The Good, The Bad and The Strategy

nine strategies for succeeding

The Good

There’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. Small business resources are abundant and accessible with everything from online platforms to innovative and traditional sources of capital. Today’s small business world is an entrepreneur’s dream. If you have the passion to start it and the persistence to keep at it, anything is possible. Hundreds if not thousands of businesses are started every day in Canada (North America?). The problem is that not all of them succeed.

The Bad

We start businesses for many reasons – we have a great new idea, we see a gap in the marketplace, we want to work for ourselves, we are passionate about one thing or another and we want success. Yet too many of us put a lot of “blood, sweat, and tears” into creating something that we love just to see it disappear.

Research shows that only 51% of small businesses make it to year five while only 85% make it to the first year and only 70% to the second.

The Strategy

Businesses fail for many reasons so how do we ensure their success. The following is a list of nine strategies for succeeding.

1. Start Your Business for the Right Reason

If it’s just about money or being your own boss, you may want to rethink going out on your own. Successful businesses do well because they were built on passion; passion for a new idea or fixing an old problem. Either way, it’s not easy being a business owner so passion goes along way in fueling the desire to continue during the tough times.

2. Plan, Plan, Plan

Successful businesses have a written business plan. That plan incorporates the long-term vision for the business as well as marketing and financial plans and budgets. If you don’t have a written plan, you have a ‘pipe’ dream and don’t count on that to get you the success you want and need to build your business.

3. Develop Strong Management Skills

Making business decisions, supervising staff, and changing direction all come into play when running your own business. The key to doing it well is being a strong Manager. Developing management skills through trial and error could be detrimental to your success. Do a workshop, get a mentor or read a book but do something. It will make your business life a little easier.

4. Delegate

Too many business owners want to do it all. They are under the false impression that they can do it better than anyone else and they can save money by doing it themselves. Wrong. Get out and promote your business and build solid relationships and connect in the community. You have the passion for your business. Hire people to do the tasks to support your in your passion.

5. Focus on Customer Care

The best source for knowing how your business is doing is your customers. Start a conversation online, do a survey, ask for feedback and most importantly listen. Customers are your ‘bread and butter’ and they want you to succeed. Take the time to engage with them and give them what they want. Good customer care shows up is your bottom line.

6. Develop a Strong Value Proposition

You have a great product that you know will make a difference in people’s lives and yet sales are slow. Are you clearly and concisely communicating how you are different from your competitors? If not, now is the time to develop a strong value proposition. Here’s a hint – ask your customers.

7. Build an Online Presence

The first step in having an online presence is having a website and a social media presence. The second and most important step is to build a communication strategy for these so you can engage your customers. Use questions, contests, photos, images, and hashtags to encourage conversation.

8. Pay Attention to the Money

Cash is king! Whether it is cash flow or cash in the bank or profitability, business success comes down to cash. Do your best to keep outstanding payables and receivables at a minimum. Review your financial plan and budgets at least weekly. Your financial picture is one of the best indicators of how you are doing.

9. Have Realistic Expectations

Rome wasn’t built in a day so be patient; be clear on your goals and know what success is for you. Some businesses need thousands of customers to succeed while others need only a handful. Keep your business and marketing plans handy to review and reassess progress on a regular basis so you stay on track.

There are no guarantees in life but like most things, there are certain principles that make things work better. Following the above strategies for your business will at least give you a fighting chance for success.

Written and submitted by:

Brenda Mahoney

Effective Small Business Marketing Coach