Startups struggle all the time. This is the way it is; we all know about the stats showing that the vast majority of startups fail within the first year. They’re enough to scare anyone out of ever starting a company at all.

However, it doesn’t all have to be so negative, though. If you’re aware of what you’re going to need to do and what you will have to get right, there is no reason why you can’t succeed and make a success of your business.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that any of this is going to be easy. It certainly won’t be. But if you’re properly prepared for what lies ahead, and you have a strong plan to guide you, you will have a much better chance of keeping your business afloat. After all, the first rule of business is staying in business. Here are the things your startup will have to get right if you want to do that.

1. Understanding the market and the competition

You’re not going to be the only company competing for the customers you want. Your rivals in the sector will be going after the same people, and you have to come up with a way to ensure that your business beats.

But before that can happen you will have to develop a strong and informed understanding of the market your business is entering, as well as the other businesses in it. If you don’t, your company will always struggle to come out on top. So, do what you can do make sure that your business is aware of what’s going on around it at all times.

2. Truly innovative ideas

Innovative ideas are not exactly easy to come by. Not many businesses or people actually have them. But when a company does bring forward an idea that people haven’t seen before, and it appeals to them, they will be sure to get ahead and do well. There is no sure-fire way to come up with these ideas. It’s the kind of thing that either happens or it doesn’t.

But you should, at least, spend some time thinking up ideas and seeing how original they are before you get your business up and running. By getting this right, you will be able to make sure that your business is never left behind by more innovative companies.

3. Balancing the books

Unbalanced books usually spell the end for a business. If a company can’t remain in profit, then it’s going to find itself in serious trouble before long. You just need to make more money than you spend. Sounds simple, right? Well, everyone things that until the times comes to actually do it.

Be aware of how helpful professional accounting methods can be before you get started. If you don’t have accounting methods that are strong and reliable, your task of keeping the books of the business balanced will be pretty much impossible. It might even be a good idea to hire a professional accountant.

4. A flexible approach to business

Flexibility is one of those things that businesses that stick around for a long time nearly always have. They are able to adapt to new and unusual situations.

Not every business does that. So, if you want to get your approach right and make sure your business is built to last, you should do what you can to make the business as flexible and as adaptable as it possibly can be.

It won’t be too easy to actually make that happen, but if you instill those values early on, it will certainly be possible. Train people to think outside the box and respond rapidly to situations as they unfold.

5. Effective management

Effective management is another important factor that a lot of people forget about when they’re starting a business. But if the company is not managed and led in the right kind of way, it won’t get very far or find much success.

The mentality and the attitude of the people at the very top of the business have to be second to none. It’s the management that dictates the actions and mentalities of the business as a whole. So, if things are wrong at the top, they will be wrong throughout the entire business. That’s just the way it is.

6. A tech strategy that’s built for the future

Technology is a big part of the modern business landscape. Very few businesses survive if they don’t have the right technology in place that helps them to get ahead and push further than the competition. So, you should try to come up with a tech strategy before the company even opens for business.

And the strategy you put in place should make it possible for the business to ride the waves that lie ahead. Success is worthless unless it’s long-term sustainable success. That’s why you should always make sure that the business is built for the future.

7. Advertising and marketing plans

Advertising and marketing are two things that no business can afford to ignore or be without these days. If your company does not have a solid advertising and marketing plan, it simply won’t get very far at all. There is no point wishing these things away.

Yes, there are lots of things to learn when you start a business, but none are more important than these two things. Without a proper plan regarding how you’re going to market and advertise the business and its products in those early weeks and months, the startup definitely won’t hit the ground running. Is that something you can afford to let happen?

8. Keeping startup costs low

The startup costs that your business has to contend with are often very high. Or they can be high if you don’t put a plan in place for how you’re going to keep them down. If you want your business to get off on the right foot and remain in a reasonably healthy financial condition, you should aim to keep the startup costs as low as possible.

You should always compare prices and look for the lowest priced option out there. Pinching the pennies and comparing all the options whenever you have to make a spending decision might not be fun, but it is vital.

9. Paying employees properly and fairly

Your employees are the motor of the business, and that’s something that you should keep in mind at all times. Most small businesses live and die on the quality of their teams. If your team is performing well and giving their all for the company, it will be much more likely to get ahead and find real success.

On the other hand, if your employees lack motivation or they’re simply unhappy, things won’t go so well. If you are letting people work overtime, you can use a mobile employee time tracker. This is a good way to ensure that people get paid properly. And keep your pay rates competitive and fair too.

10. Having a backup plan

Having a backup plan is really important when you are just starting out in the world of business. Unless you have an idea to fall back on, you will struggle to survive if something goes wrong with your initial plan. In life, things rarely go smoothly or how you want them to. You have to be prepared to switch things up and take a new approach if you want your business to swim rather than sink. That might sound scary, but it has to be done.

Founding Editor @Alltopstartups, Contributor @Entrepreneur, Columnist @Inc. Magazine and Curator at Postanly (his free weekly digest of the best life and career improvement posts on the web. Subscribe for free.

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