Running a small business is not easy, and the opportunity to fail presents itself daily. Here are 8 ways that you can prevent small business failure either as a startup or an existing small business.
1. Stick to the plan.
When you start your business it is imperative to have a business plan, and stick to it. This means a number of things. It means building your foundation. It means sitting down with your startup team (if you have one) and writing down your business’s goals and mission statement. It means planning and research marketing. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be flexible and change things up, but make sure that you are always progressing toward your goal. Ben Franklin said it best: “Failure to plan is planning to fail.”
2. If you’re going to do it, do it right.
Don’t get me wrong, starting a business is all about taking risks, but make sure that those risks aren’t legal ones. If you are putting your money into a business, be smart and spend that extra little bit to make sure that your bases are covered legally. While you’re at it, look into an accountant. If you don’t know all of your legal and fiscal duties and end up in trouble, chances are you’ll be seeing a lawyer and an accountant anyway. See them before you run into trouble. It’s usually less expensive that way.
3. Avoid marketing problems.
The biggest problems that small business owners face have to do with marketing.
- They do not define their target market. This is huge. You have to know who you are selling to and you have to market specifically for them.
- They do not embrace new technology, and that includes social networks and email marketing ventures.
- They do not market enough or at all. Plenty of great businesses have died because nobody knew that they existed.
Poor marketing will down a business before it’s even up. Embrace marketing. You’ll be glad you did.
4. Stay on top of your finances.
Many businesses have gone under due to financial problems. Not reviewing financial statements, spending too much, spending too little, not having enough cash on hand, wasteful spending—all of these are recipes for disaster. Good finance is the key to success.
5. Get help if needed.
Too many people are afraid to ask for help. Whether they are afraid of sharing the success, are full of pride and don’t want to be seen as weak, or just don’t think they need it, plenty of business owners are guilty of trying to do everything on their own. Just remember, not asking for help—trying to do things that you simply cannot do—can kill your business.
6. Assume the role.
Keep in mind that you are going to be running a business. If you have no experience in management, get some quick. Read up on it. Without knowing how to manage a business you might end up hiring too soon, hiring the wrong people, mismanaging supplies and resources—you get the picture.
7. Adjust as needed.
As much as you need to be rigid with your business plan, you need to be able to adjust yourself around it as well. If you can’t take criticism constructively, and if you are so headstrong that you aren’t willing to change for the better, maybe running a small business isn’t for you.
8. Don’t overstretch yourself, and DON’T GIVE UP!
Last but not least is that you do not work yourself to death. This kind of falls into asking for help, but more than that it means that you need to know how much you can give. If you work yourself too hard you will begin to lose sight of the big picture, and might give up. If there is one thing you want to be, it is patient. So you might fail the first time, or the second time. Or the third. You might fail fifty times. But you will not succeed one single time if you give up. Work hard (but don’t overwork yourself) and never give up. Businesses are not built on people who give up.
About the author: Miles Hall is a blogger who focuses largely on the world of small business. He contributes to the site businessbroker.net, for which he writes about small businesses for sale.