Starting a business is easy, right? All it takes is a dive into the deep end — hang out the shingle, let the family know what you're doing, and you're off and running.
Business magazines regularly report that about 80% of businesses fail within the first five years. Are you next?
There can be many reasons why a business fails, so here are a baker's dozen tips to help you improve your chances of succeeding:
- Keep it simple.
If you think that your business is too complex, most likely it is. The simpler you can make it for yourself, your employees, and your customers, the greater likelihood you'll have for success.
- Hire people to help you.
I know, I know. You don't have money to hire people yet. In all honesty, I would submit that if you don't have enough money to hire at least one part-time assistant to help you get up and running, your company is probably undercapitalized and primed for failure.
- Hire the best.
They will cost more, but it is highly likely that they will deliver more, too.
- Hire people whose skills complement yours.
If you hate folding brochures, stuffing them in envelopes, licking the envelopes, and stamping them, not to mention managing that stupid database, hire someone to do it for you. Don't neglect the high school and college students who would be happy not only to make extra money but to have something to put on their résumés.
- Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
If you think your self-employed status means that you can work 8-5 with a one hour lunch, I again believe your company is primed for failure.
- Don't be afraid to make a decision.
Too many people agonize over decisions. The lack of a decision is, in and of itself, a decision. You will make mistakes. That's a given. Just make sure you learn from them.
- Understand the mathematics in marketing.
Any marketing venue that breaks even is good, so once you find those, work on making them better, spreading them wider, so that you start to make a profit rather than just breaking even.
- Under promise and over deliver.
If you bid on a project for a Client and tell him that it will take a week, do it in five days. It takes just a couple of times for that Client to realize that you're not only the best, you're the fastest, too.
- Know your cost of doing business and price yourself to make a profit.
I like to make at least 25% profit on whatever I do. You can price yourself for less in the short term (defined as six months or less) as long as what you are doing has the potential to make significantly more than 25% in the long term.
- Keep those customers coming back for more.
Referrals and repeat business are where it's at, regardless of your industry.
- Don't spend money unnecessarily.
Sure, it would be nice to have a brand new cherry wood desk. But that's a want, not a need. Know the difference between needs, wants, and goals, and leave those wants until later.
- Dream big!
You'll probably start out small, but imagine that you're the largest and the best, and then work to make it so.
- Be your company's most vocal salesperson.
Tell the family, friends, church members, Little League moms, even your former business associates, what you are doing and invite them to buy from you.
Now get busy!