Contrary to popular belief, all is NOT doom and gloom for small business. 2021 may be the ideal time to start your new enterprise. With the uncertainty of the pandemic and the shifts in buying patterns, 2020 proved to be a challenge for many but we learned so much about the changing world of business. Innovation and creativity meant many business owners found ways to stay afloat by riding this wave of change. For some, their business has flourished.
• Competition has reduced in many sectors
• Many businesses are working with captive audiences
• You have the pick of the talent if you are looking for staff
• Businesses have found ways to diversify (pivot) to capitalise on the changes
• There are multiple sources of funding if you think outside the box
• Customers are rooting for local business and choosing to buy from them
All of this is great, but just a note of caution; realism is the key to starting a new business. There are many who will lure you with the stories of how they know someone who became a millionaire from a MLM business or franchise (and there are a few) but it is important that you enter your journey as a new business owner with a realistic view of what the first few years may bring. Look at the journey of many rather than the odd outliers to base your new business plan on.
Resilience is the key! It is the exception rather than the rule that a business idea takes off and does not experience setbacks. Google “Start-up Curve” and you can see how the average new business moves over time. The reason I show this is not to put you off but to say that if you stick with it, you will get there in the end.
In the idea stage, a start-up will get business because of their initial marketing activity and the coverage it brings. The business owner is filled with possibility and enthusiasm and that drives the business forward. Once that initial activity slows down, start-up growth tends to level off and goes into a trough. This trough signifies that customer enthusiasm has waned due to ‘setbacks’, (usually a mismatch between product and customer expectations). The business must actively seek and learn from customer feedback at this stage if it is to move onto the next stage of business growth. Gathering success stories and testimonials, understanding complaints and lost sales all add to a deeper understanding of what makes your business stand out in a crowd. This time is never wasted! Your next phase of business growth will have all of that experience backing it. If the start-up navigates these obstacles well, it will achieve business success.
The business start-up must haves
• A viable and realistic idea (your vision, values and offering)
• Some resources (finance, expertise, time)
• A knowledge of your target market (ideal customers, competitors)
• A basic business plan with targets (sales, income, timescales)
• Accountability of the business owner (self awareness, mentor/coach, willingness to learn and grow)
There are loads of stories that illustrate what happens to a great idea when backed by a resilient business owner.
In the history of any idea that has every been launched there comes a time in the early days where there is no customers. Your assumptions were wrong. The way people actually wanted something delivered to them is different than what you thought. What they call this in the lifecycle of an idea is the “trough of sorrow”. It can feel a very bleak, dark time where you are just trying to figure out how to get your idea off of the ground. The way that we figured out how to get out of our trough was by going to meet our customers. By talking to our early hosts and guests for Airbnb, it allowed us to understand their needs, and then make something people wanted. We used to travel and actually stay with our customers. I mean, it was the ultimate sort of enlightened empathy. Right, you were so close to the people you were designing for that it informed you in a way that an online survey never would. So by being so close to our customers we were able to listen to their needs and then design a product they loved.
What will your success story say??
There are some great tips in my new book Come Out Fighting available on Amazon