8 Remarkable Survival Strategies of Shrewd Startups

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Whether you run a firm with 150 employees or you are a local startup operating from the corner of your dad’s basement; whatever your company size and scope, you have to adapt much needed survival strategies to keep your business alive and well afloat during economic stringent times. You need to remember the popular saying, “desperate times call for desperate measures.”


Any time cash flow into smart businesses, they tighten up on their money management and continue to operate “tight-fisted” by keeping an eagle eye on operating costs – vigilantly keeping them from spiralling out of control.


To meaningfully challenge the big fish enterprises and corporations for a fair portion of the market, you need to smarten up on a number of fronts or be the next recipient of the infamous greenhorn startup’s kiss of death.


1 Do not buy what you do not need


Foremost, stop yourself from making pointless impulsive and speculative expenses.


Ask yourself if what you are about to commit your meagre resources to is absolutely necessary for the smooth operation of your business. If your answer is not in the affirmative, then you have to steer clear.


Though, at some point in the past, we have all bought merchandise and services we did not really need for flimsy reasons, but that does not mean things should continue that way. we bought certain commodities because we were in the “mood” or in response to the grandiosity of the advertising or the persuasiveness of the salesperson – only to “wake up” from our self-inflicted hypnotic sleep a couple of days later with buyer remorse.


The harsh reality hits us smack right in the middle of the eye; we now fully realise that we have needlessly wasted sizeable, precious business funds on items not integral to our operations. The very same funds pertinent, operating concerns require to bring us closer to our business objectives is now lost forever.


For incorporated entities, “impulse purchases” can be eliminated by the insertion of a notable clause in your firm’s operation by-laws that states: “All purchasing decisions over (a certain threshold) are contingent upon approval by the board of directors.” This will plug the notorious, impulse-buying rabbit hole – preventing it from sucking you in.


such an innocuous clause may even serve the purpose of an important reminder, across the enterprise, when making smaller purchase decisions.


If your business is a partnership, you can state, when faced with a buying decision, that all purchases are contingent upon the approval of a third party. In actual fact, that third party can be your partner, one of your department heads, or even one of your suppliers.


If your business is a sole proprietorship, you do not have much to worry about provided you give yourself ample time, about three days or so, to properly evaluate what you are about to commit scarce funds to and decide if it really is the route to go.


Three days is more than enough time to nullify any earlier purchase commitment if you have finally been able to establish the fact that you have no need for the item. But if it is important to your success and your dilemma is centred above affordability, you should ask your vendor for a free trial or for payment deferment to a future time while you commit funds at hand to more urgent, pressing concerns.


Nevertheless, do not ever short-change yourself on professional services on the premise of affordability. It is not worth it!


In most cases, about 99.9% of the time, you will end up paying twice for the same service.


Remember the saying “you get what you pay for” – it rings true in equal measure in business as in any other endeavour.


You need to realise that any time you commit yourself, even during desperate times, and move ahead without completely investigating all the angles, and preparing yourself for all the contingencies that may arise, you are basically skating on thin ice.


Regardless of the costs, it always pays off – in the long run – to seek advice of experienced professionals before embarking on a plan that could potentially ruin you.


Particularly when sales are down, you must maintain your “hard-line” with salesmen trying to sell you luxuries.


Undoubtedly, when business booms, you will allow sales people to demo new models of equipment or show you a new line of supplies. But when business is down, skip the entertaining frills and concentrate on the basics. However, adequate care must be taken to maintain courtesy and allow these sellers to consider you a friend and call back another time when your financial position has improved.


2 Practise and invest in sound financial management


Your company’s books should reflect your way of thinking, and whoever maintains them should generate information according to your policies.


Thus, you should enlist services of an external, independent accountant or accounting firm to help keep track of the turnover on your accounts receivable and inventory. Such an audit should focus in-depth on every item within the financial statement that merits special attention.


By so doing, you will – more likely than not – uncover any potential financial problems before they become apparent, and certainly before they fester and transmute into a conflagration that can potentially obliterate your profit margin.


For example, you will find that most of your customers have the money to pay immediately for some of what they owe. To keep them current, and the number of accounts receivable in your files to a minimum, you should call them on the phone and ask for some kind of explanation why they are falling behind.


If you cultivate such a habit, as an integral part of your operating procedure, you will find your invoices will be drawn to the front of their piles of bills to pay. While you should maintain a courteous attitude, do not be hesitant, or too much of a “nice guy” when collecting money you are owed – your business survival depends on it.


3 Setup a non-executive advisory board to guide and mentor you


Many smart small businesses and upstarts have an advisory board in place comprising external professionals who act mainly in non-executive capacities and are often referred to as Power Circles. once they are in place, the business always benefits, even more so in desperate times.


Ideally, such an advisory power circle should include an attorney, a certified public accountant, retired executives, civic club leaders, owners and managers of businesses similar to yours. Setting up such an advisory board of directors is really quite easy, because most people you ask will be honoured to serve.


Once your advisory board is set up, you should meet once a month and present material for review. Each meeting should be a discussion of your business challenges with your team of power advisors proffering the appropriate, market-based solutions.


These distinguished professionals should offer you notable advice as well as alternatives, and also provide you with pure, undiluted objectivity.


No formal decisions need to be taken at your board meetings, but if you are super attentive, you should be able to gain a great deal from the invaluable suggestions and feedback you will receive.


4 strive for an excellent credit rating with your local bank


Another smart business practice very few startups engage in is the methodical building of a beneficial credit rating with their local banks. Particularly when you have good cash flow, you should borrow £100 to £1,000 from your banks every 90 days or so. Simply borrow the money, and put it in an interest bearing account, and then pay it all back at least a month before the due date.


By doing this, you will increase the borrowing power of your signature, and strengthen your ability to obtain needed financing on short notice. This is a kind of business leverage that will be of great value whenever your cash position becomes less favourable.


5 Register with your local trade associations and chambers of commerce


Next and by all means, join your industry’s local and national trade associations. Most of these organisations have a wealth of information available on almost everything you can ever need; from details on your competitors to average industry sales figures, new products, services, trends and so forth – it is in your best interest to have a cache of specialised-knowledge life support your business needs to thrive and survive the dreaded startup infant mortality.


If you are given a membership certificate or a wall plaque, you should hang this in a noticeable space on your office wall. Customers like to see such “seals of approval” and feel additional confidence in your business when they see them.


6 Get your spouse involved in your business


Still another strategy often overlooked; as much as possible, you should get your spouse to work in the business with you for at least three or four weeks per year.


If for any reason you are not available to run the business, your spouse will be familiar with certain people and situations about your business. These people should include your attorney, accountant, consultants or advisors, creditors and your major suppliers.


The long-term advantages of having your spouse work with you in your business, at least, four weeks per year will greatly outweigh the short-term inconvenience they may cite at first ask. Many couple share business responsibilities and time, which is in most cases, desirable, commendable and great.


7 Invest in sound business counselling and attend important networking events


As much as possible, invest in specialised business counselling besides the invaluable tips your power circle will provide.


Preferably, get a mentor and be on the look-out for events, conferences, breakfast meet-ups and any other networking opportunities that will benefit you and your business.


Most local universities and many private organisations hold seminars at minimal costs, and often without charge that you can take advantage of.


You should also avail yourself of the services offered by your bank and local library.


8 Have a clear direction and measure your progress


Another important thing about running a startup is to know the direction in which you are heading; to nail down, on a day-to-day basis, your progress in that very direction; to be aware of what your competitors are doing and to practice good financial management all the time. All of this will train you to recognise potential pitfalls before they have the chance to swallow you whole.


In order to survive as a smart startup, regardless of the prevailing economic climate, it is essential to surround yourself with smart people, and practice sound, hands-on business management at all times.


Do you know of an important strategy startup founders and co-founders can profitably implement to become smarter in today’s cut-throat competitive business environment? Now is your turn to have a say.


Chime in with your own two cents, kobo or pences, as the case may be; I, as well as the numerous startup founders, co-founders, small business owners and advisors and all other various professionals who will happen upon this post, cannot wait to learn from you.


And don’t forget to like and share this piece with your audience – they will thank you for it!

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