial to reach your financial goals as fast as possible (the alternative, falling behind on your goals, is a cash drain). Look at hiring virtual team members on a per-project basis, giving you the ability to use team members on an as-needed basis only.

5. Budgeting, numbers, marketing

Don’t ignore your numbers. Sneaky expenses tend to creep up and pop out of nowhere at the worst possible times, like GST and income tax. It’s a common business faux pas to forget these and when the bills arrive, the business’ finances go pear-shaped and recovery can be difficult. Marketing strategies drive growth to cover all your costs by generating enough leads and conversions.

Sonia Gibson, Founding Director, Accounting Heart Chartered Accountants

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