More than half of small businesses fail in the first five years, according to the Small Business Administration. Here are some tips to help you breathe the rarified air of startup success.
1. A Dream does not (necessarily) a Business Make
Many little boys want to be astronauts and little girls princesses, but how many self-employed astronauts do you know? You need a business plan , you need a strong resolve, but most of all, you need a viable product or service. While you can probably name a handful of victorious visionaries who laughed in the face of conventional wisdom, the long and bumpy road to success is littered with thousands of just plain lousy ideas. Bounce your plan off of those who have made it to the top before you take the plunge.
2. Overwhelmed by Overhead
With nearly every startup , income is dwarfed by expense. Do you need the expense of an office space or can you set up shop at home? While leasing the newest and best equipment is tempting, shaking the trees for adequate used stuff is the smart way to go. Got Craigslist?
3. Don’t Act like a Bigshot — You’re Not
The number one key to success? Being there! Have your smart phone surgically implanted in your skull and answer the phone! Lack of service is the number one reason for customer dissatisfaction . When the big boys are too busy, that’s your opportunity to shine. Don’t blow it by missing the call.
4. It’s Still a J-O-B
One of the fantasies about being your own boss is setting your own hours. If you aren’t planning to work harder than ever, you will fail. A small business owner has to wear many hats, and sometimes two or three at a time. Forget sipping frosty margaritas and plan on guzzling strong coffee.
5. Build it to Sell it
Even if you never plan to sell, build in systems and procedures like you are. This will serve as the blueprint for expansion and will make the hiring and training of new staff much easier. And who knows, the “Oracle of Omaha” just might like the cut of your jib.
6. Choose Your Niche, Before it Chooses You
If you’re a stay at home mom, you don’t want to be servicing long distant clients who need face time, so plan your network and marketing strategies accordingly. If you don’t keep an eye on where you want to go, you could very well find yourself financially successful but personally miserable.
7. Advertising like its 1999
With a few exceptions, print media is a dying industry. Who looks in the phone book anymore? Unless there’s a real target audience and the price is right, ditch the traditional printed page. Social networks and viral marketing are “what’s for dinner” in 2010 and best of all they’re free! If you don’t Facebook, Twitter, or blog, you don’t stand a chance. And did I mention they’re free?
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Chris Prickett is a successful entrepreneur who specializes in defying conventional thinking. He’s built and sold two companies and made many mistakes along the way. He started a Phoenix, AZ real estate business in 2007, during the worst market in modern history, and business is booming.