Starting up a new business is tough. It requires long hours and real dedication, and sometimes even that isn’t enough. There’s always a lot of talk about self-belief and daring to dream, but what really makes the difference between those that survive and those that don’t is ultimately much more practical. It’s about focusing time and energy on the things that really matter.
Businesses inevitably have to take some big risks when they’re new, and invest a large proportion of their resources in each venture – much more so than is the case for large, more established organizations. This can leave them overstretched and vulnerable if something unexpected happens. It can also make it hard for them to take advantage of unexpected opportunities. Smart small business owners acknowledge these difficulties but always aim to keep something in reserve so that they will have the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances.
With small businesses among the most dependent on using the internet, and increasingly making use of cloud software, online security has never been more important. Sadly, too many owners are so focused on their core business that they treat it as an afterthought and hesitate to invest, often paying a heavy price for their carelessness. A cyber attack by rivals, thieves, or vandals can destroy a start-up, so this is simply too big a risk to take.
Because starting out puts so much strain on everybody, it’s important to keep up morale and to let employees know that their contributions are appreciated. One way to do this is to offer benefits such as free eyecare. For treatments such as LASIK, Minnesota is a great place to be, and this approach can do a lot more for employee loyalty than simply paying higher wages, which is often more difficult for small businesses to afford.
One of the most important assets that anybody can have in business is a good set of contacts. Opportunities to expand these don’t just occur at official networking events – they come up all the time, in social situations, at trade shows, in industry forums on the internet, and so on. Business owners who always carry business cards and take advantage of every chance to get to know somebody new are far more likely to see their companies succeed.
Finally, it’s really important to be aware of the ongoing value of planning. Too many startups stick to their initial business plan but fail to think beyond them. A business plan should really be a work in progress. It should be updated continually so that the business is always looking three years ahead. This breaks people out of rigid notions about what success means. It ensures the development of good habits and an awareness of business as something fluid and ever-changing rather than something based around an end goal. It also means that there won’t be a crisis point when initial goals have been met and nothing else has been set in motion.
Prioritizing these areas makes it much easier to keep a new business afloat and move it confidently into the future.