Starting your own business can be one of the most exciting decisions you ever make. You’re free to set your agenda and time table, and you’re free to pursue your ambitions as far as they can take you, without being limited by an existing corporate structure.
Unfortunately, it’s a rocky road as well. It’s possible for businesses to make mistakes in their early days that can come back to haunt them in the weeks or months to come, and possibly cut their future short.
This guide to some of the worst mistakes small businesses can make should help you avoid making them yourself and set you on the stead path to success and prosperity.
You’re going to be dealing with a lot contracts: employing staff, renting premises, ensuring the supply of raw materials or products among many other things. At some point, someone will try to hurry you through the process, assuring you “it’s just a standard contract” and you don’t need to read it.
There’s no such thing as a standard contract. It’s important to read every one you sign to make sure the agreement you’ve negotiated has been correctly translated into the legal document. If you don’t, you might find you’re not able to enforce the quality you need, or find yourself obliged to provide far more than you can afford.
If you don’t have access to your own corporate lawyer, try having a trusted colleague or friend read the contract through and then ask them to summarise it. If they cover all the details you negotiated you know it has been written up correctly.
It’s important to keep growing and developing your business: if you stay still, you risk falling behind. It makes you vulnerable to competition, so you need to be considering how to break into new markets, or add new products to your line that will keep your existing customers interested and bring in new ones.
On the other hand, it’s very easy to overextend and find you’ve committed too many resources to your expansion, and are facing a bill you can’t cover. It takes time to get established in a new market, even if it’s as simple as opening a new branch in a new town and you need to be able to pay your costs in the meantime.
Make sure you do your research to ensure there is a gap for you in this market, and try some cross promotion with local businesses to start off your opening days with a healthy footfall.