Rules of the business have changed. Opportunity to take market share is everybody’s game now: you can either go from strong player to strongest or from one man’s army to a disruptive market challenger. And vice versa.
There are companies and people who have been in the industry forever and you are now able to take that leadership from them. There’s an opportunity to compete for anyone, whether it is a small business or large business – as technology becomes cheaper, tools are there for all of us.
Yet 50% of the small businesses fail in the first couple of years. Why?
You need a vision, motivation and goals
Being an entrepreneur is tough. It is easy to make money in excel, but nothing prepares you for the reality of making, running, and growing your own business.
When you start and know nothing, with a bit of training you grow and make progress quickly. You get your first client, your first project, and it’s all very exciting and you are full of energy. But then there’s a point when the growth stops.
You put the same effort in your business, same amount of resources, and same amount of money – but you don’t progress. And people don’t like that. Some blame the economy or resources, and decide it’s not the right industry or product for them and give up. Some focus, fight and break through.
No business is anything, but a reflection of the leadership of that business. It’s about having a vision and making it real – and figuring out how to sustain and grow that vision. “I have vision for 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, a year how to reach those goals,” said Touker Suleyman, BBC Dragon, in The British Business show I went to. Difference between the success and failure is having a strategy that grows with your business.
Learn from successes
Success leaves clues, breadcrumbs you can follow. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, there’s a model you can follow to find a way across that still point. There’s a huge difference between business decisions you make when you are anticipating problems and business decisions you make when you react to problems. When you are anticipating the issue, you can solve it before it has any power over you.
There are people and start ups that have played the game before and they know the road ahead. Attend business networking events, read case studies, find a person who has gone it through, find a mentor who can push you to overcome your limits … Your growth might decrease at first as it’s a new tactic you are not familiar with, but then your growth explodes.
Learn from failures
To avoid the potholes, you also need to learn from people who have failed. I participated in TechHub “Start-up Funeral” at Google Campus London once, and I have all respect for those individuals. It’s easy to come on stage and tell your success story, but you have to have guts to tell everyone why your own start-up failed.
Success might leave breadcrumbs to follow, but failure stories teach you how to make wiser decisions since the beginning. Hype and investment do not build successful companies — successful teams, great monetisation strategy, well-connected investor-mentors and value-adding products do.
If you build a wrong team, pick money over connections, do not add real value for customers, or do not have clear vision how your project will bring you money … you are skating on thin ice.
Build your business on an exit strategy
If you do not have an exit strategy, you have a job. No matter how successful the business is, if you cannot sell it it’s a failure. Ultimately you will want to sell it, but you need to know since the beginning who you will be selling it to. If you build a business that is only based on you and the value you bring to the business, it means that when you leave it will go bust. Who would pay money for that?
When you start building your business, focus on how your business will deliver long term value that is easy to scale. You will not only get high-quality investors, but will be able to sell it with profit when the time comes.
When economy gets tough, remember that there are plenty of cases when people who don’t have resources have beaten people who have all the resources in the world. Resources are never the problem, it’s always the question of motivation and resourcefulness. If you are 100% invested in the project, you will find a way.
Do you work / have you worked in a start-up? Do you have any advice you could give? What would YOU have done differently if you could?
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