Running a small business is an exciting venture that can lead to the financial freedom simple employees work their whole lives to attain. However, with the great rewards come great risks that can lead us, small business owners, to financial failures.
I have witnessed friends and family members pursue their own entrepreneurial dreams only to see them shattered not a year into their short-lived careers, mostly due to a number of fatal but avoidable reasons. Let’s take a look at some of them.
# 1. No Business Plan
Knowing what your business will be and how you will sell your products or services are not enough to keep it running. You need to have a business plan written out, including (but not limited to) the following:
- your short and long term goals;
- the business’ finances for labor, production equipment, etc.;
- your target markets; and
Having one which outlines every detail will guide your business to the right path.
# 2. Wrong Reasons
Starting a small business simply because you want to be rich can lead to an unfulfilling experience, where you will always be looking for schemes that can bring you a fortune. Before you do, think first about your own interests and passions. Do you believe you can give something of value to people at large? Are you driven enough to overcome the many inevitable obstacles an entrepreneur will face?
# 3. Inefficient Management
Small business entrepreneurs usually come into their industries with little to no knowledge of handling the multiple facets of a business such as financial management, employee relations, advertising and other essential responsibilities. Educate yourself through short business and finance courses, or hire managers who have expertise in the fields where you are lacking.
# 4. Lack of Capital
Some entrepreneurs think they will be making profits for their beginning operation cycles, spending most (if not all) of their resources immediately, only to find out later that they will not have enough funds to start the succeeding cycle/s. Consider every possible cost (overhead, production, equipment, etc.) and save enough money that can be used for at least one fiscal year despite poor sales.
# 5. Bad Location
It is not enough to set up a store at a location with high human traffic or with a very cheap lease. Opening a restaurant near a school campus can seem like a good idea, but don’t expect too many customers if the food is expensive and there are much cheaper alternatives around.
You need to consider your target market and their habits, as well as the direct competition in the area. Don’t be afraid of spending on prime location, as the increased rate of customers coming into your store and making a purchase will make up for the initial cost.
# 6. No Online Presence
In this age of high-speed information, people expect to find just about everything on the Internet with their computers and mobile devices. Not having a website or at least a social media page will render your business virtually invisible to a great majority of the world’s population.
You can hire professionals to create a website for you or put up the website yourself by using website building software. Make accounts for your business on Facebook, Twitter and other leading social media platforms where your target market can usually be found.
# 7. Uncontrolled Growth
Growth is a good thing unless it is left unchecked and your generated revenue can’t keep up with the expansion. If your business experiences great success, do not be overeager to spend your profits by immediately buying more equipment or opening up new stores. Stick to the strategies you have set so you can still grow without bankrupting the business.
# 8. Financial Neglect
Cash is the lifeblood of any business, and there will be no business once that runs out. Therefore, it is imperative that small business entrepreneurs practice strict financial record-keeping so that every penny is duly accounted for. Knowing exactly how much money is going in and out of your business will correctly guide every decision you make.
# 9. Lackluster Execution
Having a great business plan will amount to nothing if each objective is tackled with incompetence. Employees who are lazy, dull, bad-mannered and unmanageable will not just cut down on productivity, but will also have a negative effect on the work environment and customer/client relations. Follow strict hiring guidelines and subject your hires to rigorous training to ensure quality output from each one.
# 10. Poor Marketing
A small business needs to market its brand considering the tough competition it will face against more established businesses. You need to invest enough resources into promoting your products through the right channels. This is so your target market knows exactly that you can fulfill its needs. Online marketing is a must these days, but you should not ignore the physical reach of traditional marketing methods such as brochures, flyers and business cards.
Ultimately, it is a matter of planning out your overall strategy, assessing your own strengths and weakness, and keeping a good eye on all of your resources—be it financial or human. Consider each of these possible pitfalls, and you can find your small business not just surviving, but thriving in this competitive world.
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