by Kelly Gregorio
Getting your own business off the ground is tough. Keeping it in flight? Even more difficult. Business owners are all too familiar with the depressing statistic that 50% of all businesses fail within their first five years. Read on to discover the necessary steps to better prepare you for startup survival.
The first step to small business survival is determining and then zeroing in on your target market. Who are the people who are most interested in the product or service you are providing? What drives them, and what changes are they asking for within this market?
When starting out, be sure to exhaust all of your available resources. Call up past employers, connected friends or other complimentary businesses in your industry and see if you can get an opportunity to build a working relationship. Once you bag a client, increase their chances of loyalty by catering to their needs, following up and personally thanking them for their valued business.
While you may have planned and saved for the funds you need to get your business going, it is important to tuck away some emergency funds too. In life the unexpected has a tendency to pop up at the more inopportune times (i.e. your main computer breaks during your biggest time). Don’t allow a bump in the road to shut you down completely, plan to have some emergency funds on standby.
You will also need to work out your own salary for the year ahead. Most business owners plan on taking a pay cut when they embark on their own business, but that does not mean personal expenses will go away. Be sure to work out a cut that will satisfy both your business’s flow and your personal financial needs.
For those budgets that can allow it, a launch party is a great way to get people to interact with your brand on a personal level. For the rest of us who have close to zero dollars in our marketing pocket, strive to create some win wins.
For example, you could lend your voice to a guest blog post within your niche. In exchange for getting the word out about your brand (and a link back to your site), you’ll also be establishing yourself as an expert in your field, affording audiences the opportunity to build trust.
No one said running a small business would be easy, but a few months into your first year you may notice that no one ever said it was going to be this hard. There is no denying the difficulty of running a small business and managing the stress. However: there is a good reason to strive for balance: burnout.
Be sure to have a healthy outlet that you can release some of that stress into (exercise, journaling). Also have a mentor on standby that can relate and allow you to safely vent. Additionally, don’t discount the restorative benefits of deep, calming breaths and momentarily unplugging. Be able to recognize when if feels as if the walls are closing in, and respond by allowing yourself some much needed space.
With plenty of hard work and a dash of good luck your business will have many more birthdays to come. If you are going to have enough stamina to endure them all, you’re going to have to stop every once on a while and pat yourself on your back.
Be sure to carve out some time for reflection and appreciation just as you do during moments of crisis and stress. There is enough time in the day to celebrate your victories in any big or small that you can afford. Just be sure to spot those moments and seize the opportunity to rejoice; later, you can harvest that good energy to get you through future bumps down the road.
What other ways can business owners prep to see their first year through?
Kelly Gregorio writes about topics that affect entrepreneurs and small businesses while working at Advantage Capital Funds, a merchant cash advance provider. You can read her daily business blog here.