By: Diane Boorman – Founder at Brand Analytics, Business Enabler & Mentor
Often within a business cycle, we tend to get into a rut as a result of routine or just doing business our way. When you are facing possible business failure, it is easy to complain or talk about the challenges rather than see the positive and exciting opportunities it presents.
It is no secret that South Africa’s small business failure rate is almost 80% within the first three years – this means the average entrepreneur’s chance of starting a business, growing it and creating much-needed jobs, is painfully slim.
Ideally, we want to be learning every day, even from one another – with the goal of growing.
Here’s your five-step guide to help you take action today:
1. Take the time to understand – Where are you, and your business, currently at?
For those entrepreneurs or business owners who are truly stuck, the first step should be to take a step back and have a long, hard look as to why you believe this might have happened.
Have you been doing the same thing for far too long that you cannot seem to change?
Just because it’s always been done [a certain way] doesn’t mean it’s [that’s how it] should be done. Is it fear that keeps you from moving forward? Or is it perhaps your pride?
In many cases, it might be that you do not know what to do in order to move forward. All these are excuses for resisting change. In life today, it is far easier to find a resource, from government funded programmes and corporate-funded programmes to mentors and coaches, even Google.
2. Explore who or what can help you
Working ON your business will allow you the time to study the problem. Your next step should be to find help. Recent business studies show that a lack of skills and funding are the reasons why many small, medium-sized and micro enterprises (SMEs) fail. Are you looking to upskilling yourself and are you exploring all your options?
There are so many options out there and often you just need a fresh opinion. One of the first places to start is attending a network group. Join a business lunch or attend a talk presented by an expert in order to meet coaches, mentors, business owners and other guest speakers.
Sometimes you just need to think differently by stimulating other areas of the brain – go to an art class, or a place that is very different than your normal day-to-day activity.
3. Re-look your business plan
Most business owners get professional help to draft a business plan. In my opinion, these business plans need to be revised once the owner knows where they really want to take their enterprise. “Why” you might ask.
Did you know that 42% of failed businesses failed to plan and research if there is a market (need) for their product of service? Don’t think that a great idea or product is enough. The startup graveyard is littered with amazing ideas and products that have failed – now you know why.
Revisiting your business plan will afford you the opportunity to put your situation into perspective, as well as remind you why you started in the first place and where you want to go next. This will most certainly reignite the fire again.
4. Now, put a plan together
Meet with someone who can provide expert advice once you have rediscovered the reason for your business to be in operation – put a new action plan together. Will this mean that you need to find new clients, new suppliers or a new market? Be motivated by research that shows companies that have a business plan are more likely to increase profit than those who don’t.
Perhaps you need to diversify or simplify? Whichever direction you decide to take, do not do it without putting a plan together. Devise this with clear action points of what you are going to do with specific dates against each action so that you can stay on track.
5. GO …. JUST DO IT
After all this, it is now the time to take action.
Go find the clients. Go interview the suppliers. Build a product range. Be merciless and discard products that are not working. Add colours to your ranges. Expand your services and product basket – create more products to retain your clients or at least give them a positive reason to come back.
Often when we are stuck as entrepreneurs or business owners, we just need a reality check, and a push towards being tenacious and being innovate. Try pushing the boundaries and take the risk in order to try something new. Have you been exploring how technology can change your every day? Include your staff in your decision making and include all their suggestions as part of the team when working on your plans.
About the author: Diane Boorman’s life’s work as an avid business enabler and mentor – founder and CEO of her business, Brand Analytics, evolves daily around working on innovative business opportunities with her clients, business owners that are inspired by her guidance and the opening of doors to activate growth in their businesses.