Starting a business is a daunting task, and growing the business, or even just keeping it afloat, can be even more overwhelming. Many new businesses do not survive this initial phase due to the business owner making mistakes during the first few fragile years of operation.
Christo Botes, spokesperson for the 2015 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, says that while some mistakes can sometimes be fatal to a business, they also teach entrepreneurs very important lessons.
Botes says that growing a business takes time, patience and practice, and entrepreneurs should aim for consistent and profitable growth, which is sometimes a struggle in the early years. “Growing a business takes more than just a great idea. During the business’ growth stage, entrepreneurs are bound to face challenges where they may stumble, but this is the nature of venturing into new territories. Often we see new businesses with great growth potential falling short due to costly, and sometimes, avoidable, mistakes.”
Botes points to some hurdles entrepreneurs fall victim to when growing their business, and provides tips on how to avoid these:
The need for speed: While it is advisable to enter the market as early as possible when noticing a gap, and to leap at opportunities that present themselves, rushing your market research and not planning sufficiently for such a venture can be detrimental to your business. Rather take a step back, analyze the pros and cons and do the necessary due diligence.
Remember that concepts take time to develop, and investing enough time and resources in building the business, marketing and distribution plans will ensure you reap great rewards in the long term.
Procrastination: Although rushing business growth may be harmful, waiting for the ‘perfect’ time may prove more detrimental to your business. By delaying the process, you run the risk of losing out on potential income, as well as potentially wasting savings in the lead up to the launch. If you are uncertain about specific processes, rather seek guidance from a business expert or organisation, such as the Business Partners Limited’s Entrepreneurs Growth Centre.
Being an expert in everything: Emerging entrepreneurs are always under pressure when it comes to resources and time, and therefore aim to achieve as much as possible in the shortest time. This is the most common pitfall of entrepreneurs and small business owners in that they may find it difficult to hand certain tasks over.
Entrepreneurs should rather seek advice from fellow partners (if applicable), as well as industry colleagues and experts. It is important to ask for help on areas you aren’t certain about as this will avoid having to rectify mistakes that might cost more than what you would’ve spent had you hired experts and advisors from the beginning. Successful entrepreneurs are those that put their trust in, and delegate responsibilities to people who have knowledge in their respective fields and responsibilities.
Not understanding technology: Technology is here to stay, and the internet, social media and other digital platforms have not only made business move at a much faster pace than before, but also offer the opportunities to maximize business revenues. Entrepreneurs who understand the role that technology plays in business processes, from operational to executive levels, will appreciate the amount of investment, both time and capital, that needs to be spent to reap the rewards.
Botes remarks that it is not easy to grow a new business, and therefore a few small mistakes are expected. “There are however methods which will assist entrepreneurs in not repeating the same mistakes. If you do your research, and surround yourself with information and experienced people, it becomes easier for you to make better, more informed decisions,” concludes Botes.