Preparing for business challenges takes skill and experience; facing them is inevitable.
Predicting business challenges before they happen may save some of the 85% of new businesses that fail. To prepare for confrontations before they occur business owners need to identify them first. In my new book, A dozen Avalanches Threaten Small Business, I not only describe twelve key business threats I experienced throughout my entrepreneurial career, I also give suggestions on how to survive them. Predicting them in advance doesn’t help; preparing for them before they happen will give business owners a greater chance of survival.
If your livelihood depends on the profitability of owning a successful business, this book is for you. A small business is defined as a privately held company with fewer than 500 employees. 30.2 million small businesses in the United States generate 45% of the country’s GDP and hire 48% of its employees. 6.5 million new small businesses start each year and 85% of them fail before their fifth year in business.
Why do so many people want to achieve the goal of owning their own business when the odds are so many will fail? My guess the answer is: The American Dream of becoming wealthy and be your own boss.
I succeeded with four unique businesses, but not without overcoming many business challenges. Throughout my 40 year entrepreneurial career, I face many confrontations. From embezzlement, legal misrepresentation to regulatory lawsuits, the list of difficulties I faced continued to grow. By living through many surprise avalanches, I beat the odds of small business failure four times.
Here is the list of challenges I faced throughout my tenure as a business owner. I call them “The Dozen Avalanches That Threaten Small Business.”
- Why people buy? If you don’t know the answer, then you won’t know how to market your business.
- How do you attract the right employees? If you want your business to grow, you will require not only talent, but loyalty.
- Who are your future competitors? It could be one of your employees today.
- Can you terminate an employee? If you become anxious over separating an employee or vendor from your business, it may be a key element in business failure.
- Do you have more than one checking account? Embezzlement is a way of life for small businesses. Many small business owners do not have sophisticated and secure accounting and banking systems. They are an easy target.
- Where do you look for money? Money is not easily available to small business owners. Know this before you open the doors. Limited financial resources is a key element in business failures.
- Do you have more than one banking relationship? Although banks advertise they help small businesses, they cost bank more money than what they gain. Protect yourself by having a backup banking relationship.
- Do you understand credit card processing? Overall small businesses pay more in vendor fees than their major big competitors. Be prepared with more than one credit card processor.
- How do you handle the side effects of social media? Consumers feel they have the right to free speech on social media. However, there are laws to protect the small business from defamation and libel. Be prepared to handle these challenges before they occur.
- Who makes up your support team? A successful small business owner prepares in advance for legal, financial and consulting advice before they need it.
- How will you preserve your business? Small business owners need to protest themselves with the right insurance.
- Do you have an exit strategy? The small business owners who retire on the beach, knew well in advance the right time to make the exit strategy move. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Small businesses are prime targets for more than one challenge. When advising owners, I always ask, ”What is the one avalanche that can bury you alive today?” From a list of examples, I always include, “What is the government shuts you down?” Most ignore this question and respond with, “That will never happen to me.”
Darlene Ziebell brings over 40 years of experience in business consulting and entrepreneurship. Her methods are based on a unique blend of large enterprise strategies and the battle scars she acquired in four businesses including startups, mergers, ESOP, acquisitions and partnerships. One of her many endeavors was a business management consulting firm with a client base representing 20% of the Fortune 1000. She is an advisor to business owners training them on successful growth strategies through her Avalanche Basecamp methodology. She continues to search for more answers to provide small business owners with solid advice focused on business sustainability. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org