Launching a startup is always an exciting, yet daunting proposition. If you have been thinking about starting your own business there are a number of factors to consider.
At the top of the list of questions to ask yourself is… ‘is my business idea likely to actualise into a commercial enterprise that will not only survive, but thrive?’ Your ability to innovate functions as a crucial pillar in this equation.
What follows in a exploration of what innovation looks like in driving startup success. HINT: it comes down to following through on ideas with practice, via systems and processes. For example, using small business accounting software to efficiently facilitate innovation through automation.
Part 1: Analysis, critical thinking and planning
Before you launch full-steam-ahead into operating your business, it’s important to tackle the fundamentals. This in order to beat the rather high odds of failure associated with new business and startups.
You should scrutinise your business concept to determine if it is worth investing time/money, and if it is likely to be sustainable. Objective analysis, critical thinking and solid planning are all essential parts of creating a firm foundation for your business in its elementary phase.
A feasibility study can transform vague conjecture and hopeful idealism into quantifiable and qualifiable analysis. A feasibility study is, most commonly broken down into market feasibility and commercial/economic feasibility (and, of course, other considerations).
Naturally, you need to have a good idea of the market you are entering to determine commercial viability, plus be able to fully understand your projected financial outlays before you propel any business idea into an operational reality.
- Market feasibility studies: will take into consideration (but, will not be limited to) product/service demand, customer characteristics, competitor analysis, market barriers and unique selling proposition.
- Commercial/economic feasibility studies: will take into consideration (but, will not be limited to) capital expenses, cash flow analysis, living expenses, fixed/variable costs, break even point, return-on-investment and sales forecast.
The next step in taking a new business idea and manifesting it into a full-fledged commercial entity is to align effective analysis with thorough planning. For example, you can make use of feasibility templates to generate reports to inform your business plan.
Essentially, this allows you to map the future of your business. This could include (but, will not be limited to) such factors as deciding to include changing your core business structure and scope, introducing new product ranges, relocating your business premises, price adjustments and changing suppliers.
You will need to consistently refer back to and update your business plan (government guidelines recommend 3 month intervals) every time you formulate new decisions as your business grows. This is the key to remaining responsive and in control as your operational objectives continuously adapt and expand.
Part 2: Systems and Processes
Any operator of a new enterprise should be aware of the need to formulate functional business systems and processes. This in order to support a customer-base and a comprehensive company structure. Optimally functioning systems and processes allow you to save time by streamlining your business growth through automation, meaning you can solve any and all emerging issues with the emphasis on strategy.
Some of these systems and processes should be enacted before your official business launch, whilst the need for other elements may come become apparent during your first year of commercial trade. Then, there is always the potential to refine these components, as pivotal cogs in the ever-evolving cycle of innovation.
- Systems to acquire new customers: will take into consideration (but, will not be limited to) lead generation/advertising, marketing/sales, website creation, social media and SEO.
- Systems for recruitment and team building: will take into consideration (but, will not be limited to) hiring/training/incentives, employee policy, performance evaluations/recognition and safety protocols.
- Systems to produce and deliver products and services: will take into consideration (but, will not be limited to) production, customer service/order fulfillment, shipping/receiving and inventory management.
- Systems to facilitate finances: will take into consideration (but, will not be limited to) accounting (including accounting software), payroll, purchasing, credit/collections, tax/compliance and cash management.
Part 3: Innovation equals strategy
Innovation is a flow that will unfold organically, in accordance with the expansion of your business. But, it must be managed on a strategic level. This will give you the ability to make decisions that minimise risk, whilst capitalising on economy and being amenable to prevailing market conditions. This will keep your business competitive and go a long way to ensure its survival over the long-haul.