80% of businesses will close their doors within the first five years. I heard this stat yesterday, and I’m not going to take the time to Google it right now.
I don’t know the main cause for the above, but I can almost guarantee it has to do with ego. If you’re running a business, you think you’re the best, you can do no wrong, etc… etc… Unfortunately, the general public doesn’t think about you in this way.
It’s similar in the technology startup world. “Dude, did you hear about what we’re doing? Ya, we’re going to change the world!” When in reality, only 1 in 10 statups ever take off, and out of those, very few will ‘change the world.’ It doesn’t matter if you went to an Ivy League school, or you have this crazy business acumen, 1 in 10 will be successful past a few years.
When I was starting out, I thought I knew it all, and I didn’t need help. Wow! Was I ever wrong. The world slapped me in the face on numerous occasions. Then, I checked my ego, and started to ask for help.
There are many routes you can go to find help. I’m not going to list all of them here, but the below items are what I’ve found to be the most powerful for myself, and others I’ve spoken with.
1) Find someone you know who currently runs a successful business, and ask to ‘pick their brain.’ Even if you don’t know this person, pick up the phone, shoot them an email, or connect with them through social media. Mention you’re a business owner, and you’re looking for help. This person could be a mentor for you. Once you have one mentor, don’t be afraid to ask for another. And don’t be afraid to ask someone who’s in a similar business to yours.
Quick anecdote – I recently was working with a startup, and found a direct competitor in their lane of business. I said we should reach out to this competitor to get an idea of the challenges, opportunities, etc… Of course, there was resistance from this startup. “They’re our competitor, why would they help us?” #1 – people like being asked for advice. #2 – you’re trying to grow the market, and I’m positive they’d like to grow their market / revenues just as you would. So, we reached out, and within 15 minutes we had a response, and set up a Skype chat.
2) Read – this has been the most effective for me. I usually comb through my feeds every morning, and read every night before I go to bed. If I find an interesting article or book – I usually try to reach out to its author to again, ‘pick their brain.’
By the way, if you’re looking for a decent script to reach out to just about anyone – feel free to shoot me an email at effUmarketing@gmail.com.
3) Do the things you don’t like doing. This was the pitfall with my dad. He has his own business, but he had to shut down his storefront due to numerous reasons, but mainly due to his stubbornness in only doing what he wanted to do. He didn’t like the accounting aspect, so he let it slide; therefore cash flow started to hurt, and BAM! CREDITORS! If you don’t like accounting, find an accountant, if you don’t like selling, find a salesperson, if you can’t afford the aforementioned, suck it up, and DO IT!
Finally, I’ve also found this site to be very helpful when it comes to the areas of any / all small businesses. It’s small business owners, helping small business owners. Check it out at www.businessingmag.com.
Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft