As Complete HQ ticks over its third birthday, we’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing businesses across a range of different industries. The last three years have seen us build a great team and a growing number of wonderful clients who have trusted us to help them on their journey. We've worked with bakers, independents, barbers and jewellers. It's been amazing to be a part of each journey and help each business on the path to where they want to be.
It’s not easy running a business, but we’re feeling especially grateful for all the love and support we’ve received from our friends and clients over the years. Complete HQ wouldn’t be where it is today without the amazing small businesses we work with.
As we enter our fourth year in business, we thought we’d share the pearls of wisdom and the key lessons we’ve learnt from building a business from the ground up.
Here are the lessons we’ve learnt from three years in business.
Remember why you started
Nothing has helped us more than remembering why we started our business in the first place. It has been our true north, helping us navigate the turbulence and uncertainty of the last few months and years.
The last three years in business have outlined the importance of remembering the reason you started your business in the first place, what your aspirations are and what you wanted to change.
We started Complete HQ to make a genuine improvement to the accounting industry by helping business owners find financial freedom. We want to help people understand the numbers behind their businesses and use them to make better decisions about the future. This has been central to all that we do and has helped us shape the direction of our business and grow an organisation that we are genuinely proud to call our own.
It can be easy to get distracted by trends and shiny things in your industry, but remember why you started and stick to your guns– it’s always better to do things your way instead of following the crowd. Stick to what you want to do, follow your purpose instead of following a trend, and you’ll build a business that is true to your beliefs and aspirations.
Take inspiration from outside your industry
The best businesses are the ones innovating and doing things no one else is doing. Taking things that work well in other industries and applying them to your own business can lead to amazing customer experiences that help you stand out from the crowd.
When looking for inspiration on where to take the business, look at organisations you aspire to that aren’t in your industry. What are they doing differently? What do you admire most about them? How does this align with your values, workplace culture and how you work? This could come from any industry, even charities or social enterprises.
Drawing inspiration from a range of different places will help you see your industry in a whole new light, and hopefully change it for the better.
Have a coach or mentor to hold you accountable
Having a guide or mentor that is outside your business is so valuable for helping you grow and challenge your beliefs, whilst providing a much-needed sounding board for new thoughts and ideas.
When you and your team are so deeply focused on your business, having someone outside your organisation you can confide in provides a valuable outside perspective, helping you see things in a whole new light from the people who work in the business daily.
Benefiting from the wisdom and guidance of people more experienced in business has been crucial for us over the years. It has played a huge part in helping us grow, challenge boundaries and get to where we are today– and our business is stronger as a result.
It’s easier to borrow when you don’t need the money
If you know us, you’ll know we couldn’t write this post without including something about cash flow!
A healthy cash flow is the backbone of any thriving business. If you don’t keep on top of the numbers, you’re leaving it up to fate whether your business thrives or survives.
When it comes to cash flow, so many businesses wait until they have a problem to do something about it. They experience a cash shortage and then struggle to get the funds in place to plug the gap. But prevention is always better than cure, as they say.
Ironically, it’s easier to borrow when you don’t need the money. The comfort blanket of having extra working capital avoids getting into the situation of being unable to pay people, and it’s always nice to have an extra buffer. You never know what could be around the corner, whether that’s a shifting economy or a global pandemic.
It’s always best to have a surplus of cash to fall back on. The cost of that will outweigh the downsides of running into cash flow problems further down the line, and it makes it easier to bounce back.
Almost all businesses need to borrow to grow, whether that’s to pay for loans, equipment, recruitment fees or vehicles. But you don’t have to wait until you need the funds to borrow them. Being proactive and securing funds early will not only help you sustain your business– it’ll help you stay ahead of the curve and prepare for the next level of growth.
A business plan should be fluid
A business plan isn’t something you write and then file away, never to be looked at again. A business plan should be fluid, adaptable and open to change.
The last few years have highlighted the importance of business model innovation more than ever. When the pandemic hit, almost all businesses had to adapt to survive, switching to new, remote ways of operating and delivering services and carving out entirely new offerings to replace lost revenue streams during lockdown.
Never underestimate the ability to tweak your business plan so you can adapt to new situations. When economical, political and environmental factors change, it’s the businesses that don’t adjust their models that get left behind.
We need to adapt our business plans so they roll with the times. Not only will it help you stay proactive and ahead of the game, but keeping your model fluid and adaptable might just be the thing that keeps your business afloat.
Get operational work off your desk as soon as you can
As a business owner, it doesn’t have to be you that delivers the work.
The best businesses are the ones with a highly skilled team delivering on the work, leaving the owners with the time to lead and shape the future strategy of the business.
Whilst it can be difficult to give up some control of the business, don’t be afraid of letting go. Invest in a good team to deliver for you and your clients. Trusting others to deliver the work for you will free up your time to focus on other things, meaning your business will grow as a result.
Don’t get stuck in the day-to-day work, it’s not the right mindset for building a business. Too much time ‘in the weeds’ makes it difficult to see the bigger picture and plan for long-term success. When you’re stuck in service delivery mode, you’re not in that higher-level mode that’s needed to shape the future direction of the business. Outsourcing operational work or hiring a great team to deliver it for you gives back valuable time for business strategy and goal planning, helping you deliver the most value for the business.
So there we have it, the most important learnings from our first three years in a business. With a strong sense of purpose, a proactive approach to finances, a fluid business plan and great people to support you, you never know what you can achieve.