Building support when you're starting up

By: Jean Gamester

Date: 8 March 2017

Building support when you're starting upStarting up a business is an exciting thing. We are often surrounded by cheer-leaders and supporters, family members and employees, who are deeply connected with what we want to do. Sometimes we need them to be involved in making the business work; sometimes we need their moral (or financial) support.

Starting up a business has to be a creative and flexible endeavour. We need to set goals, take action, see the results of that action and adapt depending on how things go. I'm no horsewoman, but I imagine it is a bit like riding a stallion - we have this creature with so much power and potential and we need to steer and control it so we get to our destination, ideally in one piece!

For those around us, it can be much more challenging - they are probably not in control and they don't necessarily know all of your thinking or the details of your plans.

Here are three focus areas to get talking about in order to get their support:

1. Be clear about your goals

Be really clear with them on the purpose of the enterprise. That way you can be clear on whether you are heading in the right direction, no matter what tactics you may be using to get there. It can be about delivering a great service to your customers in a particular area, or about helping people who are struggling with a particular problem.

For example, I know my business is about delivering change or helping others to deliver change. If I take a non-chargeable day out to deliver a keynote speech to promote my business, I know that the topic has to be relevant to change in some way. If I stick with that, I can explain that non-fee earning day to the key stakeholder in my business - my long-suffering yet supportive husband!

2. Explain your approach to experimentation

Many of the most successful businesses do things differently from everyone else. If Richard Branson had stuck with his mail order record business, most of us would never have heard of him.

The key is to experiment with products and services, invest the minimum effort in developing them so that you can see customers' reactions, and then improve them based on that response. You need to involve your supporters and employees all the way through and explain what's happening so that they can contribute and buy into the experiments you are conducting.

3. Manage the bottom line while shooting for the stars

One of the most common reasons for start-up failure is not the absence of great ideas or passion, but the failure to manage the bottom line - cashflow - will kill your business if you let it.

Some entrepreneurs are brilliant at managing the day-to-day, but not so great at experimenting for the future. Others have fantastic long-term plans but forget to make sure the money is coming in today.

Work out where your gaps might be and which of your supporters and employees can help you manage that gap. That way you can get the balance right and achieve success.

Whatever approach you take, the key to a successful business is in working with others to drive the changes you need. If you do that, you're well set up to make your business evolve into all it can be. Good luck!

Sponsored post. Copyright © 2017 Jean Gamester, founder of Semaphora, helps companies get the best from their people through leadership, coaching, communication and change management.