It’s hard to predict the future but business owners need anticipate what the future holds. Thinking ahead will help your business succeed. Be prepared to handle any situation that comes your way. The first five years of business are the hardest and this article will help you decide what to do.
By preparing for obstacles such as low cash reserves, high customer acquisition costs, and burnout, your business can improve it's chance of surviving
1. Getting and vetting a business idea. "I always wanted to start a business, but it’s hard to find a problem that is worth the time and effort to solve," says David Greenberg, a New York attorney and chief executive of Updater.com, an online service for managing postal mail. The light bulb moment happened when he moved and found automated change-of-address processes lacking. "Since millions of people move each year and no good solution existed, I felt I had discovered a problem worth solving," he says. Your idea should be somehow different than your competitor’s idea, says Bruce Freeman, co-author of Birthing the Elephant. "If you’re not bigger, better, faster, or delivering a better bang for the buck, it’s not worth doing." Once you get a great idea, prove your concept, including prototyping, market research, and focus groups. "Don’t write a business plan in your basement, or you’ll have to rewrite it over and over again. Go out and test your idea, talk to your family and friends, and then your target market," says Dan Nathanson, an entrepreneurship lecturer at the UCLA Anderson School of Business.
2. Focusing and persevering. "It is hard to maintain confidence that your concept will succeed. You will second-guess yourself more than once, but if you really believe in it, you will push ahead," says Kristy Lewis, founder of Quinn Popcorn, a natural microwave-popcorn product that’s being launched this summer. "Be prepared to sacrifice time, energy, and mental capacity—you’ll never be as prepared as you think you are," she says. Startup entrepreneurs usually have great vision but must limit themselves to the practical. Rather than go in a dozen different directions, focus on one or two things your company can do well from the outset, then expand as you build trust with customers and partners. Take the time to study the industry you’re entering; Greenberg spent 15 months researching full time. Taking an entrepreneurial training course can also go a long way toward building your confidence, says Roberto Barragan, president and CEO of the Valley Economic Development Center in Los Angeles. The more you understand how businesses run, especially on a financial level, the better chance you’ll succeed.
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