If you’re thinking about starting a small business, you’re in excellent company.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration there are currently about 28.8 million small businesses across the United States.
Small business accounts for 99.7% of all business in the US and, communities across the nation rely on small businesses for jobs, goods, services and general economic well-being.
Starting a small business is no easy task and a staggering statistic proves it. About two-thirds of small businesses survive two years in business, half will survive five years, and one-third of those will survive to ten years and beyond.
How do you increase your chances of survival in the business world? Here are a few basic tips to get you started.
1. Find something you Love
As a business owner you need to realize early on that this is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. It’s easy to get excited and jump all in when first starting out, but as time goes on and the ups and downs become a reality, there will be times when you want to throw in the towel.
Most small businesses don’t even start to gain traction until their first year of existence and the average “overnight success" story takes about ten years to mature”. Therefore, it is vital that you build your business around a passion.
Remember what you loved as a child. Often our truest passions emerge in childhood, only to be squelched by real life pressures. Think about things you loved before you had to worry about a career. Writing? Science experiments? Taking care of people? Selling Candy to your friends at school?
Getting back in touch with those childhood instincts is an important step in finding and clarifying your passion. Build your business around that.
2. Don’t Underestimate community and networking
Business Networking is the process of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with other business people and potential clients / customers, according to Susan Ward of The Balance Small Business. The goal here is to spread the message of your business and its purpose to your community, friends, and family.
Community building and Networking offer many benefits. Some of these include; new contacts and referrals, higher visibility, the ability to share knowledge and experience with others, and finally it’s a great way to build confidence and morale.
Meeting people in person might seem a little old fashioned in the digital age, but whenever and wherever possible you should network face-to-face. This leaves a lasting impression and allows others to put a face to your business.
3. Learn new skills
As a small business owner, it is imperative that you constantly work on continual learning. Continuous learning is about expanding your ability to learn by regularly upgrading your skills and increasing your knowledge.
Strong continuous learning skills are required to successfully adapt to the changing markets and business practices.
When you learn new skills, it has benefits that go way beyond the actual skill learned. Your brain chemistry changes, you learn at increased speeds, you become a more interesting person and you develop a strong sense of innovation in your market space.
Overall this makes you a stronger business leader and helps position yourself as an expert in your field.
4. Be open to feedback
Most of us get defensive and angry whenever we are faced with constructive criticism.
Our hearts race, our minds begin to put up walls and our first instinct is to make excuses for defending our actions or positions. The truth is, however, that as a small business owner you must get over it. There is value in constructive criticism and feedback.
Feedback allows us to identify our weaknesses and allows us to improve. It’s only by measuring our downfalls that we can adjust and be more successful in everything we do.
Next time someone offers you feedback, or constructive criticism stop your first reaction and listen. Say thank you and ask questions to deconstruct the feedback you received for better understanding.
When you’re defensive about feedback, you run the risk of missing out on important insight that can only make you stronger.
5. Don’t give up
Like any entrepreneur or small business owner, at some point you will feel like giving up as you think you are failing. You might think that your idea isn’t good enough, you lack the skills to run a business, or that you’re not seeing the results and cash flow that you originally envisioned.
You are not alone. Everyone goes through this stage at some point in their small business journey. The important thing is to keep going and not to give up. If you are truly passionate about your message or product, then strive to make it a reality and work at it every day.
Failure, like constructive criticism is part of the process. Greatness doesn’t come from living in your comfort zone. It’s only by pushing yourself can you achieve great things. So, when things become uncomfortable for you, don’t worry. It means that you are doing something new and exciting.
Building a business is like going to the gym. You don’t build muscle by doing easy exercises. Growth comes when you challenge yourself by engaging in strenuous activity and pushing yourself to the limits.
Running a small business has a lot of benefits. You are in control, you get to build something of value, you develop a huge sense of pride, you get to help people and, you get an incredible sense of accomplishment that you feel at the end of the day.
It’s not an easy challenge and not for the faint of heart. Entrepreneurship and small business ownership are not for everyone. At the end of the day it takes a lot of work and dedication.
However, following these five tips will ensure that you are set up for success for years to come.
Charles Watson - MBA