Harsh statistics: According to the U.S. Bureau of Employment Dynamics, about 50% of businesses fail within their first five years; only about 20% survive for 20 years. If you’re a small business owner struggling to keep your business afloat, you may find yourself asking, “what do the other 20% have that I don’t?” and the answer is simple: staying power.
Staying power is your business’ ability to press on and persevere despite the ebbs and flows of the ever-changing market.
When it comes to building a business with staying power, Forbes.com lists five questions that every business owner should ask themselves:
- What tasks should we outsource?
- When is it time to create new positions?
- Are we attracting and retaining top talent?
- What roadblocks are we coming across?
- What’s next?
As a business owner, there are several questions you could, and should, be asking yourself to position your business for success. It’s not enough, however, just to ask the important questions. If you plan to build staying power within your business and truly outlast the competition, it takes action. Here are five action items to consider when thinking about the longevity of your small business.
Build a Strong Brand Identity
Branding is essentially your company’s voice to your target audience and it’s also the key to setting yourself apart from the rest. This “voice” reflects your brand’s personality, and it gives your customers insight into your business’ core values, qualities and culture.
Your brand identity also helps you as a business owner strengthen your appeal to your customers. Whether it’s a creative and catchy jingle or a distinctive color or familiar face, it’s what will draw your customers in and keep your brand top of mind.
Listen to Your People
Hiring and retaining top talent is only half of the battle. The hard part is learning to listen to your team. As a business owner, it’s important to surround yourself with a team who understands your vision for your company and your goals. Trust your gut, but also know when to take feedback and listen to those around you. A team that understands and shares your vision for your business will also have a keen eye to see what is working well and what isn’t. Give them a seat at the table and be prepared for them to tell you things that you may not want to hear as a business owner.
Fail Fast, Pivot Often
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, it wasn’t uncommon for businesses to make a pivot strategy move. As your business evolves and grows, so does the market. A successful business is always adaptable and knows how to fail forward. Don’t be afraid to test the market or try new things and be prepared to cut your losses if you find that something isn’t working. Always pivot in a way that offers opportunity for your business and not burden. Ask yourself, “which aspects of my business need to stay for the next six to 12 months and which aspects need to change?” “Will this pivot ease my business’ financial burden?”
For example, if your business has been successful as a brick-and-mortar and it works financially, then stay there. However, if you find that your brick-and-mortar location is incurring more overhead costs than your company’s gross revenues, then it may be time to pivot to an online presence.
As a business owner, you may often find yourself in a wait-and-see state, always wondering “what’s next?” If you plan to be around for 10 years or more, no matter what, thinking ahead to the future is crucial. Start laying out a plan now, think about future goals for your business and think long-term. Each day, with every decision that you make, you need to remain future focused.
Remember Your ‘Why’
With the ebbs and flows of business, it can often become easy to forget why you started in the first place. Take a breath, reflect and try to reaffirm your purpose as a small business. Who do you serve? How do you help? Why do you enjoy it and, more importantly, what drives you to keep going? Reflecting on how much you’ve accomplished allows you to see how far you’ve come as a business and fuels the fire to help you reach your next milestone.
Maximize Your Resources
When it comes to planning for, launching, managing and growing your business, the U.S. Small Business Administration serves as an unlimited resource for future and current business owners. No matter what stage you’re in, our Stellar Bank SBA lending experts are here to guide you through the process and help you reach your business goals.
Visit www.stellar.bank to learn more about how our dedicated SBA team can support you.