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Are you curious to master the top 5 skills for startup founders in 2023? Namely, financial management, planning and problem-solving, team building, time management, and marketing your business. Read more.
To be a successful startup founder in 2023, you have to be savvy. With many elements to consider, figuring out where to start can take time. In addition, setting up a business isn't for the faint-hearted!
It takes a great deal of time, patience, willingness to experiment, and willingness to fail to find your sweet spot. And begin executing a plan that can lay the foundation for consistent and predictable growth.
The challenging and unpredictable recent economy is adding more strain to a new business than ever. In today's fast-paced world, you may feel like the odds are against you, but you can leverage the latest technology to your advantage.
To avoid being in the 20% of new businesses that fail within the first two years, you need to learn essential skills in managing your business and personal life.
As a startup founder, it's a case of continuously learning and adapting to the current environment. You might have the best idea in the world but struggle to succeed if you don't refine your skills.
When you master these top 5 essential skills early in your business lifecycle, it gives your startup the best chance for success:
- Financial management
- Planning and problem-solving
- Having the right skills in your team
- Time management and productivity
- Marketing your startup business
1. Financial management
Financial management is an unignorable, essential skill for startup founders. Arguably, the element of running a new business causes the most strain. If your finances have kept you up at night, you already understand the pressure.
Many variables can halt a startup's progress from securing funding to managing its cash flow.
Follow these four essential wealth management tips for founders to avoid money worries taking over:
- Regularly bill for work to improve cash flow
- Don't spend money you don't have in your bank yet
- Seek professional support through a wealth advisor and an accountant
- Understand your runway number – how long you can operate with what you currently have in the bank
When you refine these financial skills to become second nature, you reduce the risk of failure for your startup business.
Don't avoid looking after and managing your wealth alongside business finance. Even though you may want to put everything into making your startup a success, you still need to protect your personal finance needs.
Ensure you save for retirement and diversify wealth assets outside your startup business. These savings will give you peace of mind in case of any poor financial outcomes from the company.
Tools to help improve financial management
Hiring financial professionals will give you peace of mind that you're doing the right things. But there are many tools out there to make managing finances yourself easier. Leveraging automation saves time and reduces costs.
Sign up for a digital accounts software package. You can automate the full b2b payments process through online software technology – from paying vendors to reconciliation.
Taking the manual work from financial processes will save your startup valuable admin time. You can also reduce invoicing and processing fees by picking the right tool.
2. Planning and problem-solving
Having a solid business plan and strategy to run a successful startup and gain investor backing would be best. How well have you planned your business? It's not good enough to hope for the best.
The famous quote by Benjamin Franklin sums it up nicely – "if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!"
Creating a business plan
For any business to exist, you need to identify the problem you're solving for people. But you also need to check there's a good product/market fit and high enough demand for your business to be sustainable.
A business plan should include the following elements –
- Executive summary – what your business is and why it will work.
- Company description – a more detailed look into your business. Includes your mission statement, leadership structure, and general information about your business operations.
- Business goals – what are you planning to achieve?
- Market analysis – who are your competitors, what demand is there for your business, and what's your advantage?
- Financial plans – detailing your operating costs and profit forecast.
- Marketing strategy – how will people find out about your business? (We include more about marketing strategy later in the article.)
Once your initial business plan is complete, you should continue to adapt it. There may be specific tests or research you can't complete until you're a fully-fledged business with customers. So keep learning and refining your business.
Problem-solving as a founder
Although a business plan is essential, it will only cover some things. Moreover, it's almost guaranteed there will be some bumps in the road you didn't consider – so it's an essential skill to keep calm under pressure.
As a startup founder, you should be able to solve problems without being led by your emotions. You will need to deal with various things, including customer complaints, operations hiccups, staff absences, and much more.
A problem-solving framework eliminates guesswork and helps you make intelligent decisions:
- Understand the problem.
- Design the solution.
- Build the best solution.
3. Having the right skills in your team
People can make or break a startup business, so choose your team wisely. Even founders with prior business experience will have knowledge and skills gaps. You can look for online courses, webinars, and events to upskill yourself.
Finding the right fit for your business is vital to hire employees. Alongside checking they will suit the company culture, you need to consider the HR implications.
Have you (or anyone in your team) got any leadership and management experience? This type of leadership is a whole different skill set altogether. Training to be an effective leader could be a worthy investment to avoid costly mistakes.
Outsourcing to consultants or freelance experts at the startup stage can be a great decision to help build a well-rounded team. They already have the skills needed to hit the ground running to fill your skills gap. Although it can seem more expensive initially, you reduce the time and overheads by outsourcing.
4. Time management and productivity
Have you ever answered a quick email only to realize 3 hours have passed? Unfortunately, startup founders often fall into the trap of having too many spinning plates, so something cracks – usually, the first thing to go is your work/life balance.
When you fail to manage your time effectively, it negatively impacts the business and your well-being. To stop this from happening, use technology to help manage your time.
Start with automating repetitive tasks. Get proper systems in place for your entire workflow, which are easy for anyone to pick up and understand how to complete tasks. These systems make delegating much easier.
It also reduces the risk if something happens to you, such as sickness or a personal emergency, which means you can't work.
Try time-blocking your calendar with themed days for specific tasks. This time-blocking can give your week some structure and stop getting carried away with unimportant tasks. For example, only check your emails once or twice daily and block meetings to afternoons.
When you refine your systems for excellent time management, your business can sustainably handle growth. It also helps when the time comes to hire a bigger team.
5. Marketing your startup business
How do you get people to know about your business and buy from you? With great marketing, that's how! But it would help if you had a marketing strategy for it to work, relating to a plan with clear goals and timeframes.
It's essential to understand your customers and their needs. So first, determine who your customers are to build an ideal customer persona. After you've done this, you can create a marketing plan relevant to your audience.
Think about the 4 Ps of marketing –
- Product – what's the product (or service), why is it needed, and how does it help?
- Price – how much are customers willing to pay? This price tolerance will impact your sale price alongside any production or overhead costs. Consider the psychology behind pricing your item right; some markets have a ceiling price.
- Place – where can you reach your customers? Research where they hang out – whether that's online or in-person locations.
- Promotion – how will you promote your product or service? This promotional strategy includes identifying any specific marketing channels to focus on.
Marketing is an essential skill for startup founders, and with so many online tools and how-to guides, it's possible to get started without any prior marketing knowledge.
Marketing takes patience – it's all about testing, measuring, and reiterating. Great marketing campaigns improve over a series of tests, learning more about your audience and what's working well each time. Remember to use any poor marketing results as a learning opportunity to avoid repeating the same mistake.
Avoid the top startup founder challenges
Knowing the essential skills required as a startup founder, you can avoid being overwhelmed and make more intelligent decisions. Use helpful tools and implement suitable systems for a more future-proof, successful business.
In 2023, to be a successful startup founder, it is essential to learn and adapt to the current environment continuously. Mastering the top five essential skills early in the business lifecycle gives startups the best chance for success. These five skills are financial management, planning and problem-solving, having the right skills in your team, time management and productivity, and marketing your startup business.
Financial management is the most critical skill for startup founders. It is essential to bill for work regularly, avoid spending money you do not have in your bank, seek professional support through a wealth advisor and accountant, and understand your runway number.
Planning and problem-solving skills are essential for creating a solid business plan and strategy to gain investor backing. It is crucial to identify the problem you're solving for people and check there is a good product/market fit and enough demand for your business to be sustainable.
People can make or break a startup business, so choosing the right team wisely is essential. Outsourcing to consultants or freelance experts at the startup stage can be a great decision to help build a well-rounded team.
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