How to Keep Your Small Business Above Water in Year One

Have you just started a new business? If so, you may be working on your strategy to ensure your business will function and flourish within its first year in the market. Realistically, this should all be part of your business plan prior to actually launching your business. But, the strategy can also be applied after the fact — especially if you’ve started as a freelancer or something similar. Sometimes bad things happen and you need to have a plan in place to work through this.

So, here are a few things that  you can do to ensure your small business will stay above water during its first year of business, even if it isn’t going as well as you had hoped and you face some adversity along the way.

Build Relationships

The better your relationships are with your clients, the likelier you will be able to keep your business up and running on a long-term basis. One good relationship is often a doorway to many more, so this can help you accumulate more business as you go along. In times of struggle, being able to reach out to a network of support can also be great in order to help boost you up during a difficult time.

Discounts, introductory rates and a simple thing such as face-to-face conversations can make a big difference when it comes to the relationships you form.

Make Advertising and Marketing a Priority

Talking about your business is essential in order to make sure that people know it exists. If you don’t, then you’re essentially shooting your new business in the proverbial foot, which is never a good thing when trying to keep yourself afloat.

In the modern world, some form of digital marketing is vital in order to generate business, or at the very least produce some brand awareness for your business. This can be in the form of social media marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, etc. You can even try your hand at more traditional marketing, such as print, radio or TV.

Consumers or clients never really shut off, so making sure you have some form of marketing or advertising running at any given time can be important from a business standpoint. Making money around the clock thanks to online marketing it possible — as long as you have the right marketing campaign running to back it up.

Have an Online Presence

Surviving as a business without an online presence these days is next to impossible. Unless you have a vibrant local community or great word of mouth marketing, you will need some other form of marketing or advertising in order to be seen and heard.

You need to have a complete online presence — relevant social media profiles, a website designed to convert visitors and other profiles, such as local business directories and review websites.

An online presence creates natural brand awareness, and that awareness grows exponentially over time as you put more effort into building your brand.

Build a Strong Reputation

A strong reputation for your business instills consumer trust.

If things are slow, think about taking on some pro bono work or doing something for charity. It may not produce revenue, but it’s great PR for your business. Ultimately, it helps build a strong reputation for your business over time. Just a little bit of giving back can do wonders for your company’s image.

Eye the Bottom Line

Big expenses are not always a luxury your business can afford in its first year. Things like prime office space, contract management, fancy desks and over the top amenities greatly reduce your operating capital. If you want to improve the odds of surviving the first year, focus on operating as thin as possible. For example, opt for a co-working space or run a remote team rather than lease a large office space. Not only does this greatly reduce year one expenses, but it also doesn’t require you to commit to a long-term commercial lease, which can typically run anywhere from 3 to 10 years.

Justify all of your spendings and keep positive cash flow your main focus. Also, avoid going into debt — it’s the worst thing you can do for your business and will make it harder to remain above water. If it’s not vital to the successful operation of your business then it’s not an expense you should be entertaining.



Zack Halliwell is a freelance writer in the business and marketing niche, giving advice on anything from branding strategy to product marketing. When not writing he can be found on long mountain walks with his dog, Batman.