If you’ve had a failure in business before, or are afraid the end is coming for your current business, the feeling can be quite disheartening. Confidence is an important feature of the modern business owner, and feeling like you’re failing can have a profound impact on your efforts. Here’s how to keep your small business from becoming another failure; and how to keep the vision in times of distress.
Remember Why You Started
During times of great stress or tribulation, it can be incredibly difficult to hold your vision and remember why you set out to start a business to begin with. Did you open a surf shop in Texas because you loved surfing, or because you wanted to secure your financial independence? Having a positive mindset and an attitude of confidence can make all the difference during these times, and so it’s important to take a step back and reflect on what your original goals were.
Owning a business can be an isolating experience in many cases since friends and families don’t always support such a venture. Without a good support group behind you, it can feel nearly impossible (especially when things get tough) to keep going.
Make yourself a list of your goals, past and present. What is your mission statement? Why did you get into business? Decide where you want your business to be in the future. Do you want to offer new services? Should your mission statement be changed? Do you need to hire more help?
Keep Close Track of Finances
There are a number of reasons why a business should fail, not the least of which is mismanagement of company finances. Even when you’re successful, you should stick to a budget and always keep track of your business’s finances.
Which products or services make you the most money? Which are customer favorites? What times of the month/year are you busiest? What are your greatest expenses? These questions should be on your mind as you plan a monthly budget or prepare to downsize.
A closely-kept budget can mean the difference between financial despair and success. Many businesses fail due to their owners not properly planning out the business’s financial structure. You’ll want to account for every expense and should have an emergency fund available just as you would with a household budget.
Planning a budget or general money management isn’t exactly everyone’s strength, and that’s why professional advisors and financial planners exist. These experts will be able to look at your business’s finances with a non-biased, honest, and learned set of eyes. They’ll be able to help you plan out a more effective budget and get your finances under control so your business can prosper. Use tools like Careful Cents site to find the best financial advisors in your area.
Keep Customers First
Any business that doesn’t put its customers first isn’t likely to perform very well. Customers want to feel welcomed and serviced when they patron your business, and forgetting about the wants and needs of the customers is a sure way to put a stake in the heart of your efforts.
You’ll want to interact with your customers on a daily basis via in-person conversations, emails, and social media. This will help keep you connected and aware of what your customers want and expect from your service, and also how your customers feel about your products.
This information is truly priceless and can make all the difference in the success of your business. Customer service is king, no matter what industry you’re operating in. Keep in regular contact with customers, provide feedback surveys, and offer loyalty bonuses for your most loyal patrons to encourage them to continue to patron your business.
Include Marketing Costs in Your Budget
Marketing should account for a large portion of your business’s expenses. Without a good marketing campaign, your current customers will forget about your products, and you’ll find it incredibly difficult to drive new customers into your business. Marketing puts you at the forefront of current and prospective customers’ minds; encouraging them to choose your brand instead of the competition.
Marketing should account for about 8 percent of your gross revenue, but be sure you’re getting an ROI on your marketing efforts. If you’re not seeing a return, you may need to try another avenue or hire a marketing firm to help you reach your marketing goals.
Fail Forward, Not Backward
Failure is easy to trip over; it can leave you feeling hopeless, exhausted, and even affect your self-esteem. Failure is often viewed as a negative experience, or as something that should be avoided at all costs. The shame we feel when we fail at something is truly unwarranted when you take a different look at what failing means.
Failure should be viewed as a learning experience, especially if you’re running your first business. As humans, we are prone to mistakes; it’s part of the learning process. A child learns almost exclusively by mistakes, and adults can take plenty of lessons from failure.
Failing forward is a concept that every business owner could benefit from adopting. This changes the idea that failure is a negative thing and is instead a learning experience; one that should motivate us forward. Think of it this way: if you fail ten times and don’t accomplish your goals, and you give up, will you ever reach your goal? Probably not, but if you pick yourself up, and try again, that eleventh effort might just be the one that gets you to your goals. Don’t give up!