Setting a solid foundation for your business

I love the ocean and in particular love surfing. Although the sport is free, there is a lot of expensive equipment that is required including your board (or boards!), fins, wetsuits, boots (for those in Victoria anyway) etc. Yet despite all of this expensive hardware, the most important piece of equipment is your $4 block of wax.

Surfboard wax is a sticky wax residue that gets applied to all boards to enable surfers to keep their grip while out in the water. Applied religiously before any session, it aids in gripping the board when going under a wave, paddling around to catch the wave, pushing to standing position and also to maneuver the board as you ride the wave.

Without this foundation coat of wax on their board that takes literally a minute to apply, surfers would be slipping and sliding everywhere.

Your business foundation is similar to the role played by wax in surfing. You apply it before you start, it helps you get around and ultimately provides the foundation for you to stand on your own two feet.  Like wax, a good foundation is needed to help you succeed in business.

So how do you build a solid foundation for your business to stand up?  

Have a clear vision

In 3 to 5 years’ time, where would you want your business to be?  This is your vision for your business.  Think far enough down the road and set lofty, but realistic goals for you to meet.

While it’s good to include your profit goals into your vision, you’ll want to include other aspects of your business.  What awards and recognition do you want your business to receive?  How big would you want your team to be?  

Once you set a vision for your business, set one for yourself.  Remember, you don’t live to work.  Everything you do in your business should be for the improvement of your life and the people around you.  How would you want to live in 3-5 years’ time?  

Create a mission statement

Now that you have a clear vision of where you want you and your business to be in a few years’ time, create a mission statement based on that.  

Almost every business has a mission statement, but make yours bold.  Make yours inspiring.  

Treat your mission statement like your battle cry as you enter into the market.  It should be a message that you and your team can rally around even on the toughest of times.  It should be the words that can spur your hearts to work hard to achieving your vision.

Don’t go overboard though!  You want your mission statement to be attainable.  Challenging, but possible to attain.  Setting an impossibly hard mission statement will only be a source of frustration for you and your team.

Come up with your business’ core values

Your company’s core values can be totally different to your personal values, or it can be similar.  Like your mission statement, make it realistic and something everyone can adhere to.  Your core values will define you as a company and how your team members interact with each other.  Be unique and make it personal so that it resonates with your team’s feelings.  

Build your business plan

You now have a vision, a mission statement and core values.  It’s time to create a business plan around these so that you can reach your vision in the time you’ve set.

Your business plan is the blueprint your business will be built on and will include plans on how you will make a profit.  Include your business concept, startup costs and partners.  

Investigate your strengths and weaknesses through a comprehensive SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis.  A good SWOT analysis will enable you to maximize your strengths and supplement weaknesses.  It will make you aware of opportunities that come your way and warn you of potential threats.

Make your business plan comprehensive and try to cover any contingencies you can think of.  This is going to be your playbook, your cheat sheet, and it’s also what potential investors will be looking at if they become interested in investing their money into your company.

In your business plan, include your planned business structure.  Will it be a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a limited liability corporation (LLC)?  Learn the differences between these and how your local government regulates each of these business types so that you can pick what’s best for you.

Build your team by evaluating individuals, while looking at them as a team

Look at your list of potential new hires to join you in your new start-up.  Look at what their skills are.  Narrow down your list according to the skills you’ll need to make your plan a reality.  Look at potential skill sets that can prove useful to you in the future.  Once you’ve got your shortlist, re-evaluate them and see how they can complement each other as a team.  

You’ll get a pretty good idea now which teams you’ll assign these people to so that their skills make up for each other’s shortcomings while making the most out of each skillset.  

Keep your eyes and ears open

Even the best business plan and company organization will need to be tweaked due to the dynamic nature of the market.  There might be changes in your customer’s purchasing habits, a new competitor might have come out with a new disruptive product or there may be a shift in the general economy.  

Don’t limit yourself to your plan.  Keep a lookout and be flexible.  Open up your mind to new concepts that come your way and be sure to constantly review your plan.

Of course it also helps if you keep on studying and researching so that you’ll never be left behind the curve.

Set a fallback

Sometimes, things happen that are beyond your control and you’ll find yourself in dire straits.  Try to foresee these problems and create contingency plans.  Set your structure so that your company can truly be agile and react quickly to changing tides in the market.  

If all else fails, you’ll want to have capital reserved for tough times.  Ideally, you’d want to have enough for at least 6 months of operation stored up as emergency funds to catch your business should you run into exceptionally tough times.  

So there you go.  With these tips, you’ve got a that trusty coat of wax that’ll keep you on your board and let you ride through even the toughest of waves.

 


Allan Bennetto

Allan Bennetto

Founder at JMango

Full time Founder, part time Bootstrappr. Love the surf, snow, startups, technology, music, arts, design, mobile and food. And lots of it. www.twitter.com/allanbennetto www.linkedin.com/in/allanbennetto www.google.com/+allanbennetto

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