Starting a business? Here are 5 strategic moves to keep you on track

29 March 2019

So, you’ve made the decision to start a business. Congratulations! Now, before you get started, it’s time to dust of your old chess set and brush up on your game strategy. Just like playing chess, starting a business requires you to learn the value of preparation, setting goals, and learning from your mistakes.

To help you make your first move, we spoke to business owner and Entrepreneurship Facilitator, Cheryl Royle, who ran us through five strategies to keep you on track.

With Cheryl’s advice, you’ll learn how to avoid common business pit falls. 

1. Research, research, research

Before moving a piece, a good chess player will examine the board. Before committing to a new business idea, a new entrepreneur should do the same – scan the environment and research how to make your first move.

According to Cheryl, “one of the most common mistakes people make when starting a business is under estimating the amount of research they need to do,” .

“Research enables you to explore whether your business idea is viable, and enables you to validate your idea to financial backers, business partners, and potential future clients and customers.”   

To help you get started have a think about:

  • Is your product or service filling a gap in the market?
  • Will people purchase your product or service for the cost it takes to make?     

 “When answering these questions, it’s important to be honest with yourself” says Cheryl “It’s also important to consider whether going out on your own will be financially sustainable, and how it will affect your individual or family circumstance.”  

2. Set goals

When learning to play chess, a beginner may find themselves returning to the same strategies. Setting goals to learn new tactics, will improve their overall game, give them options and help them feel more prepared. When starting a business setting monthly goals will do the same.

“When I work with new entrepreneurs I like to introduce them to a 90 day goal setting program”.  “People can break their goals into three blocks – what they want to achieve in the first 30, 60 and 90 days. These milestones help people to also track their businesses progress and tweak things along the way” said Cheryl.

“When writing goals all business owners should make sure they are SMART– Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. SMART goals enable you to plan and understand the work involved to achieve your goals.”

3. Find a mentor

When starting a business, finding yourself a mentor can pay off. Each day you’ll be faced with new challenges to overcome and a mentor can provide you with invaluable advice. So, how do you find a mentor? Cheryl’s advice is to start networking.

“Networking allows you to meet other entrepreneurs, small business owners, and potential mentors. Once you find a mentor, don’t be afraid to ask them for help. They’ve made mistakes, learnt from them and will want to share their insights with you. They may also have connections in the business community that could take you years to forge.”

And the benefits of networking doesn’t stop there, Cheryl continues, “networking enables you to build a brains trust of ‘go-to’ people, who are experts in different fields, sectors and industries. If you don’t have a communication, marketing or finance background, these are the people you need to have in your brain trust.”

4. Get across your finances

While you may now have a financial advisor, it is still vital to get across your business’ finance yourself.

Cheryl explains that, “many businesses with great ideas fail due to cash flow problems or financial mismanagement”.

“As a business owner it’s your responsibility to know the financial condition of your business, and have enough knowledge to make business decisions. My biggest tip would be to undertake a short course in business finance, and employ a book-keeper or accountant.”

“When starting your business, take the time to develop a financial plan and track your business’ finances. By tracking your business cash flow, you’ll be able to estimate and tweak how you run your business.”

5. Learn from your mistakes

If there is one lesson to remember in life, whether playing chess or starting a business, it’s to learn from your mistakes.

“Throughout your career there are going to be mistakes you make regardless of how hard you try. The point is to learn from them so you can avoid making them again. You want fifty years’ experience, not one years’ experience, fifty times,” said Cheryl.

“Making mistakes is also an important part of being an entrepreneur. Not every idea you have will turn out well but to fail fast and then analyse what went wrong, you’ll know what to do if it happens again.”

Cheryl Royle

Since December 2016, Cheryl Royle has been working as an Entrepreneurship Facilitator in the Hunter Valley. Cheryl is a successful small business coach and consultant, and co-founder of Lone Rangers Business Networks. She has owned and operated four businesses over the past 25 years. Cheryl has educated, supported and coached thousands of business owners, freelancers, consultants, artists and entrepreneurs across Australia.

Need help to start your own business?

Entrepreneurship Facilitators are on the ground in 23 locations across Australia, encouraging and supporting Australians to start their own businesses or become self-employed.

For more information about Entrepreneurship Facilitators.