Starting a business is a risky adventure. One in five will not make it through the first year and less than 40 percent, and some studies show less than 20%, will still be in business five years later.
So why do people try? Because being your own boss and running your own business for many represents a dream, the chance to control your life and shape one’s destiny. The desire is so strong that the majority of business owners who don’t make it the first time just try again. And research finds that each effort does provide additional experience that translates into better odds of success.
Yet besides trying it and gaining experience, what else can start-up owners do to increase their odds of staying in business?
- Offer what people want, or better yet need, as opposed to what you want to sell.
- Do your up-front planning.
- Know your costs and project your cash flow. It is often suggested that startup will take twice as long as planned and cost twice as much.
- Market, market and market.
- Keep current with the trends specific to your business and in general
- Knowing more means earning more.
As you look across this list, and other suggested startup tips you may have heard or read, one tool cuts across almost all of the suggestions. That tool is the need to stay current.
The pace of change gets faster each year. Just ask a business owner how his or her business has changed and you will likely get a long answer. And part of that answer may very well include the fact that one change that makes the ability to stay current even harder is the increasing number of sources providing information. The connected world has thousands of such resources.
So your question as a business owner is how to manage the flow?
One source of ideas is to check with your network. Who are they listening to? Second, do your own scan of what is available. In addition, once you begin to find some key sources see, in turn, who these key sources are listening to.
In your search, look for curators of information, such as mine, The Update. These are individuals or companies who scan and pull together key articles from a variety of sources. These can greatly reduce the flow. Also, use technology tools that allow you to develop your own curated stream of information or bookmarking technology to store articles for future reading and reference. Following a blog, such as Small Biz Survival, also helps you control the flow of information.
Staying on top of trends, management practices, and general information does not guarantee that your business will be successful. It does though increase your chances of being there tomorrow.
- About the Author
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Glenn Muske is an independent expert on rural small business, working as GM Consulting – Your partner in achieving small business success. He provides consulting, and writes articles for county extension agents and newspapers across North Dakota. Previously, he was the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.