For the most part all small businesses usually start out on the right foot – with plenty of enthusiasm and great intentions. Taking those dreams to fruition, from hastily scribbled notes on your bedside table to a legitimate and lawful business, involves many steps and genuine attention to detail.
First, let’s touch on a few aspects which can affect the flow of your business success:
Ducks in a Row
There’s so much to do. From choosing the right name and location (or setting up your home office), to deciding upon the right business structure for your circumstances – be sure to consult with legal business services. Now, add the tasks of registering with the HMRC and VAT, to drawing up customer service agreements and checking out the safety of your premises.
And then, there’s more. You have to sort out record keeping and hiring staff (or independent contractors), a standard operating procedure (SOP) and juggling the management of clients, and inventory. Of course, marketing goals are a major priority, as is the proper capitalizing (funding) of your enterprise.
It’s kind of like a juggling act and a never-ending story, all wrapped up in a bow. And yet, the mystique and rewards of creating something from nothing, taking it to successful heights, and contributing to your community is alluring on its worst day.
The Balancing Act
Realistically though, owning your own business means that your to-do lists will replace each other, as soon as one has been completed. Your day planner will run out of white space quickly (post-its will decorate your computer, and walls) and hopefully your tasks will multiply (yes, we said hopefully). That’s the dream.
If you’ve ever sat on a seesaw as a child, or parent, you know that when one end goes up, the other goes down. The trick is balance. And every business owner needs to become expert at this. Balance is necessary in order for you to efficiently run any business, handle clients (and keep them), support staff members, and ask for advice before you are in dire straits.
If it Looks Like Trouble…
Before we describe a few of the more common roadblocks to success, consider one thing. Your instincts brought you here. From your childhood to the chair you’re sitting in – you’ve reacted and survived whenever red flags fluttered in front of your eyes (or made your stomach turn).
Don’t stop now. Trust yourself, and take time out to reflect (and breathe). Is the question at hand immediate? Breathe anyway. Weigh the risks and consider how right it feels – for you, the company, your staff, and your health.
On the other hand, don’t paralyse yourself into not making any moves at all. Many people launch a business, and lose their common sense the minute they unlock the door. They assume that because they are new to ownership, their knowledge isn’t trustworthy. You’ve taken the plunge. Now, use the gifts that got you here!
When Failure Knocks
Keep in mind that it’s a great time in the UK for small businesses to succeed, and it is our hope that this post will provide a bit of inspiration to keep you on the right track. That said – it’s important to recognize the kind of elements that can get in the way of triumph (if you let them).
Why Small Businesses Fail?
Amongst the more typical causes for a business to lose its footing, are the following:
Not researching your market – For instance starting a real estate business, right after the largest (and longest) crash in history, isn’t wise. Look for demands, a niche that is not being totally fulfilled by someone else. Once you land on an idea, check out your competitors. Put yourself in their shoes, and see if you can spot things they are missing.
Needs and goals out of alignment – Are there holes in your business plan which you didn’t pay attention to, until it was too late? Remember to revise your plan and reassess the state of your business every few months; especially within the two first crucial years. Not staying on point with your goals is a bit like not bothering to balance your cheque register and wondering why you are overdrawn.
Not enough capital to keep you afloat – Money doesn’t always appear when you expect it to (first lesson in business), and so you must plan to ‘fill in the gaps.’ Looking for funds when you’ve run out of savings is the worst plan. Lenders basically like to offer money to those who don’t need it; earning their interest by letting you ‘use’ it for a while. And, for all intent and purposes, that’s as it should be. So, borrow when you’re on the upswing; alternatively you could obtain funding from the plethora of government-backed loans and grants.
Poor exposure (marketing, location) – Would you hang your business sign up in the middle of the forest, wishing on a star for customers to walk through your door? Of course not – and yet, this is an area (in addition to legalities) in which so many owners stumble and fall because they don’t think they need advice. Get some expert help, fast. And, don’t forget to bring along those instincts (not every salesperson is forthright and trustworthy).