So many people have great dreams and set up a business 20% only succeed after 5 years. Why is that? How much money, time and energy could be used better?

Find a good coach, guide or mentor: Successful people say that their regret was not seeking experts earlier.  Talking with mates down the pub is no substitute, they are often not successful but will happily dispense free advice but what is its value? Every founder should find a good mentor. In many ways starting and owning a company is like having a baby; and it’s good to have a grandmother to turn to for help and advice. The best mentor is someone who has been there. Treat traditional consultants with suspicion. Many of them fail to take a contingency life cycle view of organisations and are not able to recognise that what makes perfect sense at one stage of an organisation life cycle may be completely inappropriate at another.

Have loads of great ideas and brainstorming sessions, be creative. Then look at them practically in the cold light of day. Do not become too excited by your success in the Go-Go life cycle stage: where the organisation is not only surviving but is positively flourishing. Many founders begin to feel invincible. The company's high rate of growth is effectively the realisation of the founder's original dream; and so many times he or she develops a dangerous sense of omnipotence and comes to believe that they can succeed at almost anything. The ultimate expression of this is when they say; Let me be Prime Minister - give me the country - I can manage that as well! For the Go-Go organisation everything seems to be permitted unless specifically forbidden. The organisation is opportunity driven; rather than opportunity driving; and so, sooner or later, the founder is going to make a mistake; most likely by getting involved in some business they don’t completely understand. Founders are often reluctant to listen to any suggestion that is not their own!
Never define your business by your product or service. Never define your business by what you sell because what you sell can and probably will become obsolete over time. Define it instead from your customers' perspective - by the needs that you satisfy.  You are not in the newspaper business; you are in the news information business. You are not in the paint business; you are in the aesthetic protection business. Defining why your organisation exists from a customer needs; point of view is one way to prevent your company going over the hill and allows you to always be ahead of the game.
More is not always better; learn to say no! Most new companies report their progress in terms of sales or sales growth. We are doing great says the owner, sales are up 28% SME companies are addicted to sales and assume that if they are selling more then they must be doing better. The truth is that by the time they pay their banks the interest on the loans they took out to finance raw materials and accounts receivable; by the time they pay their sales people the incentives required to generate these extra sales and by the time they give their customers discounts in order to persuade them to buy more in the first place - many actually lose money when sales increase. Since most businesses often have multiple products in multiple markets with few policies or rules, very little cost accounting and sometimes not even a budget; it is almost impossible to keep up with what is going on. By the time Accounting has got to grips with it; it is usually too late to make a difference.
Learn how to be successful in the long run as well as in the short run! Organisations require a complimentary team at the top. Often this leadership takes the form of an outside person; together with a board of inside people. Whilst the outside person (often a non-executive director) is looking externally at markets, products, strategies, opportunities, alliances, possible acquisitions etc. The inside person is trying to figure out how to make all this work - logistics, budgets, organisation structure, roles, responsibilities and infrastructure. The managerial styles of the individuals who can excel in these roles are very different. These differences can create conflict - but difference is necessary and indispensable for good management. Often the most peaceful companies are the ones closest to bankruptcy. Managing Directors need to find someone who will complement them; and in order to ensure that the resulting conflicts are functional; this must be someone the MD trusts and respects. You don't have to like the people you work with, but you need to trust and respect them and you need to be able to disagree without being disagreeable.
What differentiates you for other sin your industry? Everyone says they give a personal service, value for money and on time delivery. If you could not offer these you would be out of business really soon. It needs to be a real USP like I have 25 years experience working from the customers’ perspective. ‘I can really add value by… so it will cost you less than you pay me’
Normally it is said the customers are the most important people. However you work with your team every day. They are constantly representing the business. I am amazed how often they don’t know the Business Vision and goals. So how are they meant to achieve them Cheering Each Other On', the power of feedback, rewards and recognition, story-telling, and final Quotient analysis action planning. All advocated by Ken Blanchard in Gung Ho!
Do set up your business but do it properly. Some advice now could save £000’s in the long run. Speak to successful people and remember we offer a free, no obligation initial advice service so email us now
Stephen J Bentley BA (Hons) FCA - Growth 4 Business Ltd
DISCLAIMER: For information purposes only. It does not constitute advice, and therefore cannot be relied upon as such





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