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The awesome foursome: Four most important things a new small business must do to avoid failure

Updated: Oct 15, 2022

"The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary"

Vince Lombardi

We could have easily titled this post "The first 500 things a new entrepreneur needs to do to build their new business" . Building a business is a lot of work. That "To Do" app you just downloaded on your phone will be shooting flames! But, the most important feature in that app is the 'Priority' setting.

Plenty of things on your to-do list you can skip, do a mediocre job of, or delegate even to your most inept employee. But some of the things on that list, if not done well, will cost you in many ways. What are these things? Let's look into it.

The miracle of marketing

Have you ever heard of the pet rock? In 1975, this little gem of an idea made its 'inventor' a millionaire (that is when a million dollars was real money). His name was Gary Dahl and yes, you guessed it. He owned an advertising agency and specialized in producing television and radio commercials.

If there is one area of your business that can not be overlooked, it is the marketing plan. Done right, a great marketing plan can sell anything, even plain old rocks. Done poorly, or not at all, it is a near guarantee of failure.

Business Plan and a Personal Plan

From the time you write your business plan, to the time you execute the information it contains, things will change. Still, it is naïve to set up a new business without one. This is your map and every journey must have one. Its purpose is not just to plot a course and keep you on it, but also to recognize when it is time to adapt. Regularly reviewing and updating it will keep you thinking about what is working and what is not.

Let's talk about the 'Personal Plan' now. The last thing you want to be doing when you are trying to get your business up and running is to be distracted by personal issues. While life will inevitably drop unexpected obstacles in your path, prior preparation will help minimize their impact. Besides the team you may have in your business, recognize that if other people are on your personal team, they also need to be well-informed and equally prepared. They are the ones who can hold down things on the home front, while you are blazing trails in the business world.

Keep it real

"The man who speaks the truth has few friends" This African proverb accounts for the words of support from family and friends. Appreciate the support, but do not get complacent. Instead, conduct an honest and realistic assessment of your business idea.

Use unbiased research to find the weaknesses in your business plan (they are always there). Then, use these findings to complete pre-emptive preparation for anything that might otherwise derail your plan. Think about carrying out a premortem; a management method in which a project team imagines that a project or organisation has failed and then works backwards to figure out what may have caused this failure. This technique is wonderfully explained by Ryan Holiday in his book 'The Obstacle is the way' and on his website. We would highly recommend referring to both of these to understand this invaluable technique which has been around for thousands of years.

Next, evaluate yourself. Ask yourself: 'What are my personal weaknesses?'. None of us are masters of all aspects of business and even if we were, there are not enough hours in a day. Even if you cannot afford to hire experts in the beginning, set up a network of experts you can call on when you need them. Consider them your own little Board of Directors who are there to plug any knowledge or skills gap you may have.

Expect the unexpected

What if a key element in your plan goes south? Like, promised funding does not come through, your location is suddenly unavailable, or a key employee goes with another company at the last minute. Have a plan B. Expecting the unexpected is essential. Stuff will always happen.

It's a wrap...

A critical skill for any entrepreneur is to direct their efforts where it matters most and not get distracted with less important issues. Get these four elements of your business right in the beginning and you will significantly increase your chances of thriving in the business world.

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