It’s no secret that a fierce entrepreneurial spirit drives America as we know it. It all starts with a small idea that can potentially grow into an inspiring success story or, conversely, crash and burn.
But no matter what, America’s entrepreneurial flame continues to burn.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses are a big force when it comes to their cumulative impact on the American economy. Consider these facts:
- The 28 million small businesses in America account for 54 percent of all U.S. sales.
- Small businesses provide 55 percent of all jobs and 66 percent of all net new jobs since the 1970s.
- Since 1990, as big businesses eliminated 4 million jobs, small businesses added 8 million new jobs.
- The number of small businesses in the U.S. has increased 49 percent since 1982.
Yet, while the idea of succeeding in business endeavors often elicits excitement, passion, and visions of dollar signs, it can also be susceptible to failure.
As the online publication Small Business Trends reported:
- A bit more than 50 percent of small businesses fail in the first four years.
- 40 percent of small businesses are profitable, 30 percent break even, and 30 percent are continually losing money.
- 82 percent of businesses that fail, do so because of cash-flow problems
- Leading causes of small business failure include incompetence (46 percent) and unbalanced experience or lack of managerial experience (30 percent).
Given these statistics, it's important to ensure your business is making the best decisions to remain on the path to success. For businesses looking to stay competitive and thrive in the marketplace, consider these 8 tips:
1. Have a Game Plan
This is Business 101. While great businesses are built on great ideas, they are fueled by great business plans. Have you outlined your company’s objectives, financing, and sales and marketing strategies? What are your goals and how will you meet them? Be sure to fully assess your business idea and analyze every aspect of the concept – on paper.
2. Acknowledge Your Competition
To maximize your company’s potential, a firm grasp on your competition is essential. Do a competitive analysis and update it consistently according to changes in the marketplace. Identify competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. By acknowledging your competition, you're identifying what they're doing well and where there's opportunity to stand out.
3. Have a Target Customer
Successfully marketing your product or service is dependent upon knowing your target audience. Some business industry experts have suggested that award-winning companies know their customers as well as they know their own families. When you fully comprehend what your customers want, you are ultimately empowered to serve them better.
4. Consider Potential Partnerships
Networking is vital to any business. The more you talk to people, the more opportunity there is to connect in a bigger way. As a business owner, consider not only financial partnership possibilities, but also how you can expand your market and tap into new audiences. There are any number of ways to share resources, identify synergies, and collaborate in unconventional ways. Think outside the box.
5. Hiring Great Employees
The people who work for your business are an extension of your professional vision. As the saying goes, hire well and get out of their way. Invest wisely during the hiring process as your company’s long-term success depends heavily on your employees’ performance. Recruit top talent and then strive to create an engaging corporate culture that supports employee growth as well as your retention efforts.
6. Take Advantage of Market Opportunities
Know your market, know your competitors, know your customer. Failing to do any of these three things could result in poorly executed business strategies that don't amount to your goals. Pay attention to small details while considering the big picture. Learn how to capitalize on opportunities and never stop seeking ways to do things better and more efficiently. Also, look ahead and secure your market position by anticipating how to meet customers’ future desires.
7. Fill Your Sales Pipeline
A solid sales pipeline is the lifeblood of your young company. Find ways to continually build your customer base, connect with new prospects and elevate sales potential. A systematic approach, comprehensive understanding of buyers, and on-target messaging are all key components of a sustainable sales cycle.
8. Always Innovate
Remember, your business plan doesn’t have to be set in stone. Things can change and, in fact, they must change as your company evolves to keep up with developing trends, market dynamics, and ongoing challenges. The trick is to adopt smart growth strategies to ensure that your expanding business remains scalable as time goes on and expansion becomes necessary.
With commitment, vision, and tenacity, you can position your business on a positive trajectory.
Once in place, a solid foundation of intelligent infrastructure and calculated execution will free you up to do what you do best: lead your company to profitability.