It’s a well known fact that many small businesses fail, others barely get started. There are always people who will be negative about your business ideas. Let’s ignore them.
You need a huge pat on the back for disregarding the naysayers and following your dreams anyway. Go you!! You work hard and you deserve success.
There are no shortcuts to success, they only lead to disaster.
If you are guilty of any of the following, now is the time to turn things around.
No business plan.
A business plan isn’t just for getting a loan. Even if you have all your start up costs covered, a business plan will help you to clarify your business idea and see any problems which may lie ahead. Setting out goals for your business will help you to stay on target and measure your progress each month.
Carry out a SWOT analysis on your business plan. This will help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, find your opportunities for growth and any threats to your success.
You can find downloadable business plans at http://www.startupdonut.co.uk/startup/business-planning/writing-a-business-plan along with advice for getting funding for your small business.
Not knowing your market
Ok, so you want to sell to everyone, be able to cast your net as wide as possible to get more clients and more money. That does make sense if you have a bricks and mortar business and little local competition.
But in a competitive environment such as the internet, you need to be more focussed so that you can be heard over all the noise. Your clients and customers are being sold to constantly, you need to find a way to stand out. The most effective way is to make them feel that you are speaking to them directly.
Lets take life coaching as an example. The idea behind life coaching is to help people to move forward, reach certain goals and create positive changes in their life.
Anyone can benefit from life coaching. However if you set up as a coach stating that you can help anyone and everyone, you won’t stand out from the crowd.
Narrowing your focus to working with middle managers in a business environment, or helping new mums to feel successful as a parent, will help you to build authority in that area and speak directly to the needs of your potential clients.
No one can find you
Are you anonymous? You can offer the best products and services in the world. If no one can find you, is there any point?
Do you have a website? A few pages explaining who you are and what you do lets potential clients know they are in the right place.
Not every business needs a blog but they can help to raise your company profile and build an audience.
If you build an online presence you can easily be found through Google searches. If your target market uses social media or online forums, you should be active there too.
Not delivering what you promise
Bad reviews are hard to shake. Yes, there are people who seem to enjoy complaining, and others who are very difficult to please. But brushing off complaints or ignoring them can damage your success.
Try to get to the root of the problem. Could your marketing be promising more that you can deliver? Are you exaggerating claims of success after using your product or service? Any criticism of your product should be taken constructively so you can find ways to improve it.
Other problems can arise when you have so much work that you are not giving enough attention to detail. When companies grow quickly it can be difficult to keep up with demand. Try extending deadlines so that you can give each client the attention they deserve.
Trying to do it all yourself.
When you are rushing to get everything done, mistakes can be made, or you can make yourself ill.
When you are running your own business you have to wear a lot of hats. Keeping up with finances, admin work and marketing as well as working for clients can lead to burnout.
If you can’t keep up, you will lose work.
Outsourcing some tasks when things are busy can free up your time and help your business to run smoothly. Go through your network and make a list of people that you could call on when you need help.
If your network can’t help, get in touch with some freelancers and find out their rates.
As a small business owner you should never stop marketing. Business may be booming now, but how about in 6 months time? How about next year? Thinking ahead is the only way to ensure that your business is sustainable.
Try out different marketing strategies to see which one works best for you. A company blog will work well for online businesses whilst adverts and features in local magazines will work well for those with a local target market.
Use social media to get the word out about your company. You don’t need to be on every social media platform, find out which ones your customers use. Make sure you update your content regularly and respond to comments to increase engagement.
Keep a check on the effects of your marketing. Ask your clients and customers how they found you, so you know what’s working and what isn’t.
No personal mission statement
Different to a business plan, this statement is just for you. Ask yourself some questions.
Why are you doing this?
What will running your own business mean to you?
You may want to have more time to spend with your family, independence from a boss, no more 9-5.
Make a list of all the positive things that will come out of your business. Get it laminated and put it on the wall above your workspace.
Every time things get tough, it will be there to remind you why you got started, how far you’ve come, and why you should keep going.