Five Things I Learned In My Startup's First Year

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Steering a ship in the direction of your dreams has its ups and downs. But when you hold yourself accountable in reaching your goals, and remain consistent in your vision, then all will prevail in time. Here are five things I learned in my small business' first year:


1. Determine what have you got to show You can't turn your vision into reality if you don't take the steps in building an impressive portfolio. If you expect a client to lend you an ear, then you need to put your best foot forward by showcasing samples geared towards the type of service you are offering. What you have to show is your entry point for discussion during the initial meeting. It is your opportunity to shine and even subtly name-drop some of the top-tier companies you've worked with. Words alone aren't enough to secure business. A proven track record does.

2. The initial lure will help boost your business Sometimes you need to give more before you get back something in return. Most clients look for services that provide value for money. As a newbie, you need to be able to stick out from the competition that surrounds you. One of my strategies included targeting specific companies and offering more in order to get my foot in the door. The aim is to plant your seeds where you know the tree will grow.

3. Don't block yourself from opportunities based on insecurity Be an open canvas that accepts opportunities that come your way. You may come to find that an industry outside your realm of familiarity expresses interest in your service. If your business follows a generic formula capable of taking on the job, then say yes. I've managed to secure repeat business with one of my most regular clients because I agreed to take on the challenge.

4. Prepare yourself for a bumpy ride Starting a business at ground level isn't a walk in the park. You will find yourself in situations where all you want to do is raise the white flag. But you don't surrender, because success isn't achieved overnight. When your emotions hit an all time low, try to focus on your end goal. Focus on your accomplishments and the reasons you've chosen to venture into the world of entrepreneurship. There is always a solution to a problem- think like a boss, act like a boss.

5. Find your place in the market By the end of the first year, you'll be able to figure out where your business fits in the market. You would have interacted with enough clients to realize what they expect from you, their desired outcome for their business and how your services contribute in achieving their goals. By the end of the year you will also have a grasp of who your competitors are and how they do business. You will know what strategies work and what changes need to be made in your business. When you've found your place in the market, work towards growth strategies that will help grow your business. Also, don't forget to nurture existing business relationships that you've worked hard to form. Stay focused, and just keep going.

Related: My Startup Turns Two: Lessons Learned On My Entrepreneurial Journey