Surviving your first year in business during a recession (Part 2)

Those who know me will know that I can’t stand ‘tips and tricks’ articles when the subject is as serious as your business and your livelihood. I have therefore broken down my wider observations and advice on start-up business into a series of posts over the summer. It’s a kind of starting point for how I think start-ups can be better supported.

Read part 1 of this series.

Here is part 2:

Advice is good. Good advice is better

You will get lots of advice. Some of it will be really useful – from the small things that you just hadn’t thought about to the specialist issues that you really need to spend some time thinking about. To have the right people advising on the right things is so much more valuable than having an ‘expert’ in everything.

You have to be quite ruthless with your time. This applies at a personal as well as professional level, unfortunately – there are some things that you just can’t do and certainly can’t do at particular times. If paying for professional advice is going to take a weight off your mind and allow you to focus on other things, then, occasionally this is worthwhile.

Take control of your marketing assets

Your website is a major asset – don’t hand control to anyone else. Buy expert design and development services, sure. But buy the domain and hosting yourself and set up automatic renewal. It’s the easiest thing in the world. If you don’t know how to do this, then you have identified a problem that needs to be fixed. As a friend and client of mine puts it: “Know enough not to be bull S***ed”.

This is just good business sense. Whilst, of course, you hope that your relationship with any supplier will be harmonious and long term; there has to be a plan B. Not doing so in this area is a massive and unnecessary risk.

Ignore the trends

I don’t mean the major trends in your market (the majority of my career has been in market research, so I understand the importance of these). I mean the general trends that often don’t impact your industry and your business in the way that others imagine. Focus on what drives your market. Social media, for example, might be vitally important in your market. Or it might not be. It depends.

An example for me is that during a recession, ‘marketing’ spend is often cut. This is not the case for all businesses though; with the more confident or the niche or the challenger for market leadership in a market all likely to buck the trend. In addition, it is during a recession when the strategy aspects of marketing are at their most crucial.

It’s not all about ‘passion’

Passion for the right things is great. It’s an asset to your business. Passion for something that is infeasible is not ‘entrepreneurial’ – it is something else. We should neither be encouraged to pursue the infeasible nor falsely discouraged from pursuing an idea. I would never buy sugary fizzy stuff in a tin, but it seems plenty of others do and some companies have done alright out of it!

It is all about judgement. Knowing how to exercise this judgement and who can really help is the real key to success.

Read part 3 of this series.

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