Seven steps for a successful start-up

Andy Brownsell, commercial director at Protectivity, discusses his top seven steps to creating a successful start-up.

Being the boss of your own start-up is an amazing achievement, and it’s safe to say many people like the idea of it.

In 2016, an impressive 657,750 start-ups were launched and 2018 has seen a whopping 24,862 businesses set up so far, that’s more than 1,000 every day. Whether you’ve already started your own business or are just about to, it’s important to be prepared for the rollercoaster journey you’re about to embark on.

Whether you’re starting a dog walking business or an online clothes shop, follow these steps to guide you on your journey.

Step 1: S is for strategy

If you’re looking at starting your own business you’re probably a hungry entrepreneur with an overwhelming passion for your idea. To ensure your vision comes to life you’ll need a well thought out strategy/business plan.

Whilst you might know your business inside out, a potential investor such as a bank manager won’t, so clarity and consistency are essential.

Here are some important things to consider before creating your start-up plan:

  • What will your business do and what edge will you have over your competitors?
  • Who are your customers?
  • What are your small/long-term objectives and how will they be achieved?
  • If you want employees, how many will you have and what will their roles be?

You will also need to manage your finances, Have a budget for a minimum of one year that covers all financial considerations, and don’t forget to have some cash spare for any additional expenses. You might face an increase in price to rent a space out, need a new laptop, or maybe you forgot to purchase insurance. Unexpected costs definitely crop up so be as financially prepared as possible.

Step 2: T is for time management

Running a small business can seem very time consuming – especially in the early stages – but you can still have a work-life balance. In fact, ‘it is advisable to set some time aside for work, some for friends and family, and most importantly, some time aside for yourself to recharge.’

Time is one of your most valuable assets and the way you manage it will benefit your own life, and the success and productivity levels of your company. Set yourself goals for the day, month and even year, stick to them and learn how to prioritise.

Continually evaluate the time you spend on tasks in order to improve the productivity levels of your company. Quality trumps quantity, so detecting areas where time is being wasted or could be put to better use could be a real benefit.

Step 3: A is for advice

Whether it’s from a professional, a family member, a colleague or a friend, seeking advice is priceless when starting your own company.

Learning from other people’s experiences and mistakes, particularly those working in your industry, will better prepare you for similar hurdles whilst getting your start-up off the ground.

Consider advice from investors as they may have experience in the start-up process, in particular with funding and financial issues. Taking legal advice from a lawyer who will support you through the legal requirements needed to set up a business is also strongly recommended.

Step 4: R is for research

Before creating your business strategy you should invest a considerable amount of time into researching your business idea and industry.

Understanding your market, customer, budget, competitors and legal requirements will allow you to produce realistic objectives for your company. Network at events as much as possible to absorb knowledge that will benefit your business, and don’t forget about your own experiences that you can apply to your start-up.

Step 5: T is for training

Training courses are a great way to improve your skills and knowledge and keep your business leading the way in your industry.

From managing finances, furthering your understanding of the digital world or improving your social media skills, it’s important you’re confident managing all aspects of your company. Any courses (these don’t have to break the bank!) are definitely encouraged if you believe they’ll benefit your business.

Step 6: U is for understanding your market

An in-depth understanding of your market is essential to a successful business. Fortune revealed that the number one reason start-ups fail, cited by 42 per cent of polled start-up companies, is a lack of need for the product or service in the market.

Whilst you may hope that your idea is just what your market wants, really listen to what your audience is saying; if they have said they aren’t interested, it’s simply not worth wasting your time and resources trying to convince them otherwise.

Step 7: P is for promotion (and perseverance)

To get your services or products into the public eye and to potential clients and customers, you need to be effectively promoting your start-up.

Network both online and offline, regularly update your social media accounts, engage with followers and never forget the power of word of mouth promotion. As the face and personality of your company, think about your values and how you want to appear to clients and potential customers.

Finally, don’t forget the importance of perseverance. New businesses have a success rate of over 80 per cent after the first year, however this drops to below 50 per cent after the first five years. To beat the odds, keep on top of cash flow, product demand, competitors and finally your focus – 13 per cent of companies fail because of a lack of focus and you don’t want to be one of them!

With these tips you can now start creating your own successful small business. From understanding your market inside out, to knowing when to take legal, financial and business advice, these suggestions will help guide you through all aspects of getting your start-up off the ground. Your small business will always be evolving and facing new challenges, so apply these tips across the duration of your business to ensure it’s as successful as possible.

All that’s left to say to your start-up is good luck!

Andy Brownsell is commercial director at Protectivity

Owen Gough

Owen Gough

Owen Gough is a reporter for He has a background in small business marketing strategies and is responsible for writing content on subjects ranging from small business finance to technology...

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