Continuous Small Business Planning and Evolution for Survival and Success

A new CEO and reader of this column emailed me and said, “How can I grow my business and assure its survival?  I started my new business several months ago, but I am now struggling with keeping my initial startup sales going.  Do you have any tips for me?”  

That is a super question to ponder, considering that the several business sources observe that more than 21% of startups fail in the first year. That's because success requires consistent planning, grit, and strategic execution. You also need to recognize resources that can help you amplify your growth.

But how, precisely, can you do this?  Samantha Clark, one of SCORE’s content partners has some tips for surviving the launch phase of your small business.  .A Warrington College of Business graduate, Samantha handles all client relations with top-tier partners. 

Keep A Close Eye On Cash Flow

According to the Federal Reserve Banks, 79% of small businesses have an outstanding debt. This makes it imperative for startups to monitor their cash flow, especially during the early stages. The following are a few steps you can take to manage your company's finances:

Track Your Expenses  

Successful startups spend money only when necessary. And if budget allows for it, invest in automated cash flow management tools that are secure, time-effective, and efficient at bookkeeping.

Build An Emergency Fund

Although emergency funds aren't usually a priority for startups, it's essential to build one for your business. They can help you circumvent unfortunate circumstances and unprecedented situations.

Create Late Payment Policies

Almost 40% of businesses believe that late payments from clients are detrimental for the company.  When the firms fail to receive payments from clients on time, they do not have the funds to invest in inventory or hire more workers for their growing operations. Implement an effective late payment policy that compels the clients to submit their payments on time.

Employ An Intelligent Approach To Financing

Most businesses have a preconceived notion that the money they invest would somehow be directly proportional to their income. But, unfortunately, that's never the case.  So, research your options and only invest in tools and resources that are necessary and provide a maximum ROI. You can also use free online tools for small businesses to get the most out of your business.

Build A Sales Process

A viable sales process enables you to scale your business in the survival stage and over time. The sales process includes:

  • Research: Understand your competitors, your customers, and market trends. Make use of market research tools to gather as much data as possible.
  • Prospects: Create an effective outreach strategy to build brand awareness, target customers, and recruit workers.
  • Evaluation: Identify your customers' needs and tailor your products and services to fulfill them.
  • Advertisement: Emphasize the unique features of your products.
  • Feedback consideration: Ask your customers for feedback and implement the changes mandated by their response.
  • Referrals:  90% of customers trust the recommendations of people they know, thus making it imperative for new businesses to create a strategy to increase referrals.

Ideas Are Good, But Execution Is All That Matters

Take the time to create a plan of action to achieve your business objectives. Set realistic goals and measure the progress at every stage. You must also be open to changing ineffective strategies. But most of all, stay resilient to meet your objectives one way or another.

Secure Proper Investment 

Increasing competition has made it extremely difficult for SMBs to thrive without adequate funding. And this is also one of the main reasons why companies fail in the initial years. So, explore the funding options for your startups. These may include:

  • Angel Financing -investment in exchange for equity in the company
  • Crowdfunding – funding acquired from a group of investors
  • Small business credit cards- credit cards provided for business expenses
  • Venture Capitals- private equity financing for startups
  • Small business loans- types of loans granted by lenders to fund startups.

Focus On Customer Service

Research shows that 93% of customers prefer a brand due to its exceptional customer service. Therefore, as you scale your business, it is crucial to focus on enhancing customer experience. You can:

  • Take regular feedback from customers and clients
  • Respond to messages and queries promptly
  • Track performance of your customer service representatives
  • Use customer service management software to streamline operations
  • Find Good Supporters

92% of entrepreneurs state that mentors have a direct impact on their business's growth and survival.  A business mentor can provide guidance and counseling and help you lay down long and short-term objectives for your business. They can be someone you know, an expert in your industry, or someone who provides a mentorship service to entrepreneurs.  Contact SCORE to get a mentor.

Conclusion

The first few years of the business are critical to its growth. To make sure your business grows into an established firm, study and compare the characteristics of successful companies and integrate them into your business plan. Then, you can use the tips mentioned above and implement them to introduce stability to your startup.

About the Author(s)

Dean Swanson

Dean is a Certified SCORE Mentor and former SCORE Chapter Chair, District Director, and Regional Vice President for the North West Region, and has developed and managed many businesses. The Rochester Post Bulletin publishes his weekly article on a topic geared toward the small business community. The articles here are printed in their entirety.

Certified SCORE Mentor for the Southeast Minnesota Chapter
small business owner