So, you think you want to start your own business? If you’re a pessimist, you might want to think again. The success track record is not all that great. According to the Small Business Administration, about 1/3 fail with in the first two years. Not bad you say. Well, the odds only get worse with each passing year – by the fifth year, approximately 56% fail. By now, I think I’ve already lost the “glass is half empty crowd.” In fact, a key trait of a successful entrepreneur is optimism. Launching and sustaining a business is very challenging – the optimist perseveres undaunted in spite of the problems associated with start-ups. So for you optimists, here are 5 surefire strategies for starting (and sustaining) your own:
1: Begin With an End in Mind It’s amazing to me how many people start out without knowing what the end game is. Clearly, most people know their motivation for starting a business (the majority are looking to be their own boss). But this is not the same as having a long-term vision. Be certain as to what you hope to gain in the long run. Whether it’s a store front or an online store, always have the big picture in mind. Utilize a basic framework outlining the business opportunity, your product/service (including differentiators), market opportunity, competitive landscape, and a reasonable estimate of financials. If you need assistance, contact your local chapter of SCORE (Service Core of Retired).
2: Don’t Quit Your Day Job! It takes time to build a business. Launch your business by working nights and weekends — you’ll reduce stress (and preserve cash) by keeping your day job until your business gets off the ground.
3: Have Access to Cash: Be sure to have at least two years of cash in reserve. This should be liquid. Oftentimes the cash flow simply doesn’t! Between necessary investments and expenses to keep the joint open, you’ll likely be in a negative cash flow early on. Line-up prospective investors as well (family, friends, relatives, private equity firms, etc.)
4: Take Care of Your “Customers”: Be fanatical about understanding and delivering on their needs. This includes your external (cash paying customers), internal (employees), and, personal (family, children, friends). All three groups of customers are critical and should be treated as such.
Many people only dream of striking out on their own, especially given the low odds of success. But by following these guidelines, you can make your wildest dreams a reality!
About the author: Scott Ventrella
Scott Ventrella is a consultant and leader, with over 20 years of experience to teach businesses skills of: leadership development, executive coaching, organizational change, and business ethics. Scott is the principal of Positive Dynamics, which is a consulting firm specializing in the development and delivery or programs designed to help companies achieve unprecedented levels of performance be leveraging the interest potential in people.
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