Sad to say this but the stats don’t lie. The statistics for a new business to succeed is not too positive. Twenty-four percent of new business fail in the first two years. Almost 50% of those remaining fail within the first five years. Which leaves about 8 out of 100 new business that are still around after 10 years.
The top ten reasons small businesses fail are simple and all can be avoided.
But most business owner do not seek help and avoid the harsh realities of their own business. The order of the list has been discussed with many fellow business owners, mentors, coaches and consultants and we feel this order and the years in which a business fails are accurate.
- Cash flow: Hands down the number one reason why small businesses fail. You need to know how to track the money coming into and out of your business -- even a profitable venture will flounder if it runs short of cash. In addition, you must learn to make cash flow projections that will help you decide how much money you can afford to spend and warn you of impending trouble.
- Lack of clarity: Most new business owner does not have a clear vision for their business, and do not have a target market. They are shooting a shotgun in the wind and not shooting at anything at all. If you don’t know who you service, what their problems are and how your product and service satisfy their need-your business will die an ugly death.
- Sloppy or ineffective marketing: Contrary to the popular cliché, few products or services "sell themselves." If you don't have time to market your product effectively, hire an experienced person to do it for you. Marketing keeps your products selling and money flowing into your business. It's crucial that you do it well. Know your target market and stay focused on them. Forget everyone else.
- Unsustainable product or service: If you don’t have a market for your product or service, then you have no sales. The true purpose of business is to satisfy a want or need with your product or service in exchange for money. If your target market is 1 out of every 10 million people, you will not be around long. Once those people have your product or service will they rebuy?
- Inadequate planning: Start with realistic but precise goals for your business, including deadlines. For example, don't just say that you want to increase sales; instead, decide that you want sales to reach $100,000 by next holiday season. Then write down the steps you can take to meet those goals on time and set deadlines for completing those steps. Consult your goal list every day, and make sure you are doing what you need to do to meet your objectives.
- Procrastination. When you own a small business, you will find that tasks and paperwork pile up like snowdrifts on your desk. Putting them off is like piling up debt; eventually they could overwhelm you. Small business owners like distractions that keep them from money making activities. Stay focused, have goals, move forward in your business.
- Incompetent employees: Hire only workers who are essential to your operation. When you do hire employees, make sure they're well trained and able to complete the tasks expected of them. And remember that happy employees make good workers — try to create a work environment that keeps your staff happy and motivated. Sometimes the incompetent employee is the owner.
- Ignoring customers´ needs: Once you attract customers, you'll have to work hard to keep them. Customer service should be a key aspect of your business. If you don't follow through with your customers, they'll find someone who will. Most small business are horrible at following up with customers. This can set you apart from your competition. Remember, not customers, no revenue, which leads to no business.
- Ignoring the competition: Consumer loyalty has declined sharply in recent years. Today, customers go where they can find the best products and services, even if that means breaking off long-term business relationships. Monitor your competitors, and don't be ashamed to copy their best ideas (assuming that doesn't mean violating patent law). Better yet, devote some time each week or month to devising new methods, products or services for your firm. You need to show value in your products and services. Being the low-price leader, means you also need to be the low-cost leader to win.
- Lack of versatility: You may be great at making hats or painting houses or fixing computers, but that's not enough to make your millinery shop or house painting business or computer consultancy successful. Successful business owners tend to be adept at a number of tasks, from accounting to marketing to hiring. You need to be well versed in all aspects of your business. Hire people to do the tasks you do not like to do or are unskilled to do.
Bonus: A closed mind: Everyone goes into business with some preconceptions — don't be surprised if you find that many of yours are wrong. Look for mentors who can give you advice and run your ideas by them before you make important financial commitments. Read books and magazines about small business, visit business-related Web sites and network with your peers in the business community.