By Diane Boorman – Founder at Brand Analytics, Business Enabler & Mentor
Often within your business cycle, we tend to get into a rut as a result of routine or just doing business our way. When this happens, it is easy to complain or talk about the challenges rather than the positive, exciting opportunities it presents; just in case others might steal your ideas or even see you as successful?
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. If you find yourself in a scenario, where you are successful – you should feel proud and allow others to take note, even going as far as giving advice and making suggestions for improvement in your business to take it to the next level. Ideally, we want to be learning every day, even from one another – with the goal of growing.
Here’s your five-step guide to 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, doesn’t mean it’s what 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 to corporate-funded programmes, mentors, coaches, even Google and so many other places to turn to for possible solutions.
Personally, as a mentor, my biggest achievement is when my mentees say that I have pushed them beyond their comfort zone and that I managed to get them to think out of the box. I absolutely love that. Why you might ask? Well, this shows me they are willing to make a change and are looking for new opportunities and methods.
2. Explore Who Or What Can Help You?
It is about working ON your business, that will allow you the time to study the problem, but then your next step should be to find help. Recent business studies2 showed that lack of skills and funding was the reason why many small, medium-sized and micro enterprises (SMMEs) failed. Are you looking upskilling yourself and 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 possibly attending a networking group. At times we 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.
Join a business lunch or attend a talk presented by an expert in order to meet coaches, mentors, business owners and other guest speakers.
3. Relook 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%3 of failed businesses failed to plan and research if there is a market need for their product or service? Don’t think that a great idea or a great product is enough. The start-up 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 stuck situation in 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
Once you have taken the time to investigate your business, met with someone to provide expert advice after you have rediscovered the reason for your business to be in operation, it will be time to 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 that research shows that companies who 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 remain on track.
5. GO …. JUST do IT
After all this, it is now the time to take action. Get up, get dressed and as the saying goes, “Put your big girl panties on” or “Big boy pants”, and just do it!
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 – to where you have encountered success and 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 innovate thinking in the right direction. 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 out your plans.
Our economic situation is very strained currently, but understand what customers need – they have struggles and specific needs, so use your business in order to solve these for them. There will always be opportunities; you need to understand your market, and then find and provide the ideal solution.