Starting a business? If you’re starting a business, it’s important to know what to focus on in the early stages and how strategic marketing can help.

The first stage of business is called many things:

  • Early struggle.
  • Startup.
  • Spin cycle (okay, this one is what it FEELS like).

It feels uncomfortable. It has many names, and the same patterns, symptoms and wins. There’s so much to do and its an energised and creative stage including:

  • Your first paying customer! The thrill of that.
  • It takes longer than you think it will! The worry of that.
  • The learning curve and the energy that comes with creating and seeing it start to work? The FUN of that!

“If you have real breakout ideas, even your friends will laugh at you secretly until you can prove their viability. — Van Jones”

Starting a business: your first customer 'If you have real breakout ideas, even your friends will laugh at you secretly until you can prove their viability. — Van Jones'

Ask a business owner ‘do you remember your first paying customer?’ And a smile creeps onto their face at the memory. It’s incredibly rewarding, like a cool drink after a long, hard hike.

The early stage of business is also when all new business owners and leaders realise the value of marketing and communications.

There’s three things to focus on in the early stage of business.

The quicker you get these done, the quicker you get to ‘Fun’ (you can learn more about the 7 stages of the business lifecycle here).

They are:

  1. Funding (ensuring you have enough startup capital / funding to get through the startup phase)
  2. Finding a profitable, sustainable market
  3. Cashflow (increasing your revenue, and managing your expenses before you run out of startup funding)

Predictable Success - Lifecycle StagesThe key aim of any business is to get through the ‘early struggle’ stage as quickly as possible.

“Around 80% of all new ventures don’t make it out of Early Struggle. You’re fighting for your organization’s very existence” – Les McKeown, Predictable Success.

The key to getting through this stage is to get your first and then repeat customers.

The stage after early struggle? It’s called FUN.

Key stages of starting a business

There are well-recognised and mapped stages in the business lifecycle.

The early stages of business each have key priorities for any leader or business owner.

The ‘FUN’ stage is when you’ve found what works and are enjoying the rewards of that early struggle.

A powerful motivator to get through the first stage? You bet!

And, despite what the naysayers will tell you (you know the one that repeats that 80% figure ad nauseam without the positives and the helpful suggestions?) If you follow these frameworks, the path is well-mapped and very achievable.

Three tips if you are starting a business

My no.1 piece of advice? Don’t try to do it alone. Get good advice from people who have successfully navigated the early struggle path before.

My no.2 piece of advice? Use the business model canvas to map out the key areas of your business, so that you don’t inadvertently ‘drop the ball’ in a key area. As leaders, we all have areas we are stronger in and naturally focus more on. The business model canvas is a great tool to ‘check in’ across all areas.

My no. 3 piece of advice? Connect with your why. Write down your vision, mission, and values. Use these as a guiding compass to help you navigate the twists and turns while staying on track.

Early stages of businessA feasible, desirable and viable business

There are three key things to getting through this first stage:

  • Have enough funding/income to get through the early struggle and cover your expenses (this makes you viable). Be pessimistic about what you need, it will always be more than you expect).
  • Get product/market fit and become desirable as quickly as possible. Adapt to connect with your market. Being adaptable is absolutely key. Test, adapt, test adapt. This helps you innovated and validate your business model and the products / services you are offering.
  • Know how you will deliver to your customer, delivering a repeatable, sustainable and great customer experience that is profitable (feasible).

We’ve put together a guide The 7 Steps to Starting Your Business to help you through getting the marketing side of things set up so that you can get through this stage quickly, without expensive setbacks.

Predictable Success is a great read for any new business owner or organisational leader, it also has great information about the key priorities in the ‘early struggle’ stage of a business.

Strategic marketing and communications can help you navigate this phase more quickly. Get in touch is you would like us to help.