The transition between being an employee and running a business can be tricky in the first year. I know going from the corporate world with a team to delegate to and systems in place, through to having to do everything myself was a bit of a shock.  Many businesses have a business plan in place for the first year: a budget is set with a clear map of the products and services they will sell. Whether you are winging it or have a plan that you were working it to, it is likely that not everything went according to plan.

These are my top 5 business basics to maximise your chance of a successful first year:

1. Targets and performance tracking
Set clear financial and non-financial targets every quarter. You may find it useful to create dashboards.  These are a single page document measuring the performance at all stages of your customer journey.  For example: number of leads, conversion rate, invoice value, operating profit, snagging/errors, overtime and so on and will help you process a lot of information at a glance.

Have regular meetings throughout your company, 1 to 1s as well as in groups.  Communication should be like a drum beat throughout your company. Remember to keep in touch with your prospects, ex-customers and customers at least every 90 days too.

3. Know your numbers
Most companies that fail, go under due to poor cash flow.  This is especially a problem for companies that are expanding quickly.  Any industry that pays for materials and labour ahead of invoicing will create a cash gap. Make sure you have a cash flow forecast.  This looks at when monies are going in and out so you can see clearly when you will go in the red. “In a truly great company, profits and cashflow become like blood and water to a healthy body” Jim Collins

The quickest win for most companies is to invest in accounting software which will manage all the invoices, report on debtors/creditors and create profit and loss reports at the touch of a button.  Costs are from £12 per month. The most popular at the moment are Quickbooks and Xero – both equally good.

4. Consistent marketing
Don’t ever stop marketing!  Lots of companies flip-flop between delivering the products/services or marketing, make sure you get the right balance.

5. Systemisation
Most Business Owners insist on doing tasks themselves as they will ‘always to it best’.  This limits how much can be achieved in a day. It is worth spending time mapping out how you do things, this could be a video, flowchart or a step by step guide.  The format doesn’t matter, what does matter is that it’s out of your head and someone other than you can follow it.  The great news is that a systemised business doubles in value!

Finally, I would add that having personal (as well as business) goals will keep you motivated. I use a ‘dreamchart’ on the wall to keep me focused.  There is nothing better than ticking things off!

Running a business is a roller-coaster; just make sure you are enjoying the ride!