Starting your own company can be (and is) overwhelming, and I speak from personal experience. You have high expectations for yourself and for others involved, everything needed to be done yesterday, and the amount of details that it goes into starting and maintaining a business is insane.
The first 5-7 years of a start-up are known as the “trial by fire” timeframe. These first years really test you and the structure of your business to see if you have the grit, communication, organization, and ability that it takes to succeed long term. Gró Consulting works directly with small and medium sized businesses, which in most cases are start-up companies that are within their first month to 10 years of existence. If you currently are a new business owner, or are thinking about starting a company soon, this post is for you.
Mistake #1: They do not create Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)
Standard Operating Procedures and Policies (SOP) are crucial to insuring that practices within your company are consistently done and that there is clear directions on what needs to be done and how it is done. Many start-up companies do not think processes full in their entirety. Instead, they address issues as they arise due to not having a set guideline already in place. The most successful companies are those that are proactive in everything that they do. The less mess you have to clean up, the higher your bottom line will be and the better your reputation will be. As a business owner and manager, take the time that is needed to develop a solid SOP for yourself and your staff.
Mistake #2: Employee Handbook? What is that?
I know, I know. If you follow this blog closely, it may seem that I mention something about an employee handbook in nearly every post. Well, that is because it is that important to have. Please do not make me be a broken record. Work with an experienced HR professional to develop an employee handbook prior to hiring even your first employee. Gró HR specializes in them, and we are more than happy to assist you in this process (we promise, it is not lengthy or painful).
Employee Handbooks cover expectations for your employees and for your company, policies to cover you from miscommunication, benefit information, and more. They are a wealth of answers and knowledge for all employees on every level.
Mistake #3: “I do not need an Accountant”
If you know me personally, you know that I am a Dave Ramsey fan. One of the first things that he corrected me on in my thinking when I was starting the journey of business ownership was the thought that “I do not need an accountant, quickbooks can do it all for me”. Wrong. Please, with a cherry on top, find yourself a well qualified accountant that even has experience in accounting for the field of business that your company is in. It doesn’t matter if you have $5000 of income a year or $5M, have an accountant to guide you.
There are a lot of misconceptions on what is able to be written off, when and how often you need to file taxes, and even how to set up your employee taxes. The area of accounting is not an area where you can afford to be cheap in. You do, in fact, need a professional accountant.
Mistake #4: They do not take their marketing/branding initiatives seriously
If you did not create your marketing and branding vision prior to starting your company, you need to do it now. Everything that is said on social media, on your website, flyers, handouts, menus, logos, etc. needs to match the same formatting of branding and marketing. Your marketing initiatives should be well thought out and planned. Create a plan to market your business that aligns with your business growth goals, and hold yourself accountable to it!
One of the most common things that start-ups have issues is a lack of excellence or consistency in what they broadcast to the public. Typos, miscommunication, inconsistencies, etc are all issues that can sway consumers from trusting you with their business. Proofread contact, plan ahead, and hey- if you can afford it, hire an experienced marketing employee or freelancer to bring your vision and plan to life if you are not able to.
Mistake #5: They do not develop a business plan
In all honesty, I am sure that most of you have now read #5’s title and thought “That should have been the first mistake on the list”. Which is true. But we have made it this far in this post, so here we are
A business plan puts your company visions and purpose on paper (or in a file, if you don’t print things). It clearly states your mission, your values, your financial and business structure, addresses your marketing and growth plans, addresses simple staffing structures, and more. This document should be a living breathing document that guides your company and grows with it. It should be tailored to the company culture you desire to have, and should be read and reread and revisited frequently. Many start-ups have the approach that a business plan is not needed until you reach a certain profit level or success measure, but in reality this document should have been completed before you even registered your business identity. This document plans out your success.
Mistake #6: They do not thoroughly train their employees
Okay here is my strong HR side mistake, and I saved it for last, but it is not any less important than the other 5 mistakes. Picture yourself living in a glass house with no curtains or even furniture to obstruct the vision of those from the outside. Everything that you do or say or sometimes even think is known and seen by those from outside. That is what it is like during the start-up phase of a business. Everyone is watching what you do, say, and how you approach decisions. Your employees, they are also in that glass house. How they act, treat consumers, respond, their level of excellence and attention to detail – it all points directly to you.
Okay now that you’re in bit of mind-blowing shock from that analogy, we are back to the main point. Train. Your. Staff. And then train them again, and then keep training them. Do not think that only training them the first 2-5 weeks is needed. Keep training and assisting your employees for their entire employment at your company. Develop a clear training plan for each position so that they are more than equipped to fulfill their duties, to help others with theirs, and to be successful in the company both short and long-term. Follow up with them throughout all training to make sure that they are fully understanding, and then watch them for direct competence. They will thank you, your consumers will thank you, you will thank you.