What to Do To Beat The Odds!
(Hint: Not Just For New Business Owners)
by Maria Marsala
Summary: Learn from the mistakes of others. I tell my clients to make different mistakes!
No one sets out to fail! Most business owners read all the statistics (maybe more than once) before they open their doors. Many know the reasons why businesses fail. But some businesses operate under this paradigm: "failure can never happen to me because I know better." Is that you?
What most business owners miss is looking at the reasons for business failure and turning them into action steps to help overcome the odds of failure. How do I know? I once thought I knew better, too!
Bear in mind that even "adolescent"businesses fail within the first five years. Many businesses aren't producing enough income because the business owners aren't "business wise." They may be excellent at a specific task - consulting, programming, massage therapy, web site design, copy writing, etc. Or they have a great product. But wise about the "business" of business, they are not!
In the past five years of my business, not one client (including those who have been in business for more than 10 years) provided me with a business plan to review. Not one! Two of 100 clients have had marketing plans, but marketing plans don't work without a business plan and other focus type tools, too. The other common (95%!) mistake I see (and help my clients correct) is pricing their services very low as a way to gain market share and new clients. So low, in fact, that a potential buyer will perceive the service or product as being cheap and of low quality, even when the provider offers years of expertise. NO ONE wants to hire a business that is cheap! Inexpensive - yes; affordable - yes; cheap - no, no, no!
The most common problems business owners experience stem from simple functions like streamlining, organizing, information resourcing, marketing, planning, visioning, languaging, communication, technology and ecommerce. Example: If you know that most businesses fail because they don't have a usable business plan, develop your own business and marketing plans and use them daily; don't create one that gathers dust on a shelf. I use the One Page Business Plan Book® by Jim Horan. It helps business owners create very realistic, focused, and well thought-out business and marketing plans, including scorecards to help you anticipate and avoid business problems.
Example 1: Recently, a client turned down an opportunity to teach computer classes on a subject she could easily teach. Using teaching to market her business is on her marketing plan. So why not? Well, the proposed classes weren't going to help her get business for her primary business, they weren't going to attract her ideal client, and the pay was much lower than her usual hourly rate. She felt confident about declining the offer. Of course, that same week, other new business - the type she really wanted - came her way!
Example 2: Learn from my mistake(s). I often tell the story, only half-jokingly, about how I had to move 3000 miles from home to find a business plan I was willing to create. In 2000, Jim Horan, the author of the One Page Business Plan was in Seattle, conducting a one day workshop. I attended the workshop, and as I went through the process, I started including business coaching and consulting as part of my plan - something I hadn't thought to include in my business before. But I realized that while I loved life coaching and it helped my clients, I wasn't making enough money as a Life Coach to pay the bills.
My plan wasn't finalized at the seminar, and because it seemed to me that my business was about to change, I decided to go on a retreat with the workbook, sit on the beach, and see what was to come next. I realized that I had already turned away so many individuals who wanted to work on their businesses - to create their plans, learn how to market and network, and use the Internet. But wait! I have a Wall Street Trading/Executive/Management background that's rich in business and business development. This experience totally changed the main focus of my business, and the rest is herstory.
Example 3: New client knows she wants to create a business plan. She also has a strategy of increasing her income by joining four organizations with networking opportunities for her to meet her ideal clients. She joins the first two groups - total cost: $400.
As she starts her business foundation work, which includes the One Page Business Plan, she realizes that her ideal client isn't whom she originally thought it was! Some clients might be found in the two groups she's already joined, but not her ideal clients. As a new business owner, she wants to spend her time around her ideal clients, first and foremost. Planning just a little more for her business would have saved her $400 in membership fees.
What other simple things can you do to build a solid business foundation?
Most business owners don't know what they don't know. Get assistance by hiring non-biased professionals who help you realign with your vision, create plans and financial scorecards to monitor your business. Look for someone who can suggest resources to help you and your business grow. Someone who's been in your shoes and succeeded. Start looking at how having a partner - a business consultant, coach, counselor, strategist, organizer or planner - can help you grow your business.
Ready to learn more about business success? Take a look at the articles I found on business failure that are posted below, (http://www.coachmaria.com/articles/succeed.html). Learn to overcome the costly (both in money and your time) errors that other business owners have already made. Give your business a fighting chance to continue to succeed.
Business Closed: The Story Behind The Sign by John T. Self
Reasons Why Businesses Fail - Wisconsin SCORE Office
Top Ten Mistakes Made by Entrepreneurs
Top 10 Reasons Small Businesses Fail
Why Businesses Fail -- And Why You Should Know By Mark Landsbaum
3 "C's" of Businesses Failure
How To Succeed In Business by Brian Tracy
© 2013 Elevating Your Business. Maria Marsala specializes in guiding independent financial professionals; accountants, CPAs, advisors, brokers, RRs, and RIAs, to increase their P.E.P - profitability, efficiency and productivity. For 20 years on Wall Street, she helped retail financial professionals sell more and secure loyal clients. Have you tried to acquire more clients and found that your system is no longer working? Then it's time to uncover the areas of your business screaming for your immediate attention and those that deserve a big hurrah! Request Maria's Empire Builder Kit (free) at www.ElevatingYourBusiness.com
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©2013 Maria Marsala guides independent financial advisors to reach their 5-year business and personal goals in 24 months. She is a business coach, speaker, and a former Wall Street Trader. Named one of the Top 30 International Coaching Gurus in 2011, Maria has been recognized as a thought leader whose ideas have been published in Financial Planning Magazine, RIA Biz, Advisor Max, Dow Jones, The Street, Entrepreneur Magazine, and numerous books, trade journals, and magazines. She has authored four business-building workbooks including, Attracting Clients You Love Working With: 6 Steps to a Profitable Client Base. Did you find this article thought provoking? Get more delivered directly to your inbox every two weeks. Sign up here
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