Congratulations! Your small business is up and running, and for the time being, it seems as if business is booming. You are on the road to independence and limitless possibilities. Suddenly, something unexpected comes up, a snag in the fabric of your best laid plans. What do you do to keep your business afloat in the early stages of development? How do you ensure that you can minimize risk and maximize potential?
There are certain traps that business owners fall into in the early stages that you can avoid---if you see them coming. Taking proactive steps to ensure that you don’t fall victim to these classic blunders will help you take consistent steps to success. Here are some situations that you can watch for as you navigate your road to success.
Pitfall #1--Not Staying Focused
In order to excel at anything, one needs focus, drive and determination. Choosing to spend your time on things that are ineffective and counterproductive to your daily operations will waste time and resources. Learn to manage your time wisely, and if necessary, construct schedules for yourself with timelines for project completion. Classify tasks according to the priority that they hold in keeping your business alive and thriving, and manage those tasks well. There will be all sorts of opportunities presented to you as your business shows signs of success, but you will need to evaluate whether they will be harmful or beneficial in the long run. Slow and steady wins the race; plan your course and prepare for inevitable detours along the way. Maintaining focus on your goal will allow you to weather any challenges you are presented with.
Pitfall #2---Not Following Through
It is important to be very detailed in making plans for your new business, but then you MUST execute them in order to see results! You may not realize that your inaction is costing you profits. Be decisive, and stick to your meticulously crafted business plan. Honor your commitments to clients and business partners, and strive to create quality relationships with everyone involved in making your business a success. Follow through with paying your debts on time and in full as much as possible; maintaining lines of credit with vendors can quickly spiral out of control if operating costs exceed revenue. Bottom line, if you create an agreement or a plan regarding your business, stick to it. You’ll create a reputation for yourself that precedes you, and clients and investors alike will be clamoring to do business with you.
Pitfall #3--Failing To Maximize Productivity
No matter how large or small your business, it has to be run with efficiency and achievement that manifests itself in the form of tangible results, profits that can be measured against the backdrop of the effort required to produce them. Less productive pursuits and lower efficiency is bound to affect business profits and longevity. Keep people accountable for their decisions and actions, and maintain a climate of positivity and collaboration. Follow up on important projects to ensure that you and your employees are on target. Delegate to people that you trust, but do not micromanage projects run by people who have delivered results in the past; you have bigger things to do as you manage the entire operation. Reach out to employees that need additional support, and provide a mentorship system that can take over aspects of training new employees. Lastly, motivate your entire staff by recognizing and appreciating their efforts. A happy staff is a productive staff.
Pitfall #4--Failing To Get Financials Under Control
Unless time and experience allow you to know your market well, chances are that there will be a few financial surprises along the way. Whether you are an easy spender or a thrifty manager, the fact of the matter is this------you need a solid grasp of what it takes to balance the books in order to make sure a business runs smoothly. Rather than using all of your resources to continue expansion, tuck some funds away in order to be able to handle unexpected expenses that do come up. Research additional sources of funding that you could draw on in the case of an emergency, and make sure that revenue always exceeds expenditures. In this manner, you will ensure that no matter what the surprise, you will be prepared for the occasional rainy day.
These potential pitfalls may at first seem a little intimidating, but the rewards of going into business for yourself greatly outweigh the risks. Taking some time to develop solid plans, learning to execute them, prioritizing your time and being willing to learn as you go will all be invaluable skills you develop as you blossom into the entrepreneurial leader you were destined to be.