Preparing for the Long Haul

The vast majority of small businesses in the United States are young. In fact, over half of all small businesses are less than 10 years old, while approximately one-third of small businesses are newer than 5 years old. The U.S. Census Bureau has shown that only 11.9% of all business firms have been around longer than 25 years. Achieving this status of being around for the long haul is definitely possible, but very few small businesses get off the ground early on.

One prominent reason for so much new business is how volatile the survival rate is. According to statistics by the Bureau of Labor, 31.4% of all businesses close their doors within their first two operating years, while 48.9% exit before hitting the 5-year mark. Admittedly, those are some scary numbers! For young businesses, here are a few key steps to increase the likelihood of your company finding success.

Map Out Your Plan

Businesses are built on dreams yet not exclusively operated on them. Too many ideas early on can lead to a lack of financial stability and even pull you away from what matters most. Early brainstorming, along with possessing an abundance of enthusiasm, are necessary to get the ball rolling, so long as these are done within reason. Setting realistic goals for your business is essential above all else. Rely on sound accounting numbers to determine what is feasible and what isn’t. Next, use solid analytics to create unexaggerated projections that will move your business forward.

Remain Focused (i.e. Practice Fiscal Responsibility)

Another word for “focus” here: discipline. Again, aiming for too much too soon can lead to being stretched too thin. The same inner strength relied on to skip the last piece of pizza is the same restraint needed to avoid overspending. Similarly, while it’s wise to keep an eye on your competition, sometimes you’ll need to stay the course rather than play copycat on what other like-minded companies are doing. Manage your cash flow according to strict projections, and this form of discipline could translate into incremental growth.

Always Be Adaptive

Most markets in almost every industry are constantly shifting in different directions. Meanwhile, technology is always evolving, and this is a trend that is never going to let up. The best entrepreneurs are ones who roll with the punches and make adjustments. After all, the market isn’t going to change to fit you; but on the bright side, you can definitely change to fit the market. Analyze quarterly reports to see where your revenue lies, and many times you’ll discover new paths to success. Great business owners revisit their business plans periodically for this exact reason. 

Harness Setbacks into Advantages

One of the greatest inventions of all time was by Thomas Edison, who allegedly said during the light bulb’s creation, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” On that same note, Albert Einstein defined insanity as, “Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.” Businesses that disband early on usually refuse to pivot, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a successful business that never pivoted shortly after its origin. Being intolerant of failure is a costly mistake that will likely lead to the demise of your business. To find your successful pivot, harness those failures to revise your business plan and show what isn’t working. This will ultimately help you find a more profitable path.

Stay Inspired

Maintaining the early-stage hunger and zeal throughout the lifespan of your business is a must. The hard truth is, owning and operating your own business is going to feel an awful lot like work most of the time, and we all know when a passion resembles a job, things can get stale. To effectively avoid the complacency of routine, always be on the lookout for new ways to improve customer satisfaction. Continuous improvement doesn’t necessarily have to be costly either – get creative! Being on the hunt for tweaks and adjustments should kill complacency and instill an inspired outlook.

Threading the needle is never easy, especially when that means pulling off a balancing act like staying fresh and motivated despite refusing to go over budget. The odds might seem like they’re stacked against you – and in some cases they may be. However, if you’ve started your own business, it’s because you’re someone who isn’t afraid of a challenge. Being solution-conscious, a little bit of research and a lot of effort will help tip the scales in your favor so you can remain in business for a long time.