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Business strategy

Startups 101: 6 things founders need to do to prepare for business life

- April 23, 2024 3 MIN READ
Photo: AdobeStock
Thinking of starting a small business? Exciting isn’t it? That was me nine years ago.

I had an idea for a Registered Nurse led professional ear wax removal business using safe and gentle microsuction.

In these nine years we have grown from one clinic opening four hours a week, to a nationwide business clearing the blocked ears of more than 5,000 patients a month, winning the National Telstra ‘Championing Health’ Best of Business Award for 2024 and driving positive change within our healthcare system.

The question is – how did we do it?

I hope share a little of what made our business become an ‘overnight’ success.

Firstly, for all the budding entrepreneurs out there, starting a business from scratch is hard work. Don’t be lulled into thinking that running your own startup business will provide you flexibility and a lifestyle the envy of your family and friends. If it was easy everyone would do it!  But in saying this it also can be hugely rewarding, so if you believe in your idea – go for it.

Taking an idea and turning it into a viable business takes strategy, tenacity, and a huge amount of belief. What I would like to share is six points that I wish I knew when we started, as like many others before us, we have learnt these lessons through trial and error, grazing our knees and many a long night of soul searching and changes of business direction before we ‘got it right’.

Here are my top six tips for you:

Write a business plan

If you write a business plan, it will force you to address the various elements of your business, that can make or break your idea. A business plan should include chapters on describing your business in detail, market analysis, marketing strategy, financial analysis and budget (particularly the first two years of operation), the regulatory environment and your ultimate exit strategy.

When writing your business plan, invest in it. It is unlikely that you will have well rounded skills in accounting, marketing, strategy, and economic analysis. Get professional advice to underpin your investment, don’t ‘wing’ it. This will save you time and money in the long run where you don’t have the knowledge and skills to address these vital elements of your business.

Know your customer

Do market research, understand your customer in intimate detail and what their ‘pain point’ is – i.e. what is the problem you can solve for them.  This will drive what your product will ultimately look and feel like, and your marketing strategy.

Let the market guide you – don’t get too precious

With all the best planning in the world, your idea will no doubt need tweaking and the best place to look to establish what these tweaks need to be is your market/customers. 

Don’t get too precious about your original concept – do you want to be right? Or, do you want to have a sustainable business? – let the market guide your idea as to what is sustainable in the long term.

Don’t under-capitalise

It is unusual for a startup to make sustainable profits from day one. 

Save your pennies and start your business when you can afford to make it through the first couple of years while you perfect your product and the business vehicle that is to drive it.  The amount of capital backing that you will need should be established in your business plan.

What you measure matters

All your staff expect to be managed – this is a universal truth.  What will drive a clear understanding of what you expect and how you define acceptable performance is through what you measure and report upon.

Spend time analysing your business, know what the value drivers are and what you feel is important (after all you are the owner!)

Create a transparent regular reporting schedule that is shared within your business so that everyone can see what is going well and what needs some further work.  This need not be a punitive tool, it can however be a guide for your management team/yourself as to where improvements can be made, and your staff will then expect and accept this work to occur.

        • Lisa Hellwege is the founder & clinical director of Earworx.
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