Three tips for sustaining a successful startup
February 28, 2012
It's an unfortunate reality: Most small businesses fail within the first four or five years. While such a statistic should not in any way discourage prospective entrepreneurs from pursuing their ideas, it's important that they realize just how adverse the environment can be.
That said, small business owners need to ask themselves some tough questions as early as possible. It's easy to get wrapped up in your idea, such that you may even grow a little prideful. This is why the occasional ego check can be a valuable, albeit sobering, experience.
To that end, here are some important habits that you should strive for in building a successful startup without the hubris.
1.) Seek out advice/expertise
As an entrepreneur, you hopefully have some skill that you're very good at - so good that you figure you can do it better than your rivals. That's great, but remember that it's only one aspect of running a business. Baking the best chocolate chip cookies this side of the border may be a starting point, but can you market those baked goods? Do you have the right staff - reliable and dedicated - to sell them? Do you have the startup cash? Can you negotiate? Can you get the best terms on a loan or private investment? As good as you may be, you can't do everything.
"Naturally you don't need to take on partners in business, however, make sure that you always have someone you could seek advice from," writes Pawel Grabowski for the blog Small Business Guides. "There are many choices for you when it comes to great advice in business, from blogs, books, forums, mentoring programs and more to professional courses. Whenever you are in doubt, seek advice."
2.) Acknowledge and adapt to change
The business world is always evolving, and the spread of technology only expedites this process. It can be frustrating when you find you've devoted so much time to a task only to discover it's become obsolete or dated by the time you've finished. Accordingly, you need to stay informed - not merely in regards to you industry, but to wider social, environmental, economic and political trends as well.
3.) Be on the lookout for networking or growth opportunities
Opportunity often arrives at the most unexpected or inopportune moments, so keep your eyes open, know what chance looks like and always be on your toes. Attend networking events and industry conferences. Peruse your Rolodex for old colleagues and co-workers. Network through your personal social media accounts in addition to your business' profile.