Eight out of every 10 businesses fail within the first 18 months. That’s a whopping 80 percent of startups, a dismal statistic to say the least. Many of the small businesses that have made it past the dreaded 18-month benchmark still struggle to stay afloat, and it is not uncommon for employees of small businesses to get paid late, or for small business owners to forego pay entirely. If you find yourself struggling to pay the bills, your employees, and yourself, and if you want your business to finally be that success you imagined all those years ago when your business was still just a dream, it may be time to reconsider your business model.
Go From Debt to Success
Chris Sacca began his long and tumultuous climb to entrepreneur-stardom when he was still in law school. Instead of using his student loans to pay for school, he chose to start investing the funds in his own business. His business failed before it ever really even had the opportunity to grow. However, that first failure didn’t stop him. He invested what little money he had left in a trading business. He was fairly successful for two years, but in 2000, his business crashed, leaving him with $4 million debt.
From there, Sacca went on to work with other organizations, with Google being one of them. He was awarded the Google Founder’s Award, the highest award awarded by the company, for his contribution to the organization’s development. He left the company shortly thereafter and went on to start his venture capital firm, Lowercase Capital. Today, he is worth $1.15 billion.
Of course, behind every great man is a great woman. Chris Sacca’s wife is a partner at Lowercase Capital and the author of titles such as The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert: Take a Whiff of That and The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Whiskey Know-It-All: Know Your Booze Before You Choose.
Your Guide To Business Success
As this story indicates, success is rarely, if ever, immediate. Though everyone’s story is different, and though no two paths to success are the same, there are a few tips you can use to bring your business from an almost-failure to an undeniable success:
Develop A Strong Web Presence
Having a web presence is not an option anymore—it’s a necessity. If you have yet to invest in a website, that may be the source of your problems right there. Even if you don’t plan on selling anything online, you need to provide a way for customers to find you and contact you. A website can make that happen.
That said, there is no point in having a website if nobody can find it. Your website needs to be optimized for the search engines, which can be done via a solid SEO strategy and killer content. Without these two things, you may as well operate without a website after all.
Hire Slowly, Fire Quickly
Your business is only as good as its people. Take your time when hiring for open positions, even if doing so means that you will have to take on more work in the meantime. If you take the time to follow hiring best practices, you will find the right person to fill the position. Hiring the wrong person only results in a bigger headache and more money waste in the long-run, not to mention the overall negative impact a bad hire has on employee morale.
Be Different Than Your Competitors
This may sound obvious, but one of the biggest reasons most startups fail is because of lack of a unique value proposition. Your UVP is that something that sets you apart from your competitors. Whether that means offering lower prices, just one or two products as opposed to hundreds, better customer service, or 24/7 support, find your UVP and use it to your advantage.
Speaking of using your UVP, once you determine what that something is that sets you apart from others, figure out how to communicate it with your customers. Your UVP is not going to help you if no one understands what it is. If necessary, hiring a marketing company to help you communicate your unique value proposition in a concise, clear, and compelling manner.
Outsource Minor Business Functions
If you’ve ever read lifehack guru Tim Ferriss’ ‘Five-Hour Workweek’, you will be well acquainted with the benefits of outsourcing. For a start-up, outsourcing is a great way to delegate necessary business functions such as HR, payroll, and benefits to specialists, giving you the freedom to focus on the crucial function of your business. Establishing a good relationship with companies such as Unique HR, who offer these services to businesses of 5 to 500 employees, will be beneficial for the long-term growth of your company.
Focus On Your Existing Customers
Too many startups try to gain new customers instead of trying to figure out new ways to make existing customers happy. Do the opposite, as making existing customers happy costs less and often yields more return. Develop complementary products or services that your customers will find useful, offer volume discounts or incentives, or start a loyalty program.
Encourage Creativity Among Employees
Many business owners overlook the most important asset in their business, employees. You can unlock the potential of employees by encouraging them to take more risks and get creative with solutions. Of course, if these actions contribute to the business in a positive manner, it could take the company to the next level. Since your team is on the front lines, they can make a huge impact just by being encouraged to think and act with some creativity.
If you’re tired of living paycheck to paycheck, or if you’re tired of foregoing your paycheck entirely to pay the bills and employee salaries, rethink your business model. Use Chris Sacca’s story and the above tips for inspiration on how to take your business to the next level.