Top tips for companies starting at the bottom

Date: 20th July 2018

The first thing to say is that, if you are thinking of launching a start-up company, or have just done so, we here at Oaktree take our hats off to you, because, let’s face it, it isn’t easy. We hope, though, that these few tips will help you negotiate the first few months or years safely, profitably and with minimum hassle.

1. Cash-flow management is key

Many startups fail – you know that.  What you may not realise is that the number one cause is poor cash-flow.  You have to stay on top of how much money is going out and how much is coming in.  You may have the greatest business idea in the world, but if you run out of cash, you’ll never get it off the ground.

2. Know what you are spending

Start-ups have expenses coming at them from every angle.  You probably can’t afford a full-time accounts person, but using good accounting software is the next best thing.  This will help you with cash-flow management, and make your accounts and tax return much easier to complete.  There will come a point, however, when your business gets to a size and a complexity when you will need to hire an internal or external accounting resource.

3. Be optimistic but prepare for the worst

Launching a business should be exciting, so don’t lose that joy in the midst of all the worries.  But equally, if you can avoid it, don’t quit your last employed job until your business can replace that income.  Keep any emergency funds so that you can access them if an unexpected downturn occurs.  Think along the lines of, if I had to get my hands on £X,000 now, could I do it?

4. Try to minimise your initial expenses

You don’t need a huge office in the city or fully catered meals; you probably just need your spare bedroom and a microwave.  Use the majority of your capital to empower your growth.  That way, you will eventually be able to afford that fancy office.

5. Time is money

Nothing has more power to make you money than your time, and you only get so much of it.  When you are planning your schedule, make sure that you focus on activities that will bring in the money.

6. ‘Activities’ like customer acquisition.

Without customers, you have no business and no money.  You need to work out who your customers are, where to find them, how to reach them, what their needs are, what you can do for them, and how to talk to them.  Only then, will you start to sell.

7. Pay yourself.

Your hard work alone isn’t going to put food on your table — you need to pay yourself – not a huge salary, but enough to live on, so you are not miserable in your home life, and have the energy and focus to devote to your business.

8. Make financial goals.

Annual, monthly, weekly or even daily goals help you stay on the track that you know will lead to success.  Otherwise, how do you know you’re selling enough, or not spending too much?  Having the right goals and hitting them gives you confidence, day by day, to throw yourself into your business with the passion you need, ultimately to make it succeed.

We at Oaktree can obviously help you with some of these challenges – and advise you where to get support with the others, so please do not hesitate to call us if you’d like to discuss any of the above.  We’d love to help – after all, we were once an acorn!


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