Today Keepoint is officially 5 years old. That is quite a big milestone for a business.
Time has passed so quickly!
Only 44% of businesses reach that milestone so I guess we’re in the minority.
It certainly hasn’t been plain sailing all the way. Riding the emotional rollercoaster of launching a business has been a tough, but unbelievably rewarding experience. We made some right and wrong decisions over the years and we have certainly learnt some lessons.
We thought we would share some of these with you and some we’ve seen others go through so that everyone can draw from our experiences.
1. Time, time and more time
One very critical thing to the success of a new business is time. There’s no way around it, when you start a new business you have to put the hours in, probably without getting paid. 60 hours per week minimum! For those of you that run your own business you’ll probably know that’s the low end of the scale!
2. Love your clients
Your clients are the most important thing in the world. They pay your invoices, they pay your wages, they give you the work that will keep you busy. You must love them and treat them in the best possible way.
They’re also the best way to advertise your business. Word of Mouth is the most powerful marketing tool ever imagined.
3. Quality is everything
Whatever it takes you need to ensure that the services you produce are of a high standard. Word of mouth will be a major contributor of new business and if you don’t offer the best services you possibly can, people won’t recommend you. Simple as that!
Don’t be tempted to wing it; as you grow choas will inevitably ensue.
4. Hire the right people, and keep them
You need great people around you to succeed, people who are good at the things you’re not so good at.
Similarly a bad staff member can take you in completely the wrong direction and can have a lasting impact even after they have gone and dealing with those issues can take up a lot of your time.
Never hire an average person because you are desperate. It will inevitably backfire and will cost you more in the long term.
If you do make a bad hiring decision, don’t mess around, manage them out of the business as soon as you can. It’s never a nice thing to do but this is what their probation period is for and being in business is not all smiles and laughter.
Once you have built your team, keep them happy. Buy them treats and cakes on a regular basis. Make sure you support their development and hold regular staff appraisals. Push them to step out of their comfort zone and show them you believe their capable in delivering what you ask even if they don’t believe in themselves.
5. Take the rough with the smooth
You will experience soaring highs and desperate lows. You need to make sure that during the highs you don’t get too carried away and that during the lows you don’t get too distraught. Both extremes can lead to poor decision making. Keep a level head at all times and ensure your friends and family are there to support you when you need it.
Delegation is an incredibly difficult thing to do at times. We experience it every day with our clients. Sometimes it’s hard to delegate a job down to a member of staff when you know that you will be able to do it more quickly and more efficiently. However if you don’t delegate that staff member will never learn how to do it and you will become seriously overworked and stressed. It’s a vicious circle. Once you let go, you’ll be able to concentrate on other, more important things.
7. Keep an eye on the finances
Controlling your costs is just as critical as driving your revenue. Bad cash flow management can sink a business very quickly.
As the work starts rolling in it’s very tempting to grow your team, buy new equipment, subscribe to things you don’t really need. Be careful though, if you grow too quickly your costs will start to outrun your revenue and you could be in big trouble. Hire contractors, outsource, but don’t commit to paying a full time salary unless the work is there and will continue.
Pay your suppliers promptly, you’ll have a better relationship with them for that reason alone.
Expect your clients to pay you promptly. If you deliver on your side, you can expect and demand they do the same by paying your invoices on time.
8. Don’t be a push over
Whether it’s your clients, your suppliers or your staff, don’t let people walk all over you. Be assertive and don’t be afraid to annoy people if you know you are right. It’s better to deal with issues head on rather than leaving them to fester and pay the price further down the line.
9. Don’t promise the world
Make sure that you manage your clients’ expectations at all times. All that will come out of this will be disappointment and angst on both sides. Give realistic time frames, costs and specifications on everything you do.
Going over expectations is always much better!
10. Take a break
If you work non-stop, you will ultimately burn out and lose the plot at times. Remember to take a break and switch off. Do something you love even if it’s for a few hours. Stepping away will ensure you come back to work full of great ideas and unexpected solutions to certain issues.
Believe in yourself, your idea and your business. You CAN do this!
12. Give back as much as you receive
Help people. Go beyond peoples’ expectations and give some of your time if you can to help others with advise and small gestures which will make a big difference to them. Sending an intro email for someone takes 2 minutes but could make a big difference the those contacts. They’ll remember and return the favor.
We love helping people, it’s what we do every day!
We’re lucky to be writing this today and to celebrate our anniversary, we’ve decided to help further afield than we’ve ever done before by joining the Global Giving Initiative B1G1: Business for Good.
As of September, a discretionary 25p donation will be added to our monthly invoices. We will match our clients’ donations and the proceeds will go to educational and income generation schemes all over the world.
The Smallest Deed Is Better Than The Greatest Intention.
Here’s to the next 5 years!