Starting a business might have been your dream, but the real goal is growing it, right? Whether you’ve founded a startup in the middle of a global pandemic and have been riding the highs and lows, or you’ve had a few years to get the hang of running a business, a new year equals a great opportunity to take stock and hit reset.
Keep reading for our three most important startup tips and tricks to start the new year strong and set yourself up for (more) success in the next 12 months.
Table of contents
- Rev up your revenue streams
- Give your internal processes a performance review
- Talk to your team
1. Rev up your revenue streams
It’s very common for startups to only have one revenue stream when they get started, but it’s important to be agile. One of our favourite business tips for startup founders is being honest about what’s working (or not), being responsive to the market while staying true to your vision, and being open to opportunities to add additional revenue streams to your mix.
If you want to rev up your profits this year, you need to critique your revenue streams. What did you find hard, or what didn’t go to plan in the last year? There’s no need to dwell on the negative, but you do need to make sure history doesn’t repeat unnecessarily!
Who’s your audience?
If you know your target market inside-out, you’ll be able to identify opportunities for new revenue streams, or work out how to improve your current ones. If you don’t, and your team doesn’t either, it’s time to get talking and do some audience research (get some outside help if this isn’t in your comfort zone – it’ll be well worth the investment).
The new year is a great time to start planning any additional projects that your business could take on to expand or diversify its revenue streams, especially if your office is quieter for a period.
Diversity, diversify, diversify
If your business couldn’t operate in its ‘normal’ way (hello, pandemic), how else could you make money? Is there a complementary service or product to what you currently offer that your customer-base would also be interested in (bonus points if it’s passive income)? Or, if your customer-base was suddenly not in a spot to pay for your product or service anymore, is there another audience for whom you could add value?
What’s going to be most profitable?
On the flipside, if you already have multiple revenue streams, this is a prime time to review them and break down which are the most profitable for you (not just in terms of basic revenue, but also the time it takes to generate that revenue… time equals money). If you see any opportunities or red flags, this is a great chance to change up where you prioritise your resources.
2. Give your internal processes a performance review
The most common small business tips and advice we give clients often centre around dedicating time when work is quieter to reviewing everything – and we mean everything – happening behind the scenes. We prioritise this in our business because we want everything we do to be efficient (accountants ?♂️ ?♀️) but we also want to enjoy our work and make sure our clients love working with us. If you want to nail this trifecta too, keep reading.
What can you simplify, automate or outsource?
What internal processes can you streamline, automate or even outsource to save your business time and money, and save your sanity while you’re at it? Have you worn the hat of person-that-does-payroll since your team was tiny? Now that your business is growing, if your job title on LinkedIn says “Founder & Director” but you’re still staying up late on Sunday evenings running payroll, perhaps 2022 is the year that you give yourself a break. Outsourcing repetitive, specific tasks is often a really efficient solution for start ups and other businesses, and you get an expert doing the job rather than muddling your way through it.
Tech is your friend
Something to consider when reviewing your internal processes is your technology. It’s really common for businesses to “set and forget” their tech – from the project management tools, to file management and bookkeeping. While it can be daunting to overhaul processes, if your reason for using a particular software is “it’s what we used at the last place I worked” or similar, it’s worth taking some time to do a performance review of the program/process.
This is especially important if it’s been years since you’ve reviewed options for competing systems. In particular, we recommend reviewing whether you can use tech to streamline and automate any additional processes, and making sure you’ve got systems in place that will give you up-to-date data at your fingertips.
Ignore everything above about internal processes if you’re not making money yet ?
If your startup is still finding its feet, your primary focus should be growing your revenue. Don’t use giving your tech a performance review as a way to procrastinate. Channel your time into reviewing your revenue streams and acquisition process, and making sure that when you do bring on more clients/customers, they have a great experience and are happy to recommend you to others.
3. Talk to your team
One of the most important roles as a business owner is managing your team. In the race to start the new year strong, one of our key business tips for startup founders is to focus on your team. Ask your staff if they’re happy with their role, what they like about it and what they find frustrating.
This is particularly useful if it turns out that they do have frustrations or things that are stressing them out – it’s way better to give your team a chance to get this off their chest so that they can be optimistic about the year ahead. It might also help prevent any of your employees from making a New Year’s resolution to look for a new job!
Ask your team what they enjoy (and what they don’t)
If you’re wondering how to make a startup company successful, never underestimate the importance of your people. Collate everyone’s feedback – you may realise some tasks in people’s roles could be moved around to better fit the team (person A might hate task X but person B loves it… moving all or more of task X to person B might make everyone happier!).
Don’t just talk about training & development (actually do it)
Consult your employees about where they feel like they need (or want) additional training and upskilling, whether it’s to help them in their current role, or to help progress in their career.
Casual chats about this, through the lens of reviewing how last year has felt and what they want to achieve this year, as opposed to during formal performance reviews, will often bring about more candid and creative ideas about the sort of training or upskilling that could be useful. Importantly, make sure you block out time to organise the training that’s required, and allow for this in any calendar scheduling you’re doing for the new year.
Ready, set, grow
The fact that you’ve clicked through to read this article means you’re already in the mindset of focusing on growth, because having a growth mindset is really half the battle. It’s easy to fall into the trap of taking your foot off the accelerator at the end of the year or when things seem slow over January, but taking the time to review your income streams, internal processes and touching base with your team will help you rev up your revenue in the next 12 months.
Try our new year business tips for start-up founders, and get ready to grow!
Project Alfred is a growth-focused online accounting firm that works with startups and businesses across Australia. Need help understanding your business finances or taking your business to the next level? Find out more about their services here.