More than half of all small businesses fail within the first four years. Some of these have achieved a certain level of success and thought they had it made. Whenever I ask small business clients why they think others fail, they usually think it was because the business was under capitalized or didn’t have enough sales. Although these problems account f or some failures, there are at least four other reasons to avoid that can send any business slowly spiraling downward.
1. Lack of a BIG vision – Do you have a clear vision (let’s call it Getting to Oz) of exactly where you want your business to be two years from now? Is it a big vision or are you selling yourself short? Just because you own a small business doesn’t mean you have to think small. That’s not to imply you must aspire to owning a multi-million dollar enterprise. If you’re business could be all that you dream in two years, what would it look like? See every single tiny detail down to the pictures on the wall of your office. Close your eyes and visualize it over and over. Believe in it. Write it down.
2. Lack of a CLEAR plan – Now start with your two year vision and create your business plan backward. In order to get there, what do you need to do now, next week, next month. Write out a detailed six month to one year business plan including sales goals, product development, technology, employee or outsourcing requirements, budgeting etc. Then put together a killer focused marketing plan (see our 10 Step Focus Marketing System). In other words figure out how you’ll get from Munchkin land to Oz. Most small business owners simply skip this important step because it seems so labor intensive. Yet those that take the time are always more likely to reach their goals. I admit it; I used to skip this step with the excuse that I had the plan in my head. Yeah, right. Sometimes we need to learn the hard way how important it is to write it down.
3. Lack of FOCUS – Focus like a laser beam on following your plan toward your vision. It’s fine to make necessary course adjustments to your plan if it’s somehow taking a detour off of the Yellow Brick Road to Oz. But don’t give up on your plan because you’re not seeing instant results. Refer back to step one and believe in it. Also focus on what you’re telling yourself about success. Are you focusing on the inner messages you give yourself? Self criticism and limiting patterns have destroyed many a business with real potential for greatness. 80% of business problems are well disguised personal problems. I’ve personally observed this dozens of times and done plenty of my own limit busting.
4. Lack of EXPERTISE – Every business owner is good at something. Hopefully we’re all passionate about what we do. But that doesn’t mean we know how to do everything ourselves. Where would Dorothy have been without her team of experts: the Munchkins, the Tinman, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion? She certainly wouldn’t have gotten to Oz. When you’re not experienced at marketing or sales or systems or budgeting, get help! Smart business owners surround themselves with experts that are strong where they are weak. Don’t use the excuse that you can’t afford help. No need to break the bank, since there are many experts who specialize in the small business market and are priced accordingly.
If you want to achieve real success, live your ideal life and arrive in Oz, avoid these four mistakes. You’ll be way ahead of the pack.
Start now to:
* create a clear vision
* design a “backwards” business plan or roadmap
*stay focused on your plan
* gain expertise in your areas of weakness or outsource those tasks