Starting a new business can be both exciting and challenging. It can take a lot of time and effort to build a client base and reach profitability. 

But you may wonder how long you should give your operations to succeed. Without a clear timeline, it can be difficult to track the effectiveness of your objectives and the overall promise of your business. Luckily, we can help. 

This guide discusses how to measure the success of new businesses, including:

  • What does a successful business look like?
  • How long should you give a new business to succeed?
  • What are some tips to help your business succeed?

What does a successful business look like?

Before you can understand how long it takes for a business to succeed, let’s go over what defines a successful new business. Knowing these attributes can help you measure how well your business is doing in the given time. 

Achieving profitability 

One of the key factors of a successful business is money. To survive, you must earn more money than you spend on your operations. 

Profitability lets you cover your financial obligations to run your business. Plus, it means you’ll earn an income to support your personal expenses. With strong profits, you can invest the excess cash to grow your business over time. 

So what makes a business profitable? First, you need to earn a sufficient profit margin from each sale. On top of this, you’ll need to organise and reduce your expenses to avoid wasteful spending. 

To learn more, check out how to make your business profitable

Offering strong products or services

Offering great products or services is another sign of a successful business. It’s important that you offer high quality and useful products or services. Plus, the offerings should have a clear market and unique selling point

What does your small business offer that draws in customers? What kind of demand is there for your particular products or services? You can measure this through market research and your resulting sales numbers. 

Say you plan to start a coffee shop. With so many other similar businesses in your area, what do you offer that makes people buy you coffee over others? For example, you might create cool latte art or roast your beans in house. 

Creating a brand for your target audience

If you can build a loyal audience and brand awareness for your business, it’ll be much easier to succeed. 

As you develop your brand, be sure to design it to reach your target audience. Doing so effectively allows you to get your products and services in front of people who would be most interested in them. 

With a well-thought-out brand, you can build awareness for your business that supports longevity.

To learn more, check out how to build a brand for a small business.  

How long should you give a business to succeed?

There’s no strict timeline for how long it takes for a business to become successful, but most businesses can expect to follow similar paths:

Year one

Your first year when starting a business will be the most challenging, and you’ll need to put in lots of time and effort to get it off the ground. You need to figure out:

  • Unique selling point (USP) – What you want to sell that people will want
  • BrandingHow you want to present your business
  • Business goalsWhat you want to achieve
  • Target market and audience – Who you want to sell to
  • Financial managementHow you’ll manage your costs and income
  • MarketingHow you’ll get the word out about your new business

The good news is that you can reach several targets in your first year, such as:

  • Launching your website
  • Selling your first product or getting your first client
  • Earning your first £1000

Setting smaller and more achievable goals in your first year will give you confidence that you’re on your way to building the business you really want. This will help keep you motivated even when times get tough.

Year two

As you move into your second year, you might feel like there isn’t that much to celebrate if you’ve already hit your first targets. But remember that 20% of startups fail in their first year, so you’ve already beaten those. 

This year is more about maintaining a healthy cash flow, meaning a good balance between money in versus money out. 

To survive beyond your second year, you need to develop your customer or client base. Many of your first customers will be gone, so you’ll need to focus on nurturing relationships with the ones you still have. 

With the right marketing and sales strategy, you should see more leads coming to your business through your website, social media, email, etc. Your success will depend on how efficiently you can convert these leads.

Year three

By your third year, running your business might feel even tougher. You’ve hit your first targets, and your next milestones will be few and far between.

This is the year to fine-tune your business and determine what’s working for you and what isn’t.

You might also look at:

  • Recruiting staff
  • Working on your leadership skills
  • Launching a new product or service
  • Adjust your business goals

Year three is the time to commit and put in the work even when you feel you don’t make any progress.

Year four to six

Did you know that around 60% will go bust within their first three years?

So, if your business has made it this far, you’re a real champion. 

During these years, you’ll finally feel like you know what you’re doing. Your business will have a steady flow of customers/clients, and you’ll have a clearly defined brand. 

If you make it past year four, you’ll already be more successful than most small businesses ever became. 

Track your financial success with one clever app

Financial management is key to running a successful business. You need to be aware of how much you spend compared to your income to ensure your business makes a profit.

You can make financial management easy with the right solution. 

Countingup is the business current account and accounting software in one app. It automates time-consuming bookkeeping admin for thousands of self-employed people across the UK. 

Save yourself hours of accounting admin so you can focus on growing your business. 

Start your three-month free trial today.