You wouldn’t write an article without saving it along the way. You’d never get on a ship that lacked a lifeboat (Titanic, much?). You wouldn’t dream of skydiving without an emergency parachute. Then why would you ever start a business without a back-up plan?
Launching a small business is risky business. And while it’s tough to imagine your venture ever going south, it’s well worth it to account for rough times. If you’re lucky, your business will thrive and grow without a hitch. But if you run into some trouble along the way, you’ll be glad you made a back-up plan.
Back up your data
Backing up your data is about more than just hitting the ‘save’ button. One computer crash could mean the end of your business, so backing up your data is truly essential to the preservation of your company. Whether you do it through a series of external hard drives or a cloud storage service, make sure you’ve got more than one way of accessing your files.
Don’t make your company a one-man show
As a business owner, you’re bound to feel pretty invested in the affairs of your company. Who wouldn’t be? But there’s a difference between being involved and doing everything, and it’s an important distinction to keep in mind. Business owners are the keepers of a lot of information that’s critical to the functioning of your company. But if you want your business to have a chance of running smoothly when you’re not there to micro-manage, then it’s important to delegate responsibility throughout your company. Should you take a day off, be sure that you’ve left your employees access to the information they’ll need to be able to pick up the slack.
Diversify your financing
All businesses need financing to achieve their goals, but it pays to choose wisely when looking for sources of capital. For most startup companies, there are three options: bootstrap, take out a business loan, or exchange equity for capital. The key is to avoid putting all of your eggs in one basket. In the early stages of your company, focus on financing your company personally (bootstrapping) or try securing startup business loans from friends, family, or microlending institutions. As your company gains value, consider changing things up by offering a stake in your company to an angel investor or venture capital firm. By varying your methods for financing, you’ll avoid disaster should one source fall through.
Build a network
In times of trouble, it’s great to have friends, colleagues, and advisers on whom you can rely for help. Whether you’re short on cash and need a job done quickly and cheaply, or your business has met an impasse and you don’t know how to move forward, having a network of people who are on your side can make running your company a whole lot easier. Nearly all businesses run into hard times at one point or another, so it’s worth it to find people who have your back when things get tough.
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