When most people hear that over half of all small businesses fail within the first year, it scares them. While fear is natural, it can also be useful inspiration. Fear keeps you on your toes and alert. It can help you focus and driven.
Being a small business owner means that you’re in it for the long haul, not for a quick buck; at the end of the day you realize that if it came too easily, it can disappear just as quickly. In addition to living by these concepts, there are a few others you should also keep in mind.
Less Focus on Your Wallet
One of the reasons to go into any business is to make money. The problem is when you’re focused on your wallet you tend to let the important ideas falter, like focusing on quality and added value. People come to you because you have something that they want or need.
If you choose to approach customers with the idea of providing value and helping them to achieve their goal, you’ll find that you won’t need to work as hard to win them over. Providing quality service means that they will automatically think of your business when they need things to get done. It’s an approach loosely called “help marketing.”
Focusing on providing great service means you’ll have to spend less money on marketing because you’ll build up a repeat customer base that will help you attract more new customers. First, find a need, then fill it and you’ll always get paid.
Embrace Continuous Improvement
Just because you’re a small business owner doesn’t mean you should stop being an entrepreneur. Indeed, seeking out new techniques and new ideas for making your business better is required in enhancing your business survivability. Innovation comes from a variety of sources inside and outside your industry.
If you are making handmade items, you could be inspired by a great idea you read in a handicraft sites. If you are owning a gadget store, you can read technology news sites and join tech forums to get ideas and inspirations. With the Internet at your finger tips, information has never been easier to access.
Also think strategically. That could mean forming joint partnerships with a vendor or a peer. Think about how you can supplement your current business offerings in a way that adds value for your customers.
Listen to Your Instincts
Failure is bitter pill to swallow for any small business leader. You’re doing what you think you have all the answer but your business has other ideas. The fact is, most of the time failure is inevitable and it usually arises because you either took something for granted or ignored your instincts.
- You expanded too soon – It’s a great thing to be in a position to expand your business because you’ve achieved enough success in your current area. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should immediately or that what you’re doing will work just as well in this new territory. It’s a good idea to take a look at your business model and fine tune it first. Expanding in a new direction before really ironing out the chinks can lead to catastrophe.
- Cutting your losses – Even though things were going well, something still wasn’t right or if you’re fighting to get your business partners as excited as you are and it’s not working, then it’s time to cut your losses. As a CEO, it’s your responsibility to make sure you do what’s best for your business. If something isn’t working, wishing won’t solve the problem. Cut your losses and move on.
- You ignored what wasn’t working – Looking for the positive is a great trait, but knowing what isn’t working can be just as telling. If you’re recent marketing tactics aren’t drawing the results you got before, or if your foray into a new product line isn’t going the way you thought, you need to take a look at what’s not working and get to the bottom of it.
Adapt and Pivot
One of the biggest regrets of too many small business owners is they doubled-down instead stepping back and changing direction. Yes, it’s your idea. Yes, it may be brilliant, but if you fall in love with your idea you risk being too inflexible to bend to the market if you need to. The ability to adapt is vital.
One of the best is example is a video dating site called Tune In Hook Up. It tried to compete with another site called HotOrNot.com. Unfortunately, it failed to gain traction and the owners scrapped the idea, pivoted and adapted to the emerging trend of sharing videos online, known today as YouTube. Eventually, YouTube was purchased by Google for almost $1.7 billion, and users upload over 30 hours of video per minute.
One final tip for small business owners to remember is to never stop learning. Whether it’s about your business, your product or yourself, make sure you’re constantly expanding your mind. Owning a small business isn’t the end of things. You’ll go through the cycles of your business and the emotions that go with it. Learn from the ups, downs, and plateaus so that you can handle them a lot better.
About the Author: This article is written by Halaluddin Khan