FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION!!
According to the US Small Business Association 2/3 small businesses are out of business within 2 years and from those remaining only 44% survive the next 2! This is a dire statistic for those considering starting their own company – and perhaps a necessary reminder to the uninitiated or uncommitted.
In some cases and for some people betting your entire investment on one hand of cards might statistically give you a better chance of getting ahead. But, you’re not going to make the same mistakes that the majority of small business owners make, are you?
What are those mistakes?
And what are the keys that give the top 14% who make it the winning edge?
Mistakes to Avoid
While there are a number of mistakes that can cost you your business some are easier to avoid than others. Natural disasters and, to some degree, economic factors may be beyond your ability to avoid and apart from insurance there may be no point in preparing contingency plans for them. So what are the pitfalls that you can avoid?
1. Lack of vision, goals and planning
The essential building blocks for your business must be a vision or mission and an accompanying set of goals and plans. “Plan your work, then work your plan” is a popular saying amongst successful business managers. These winning leaders know that prior consideration of the business and its environment is the key to future success. This doesn’t have to be complex or even detailed to be successful. You could have a living, flexible plan that allows for your personal preference and style. This is okay, provided something is prepared before you start out and written down so that you can refer to it and measure progress and actions against it. Then schedule regular reviews of your goals and actual performance.
2. Insufficient cash flow
Without cash your business will grind to a crashing halt overnight and you’ll find yourself and your business on the wrong side of the statistics and in the back of the unemployment queue. You simply must have money. That is not to say that making a profit is necessary, particularly in the first few years as your business establishes itself, but the cash to meet monthly expenses is vital. Failing here is probably an extension of a failure in your planning and review (see above), but equally it could be a result of simply failing to collect the money owed to you or to be too lenient on customers or staff (fraud is a very big problem – plan for it!)
3. Expanding too slowly
The market is a massive place today, particularly with the simplicity of the internet. Businesses are competing not only with local rivals, but also with interstate and overseas companies big and small and with family run or home based business using auction sites like eBay to sell items at prices that the average ‘bricks-and-mortar’ business with large overheads could profit from. Margins are very small in this environment and so the key to success is now expansion. You will stand a much better chance of winning the war if you have troops on the ground in a number of places (so to speak). Consider franchising if you are not comfortable taking on a number of offices or stores or get good advice and mentoring from someone who has done it before. It’s really necessary, despite the complexity involved.
4. Insufficient/inappropriate investment
Do you own your own business? Chances are that if you are still small you have put most of the funds in yourself. What should you invest it in to get the most value for those precious dollars? Certainly you’ll need plant and equipment to get you going, but don’t be afraid to invest in quality technology and in training and promotion as well. We are living in a vastly different age now than ever before. Technology is at the forefront of global commerce and you need to be hooked into it just to survive. Of course there is no need to go overboard, but you simply must be mobile, fast and able to store and process data quickly and accurately. Training and promotion are likewise necessary for your staff and opportunity to drive and navigate the information superhighway successfully.
5. Poor business and/or management skills
Chances are that you are not good at everything (even if, like me, you like to think that you are). You may be a whiz at technology, or great with people, or have a nose for a deal or the head for negotiation. Whatever your skill set is you should work to your strengths and try to develop your weaknesses, but while in time you may improve in some of those, you may not do it quick enough to save your business from the 85% destined to failure. Get people on board that complement your strengths and you’ll find yourself in a much better position to guide your company forward successfully and really listen to what those who know better than you have to say!
Keys to Success
If you can avoid the mistakes listed above you have half the battle won. Now, take no prisoners. Pump up your attitude and get your mind around the idea that you are going to be one of the successful ones. This can take some practice and mental conditioning coaches, positive friends and family members and mentors are going to help you get yourself thinking better if you make it a habit to consult with them. Arm yourself with motivation and with people that will remind you why you are in business and what you want to get done. Get in contact with mentors or take on partners who can guide you and a team that will support you.
Being a small business owner is a difficult road and one that will require not only iron-clad commitment and unshakable determination, but great sacrifice, often of personal and family money and time. Be sure to be appreciative of any people who you love who have to give up something they value to support your ambitions. Keep your health up – eat well, don’t skip meals or exercise and get some refreshment in the form of entertainment or recreation now and again so that you can keep at it for the long run.
Oh, and keep your eye out for a little bit of good old fashioned luck!
With these things in mind you are in a position to be able to make it, and remember that despite the grim statistics many, many businesses do. Yours will be one of them and you will be able to achieve your dreams and ambitions if you stay true.
And stay out of casinos!