Throughout the 2010’s many women in business worshipped at the altar of the #Girlboss, a phrase coined by ‘Nasty Gal’ founder, Sophia Amoruso. This movement instructed women to be relentlessly ’fierce’ in the boardroom and to practise ‘feminism’ in every aspect of their capitalist ventures. However, the phrase was pronounced dead in June 2020 by feminist author Leigh Stein, after a slew of discrimination and harassment cases were brought against various prominent #Girlboss figureheads and their respective companies.
So, where do ambitious female business leaders start from today? Bevan Edwards is the Director of SME business service provider Start.Biz and has helped thousands of budding entrepreneurs to set-up and grow their enterprises using the Start.Biz expert business service network. In this article, he will outline his 5 top tips for entrepreneurs in their first year of business.
Find your tribe
Many entrepreneurs spend the majority of their time tailoring their offering and marketing to their community but often forget about their own support system.
Running a business solo or with a small team can be lonely and with women half as likely to start a business as men, it’s important to find likeminded entrepreneurs to discuss ideas with and seek advice & inspiration from to help keep impostor syndrome at bay. Luckily there are many great female-based organisations out there to join, most are accessible for a modest monthly subscription.
Protect your brand
Latest statistics from the Intellectual Property Office show that ‘intellectual property (IP) can account for more than 70% of your business’ value’. The majority of new businesses being set-up will have some form of competitor within their market, so building a strong foundation for your reputation and brand is essential to stand out.
It will also ensure there is no unintentional infringement on another existing enterprise. There are many forms of IP protection, from business name protection to trade marks, so seek expert advice to ensure that the business’ unique assets are protected from the start.
Create a laser sharp vision
Focus on what the business’ strengths are and make sure the product, service and marketing doesn’t stray far from these within the first year. Consistency and a clear message about the offering are crucial in this early stage. It builds trust with the audience, generates social proof, and keeps focus on what is important as day-to-day distractions start to mount up.
Set clear, realistic first year goals
The easiest way to work out a plan is by setting an end goal and working backwards from it to understand the steps that need to be taken to get there. A business plan will be in place, however, it is worth pulling out specific milestones for the business within the first year. Things won’t always go to plan however this will establish a framework so progress can be assessed more objectively.
During the initial stages of the business, it is also essential to celebrate the little wins as the company grows and to share these with the customers, community, and clients. People love to see the person behind the brand.
Along with IP, getting the finances in place is about building a strong foundation for the business. Do a good amount of research; ask fellow business owners and entrepreneur communities for advice.
Areas to nail down include which accountancy software is the best for the type of business, have a surplus in place (unforeseen costs are bound to come up in the first year), a competitive pricing structure and if there are any female/minority/industry specific grants available.
20% of businesses fail within their first year in the UK and in my experience, it almost always has something to do with cashflow. The old adage is correct – Cash is King! Cash is the lifeblood of the business so protect every penny. Have a strong cash flow forecast and live by it – understand every cost going out of the business and eliminate any waste.