Starting your own business requires a leap of faith that very few are willing to take. It is a declaration of your own conviction when you are prepared to take your livelihood, property, family, and personal assets into your own hands, bound only by the strength of your vision. Moreover, many entrepreneurs do not initially possess a secure financial base for total economic security.
However, regardless of their amount of fiscal backing, companies that implement these two basic, yet vital, practices may find they are at a much lower risk for failure from the very beginning:
• Prioritization: A sustainable business is one that sees and plans beyond first-run margins and prioritizes extended returns over immediate windfalls. According to Jake Gibson, advisor and co-founder of the online personal finance tool NerdWallet, it also helps to regard prioritization in terms of themes, rather than just a series of tasks. Consider the top two or three most growth-driving factors, and set them as your main points of interest. Gibson points out that factors which do not fit within the construct of your business’ direct expansion should not be treated as high priority.
• Market research: Business owners who do not engage in some level of market research to measure their brand’s consumer potential are most likely going to find a very rocky road ahead. Brian Hill, author of several well-known business finance books, including Inside Secrets to Venture Capital and The Pocket Small Business Owner’s Guide to Business Plans, explains that prior to the launching of any new venture, an entrepreneur must be able to confidently maintain that the product holds a need within the marketplace. Without the potential for a solid customer base, the business will not sustain its own weight and be profitable.
Even with the best of intentions, business owners will still likely encounter their fair share of roadblocks. Yet, providing the basics are in place, these entrepreneurs may possess an advantage over their competitors when faced with major setbacks.
The Road To Recovery
Finance and marketing are the two most vital aspects to consider when rebuilding your company. American Airlines, General Motors, Betsy Johnson, and Kodak are among a group of companies that experienced plummeting sales and dipping profits, yet were able to return from the brink of elimination, likely through implementing a wide array of strategies to bring venture back into play. Despite the scale of magnitude, the lesson is that no matter how vast the potential fall, no situation is beyond hope.
Here are some strategies for recovering your business from both a financial and marketing perspective.
• Review your strongest and weakest points. Business owners must have an honest perspective. Recognize not only what makes you stand out in your particular market, but also what might be holding you back. Those who can identify these factors will have a better chance of conveying their value to the marketplace.
• Consider the benefits of a merger. If the prospect should arise, the benefits of merging your products and services with that of another similar company in your industry can be significant. Thriving businesses often merge to reduce competition and increase customer diversification; however, these benefits can prove tenfold for a struggling entity on the verge of folding. While it may not be the answer for every company, the synergy of a successful merger will help decrease overhead for both active businesses while increasing performance, and bridging gaps in profit and productivity.
• Re-evaluate your demographic. While it may seem safer, a lack of change never equals stability. As times change, the needs of the public also change, and your product or service must also adapt accordingly. Furthermore, broadening the general appeal of your product or service will help you expand beyond your original client base, increasing your demographic as a whole.
• Build a strong online presence. Make use of YouTube and other social media outlets to promote your brand. A video marketing campaign will ensure that your clientele can view exactly how your product works. Also, consider blogging your own original written content. Sharing your acquired knowledge through informative articles not only offers your company more exposure, but it enhances your reputation as a respected and well-informed member of your field. Try engaging your most talented team members to offer their professional input as well.
• Tighten the fiscal reigns. The path to success can often seem contraindicative. After all, in order to make a profit, it’s also necessary to spend and invest funds, albeit smartly. If your company is on the edge of failure, chances are great that you will need to invest a certain amount in marketing and rebranding. Therefore, business owners must know when and where to reduce budget costs in other areas so they can stay afloat until their company is back on track.
• Construct a captivating backstory. Steve Jobs founded Apple in a garage in Los Altos, CA where he produced the first Apple computer. Starbucks was founded by a writer and two teachers who met in college, naming the company after a minor character in the classic novel, Moby Dick. Most companies have some riveting details surrounding their early days. Everyone loves a “rags to riches” story, so try creating a solid bio of your own meager beginnings and make it public.
• Find advocates. While customer testimonials, alone, may not be the powerhouse of advertising they may have once been, it is still important that you include them in your press releases and website. To remain authentic, be sure to conduct an accurate analysis of your customers’ reactions toward your brand, so your potential clientele sees how much you have impressed your customers and earned their loyalty.
A wise and dedicated business owner already possesses the resources and wherewithal to create influence where none existed before. It is this methodology and the “something from nothing” mindset that even established business owners must draw upon during times of duress.
Fred Coon is Chief Executive Officer of Stewart, Cooper & Coon, and the author of several best-selling career books. He is also an official member of the Forbes Coaches Council, where this article was originally published.
Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200