A Road Map for Success
No one launches a business intending to fail.
Sadly, however, many businesses do go under — 20% in their first year, 50% by their fifth, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. And, it’s not always a matter of money. In many instances, businesses fail because short-sighted owners neglected to plan ahead.
As you work through all the details of just getting your new business off the ground, you may forget to look forward. So here’s a reminder: Now, while you’re still in the early stages of small business ownership, give some serious thought to your company’s future growth. Ask yourself: Where do I see my business a year from now? In five years? In 10 years? What steps will I take to get there?
Commit your answers to paper and add notes to them periodically. Then, when you are seriously ready to expand, you’ll have a blueprint to follow. The sooner you begin asking — and answering — these questions, the greater the odds your business won’t be among the 50% that do not survive beyond five years. Make planning your company’s future growth a priority now. It’s never too early to start.
Plan to expand … before you absolutely have to.
Don’t wait until you’re running out of room or resources to think about growing your business. As soon as the dust settles on your grand opening, follow these five steps to begin laying the foundation for future expansion:
- Revisit your business plan periodically. Look carefully at the business plan you opened with. What do you know now you didn’t know then? What new goals/plans come to mind as a result? Have you realized your expectations and if not, why not? Which supporting documents need to be updated?
- Fine tune your operations. Is your business operating at peak efficiency? Do you have the necessary tools/space to meet current and future needs? If not, what do you need and how will you pay for it?
- Rate your team. Have you prepared written job descriptions for all positions? Do you have the right people in place? How effective are your training programs? Do you have a plan for attracting/hiring new personnel?
- Enlarge your market. Are you reaching all possible markets for your product or service? Is your marketing budget adequate and are your promotional strategies working? If not, what adjustments will you make?
- Assess your financial fitness. Have you reached your break-even point? What’s your cash flow situation? Can you afford to expand? If not, what measures will you take to make future expansion financially possible?
Tomahawk Robotics, Melbourne
Kinesis is a software suite that enables management of robot systems regardless of underlying hardware. Simply stated, it makes robots easy and safe to use as well as more effective for workers doing dull, dirty and dangerous jobs. But at Tomahawk Robotics, a firm co-owned by veterans Brad Truesdell and Matt Summer where Kinesis is available, there’s a problem: finding and hiring the right type of talent. So Tomahawk gives its employees a stake in the company and a reason to work past 5 p.m. Says Truesdell, “We’re open and thoughtful and appreciate everyone’s insight and opinions. And we’ve made it a point to hire veterans. Currently a third of our full-time team members are veterans. We’re proud of that.”