How can you tough it out?

Gosh, it is hard to be a small business at the moment.

Even large, long established businesses with big balance sheets are struggling. So it is not surprising that small business owners are having to work harder for less.

There are real success stories out there but certainly not the number we saw in the early-mid 2000s. The success stories we hear are much more likely to be based on shear hard work and determination, than luck in being in the right place at the right time.

Business owners who started out when times were good have fallen into two camps:

  1. Their businesses have fallen by the wayside. They had not needed to develop good business practices to succeed when the economy was buoyant and when times got hard they did not change quickly enough in response to the tougher economic climate.
  2. They had good practices, or developed them quickly, and so were better placed to weather the storm.

Some businesses which fell into the second category have eventually found times too tough for them to succeed in the long term, either because their market has fallen away or because their product/service development failed to keep pace with changing consumer needs. However, at least they gave themselves the best shot at succeeding.

Understanding how a successful business works and learning from others is not the magic key to being successful yourself but it can certainly help.

So as a business owner how can you give yourself the best chance at success? Below are some tips I have picked up along the way – the list is not by any means exhaustive but I think it is a good start:

  1. Make sure you have the right people in the right roles in your company. This includes external suppliers as well as staff.
  2. Have a robust plan with contingencies so you can react quickly.
  3. Have a very clear idea of your financial position and make sure you update your view regularly. If you need help from your bank or investors, know about it at the earliest point, so you have time to get something in place in a timely fashion.
  4. Make sure your product/service continues to be of high quality/relevance and customers are happy with what you are delivering.
  5. Keep on top of what your competition are doing so you don’t get left behind if they innovate.
  6. Don’t stick your head in the sand. If there are problems address them head on and get any help you need to sort them out.
  7. Finally, be in charge of your business – don’t let it be in charge of you. I have known business owners shrug their shoulders as if to say ‘it’s not my fault, it’s the economy/bank/competitors/staff…’. As the business owner the buck stops with you. It is your fault if you don’t do your best to help your business succeed.

Good Luck!

Fiona 🙂


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