Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Three Best Ways to Stay in Business - For the Long Term!

Inside Warehouse
According to statistics* 71% of all start-ups fail in the first 10 years.

That's not the scary number.

The scary number is that 25% of them already taste failure in the first year. Another one is that less than half make it to year 4.

And there are more, but this was supposed to be a helpful post, so let's see what a start up business can do to avoid becoming just another number.

The Danger of Product Multitasking for Start-Up Businesses

Putting aside for a moment basic incompetence, and lack of preparation, knowledge and so on, 30% of start up businesses fail due to over-expansion.

Sure, you have big ideas, or you wouldn't be an entrepreneur. But, especially in the beginning, try to concentrate on getting the process to produce a single, good, revenue generating product or service worked out, before you try releasing anything else.

As Barbara Cochran once said on Shark Tank - "You're moving too fast with too many things, and that's usually a formula for disaster in any young business."

She ended up investing, but only after making sure that the company understood that they had to concentrate on one product at a time.To pick another example - Levi Roots, the UK entrepreneur launched a single sauce "Reggae Reggae Sauce" on Dragon's Den.One awesome product.

So - product multitasking reduces overall quality, so make one awesome thing at a time.

3 Top Tips to Keep Afloat in Year 1, 2, 3...

Here are my own Top 3 Tips for staying in business long-term:

  • Tip 1 : Pick the right business, and the right business for you

There are certain businesses with a high failure rate - think plumbers and restaurants - and others with a very low one : like religious organisations.

Now, I'm not suggesting you go off and found a religion, but I am suggesting that if you choose to open a restaurant your heart had better be in it, and you'd better have the skills. Top aggregate reason for going out of business? Lack of knowledge, and wrong reason for going into business in the first place.

  • Tip 2 : Keep it Simple. Do one thing well. Not a hundred things averagely. 

I'm not the first to point this out, I'm actually paraphrasing from Sam Carpenter's excellent "Work The System". You should check it out if you're starting a business, or trying to live life to the full.

  • Tip 3 : Cut Out The Emotion. 

Okay, that's a tough one, because if you've picked a business that's right for you, as I pointed out in Tip 1, you're probably also going to have an emotional investment in it.

However, if you can make decisions based on numbers (and that's the purpose of having a system, as I pointed out in my last blog post) or other objective information, and remove the emotion from the equation as far as possible, those decisions will likely be better than if you are guided completely by your passion.

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