More and more people these days are saying to their bosses “I’m out of here!” and starting their own businesses, which is really cool as we are living in what I call the age of the entrepreneur.
However, many of these businesses do not survive their first 12 months, let alone get to year two, or perhaps year three. Which means overwhelmingly the survival rate of startup businesses is not very good.
So, you have to ask the question as to why is this so?
Is the failure due to the original business idea not being feasible and there was no market out there at all?
Well yes, this is one reason where more diligent research could have prevented the inevitable.
However, after working with hundreds of businesses for over 25 years and reading countless case studies and peer reviewed research on this subject, my view is that it comes down to just three things…
Firstly, you need to have some skills or commercial smarts – these can be learned and aspects can be outsourced, however primarily you need to have accountability with this and it is what we call business acumen.
For me, this meant upskilling in areas such as finance, accounting and legals. However, I also brought in some heavy duty capability from an accounting firm, as well as a legal firm, who had a track recording in providing services to similar business such as mine and that I could envision a longer term relationship being built.
Collaboration & Partnerships
Secondly, the age of going it alone in business is not how it works today. Partnerships both short term and longer term are key in giving you access to new ideas, new capabilities, and new markets, than you would have on your own. Simply this is about collaboration and you need to be open towards this and be constantly nurturing collaborative relationships across your entire business ecosystem.
Two of my collaborations include Microsoft and DiG Business Learning.
Being appointed as a Microsoft Brand Ambassador / Influencer for me has meant opportunities to speak at events, access to technical experts and being informed of trends in the industry. But partnerships must be two ways, so for Microsoft, I bring exposure to the SME / SMB market which they do not necessarily have, being a global corporation.
Becoming a certified instructor for the Paris based DiG Business Learning methodologies on the other hand, is a recent and exciting development in which allows me to provide additional capabilities for my clients and DiG Business Learning expands their business model to a new geography.
In both collaborations with Microsoft and DiG, value is being exchanged all round – this is what it is all about today no matter how small or big your business may be.
Business Coaches, Mentors, Advisors & Entrepreneurship
Finally, and critically, you cannot expect to know everything about everything!
Now I know what I am about to say may offend some, but please bear with me… because to my business sisters out there, I have the utmost respect with you as I think you know this already. But my brothers in arms (and yes I am included in this) my ego was that reaching out for help meant I was weak, so instead I muddled my way in those early stages of setting up my business.
The epiphany for me was to realise I could actually accelerate my business growth if I had coaches and mentors around me to guide and challenge me and to see things from a different perspective and make better decisions to get even better outcomes.
Now the business advisory / coaching industry is huge and to a large extent unregulated. What this means is that anyone can start an advisory / coaching business. Compounding this is the growth of internet based businesses that present themselves as authorities, but not necessarily acting responsibly or ethically.
So, by all means, seek out coaches, mentors and business advisors – in fact you must do this, but make sure you do you own due diligence to see if they are the real deal. Do they have expertise and a successful track record?
If you do these three things, you will already be giving yourself a head start and increasing the odds of your business surviving its first year. But that of course is not the goal. You need to look at this as a longer term play – whether you keep with it or not, in my view its ultimately about setting up and scaling a business that is sustainable, which is about making a difference and leaving a legacy.