The Supper Club - Logo

Top tips to help founders start the new year well

Happy New Year. Or is it? As we enter 2022, predictions on what it has in store for us are, at best, mixed. Starting another year under partial restrictions (even light-touch and Plan B ones) means even optimistic commentators feel the need to add Covid-shaped caveats to their more upbeat prognostications. For those who take a more downbeat view, there is no shortage of reports confirming their negativity bias. In short, they feel sure it could be a good year for bad news.

But even in an uncertain economic environment, there is always a crumb of comfort for founders. In disruption lies opportunity for those able to see it and seize it. So how can you make sure you are as ready and well prepared as you can be? We’ll have more insights on how to grow in 2022 over the coming weeks, but for now, here’s a taster on the best ways to be prepared for the year ahead.

  1. Know your purpose and stick to it Regardless of circumstance, sector or specialism, the most successful businesses always have a clear purpose and a common aim and ambition. Moreover, they can articulate that purpose quickly and clearly and everyone in the organisation can do the same. This is about knowing the why as well as the what of the things you do and offer. What are you the best at and why? What do you offer above that goes above the merely functional and starts to tap into the emotional? What do you stand for; and what you stand against? Once you have these big, existential issues resolved be sure to focus on whatever the it is. It is tempting in tougher times to get dragged out of shape, pulled towards things that may be easier to deliver in the short term. But if they will detract or deflect you from your long-term purpose, such activities should be resisted.

  2. Follow the ball marked “the money is here” At the same time to survive you sometimes will need to follow the money. This is what, in his seminal book How to Get Rich, Felix Dennis referred to as “going towards the ball marked ‘the money is here’”. Many businesses have had to adapt during 2020 and 2021 and make rapid changes as a result of a sudden loss of customers or markets. If you don’t lose sight of your “north star” (see point 1 above), it is legitimate to operate a side hustle or to move into adjacent areas of activity, but try to make sure such activity doesn’t undermine your message about your purpose.

  3. Show the love you need to show There are big calls to be made as money gets tight. This includes possibly going “above and beyond” to keep hold of your best people. At a time when recruiters are coping with a major shortage of talent and offering large “transfer fees”, even for non-star performers, it’s tempting to join the rush and throw money at people. It rarely makes sense to pay over to odds for mediocre performers, but you should strain every sinew to keep hold of your stars. This is the talent that will bring you through a potentially tough year. When you come out the other side, you will be glad to have them on board. But there are stronger bonds than cash to keep people engaged, and money is rarely effective as a long-term retention tool. Loyalty does count though and the same goes for customers and suppliers. Work hard to maintain good relations with your entire supply chain, act as a force for good in your sector and you’ll be repaid when things pick up.

  4. Focus on selling It sounds obvious, but if keeping your existing customers happy is crucial, so too is building or maintaining the flow of new business growth when things get tough. It’s easy to run around preparing for the sky to fall in, rather than doing all you can to make sure it never gets that bad. New business is the lifeblood of most businesses and is essential to keep the bad news wolf from the door. Even the most downbeat predictions for 2022 show relatively strong global economic growth (cue the Covid and lockdowns caveats) as things bounce back to something more normal (repeat and underline Covid caveat). So there will be customers out there. And if you have found that one thing that you are better at than anyone else, you just need to find the right audience for that one thing. What could be easier?

  5. Remember to have fun Perhaps it sounds trite or glib two years into a seemingly never-ending pandemic to talk about having fun. And maybe it is. But then again, maybe it’s the only sensible message to take away from the last two years. Life is short and random, unexpected events can take away what you currently take for granted in a flash. Therefore, why not take the time to make sure you are enjoying your founder’s journey? Focus on the single, simple ambition of seeking out more enjoyment, fun and good times in 2022. If that’s not exactly a prediction, it’s a recipe for 2022 that surely everyone can get behind.