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Owning a small business is the dream of millions of Americans, but most attempts at starting a business don’t go so smoothly. A study by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2016 showed that the survival rate of new businesses after just 5 years has consistently been around 50% since 1994, meaning half of these endeavors fail before they’ve had a chance to establish themselves. Most entrepreneurs wouldn’t gamble the success of their business on the flip of a coin, so what can you do to make sure that your business has the best possible chance to succeed? By developing the skills, abilities, and honors typical of the owners of successful small businesses, you can give yourself the best chance to beat the odds and see your dream business thrive.
4. Be Risk Aware, Not Risk Averse
The first, most important thing to recognize is that running a business inherently comes with risk. Unexpected economic downturns, natural disasters, and a myriad of other problems could bring your business down through no fault of yours. The main form of risk you’ll need to be concerned with, however, will be those that result from your decisions as you run a business. Taking on more employees, expanding to new locations, increasing production, and most of the other calls you’ll have to make as the owner of a small business all have a certain amount of risk involved. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take these risks, though; taking on risk is necessary to success in many cases. Rather, it’s understanding and managing this risk that is critical to keeping your business afloat. As you decide these issues, consider the worst-case scenarios and how they’ll impact your business. Conducting extensive research is important for making informed decisions regarding the risk your business is taking on.
3. Relationships Are Key
The famous saying, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” has a kernel of truth to it. Networking is well known to be an important part of the business world, but many people only know it as a buzzword. All networking really means is building relationships with other business professionals. These can be fellow members of your industry, employees, suppliers or retailers, or even local news representatives. Maintaining strong, professional relationships can help your business to thrive, by generating good will from the people you need to succeed. Treat everyone you interact with in a professional capacity with respect and courtesy, and people will continue to do business with you, and may even be there to help when you need a hand.
2. Strong Brand Concept
One thing that must be kept in mind if you’re starting a business is that to draw in customers, you’ll need to stand apart somehow. The best way to do this is to have a strong identity in mind for your business, which will serve as the basis for your brand. This should reflect your intended business model as well; if you’re intending to create a business that focuses on unique, artisan products, that should be a part of your branding. On the other hand, if your business is built around convenience and speed, that would be a better avenue emphasize in your brand identity. Niches your business might cater towards, target demographics, and logo design can also play into this as well, so it’s quite worthwhile to spend time developing this well before officially beginning your business.
1. Value Education
As it turns out, in the real world, “what you know” is very important indeed. Business management is a complex field, requiring an understanding of leadership, handling of employees, strategy and planning, and aspects of every other field of business, from accounting to marketing. This is especially true for small business owners, who often have to wear many hats in the early days of their business. While you could acquire some of these skills through experience, the faster, more certain way is to go to school and obtain a business management degree. These degree programs are designed specifically to build these skills and habits in students, and many of them even feature concentrations in entrepreneurship to best cater towards aspiring business owners. It can be valuable to seek out educated employees, as well, so you can feel confident in their abilities. Business schools are also great places to work on networking, be it with your classmates, local business leaders, professors, or through internships.
If you’ve already got a bachelor’s degree in another area, then pursuing a Master’s of Business Administration can be a great benefit when it comes to starting a business. MBAs, as they’re commonly called, carry a certain amount of prestige, and can act as a signifier of competency and achievement. With online, part-time, accelerated, and weekend-based executive models, it’s never been easier to fit earning an MBA into a working adult’s life. Some programs can even be finished in just over a year, meaning it won’t necessarily delay your plans to start a business too much. Regardless of which degree is best for you, it’s important not to underestimate the value that a quality education in business can provide, especially to small business owners.