Many start-up businesses fail within 5 years. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Whilst there is no secret recipe for success, you can definitely improve your chances by following these ten simple tips:
Tip 1 – Be clear on your vision and values
Be in business for a reason, communicate your value proposition and always deliver on your promises. At the same time be agile, open to change and alive to new opportunities.
“Be stubborn on the purpose, but flexible on the journey”Jonas Samuelson
Tip 2 – Dare to be different and know how to make a difference
In a sea of similar-looking businesses, it pays to stand out. Whilst it is valuable to learn from others, doing things your own way and carving out a unique niche can really pay off.
“Strategy is about deliberately choosing to be different”Michael Porter
Tip 3 – Follow your heart but trust your gut
Especially when starting out, it is tempting to analyse, overthink and even procrastinate. Cut through complexity and go with your gut. If it feels right, or wrong, it probably is. Or as Richard Branson famously put it:
“Screw it! Just do it!”Richard Branson
Tip 4 – Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Going it alone, doesn’t mean being on your own. Use your network for support and guidance. Have the courage to admit that you don’t know everything and be truly open to new ways of working.
“Asking for help when you need it, isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength”Barack Obama
Tip 5 – It is OK to make mistakes so long as you learn from them
So many solopreneurs and small businesses play it safe, containing risk and doing everything possible to avoid failures. And yet, failure is rarely fatal. In fact, failing can be the best way to learn. Business is about risk and reward and finding the right formula is often the result of trial and error.
“Experience is simply the name we give to our mistakes”Oscar Wilde
Tip 6 – No matter how many times you get knocked down, get back up again
In business you need to develop a thick skin, accept that set-backs are inevitable and have the courage to continue. Your worth is not determined by the failure of others to recognise it. An overnight success is rare indeed. Keep polishing your rough diamond until no one can ignore its brilliance.
“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”Nelson Mandela
Tip 7 – Invest in yourself and never stop learning
No matter what area you and your business specialise in, we are all working in the knowledge economy and customers often come to us for our unique experience and expertise. And yet, in today’s fast paced world, knowledge becomes obsolete so quickly. It is vital therefore to keep your professional skills at the leading edge, learn from others and constantly take on new and challenging projects.
“An investment in knowledge, pays the best interest”Benjamin Franklin
Tip 8 – Keep driving your business forward
Small businesses need forward momentum. Standing still is not an option. Making time to work on the business as well as in the business is a must. Acquire the latest technology to drive efficiency and expand into new areas.
“Staying successful is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving”Albert Einstein
Tip 9 – Celebrate your successes
In the hustle and bustle of daily business it is easy to be consumed by your ever growing “to do list” and to rush from one challenge to the next, without ever stopping to recognise your achievements.
You are in business to enjoy what you do. You have a right to celebrate every success, no matter how small the win. Cherish these small victories and savour the feel-good factor this brings. It will motivate you to go further and accomplish even more.
“Celebrate what you’ve accomplished, but raise the bar a little higher each time you succeed”Mia Hamm
Tip 10 – Take time off and recharge your batteries
Small businesses are driven by passionate and engaged people. You work long hours, you go above and beyond for your customers, but you do risk burnout unless you take a break every once in a while. Physically getting away from it all, helps you gain perspective and come back refreshed and ready to face new challenges.
“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”Dolly Parton
The tips in this post come from my own personal experiences of building an independent consultancy practice over the last 5 years.
If I can succeed, so can anyone!
Where there is a will, you will find your way.
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