Startup business owners always seem to have 1,000 different things to do. Whether it’s managing cash flow, setting up demand forecasts, or communicating with your supply chain, it can be hard to know whether or not your business is on track.
For the upcoming year, it’s important to follow some best practices to ensure all of your strategic plans are on track and your growth is proceeding smoothly.
1. Use OKR Software.
Objectives and key results (OKRs) are incredibly valuable for tracking each and every ambitious goal you’ve set at the company level. You can even set OKRs on a personal level or for your team members. The OKR process works like this: At the end of the quarter, you’ll review a balanced scorecard that details a set of key results. You’ll then review your OKRs and determine if any tweaks or adjustments need to be made. The use of OKRs can help you set business goals. OKR software is a great place to start if you’re unfamiliar with how OKRs work, the specifics of the OKR methodology and goal-setting framework, and even individual OKRs.
2. Review your Key Performance Indicators.
Unlike key results, key performance indicators are much more visible metrics. KPIs can range from how much money you’re bringing in to the increase in customer demand for certain products. If you’re not sure how to set up your key performance indicators, you can always use an online template to help you pick a few to get started. Like the OKR process, you’ll likely want to review these metrics at the end of the quarter.
3. Review Historical Data.
When you’re looking towards the future, what better place to start than the past? Even though startups won’t have a ton of data to pull from, this can still be beneficial. Historical data can show you trends, dips, and peaks in your business. It can also give you ideas on how to tweak some of your strategic plans moving forward. For instance, if you own a manufacturing company startup, review the past few quarters’ worth of sales. Can you spot any notable trends? How can previous sales influence your ongoing strategy?
4. Use Forecasting Techniques.
While historical data can be beneficial, it doesn’t work for every startup. Sometimes, you’re going to want to get an accurate forecast of your sales or business performance. One of the benefits of forecasting is it can allow you to make preemptive tweaks to certain departments or roles, like a customer service representative or product manager. A sales forecast, on the other hand, can be trickier. Usually, an accurate sales forecast operates on more of a sliding scale that shows several possible outcomes.
5. Keep Creating Content.
One of the best ways to keep your startup on track is by creating frequent, consumer-friendly content. Whether you’re writing about industry best practices or the ins and outs of machine learning or a manufacturing company, regular posting can keep you to a more defined business schedule. Plus, quality content puts a voice to your business. While it can be an ambitious goal to post multiple times a week, it can even help your SEO performance.
6. Monitor the Competition.
If you’re doing one thing and all of your competitors are doing another, there are two possible explanations: First, you might have stumbled upon a new tactic that your competition hasn’t considered. Second, you may be going about things the wrong way. While you never want to copy the competition, you should keep a close eye on them. You never know when inspiration (or red flags) might strike.
Keeping a new startup on track can be daunting, to say the least. With a few smart tools in your arsenal, however, it should be much more manageable.