The journey from business concept to successful exit is long and full of obstacles. Even the best entrepreneurs cannot be ready for everything – there is no way of knowing what new challenges will come!
However, you can take some measures to be prepared for the unknown. Here are three rules that successful business owners always follow in order to ensure they will be able to face the unexpected no matter where they are in their entrepreneurial journey – just starting out or steps away from an exit.
1. Keep Financial Discipline
Successful entrepreneurs know their numbers and monitor their businesses on a very regular basis. They have control over their accounts, but they normally entrust this work to accountants or financial officers to ensure things are done right. These entrepreneurs understand the rules of cash flow, know their profits and losses inside out, and go out of their way to keep their accounts healthy. To do this, they keep their fixed costs reasonably low – this means no high salaries and no fancy offices before the business is stable and in a good market position. Finally, they work on healthy margins and are able to adjust their business in order to keep the margins high.
2. Grow and Build the Core Team
People come and go, but savvy entrepreneurs know that keeping the most talented members in the company is a must to create a strong core team. A strong team provides stability and adds to the longevity of the company, which is why having an employee option pool and sharing the equity among team members is so important. A stable team that is dedicated to the company is a must. Sharp entrepreneurs are able to recognise a strong team and implement its capabilities into their business strategy. Developing the core team means that the decision-making power will not fall on just one person – you – and that you will rely on the opinion of the experts – your team – when making life-changing decisions.
3. Adapt when Needed
In order to survive, businesses have to react to the changes in their environment. If they are not doing well, they have to alter the way they operate or even pivot their business models; if they are successful, they need to be aware of potential competitors that may spot market opportunities in their field. Adaptability means not only reactiveness, but also the acceptance of things that cannot be changed or that make up the game – even if they cost money, for example, professional fees that have to be paid to an expert as opposed to doing things themselves. Finally, adaptability means acting upon given circumstances. Sometimes things do not go as planned, so it is important to be versatile to be able to quickly change the plan and go ahead under new terms.
Keeping an eye on the prize alone is not enough to succeed. In order to bring your startup forward, you also need to keep an eye on numbers, build a solid team, and be ready to shake things up when it is time for a change. All entrepreneurs should keep these golden rules in mind at all times, stick to them and your company will be ready for the rainy days ahead – and the sunny ones too!
By Angelika Burawska