Staying focused after the ‘buzz’ fades
Editor’s note: Michelle Stockman works with Little Rock-based Arkansas Capital Corp. to promote entrepreneurship development around the state. Stockman earned a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University-Chicago in communications and fine arts, and earned a master’s in entrepreneurship from Western Carolina University. Her thoughts on business success appear each week on The City Wire.
Like the weather, businesses have many cycles. The first cycle a business owner will experience is the 100% growth through initial sales when the business opens. Going from nothing to something in selling your products or services is always a time of great excitement as the hope of success seems inevitable.
However, the first wave of excitement will wear off and the business will take its first dip into uncertainty. After the “buzz” about your company fades, the business is left to focus on bringing customers back for their second visit or purchase. This step in the business is critical to start-ups, yet most business owners become accustomed to focus on new customers only. Returning customers become equally as important as new customers.
Once the business reaches a stable mix of returning and new customers, the business is now vulnerable to a troth of outside factors. From the economy to vendor relationships and more, businesses who are not quick in adapting and problem solving will find themselves in various forms of trouble. These outside factors will test each business owner or manager in ways that will expose both the weaknesses and strengths in the person and business.
It is through business trials that point to where improvements need to be made and what value the business truly possesses. When the hard times arrive, the business owner has two options; surrender or die trying. While the people who are too afraid to open a business will quickly note that most businesses fail in the first three years, those with the “die trying” attitude will quickly remind the nay sayers that most businesses succeed past five years with the right determination and assistance.
When times are tough, businesses need to keep a close eye on cash flow, staffing, inventory, customer relations, lead generation, marketing/advertising efforts, promotions, vendor relationships and business development to name a few disciplines. Look at what you are doing well and explore the possibilities to further what you are doing well. On the other hand, explore areas where your business may fit that haven’t been uncovered.
Challenging times in business will arrive. How the business owner handles those times during their start-up years will determine who will survive and thrive. Toss out single-minded thinking and open the possibilities for the business to grow.
Stockman can be reached at [email protected]