Business success is built in the first year – how to ensure growth from the foundation

From the year 2011 through to 2016, the number of startups in Britain increased 49% from 440,600 to 657,790. Starting your own business is a big step to take in your career but while there is risk, there is also the chance of considerable reward.

Entrepreneur Simon Dolan is more aware of these risks and rewards than most. He built his specialist contractor accountancy firm from the ground up, selling it 22 years later for £100 million.

He has once again entered the contractor accountancy market with Dolan Accountancy, a firm started with old colleagues, and here he shares the experiences and learnings that he has taken into the first year of operations for you and your business to implement.

Perspective, small steps and reviewing your processes

It’s important not to think that success happens overnight – it doesn’t. It took me over 20 years to build my business up and I am once again starting from scratch with Dolan Accountancy. However that said, I am surprised at just how quickly we have grown in 12 months.

Starting from scratch again last year, I was able to review how I had done things in the past, see what the current market looked like then implement changes to improve. For me, technology had been a big area of development.

When I started my previous firm, my calculations where on a spreadsheet! With Dolan Accountancy, we use FreeAgent software which makes our clients’ lives so much simpler.

The reason for FreeAgent starting is actually a great story – the founder Ed Molyneux was a client of my original firm and he was frustrated with the whole spreadsheet approach, so he went off and built his own software package – FreeAgent. When I launched my new firm, using FreeAgent was a no brainer to make our clients’ lives simpler.

The decision to use this software was simple, as there was a real benefit to the clients. It’s important to analyse your product or service and see how the client will benefit from it, as this in turn will help you to sell it.

Hone and optimise your product

Obviously not all businesses do succeed and even the most successful business owners have experienced their fair share of failure. I was disappointed that a perfume launch and investment in a modelling agency didn’t succeed, but looking back, I realise that I didn’t pay enough attention to the modelling business, which has taught me a valuable lesson.

Anyone starting a business has got to be passionate about what you are doing and really have belief in your product or service, as this will shine through. belief in your product will give you the competitive egde when winning business. Hone the offering until it’s something that you truly believe to be something that your target audience not only want, but need in their work or home lives.

A rather underrated skill for all new businesses – and business in general these days – is the ability to sell. This is not only a skill you need to sell what you offer, but also to sell yourself. You’ll have many situations where you need to ‘sell you!’ This could be when you’re securing a bank loan, renting premises and even attracting staff as you grow.

Prepare to be multi-faceted

It may seem obvious but starting out on your own requires a lot of hard work. When you start your own business, it’s very likely that you will be the only member of the team for a while, so everything rests on your shoulders. You have to wear multiple hats – HR, IT sale and marketing – as well as actually providing the product or service you are offering.

You also need a great deal of resilience when running your own business. I’ve had numerous knock backs, but it’s vital not to take these to heart and see what you can learn from them to improve.

Motivation can sometimes dwindle when it’s just you trying to make your business a success, so you have to be self-motivated to keep going and pushing forward. And as your business grows it’s important to surround yourself with trustworthy and reliable employees.

Above all, you need to work hard as there really is no replacement or short cut when it comes to making your business a success.

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