How to Survive Your First Year as an Entrepreneur

How to Survive Your First Year as an Entrepreneur

by Mark Selby, 30 July 2019

Aspiring entrepreneurs piloting fledgling startups through their first year of business face a veritable minefield of expected and unexpected challenges.

From optimising a product to pitching, securing seed capital, and building a loyal customer base, few undertakings are more demanding – or more rewarding.

It can seem like a daunting task. Indeed, some market studies conclude that 90% of startups fold during their 12 initial months – not exactly encouraging odds. And on top of that, the pool of new business models becomes shallower as the years roll on.

That may dissuade some inspired souls from taking the leap into the entrepreneurial fray, but luckily, many have survived the slings and arrows of starting a business and emerged with outrageous fortunes. You might not be the next Bill Gates overnight, but with determination and a thick skin you’ll find success in the long term.

In previous blogs, we offered advice on pitching, as well as thriving in a coworking space. Here, we share five key techniques to give your company its best possible shot at surviving that ever-crucial first year.

1. Set achievable goals

Many entrepreneurs establish ambitious goals from the offset – generating £1 million in revenue in year one, for example. Those objectives are helpful as a milestone, but it’s arguably more important to create workable immediate and short-term goals and design processes to meet them. Place mini-milestones along the road to the big annual goal, whether that be weekly targets for new customers or a clear vision of how much software you need to code within the next month.

2. Eye on the prize

Once you’ve defined your vision, established achievable goals and started following through on them, challenges will inevitably arise. You may win a big new client or lose a large existing one. Or people may doubt your idea and question your course of action. Stay the course and remain true to your vision. Adjust your heading as needed, but look beyond the naysayers.

3. Build the right team

Hire folks you trust to carry out excellent work independently and collaboratively. Do you believe in your team’s abilities and support them? If you do, chances are your team will feel similarly about their boss, the startup and each other, creating a virtuous circle.

4. Embrace risk, but seek out mentors

Search for mentors that understand your vision and can guide you through particular aspects of your business plan. You’ll likely want more than one mentor and more than one investment partner. The diversity will help you achieve greater insight and stability in spite of the risks you take.

5. Work hard and take care of yourself

Even with an effective team in place and mentors and investors supporting you, expect a mammoth workload, bouts of intense stress and some lean living. That said, two elements can help keep your inner entrepreneur on point and unlock your startup’s potential. First, base your team in a productive, inspiring workspace (like Innovation Warehouse). Second, learn how to delegate tasks and make a habit of doing it. You’ll lessen your load and create learning opportunities for your team.

There is no secret recipe for establishing a successful startup, but implementing these tips will help put your dream on a path to growth.

Are you an entrepreneur looking to launch, house and grow your startup? Click here to find out how Innovation Warehouse can help.