A first glance at startup survival statistics might make you want to rethink your entrepreneurial dreams, as well as how you prepare your startup for success. But don’t let the numbers scare you. They’re only grim from a glass-half-empty perspective. If you’re willing to look at them from a positive viewpoint, they’re downright welcoming.
Take Investopedia’s reporting that suggests one-fifth of startups won’t make it to the first-anniversary mark. Taken another way, that means a full four out of five will chug along into their second year. And although about half of small businesses aren’t around a half-decade after opening, half are.
In other words, you can do this. You just need to take the preparation and planning into consideration. That way, you’ll have a better likelihood of being successful and achieving your entrepreneurship goals.
What are some tips to give your business serious sticking power?
1. Gain mastery over what you can control.
You’ve heard the phrase “mind over matter.” It’s a technique many professionals, including elite athletes, believe in. The idea is that you have the ability to control more than you might think. When you identify what those elements are, you leave yourself less open to mistakes, missteps, and defeat.
Entrepreneur Mark Lachance believes in this concept so strongly that he’s written about it. In The Lucky Formula, he puts forth a roadmap for crafting your destiny by mastering your internal and external conditions. Lachance illustrates how and why being aware, solutions-focused, and intentional can drive you to make smarter corporate decisions.
You can’t build a thriving organization if you give in and allow other forces to steer your ship. Instead, hone yourself intellectually, emotionally, and physically so you can respond appropriately and thoughtfully to changing situations.
2. Hire for the long haul.
Just because your startup hasn’t been around long doesn’t mean you can’t think about succession planning. Truthfully, succession planning should start at the point of sourcing great candidates. In other words, evaluate job applicants not just for what they bring today but what they could become tomorrow.
This requires a willingness to shift your mind from the traditional process of hiring for what you need immediately. As a piece in HR Daily Advisor explains, it’s not always easy to figure out who will be your best “future leader” bet. It’s not out of the question, either. For example, look for ambitious problem-solvers who are strong communicators and former leaders. This could be a college student who launched and headed up a new campus organization. Or it could be a mid-career manager who received steady promotions throughout the years.
Remember: Your hires don’t have to come in with all the skills you need them to possess. That’s where training and mentoring fit into the picture. However, it’s darn tough to teach passion, courage, or self-direction. So try to find people with those attributes to join your dream team.
3. Put a premium on marketing.
You may not have a huge marketing budget for your startup. No problem. You can always go for a lean marketing approach. Just don’t mistake “lean” for thin—or practically non-existent. You need to earmark enough funds toward branding, promotion, and advertising to fill your sales pipeline and keep profits rolling.
How can you stretch your marketing dollars? Consider outsourcing some responsibilities like social media content development or the creation of branded graphics and logos. This enables your core team members to focus more on other areas of marketing like placement, ad buys, and campaign management
Another way to give yourself more marketing clout is through appropriate partnerships with other brands or influencers. Joining forces makes sense when both your business and the other party benefit from the collaboration. For inspiration, check out the inventive Forever 21-Cheetos fashion mashup. It’s pure proof that anything’s fair game when it comes to clever marketing partnerships.
4. Collect and analyze data.
Information is your friend. With data at your fingertips, you can make predictions and choices that will affect the future of your company. The key, of course, is to make sure that you not only collect but also extrapolate data routinely.
The easy way to set up data collection from the get-go is to use a centralized database like a CRM system. Be sure to invest in one that can grow and scale as outlined in your business plan. (Hopefully, you have one—if you don’t, add it to the list of ways to prepare for success.) You and your employees can plug in data, as well as set up the database to collect data points from outside sources.
Over time, your centralized system will become a rich repository for knowledge. It also should become a go-to location when you want to move forward with new initiatives.
Startups that succeed don’t continue because of magic, even if it sometimes appears that way. They succeed because visionary leaders have put measures in place aimed at anticipating and thwarting the roadblocks that have sidelined other companies.
Image Credit: Tan Krukov; Pexels; Thanks!