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10 Reasons Most Small Businesses Fail and How You Can Buck the Trend

10 Reasons Most Small Businesses Fail and How You Can Buck the Trend

It is estimated that as much as 33% of US small businesses will fail in the first two years. While this might seem disheartening at first glance, it’s probably not as bad as it seems considering the number of entrepreneurs who experience runaway success.

In this article, we’ll look at the ten most common reasons for small business failures, as well as how you can position your company to buck the trend.

1. Lack of Capital

Most entrepreneurs start out with a brilliant business idea. However, many companies are not equipped with enough capital to start or take the company to the next level. The sad truth is that without the right capital injection, many great ideas are doomed to wither away after a couple of months.

The key to solving this problem is to invest the time in determining the costs associated with starting and operating your business. Try not to overstate profits but instead, do the necessary research to make sure you have the working capital that is needed to sustain the business.

The next step is to secure your funding. Many entrepreneurs will turn to family and friends to avoid having to dilute their equity by getting a private investor. However, private loans are an excellent way to ensure continued funding for the business, especially in the start-up months.

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2. Cash Flow Problems

Having just an adequate amount of funds is inadequate. Not having sufficient finances at the right time is a major problem for many small businesses. Handling cash flow is essential to keeping the doors open. However, due to unforeseen events like late payments from clients, unexpected costs, or mistakes in forecasting, a huge chunk of small businesses frequently find themselves running into cash flow issues.

To overcome this common problem, you will need to put in the time to develop an in-depth cash flow forecast; this can be a time-consuming and intricate procedure, so utilizing technology to automate this process can be helpful. Additionally, it’s good to have a ‘cushion’, so if unexpected expenditures turn up, which they inevitably do, you’ll be able to cover them. Planning is the key to overcoming cash flow issues in a small business.

3. Issues with Delegation

Some entrepreneurs are so personally invested in their vision that they feel that they are the only ones who can do it right. Not only is this impossible in many cases, but it is also inefficient and causes burnout. A business owner who fails to train and delegate could face a serious problem if he is out sick or has an emergency.

Entrepreneurs must learn to invest in a team of staff members who can be trusted. The key is to train and then delegate. Effective delegating will leave the business owner to focus more on growing the business and identifying opportunities.

4. Ignoring the Competition

While business competition is healthy for the economy, they can be a threat to the small business owner. An entrepreneur who does not understand his rival may be setting up his business for failure. Often a company is not aware of the competition in their niche until it is too late.

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To maintain your competitive edge, make certain to do an analysis of the competitive landscape. Additionally, continuously monitoring your competitors will enable you to benchmark yourself versus them, learn from their errors, and most importantly not fall behind.

5. Inadequate Customer Demand

Many small businesses think that the product or service that they provide is the best and never consider whether there will be a market for the business.

It is important to conduct thorough marketing research and make sure that your prospective consumers desire what you’re offering. In a lot of cases, it may simply be a matter of tweaking your product or service, so it aligns with what your target audience wants.

6. Failure to Advertise

It doesn’t matter if you have the very best product on the market if your clients do not know about it. With the increase in internet marketing, small businesses who do not invest in digital means of promoting their products and services may be setting themselves up for failure.

Advertising is not always expensive. There are many low-cost options available to small business owners on a budget. There are also free alternatives available such as social media and email marketing. The key is to research and find out the combination of promotional products and platform that will be best for your business and your target audience.

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7. Business Idea Isn’t Profitable

Unprofitable ideas are often the result of a good initial business proposition, but soft financials. If the client acquisition costs are higher than the income that they generate, then the business model is either incomplete or just doesn’t make good sense.

The solution to this problem is planning and research. Before starting a business ensure you understand the cost of customer acquisition and how much you are willing to pay to maintain a profit. If your research reveals a high cost to get the product or service into the hands of the customer, consider ways in which you can cut cost or increase your income.

8. Not Going Digital

With a growing number of people spending time online, small companies cannot make the mistake of only focusing on the brick and mortar of the business. Many companies are now finding success in the virtual marketplace.

At the most basic level, if a small business wants to be successful, it must maintain a professional website. In the era of social media and digital marketing, a small business owner may find great opportunities to promote his products and services to clients all over the world.

9. Poor Leadership and Management

Poor leadership and management can be the demise of many small businesses. When individuals at the top who are in charge of coordinating everything, aren’t doing their jobs properly, the rest of the firm falls apart too.

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A successful business requires leaders and managers that can influence, motivate staff members, and make certain things are working smoothly. It is important to invest in your human resources with training.

10. Changes in the Marketplace

Sometimes small business failure has nothing to do with the day to day operations of the business, but external factors such as the economy or the presence of a brand-new disruptive technology that makes your business outdated.

Not all external factors are out of your control. Preparation, research, and planning can help a small business owner adjust to a changing marketplace.

Small business success is possible despite the daunting statistics. Being armed with information as to the pitfalls many entrepreneurs fall victim to is a good start to making your business successful.

Featured photo credit: rebrn.com via i.imgur.com

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

But what does being productive actually entail?

Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

1. Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

2. Turn off Notifications

According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

3. Manage Interruptions

There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

4. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain once famously said that:

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“if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

5. Cut Down on Meetings

Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

6. Utilize Tools

Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

Some examples of tools that could be used:

Communication
  • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
  • Samepage for video conference software.
  • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
Task Management
  • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
  • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
  • Wekan for an open source option.
Database Management
Time Tracking
  • Clockify for a free tracker.
  • TMetric for workspace integrations.
  • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

7. Declutter and Organize

Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

8. Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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9. Drink Water

Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

The Bottom Line

The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

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