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Beyond The Blueprint: The Ingredients for Start-Up Success

How you make the money is as important as the money you make

So you've had enough of marching to someone else's tune, probably as part of a large organisation and you're ready to do things your way (the right way).

In business there are good profits and there are bad profits. Clearly you need to be a profitable business, but you have to do right by your clients. It’s this type of thinking that drives someone to build their own firm.


Ready to Grow.

When you start your own business you’re in survival mode. Every day is about generating the revenue you need to keep the doors open. However, you don’t want to stay too long in that place.

Like it or not, you are going to have to become a business person. You don’t have a choice.

So what should you be focused on in the start-up phase.

1.The right mix of jam today and jam tomorrow

You have to get enough new business; that goes without saying. However searching for leads is as crucial as it is challenging. You don't want to be in a position where you are scratching around every year for enough new business to survive and earn a living.

The key is to focus on both jam today and jam tomorrow. Every week, you have to be sowing some seeds for the future, in conjunction with your business-as-usual activity. It’s the right mix of both that allows you to grow and develop so that next year is better than this year.

What’s a seed? Here are a few examples:

  1. Planning a client event or seminar
  2. Developing referrals from professional connections
  3. Blogging
  4. Improving your website and other branded materials
  5. Hiring a new support team member to take some work off your plate
  6. Podcasts that feature content relevant to your target audience

Basically, anything that might grow into more revenue in the future. You plant a lot of seeds and then you water them each week (with a small amount of effort), and some of them sprout and grow three months, six months, or 12 months down the track to improve your life.

2. Building a support team as quickly as possible

If you run your own show it’s dealing with the "everything else" that takes you away from what you are good at (and love), the client-facing work. So job number one is to build a support team around yourself as quickly as you can.

How do you do that with limited financial resources? Think virtual support in the first instance.

Hire a Virtual Assistant (VA), which is just a Personal Assistant (PA) that works remotely. If you are really small, you might use them for 1 hour per day and it will cost you £20.

What could they do for you? Anything that is not a job that only you can do. Delegating your emails is a great first step. Get them to read and sort the email traffic for you. They can brief you daily in a 10-minute phone call. You can verbally instruct them how to respond on your behalf to most emails. The few emails that only you can do, they can forward to you.

Getting some administration support is also a key hire. You might start with someone who works for you one day per week. You prospect, see clients and sow seeds from Monday to Thursday, and then you spend some time with your administrator most of Friday delegating the follow-through so they can sort it out for you.

Hire these people just before you think you can afford to. It’s amazing how the mix of a little extra financial pressure and the benefits of the support propel you to the next level.

Check out places like or

3. Mastering some basic business management skills

Business management skills are critical if you want to survive, make money, stay client-focused and have some fun all at the same time.

There are three core skills I would focus on in the early days:

  • Your Business Plan: Without a plan of where you want to go, you’re like a rudderless ship lost at sea in a storm. It’s no way to go through life

Once a goal is committed in writing it has as strange way of coming to fruition. So get your business goals down into a short plan

  • Setting Quarterly Objectives: In each 90-day period, choose between three or four projects type goals that will take your business forward. Often these 90-day projects are like the seeds I mentioned earlier; they lay foundations that will make your business better than it was three months ago

Set yourself a financial goal for the quarter, but don’t count it as one of the three or four objectives. These projects have to be things that take you forward. Just hitting your numbers doesn’t tick that box.

  • Holding Weekly Meetings: Each week you need to be reviewing your business progress and spending some time on identifying and resolving issues that arise. Businesses that resolve issues move forward, while those that don’t stay stuck

When it comes to your new start-up business, don’t fall at the first hurdle, or stay so small that you can never impact the world. It’s great to know who you are and what you stand for, but you also need to get to grips with the some business-building skills. You can do it and it can be a whole lot of fun; really it can.