Friday, January 1, 2016

The 5 P's to avoiding being the next failed venture...

Have you ever been through an experience in life that stretched you to the point you wondered if you were a 70's icon toy like the "Slinky".  There are few journeys in life that have the ability to cause both rapid personal and professional growth like starting a business.  It's a self-discovery pathway that according to the current statistics has the high likelihood of ending in despair and failure. Why would anyone go down this path when there is so much negative data that supports the real possibility it may end in failure?   Reasons may vary, but for most it has something to do with solving a problem they've identified that can make a significant contribution to the world, provide more control over their life, or is just the best fit for their abilities and skills.
In order to avoid being that next failed venture there are 5 Keys to creating the possibility of success:

Plan - It seems like an obvious statement that you would want to plan if you were starting a business, but it's easy to get sidetracked and look at the shiny objects rather than sticking to the task at hand. Having a business plan built on market research is the first essential step if you have any chance of succeeding.  That means taking the time to ensure you have chosen a pathway that will solve someones pain or problem.  Once you have that in place you can begin the process of embarking on your journey of how you're going to ensure they know you have the answer to their problem.

Provisions - Sadly you're not going to get very far on your journey without that figurative gas in your tank (provisions).  When starting a business it's challenging to know all the financial obstacles that you need to plan for to be successful, but if you don't take the time to list out all your needs then the car isn't even going to start.  Therefore, enlist the help of a mentor, business coach, or financial analyst that can help you forecast your financial needs to both run the business, and survive yourself. Without both needs being met, your journey will be extremely short.  This should be embedded into your business plan in as much detail as possible.  It also provides the ability to be more appealing to possible investors or qualify for lending as a start-up.

Promotion -  I had a very wise business woman recently tell me, "You can have the greatest product or solution in the world, but if no one knows about it then it doesn't matter".  Marketing and promotion is crucial to getting off the ground.  Large numbers of new entrepreneurs try DIY (do it yourself) marketing, and often fail because they may not have the complete understanding of how to effectively reach their customer.  When starting out it's crucial to your success to hire a marketing consultant or firm that create a plan for your business.  Ensure that their plan encompasses all the pathways that are needed to promote your product to the masses.  One way you can save money is to try to find someone who can give you a package deal, and has the background to function in various aspects of marketing your product.  If you have other small business owners in your network, ask them for a referral to someone who is legitimate and trustworthy.

Patronage - I think one of the biggest challenges new business owners may agree upon is that a start up can be a lonely gig.  When you decide to go down this road you'll need to ensure that you have a supportive network that can provide both feedback and support.  It doesn't necessarily have to be your family and friends because realistically they are often the one's who want you to go back to punching the clock.  In most cities there are great chambers or small business networking groups that can provide this support, and completely understand your journey.  It is an important way to have access to great advice, and also to keep your tank fueled when you feel like you're on empty.

Perseverance - Feeling like you're on empty happens to every new business owner.  The passion may fade as you struggle to get things moving, or you realize your finances are quickly drying up.  The road is a challenge, and therefore requires that you continually keep your head in the game so you can persevere.  It's easy to work all hours of the day, and be focused only on the business when you're first starting out.  Somehow you have to manage your schedule, so you have time to care for your body and mind.  If you don't get enough rest, exercise, or interaction with the important people in your life you may fall prey to the possibility of burnout, apathy, and ultimately becoming the next statistic in an annual economic report.

These 5 P's are my take on what is needed to help you with creating the possibility of succeeding in the first year of business when many others will go down in flames.  If you find that you've become one of the statistics take some time to complete a postmortem investigation on your dead business. Don't forget that numerous successful people have already been down this road, but didn't let the failure be the end to their dream.  Therefore, do what you can to be vigilant and smart, and learn from the experience so you can have a successful venture the next time out.  I wish you all the best as you strive to make a life for yourself by meeting an unmet need the world wants to solve, and where you can control the flexibility and choice in your life.  Take care, and best wishes for much success.  I wish you an amazing 2016!