I am sure that every entrepreneur and small business owner has had this thrown in their face at some point, right? There are so many of you out there that have probably debunked this “fact” and the actual number of business failing is closer to 15-40%. Still that statistic still contains a nugget of truth.
Creating and starting a business from nothing is hard, and not everybody can make it, and my never live up to their full potential, or even turn a profit. Reality is that most businesses are barely treading water, not sure if they will sustain and survive. They may even have good sales now and even show some profit, but the future is always so unclear. Why is it so hard to survive?
Here are a few things to focus on…
Process is good but don’t be 100% process oriented.
Many business owners train within the small realm of their business: the processes associated with creating and selling of little widgets. You eat up the industry information, track numbers, analyze data, test, and force yourself to do everything right. Starting a business is so hard and if we don’t do these things, the dream dies, right?
Well no, not really. The problem is that when we all spend our time on the everyday processes and live in survival mode, we don’t pay attention to what made us successful in the first place. We do not set aside time to create, to try new things, to take a risk. You provided something new and different, and that’s what attracted your initial customers – Crazy right?
Innovation can never stop!
I mentor a CEO in a very successful computer company that came out with some state of the art software a few years back. The product is great, the market ate it up and the market paid a great price for the product. The company was founded on a whim as a side project and quickly became a source of steady income. The company had an opportunity to sell its product to a major conglomerate which quickly put pressure on the financials. They had to be consistent to sell the product. The bad ass software was no longer innovative, it was merely maintained, supported and sold. The stakes were high, a potential sale for millions was on the brain.
Fast forward one quick and swift year, the buyer pulled offers off the table, why? The once hip and innovative software was just another boxed item like all of the competition, they were not willing to innovate and expand the software. Now, they are treading water with a 5 pound weight around them. I am working closely with the CEO and the marketing team to innovate and inspire to make it a cool product that the market wants.
What’s the point of the story?
The point is that there is always a plentiful supply of doubt and uncertainty when running a small business. Businesses have a lot of moving parts, and a lot that can go wrong. But the biggest mistake is to not invest in what got you there in the first place: innovation. As one of my friend’s favorite sayings goes: “You gotta run with who brung ya.”
What they don’t tell you is that owning a small business is mostly all about managing uncertainty.
Innovation is what got you started in the first place. Continue to invest in it. Don’t let the fear of profitability, success, or anything else convince you that maintaining the status quo is more important than creating.
If you need help or want to bounce ideas around call us at MCDA.