Wednesday, June 12, 2024

How to Survive Your First Year in Business

What’s the best way to create a profitable business? A business you really love that makes the kind of money you really want?

Planning, planning, and more planning.

Before jumping head-long into a new business, you must lay the foundation for long-term success. A good foundation is rooted in a solid plan.

Many new businesses skip what is perhaps the most important part of a solid business plan… assessing individual strengths and weaknesses.

But does a self-assured, go-getter such as yourself really need to do a self-analysis?

Research has shown that many businesses collapse in their first year because of inadequate planning. A thorough self-assessment is the first step in planning a business which lasts well beyond the first year.

What happens if you skip this first step?

Picture yourself standing on a grassy knoll looking out upon a desert – a sea of sand. You must cross this desert to reach the cool, refreshing waters on the other side.

You begin your journey in the brisk, night air. The warm sand feels good between your toes. But then, you feel a nip at your feet. It is a creepy creature of the night which has mistaken your curly little toe for a frisky, hopping snack.

A thought… should have planned for boots.

It then occurs to you that your little toe will become quite curly tomorrow when the sand heats up from the blazing sun.

Not a pretty picture, is it? Ya gotta plan. Bare feet at first… great for comfort. Boots for later on… that’s thinking ahead.

The questions below will help you to prepare yourself… for business.

A. Why Do You Want To Start Your Own Business?

Understanding your motivation helps you to see past the romantic notions of being self-employed. The questions below have no correct answer. They are different for everyone. Just look at your answers critically and evaluate how important they are in choosing to start a business.

1. Do you want better work hours? If so, what hours do you want to work?

2. Do you want to be your own boss? If so, why do you want to be your own boss? e.g. creative freedom, current boss is a Neanderthal, better use of your skills…

3. Do you want to improve your financial condition? If so, by how much? How much income do you want every week? Every month? Every year?

4. Does your current job leave you unfulfilled? Why? Can your desire to be self-employed fill this need? In what ways?

5. Do you have a business idea in mind? If so, why did you choose this business?

B. Are You Prepared For The Physical and Emotional Demands?

A new business can be very demanding. A business owner must wear several hats, be able to switch hats in the blink of an eye, and wear them till the job is done. This can be stressful to your physical and emotional health. The following questions will help you gauge your stamina.

1. Are you prepared to put in long hours to succeed? It’s not uncommon for the entrepreneur to work 12 or more hours per day, including weekends.

2. Do you have the support of your family? Without that support you are far less likely to succeed. Understand that they must also shoulder additional hardships and responsibilities.

3. Are you pursuing a business venture which fills you with excitement? If not, the highs and lows of doing business can effect your well-being. A strong passion for your work is a powerful shield against burn-out, physical illness, or emotional distress.

C. What Skills Are You Bringing To Your Business?

Every business requires the application of certain skills to be successful. Without these key skills you run the risk of failure. The important thing is to recognize the areas of your business requiring additional support. These questions will help you identify the skills you possess and those you need to acquire.

1. Do you have previous experience in a business similar to the one you’re starting? If not, you should research your chosen industry. It’s necessary to understand your market, your customers, and your competitors.

2. Are you good at planning and organizing? You must stay on top of things such as your schedule, your promotions, your accounting and financial records, your inventory, etc. Educate yourself, or consider hiring outside help if you feel weak in this area.

3. Are you a good decision-maker? Do you work well under pressure? Can you take projects through to their completion? These are essential skills for the small business owner. If you’ve never worked in a supervisory capacity, you may want to take some specialized training to develop these skills.

Follow through on your answers to all of the above questions. Take action to strengthen your weaknesses. Doing so prepares you to move forward into market analysis and the start-up planning phases of your business.

All this preparation will increase your likelihood of surviving the first year in business. It’s like buying a great pair of boots for your business.

Brett Krkosska provides how-to advice on family and home-based work issues. Get start-up guidance, business ideas and inspiration at Become a subscriber for a fresh and original perspective on today’s business issues:

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