THEN YOU ARE MAKING PLANS TO FAIL
Improving sales must be your goal at every phase of the evolution of any business. If you were serious about opening a business, you would have invested substantial sweat equity. By this i mean you would have read everything you could get your hands on related to start-up. Additionally, you probably spent a great deal of time deciding how to finance your venture. Nonetheless, many companies never get started and others are forced to close shortly after opening.
A material reason, for these failures is the lack of a business plan. A business could fail if the entrepreneur didn’t plan for the amount of money he would need to reach his grand opening. Some fail because they didn’t plan for the proper promotion of their companies, prior to and after opening. The list of reasons for prestart-up failures may include hundreds of issues that were not planned for.
Post start-up, failures typically are due to poor planning as well. Many entrepreneurs are so busy earning a living,they forget to plan for the future. many of them borrowed money to get started. Some didn’t properly take into account debt service, when they projected what would be left after expenses, for them to live on. Others, turned to investors to get seed capital to get started. Many didn’t account on the investors becoming a problem when they couldn’t grant interest on those investments. The list of post-start-up problems may even be longer than the list of prestart-up problems.
You increase the probability for your success by planning every step
Once you decided on a niche, you should have drafted a business plan. Your business plan should have included your ideas for succeeding both pre and post start-up. At a minimum, it should have included your plans for at least three (3) to five (5) years into the future. But, the most important feature of your business plan should have been its flexibility.
It goes without saying, a good business plan will include your best guesstimates about the type of business you planned to open. And, those guesstimates should be adjusted based on your experience once you start your business project. Thus, a good flexible business plan is constantly evolving. Once you opened for business, you have to focus on how to get your company known, so you earn anything at all. Unfortunately, except in rare circumstances you will take losses before you break even.
This is not an implication you should not stay current with new developments and trends for your industry. However, unless you find material flaws in your initial assumptions, you must remain mindful of your plans for the future. Your short range plans may have included how you would get your business started. It may have included your strategy on how you get the initial buzz about and traffic to your company. But you must have a strategy to identify how you would evolve from short to medium range and from medium to your long range goals.
You must be ready to invest sweat equity for future transitions
Unfortunately the hard work related to being a business owner never ends. Your focus simply changes. A person determined to succeed, understands opening a business is like learning to ride a bike. Either you keep moving or you fall off. If you can’t transition into your next highest phase smoothly, you may have to wait until you’re ready. This could occur well before you expected or it could take longer than you’d hoped. Your constantly updated business plan must be a material determining factor for such a decision.
Many things take a while before they benefit your business. An e-commerce website can provide customers with information and, offer them another means for purchasing your offerings. This should have been an issue related to building the foundation from which your business would operate. And, part of your short term planning. “Bill Gates said by the end of 2002, there will be only two kinds of businesses: those with an Internet presence, and those with no business at all,”. To a very large extent we agree.
Plan each phase to help you improve sales
Success in the first phase, implies you’re ready for a smooth transition into your midterm strategies. If you were serious about growing your business you should have included things like purchasing the assets of failing businesses. This may allow you to get near new furniture, equipment, and possibly even vehicles for pennies on the dollar. If you have a business you are working from home, you may not need furniture. But computers, peripherals, copiers and other office equipment may help. Depending on the type of business you started, you might avoid the expense of office space by telecommuting. When you reach the point of hiring employees, they may love it.
Other issues that should have been addressed in you initial planning phase should have included the use of small business programs. The constant updates to your business plan should indicate how to best accomplish those tasks. Many large businesses have small business procurement programs you should have become a part of. State governments have small business programs that should have been planned for as well. But, the federal government offers multiple steps to getting into their business development programs. If you made plans to avail your self of these resources and completed applications in your first phase, you should be ready to market to them in your midterm phase.
finding success in your midterm phase should prepare you to improve sales substantially during your long range strategies.
If you were successful during your midterm strategies, your goal should be to continue to improve sales. Approaching suggestions better dealt with in your long term phase, too soon, may overwhelm you. Thus, if your original plans and your continual updates indicate expansion, this is the time for that. Again, the type of business you chose should determine the type of expansion best for your company.
If your business credit is good and you have sufficient collateral, you might consider an expansion loan. For others, franchising may provide you with the road to success. In the midterm phase you would have acquired the assets of closing businesses. But, in your long term strategy, the acquisition of smaller successful businesses may work to your advantage, to improve sales.
All these things should have been considered in your initial plans. And, through your periodic updates to your plan you would have been able to determine which major expansion would work best for you. Getting a business open is important and will give anyone a sense of accomplishment. Simply don’t allow yourself to become complacent and contribute to the already high rate of business failures. Instead, from the moment you decide to open a business, well before you consider developing a business plan, you must plan to succeed. And, improving sales must be the goal you work toward in your planning, implementation and growth stages of your business.
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