Blog Post - Stephen Wicks
There is a well known statistic that states that 8 out of 10 businesses that start will eventually fail.
Wow. That's a large number. There are many reasons why a business may fail but one of the main reasons could be a business owner's lack of planning.
In business there is no way for you to know what may happen from one day to the next. Perhaps your customers will find other business to fulfill their needs, or maybe a natural disaster will occur and destroy some of your property, records, or client base. Who knows? Anything could happen right? But that's where planning comes into the picture. You can not only plan for things that you want to go right, you can also plan for when things go wrong.
A proper business plan will also keep a business owner on track with their goals. Unfortunately, it's very easy to get side-tracked and go into an area of business that was not planned for previously. Making a pivot in business is fine, but wild, uncontrolled swings in business objectives could cause confusion for you, your employees, and also your customers. If you don't know where you're going, no one will want to follow you into the unknown.
Even though, it's widely accepted that business owners should have a business plan, there are some "new school" entrepreneurs who say that they start businesses and never have a business plan. There are some well known success stories of people who just had an idea and hit the ground running without a plan. I'm sure that may have worked for them, but I don't think that the majority of us should put our resources and livelihood on the line on a whim. Resources and funding can be hard to come by, especially for minority business owners. Make sure that if you're gambling on other people's money that you are doing so wisely and cautiously.
Competitors can come snooping for your customers!
As an entrepreneur you should also be aware of your market. You should know if there are other businesses that are similar to yours. They may be trying to steal your customers from you.
Good customers are hard to find and they may feel like they can lure your customers away instead of finding their own. How will you address sudden new players in the market?
Remember how badly Blockbuster Video dealt with the threat from Netflix and Redbox? At one point Blockbuster had over 50,000 U.S. employees and over 9,000 retail locations. Now, they only have 1 retail location in the United States. They fell from being one of the largest U.S. businesses to one of the smallest in just 14 short years. The leadership of Blockbuster Video obviously didn't have a plan in place for observing the competition and keeping up with the needs of their customers.
My advice? Don't fall victim to poor planning. Research the internet for business plans and find knowledgeable people in your community that can help you grow your small business the right way.
Remember the old adage, "failing to plan, means planning to fail."
Here is a great opportunity for you to get out and network if you're in the Chicago area. The Black Women's Expo is being held in Chicago during the weekend of April 7-9, 2017. The event is being put on by MGPG Events, Inc. and it looks like Walgreens is one of their major sponsors.
Entertainment lined up for the event includes music star, K. Michelle and Sevyn Streeter. Here's a quote from their website, "Now in our 23rd year, The Black Women’s Expo presents an array of dynamic speakers and celebrities in seminar sessions, top musical artists on our main stage…and a lively marketplace for corporations and small business exhibitors to engage with the powerful and growing African American consumer!"
Learn more about this event by visiting their website:
It has been difficult for small business owners to obtain capital in order to create and maintain viable business enterprises. For African American business owners, the task has been especially hard. In June 2016, the National Urban League was invited to attend a strategic dialogue on African American small business lending hosted by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Milken Institute. That meeting revealed many statistics that show that Black business owners are having disproportionate difficulties raising funds for their businesses.
According to The Fundera Ledger, about two-thirds of business survive 2 years in business, half of all businesses will survive 5 years, and one-third will survive 10. These are very daunting statistics. Often times, it is a business owners access to additional funds that can make the difference between surviving, thriving, or closing their doors.
Fortunately, there are a few alternative lending companies that have started and offer loans to businesses outside of the traditional bank options. One of those alternative lending options that i would like to feature today is 5Linx Capital. This company has been finding loans for business owners who meet certain qualifying conditions. One of those conditions is that a company make at least $10,000 per month in revenue. Your credit score is looked at, but does not play such a significant role as when applying for traditional loans.
You can learn more about 5Linx Capital by visiting their website.
5 Linx Capital is just one of the new companies that offer alternative business loans to established businesses. In future posts I will explore more alternative lending sources and feature companies that give loans to startups as well as established businesses.
Until then. Stay positive and keep growing.
It is very important that you know what your competition is doing at all times. This is something that is critical to the success of your business. I have heard some people say, "We're only concerned with what we're doing. We don't worry about the competition." I'm here to tell you that thinking in that way can kill a business enterprise... fast. No one in your business should ever utter those words. Here is a list of 4 good reasons you should keep up with "the other guys."
1. Being Different Is How You Can Stand Out In A Crowd, Win Fans, And Grow Exponentially
There is no question that the best way to stand out in a crowded field is to be "different." You must have something that you do that is very unique from everyone else. Once you identify something that you can do that makes you special, make sure that you do that thing extremely well. Doing something unique and wonderful will make others talk about and recommend your business to others. That is how you build a following that will be loyal to your brand. Knowing what your competition is doing will allow you to find opportunities to turn clients into fans.
2. If You're Doing Something Unique and Great Today, Your Competition May Have Started Doing It Too!
After you find the thing that makes you unique in the marketplace, you still have to monitor your competition because yes, they do steal your good ideas. I like to use the example of Chic-Fil-A. The company was really the first fast food restaurant to bring high customer service to the industry. Their reputation for service is really legendary. They have built a very loyal fan base of customers and stand way above their competition. One of their signature customer service points is that they always say "my pleasure" after serving a customer. Well, lo and behold, after a while I started to hear the familiar "my pleasure" words uttered by another fast food restaurant's employees. Wow. They stole their signature saying. Well, after a while, saying "my pleasure" will no longer be unique. So how will they stand out in the crowd when other companies start to steal their great ideas? Well, the only way you can stay ahead of the competition is to know what they are doing. Always, always, always, monitor them to see if they have taken your great ideas and then look for new ways to be unique.
3. Learn From The Mistakes Of Your Competition
Keeping up with what your competition is doing may also allow you to learn from any mistakes that they make. Learning from other people's mistakes is the best way to learn. If your competitors have newsletters or email lists, subscribe to them so that you can always be in the loop with what they are doing. You can also go to Google News and set up a news alert for your competitors. If any news item or press release is posted about them, it will go directly to your inbox. Keep your eyes and ears open so that you can pick up on any missteps from your competition.
4. You Can Make Sure Your Products Or Services Are Priced Right For Your Market
Businesses who don't keep up with how much other companies are charging for similar products or services can price themselves right out of business. Consumers are very savvy these days and routinely go online to get price comparisons. If they can find your product or service at a similar quality but at a lower price, you will probably not get their business. This is why you MUST know how much people are being charged for similar services. The more intelligence you gather from your competitors the more ammunition you have in your fight for market share.
I sincerely hope that these tips will allow you to see just a few reasons why you should always stay on top of what your competitors are doing in your market.
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