Hit the ground running with your new business

Written by: Johann Barnard

Whether or not you have prior business management experience, starting your own enterprise can be daunting. But there are a number of steps you can take to ensure you hit the ground running.

Octavius Phukubye, an enterprise development specialist at South African Breweries, has the following advice:

Compliance and Trends
This may seem boring or overwhelming, but it is essential to running a proper business. This entails getting your tax and industry-related compliance matters in order, submitting your annual returns (with company registration authority CIPC and that SA Revenue Service), and getting your black economic empowerment (BEE) accreditation or quality assurance certification. This improves your business credibility and needs to be top of the agenda for your business as you enter 2015.

Take time to learn about your industry. Check new developments, legislation, new technologies, dominant players, and your competition (direct & indirect). Inform yourself about the business you are in, there is no currency more valuable than information.

Every action you undertake this year must be informed by your strategy. Set your company’s growth trajectory based on 2014 performance, or if you’re a new business know what you’re aiming for. Align these with marketing activities and adjust them when necessary, but not too frequently.

Spend as much as 80% of your time on making sales and/or acquiring and retaining your customers. Every hour, ask yourself: ‘what have I done to push sales?’

Know your finances! The ‘I’m not good at accounting’ excuse is so 2014. Know how much it costs to run your business per month, and how many products/ services you have to sell/ render before you start generating profit. This should inform your minimum acceptable target daily, weekly and monthly.

Create a working capital account – where you keep a minimum of 10% of your sales for days when there’s a big order to fulfil. Manage your variable costs and understand your main cost buckets to ensure that there are no ‘cash leakages’. Understand your gross and profit margins. Watch your cash like a hawk. Learn to introduce management account reports in your business.

Get your business onto the digital space. It’s a great platform for marketing and it’s incredibly cost effective – possibly even free. Get on social media. But don’t neglect to keep traditional marketing gimmicks like business cards, websites, and banners handy.

No man is an island. Surround yourself with a close network of friends who share the same passion and values. Attend events that will help you to get closer to potential clients, partners or suppliers; it increases the probability of referrals and collaboration.

Team management
Get the right support team. You can’t grow and maintain a solid business when everything depends on you doing it. It also doesn’t inspire confidence with suppliers, customers, or partners. Look within your circles to form an informal sounding board, and get someone who shares your passion to be a co-founder. Share responsibilities and efforts to get your business to move ahead.