The success rates for small businesses aren’t as high as entrepreneurs would like them to be. Depending on whom you ask, in which industry and when, you might hear that half of small businesses close their doors within the first few years. That fact might be daunting to most people, but business founders aren’t most people. They are more likely to have the passion, the motivation and the persistence to fight against statistics in order to realize their business dreams. To do that and avoid the pitfalls that plague other businesses, business owners need to tap into that passion and persistence. These best practices might help.
1. Pursue a business idea that matters to you, and surround yourself with people who share your vision.
There are lots of elements that can go into a successful company launch. For some, that mix includes funding. Market research is extremely important. Pulling together the right advisors can make all the difference. But across the board, owner enthusiasm is the most critical component of business success. Take my company, for example. I bootstrapped Insightly for the first nine months of its existence. I worked out of my basement, and I put all of my time, energy and personal resources into getting the company off the ground. When it came time to bring others onto the team, I looked for smart people who shared my ideals and could help me grow the business. Passion is powerful in small business, and it can fuel owners through lean times.
2. Don’t be afraid to think big.
Running a small business should not necessitate small thinking. If the same motivation that prompted you to start a company later compels you to grow beyond your initial vision, don’t second guess that instinct. Perhaps your original goal was merely viability, and once you reached it, you started thinking about secondary markets, franchising or some other form of expansion. Harness the passion that got you started in the first place and pursue your ever-evolving goals. For example, my first goal was to create a product that would solve a market need no one had addressed before. As that became a reality and customers started to respond, I began thinking about the next level. This prompted me to move across the world from Perth, Australia to San Francisco, where the company had more opportunities to grow and help a broader customer base. Consistently setting, reaching and resetting goals is important to long-term business health. Don’t stop yourself from thinking beyond where you are today.
3. When the going gets tough, small business owners have little choice but to keep going.
Those dreary small business statistics are for the other guy. If you have the passion and the motivation to start and grow a company, it follows that you should have the drive to persist through tough times – and there will certainly be tough times. Those are the moments that test entrepreneurs. How you handle them has everything to do with the long-term success of your current and future ventures. When you face a dip in sales or some other setback, maintain focus on your goal and consider every option for jumping the hurdles blocking your path. If you do fail, take the education that comes with that painful lesson and apply it to your next business.
It would be easy to look at the success rates of small business owners and assume that building a strong company requires a good bit of luck, but founders make their own luck. Yes, it helps to stumble into the right place at the right time, but those that go out and pursue their ideas with passion and persistence tend to be far more “lucky” than those who do not.
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