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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 December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

More Tips on Advancing Your Career

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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