Today’s topic is survival, mortality. It’s about strapping on the Kevlar and loading your weapon for the war ahead. In the face of the doom and gloom statistics about failure rates of businesses, it takes a fight to stay alive. And it also requires smart decisions and poise. Here are a few tips for beating the odds in an uncertain economy.
Plan and Plan and Plan
You have a lot of work to do when getting your brand conceptualized and ready to put into production. There’s no question that your time and energy will go into the fundamental concepts concerning your product, its niches, and your marketing approaches. However, I’m afraid that probably won’t be enough: the difference between failure and success can be whether or not you anticipate some of the seemingly-tangential issues, factors that are far from obvious. These troubles can include zoning or city planning, transportation expenses or the outsourcing of unanticipated tasks, seasonal variations in business and other changes in the economy.
It’s true that some problems will indeed remain impossible to anticipate. But one of your best weapons is research–learning as much as you can, not only about laws and procedures in your area, but also the people, their purchasing power, the possible competition, and as many socio-economic factors as possible.
Strange though it may sound, some entrepreneurs fail to consider–or adequately consider–capital and financing. Many startup enterprises underestimate the costs and fail to look beyond initial investments necessary to get off the ground.
Give Yourself a Promotion
Marketing and promotion are absolute necessities, not afterthoughts. While clarity of vision regarding the product and its sales is crucial, that doesn’t mean that promotion is window dressing. Your great product crafted from only the finest materials won’t get you into the black if people don’t know it exists.
Every startup needs to have a strategy for:
- local promotions involving either local media or social networking
- online marketing and outreach involve video–using YouTube, vimeo, etc.
- holistic and connected social media–Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare
- coupons, sales, giveaways, donations and in-person appearances at fairs, conferences, etc.
Each of these must be connected to a clear goal for which the particular medium makes sense.
No Extra Credit
Many entrepreneurs, eager to foster long-term relationships with clients, will liberally extend credit. Indeed, some business make securing a charge account a one-click affair; however, in an effort to get into the black as soon as possible, you should probably run a credit check before offering any credit.
Later, once the fireworks of getting things up and running have dissipated and you know how to deal with debtors, you may be successful in allowing your customers to charge items for later invoicing.
Cover your assets
Insurance is crucial to startups. Inadequate coverage can expose you to expenses that amount to a gaping hole in the ship. Shop around, talk to insurers and, as mentioned above, do your research. Cheapest is not necessarily best when choosing something that will have massive effects later.
If you can keep all these plates spinning, you’re well on your way to insuring the success of your SME startup. If you let them crash to the floor and explode into shards, you run the risk of having your business fail. You’re already passionate and drive: now it’s time to perform due-diligence and put together a sensible, well-researched plan.