It’s a well-known fact that most small businesses fail to thrive. In fact, most fail in less than two years. This is one reason most people stick to their corporate jobs, even though they are miserable. However, those who love the idea of self-employment don't consider this a viable option.
You might be led to believe that small businesses fail because the owners did not know what they were doing, because the business was underfunded, or because the economy has not fully recovered since the financial crisis in 2007.
Actually, none of these logical assumptions appear to be the primary causal factor.
While they may be true in some cases, in most cases they are not.
The reason people start a business is because they have an expertise in something. And the reason they launch their business is because they managed to get enough funding, either through their own savings or through a loan.
As for the argument that it’s due to a poor economy, that is more of an excuse than an actuality. There is plenty of evidence to show that the economy has recovered. Even if it were true, legendary entrepreneurs like Sir John Templeton have made their fortunes because the economy was bad in their day. Templeton is famous for buying stocks when the economy was at its worst and then selling them when values rose again.
An Interesting Hypothesis
So, why, then do small businesses fail?
Eric. T. Wagner offers some interesting suggestions in his article in Forbes magazine, entitled “Five Reasons 8 Out Of 10 Businesses Fail” He says that the main reason a business fails is a disorganization scope creep before it runs out of cash.
- Business plans are not written.
- Elevator pitches aren’t developed.
- Lead generation and customer retention fail.
- And, lastly, financial illiteracy and cash flow problems deal the fatal blow.
How to Get Organized
It follows, then, that the best way to stay in business is to develop a strong organizational structure.
This is actually easier than before because of technology. Software, for example, makes everything faster and easier to do. What’s more, in many cases, software can even put on autopilot. For instance autoresponders can be used for electronic newsletter and payment processors for online purchases.
Here, then, are some tools you can use in your business to stay organized and on top of things:
1. Label your inventory to reduce shrinkage.
The best way to keep track of inventory is to slap a label on it. QuickLabel Systems allows a business to save time and money by printing their own color labels when they need it instead of ordering pre-printed labels from a printing company.
2. Manage your money better.
Businesses that lose track of their accounting and finance numbers quickly get into trouble. One problem they often run into is not having enough time to keep track of their own books or enough money to hire a professional to do it for them. Fortunately, software like Freshbooks makes it easy to invoice customers, keep track of time, and keep tabs on expenses. Others like Wave Accounting make payroll management and keeping track of business receipts relatively simple.
3. Hire the right people.
Software can even streamline the process of hiring the right people. Ziprecruiter helps you find candidates by checking jobboards. Intelius helps you check up on promising candidates by running a background check. And Anyperk allows you to figure out what perk programs to use to reward your best employees.
4. Get good at marketing and sales.
Software can even help you with lead generation and customer conversion. For marketing, a company like aweber allows you to develop an effective email marketing strategy, while HubSpot offers a comprehensive inbound marketing software to nurture leads who visit your website. Meanwhile, when it comes to sales, you can use Bidsketch to create proposals to pitch clients and Highrise to keep track of all your sales leads and contacts.
How do you keep track of your social network and keep in touch with influencers in your marketplace? There’s an app for that. Yammer allows you to keep contact information and virtually collaborate with others through file sharing. Projects, too, can get out of control, which can result in a lot of unfinished projects that could have moved your business forward. Fortunately, software like Trello keep track of what’s pending, what’s in progress, and what’s been completed. It does this through virtual boards.
5. Take care of your customers.
The more successful a business becomes, the more customers it has. This is a good thing—unless customer support starts to fall behind, which will result in a lot of disgruntled customers who quickly spread the word about how poorly they were treated. To figure out what your customers want, use SurveyMonkey and to take care of product problems, use ZenDesk.
Strange But True
It may seem odd to suggest that businesses run into trouble because of creeping entropy, but when you really look into it, you’ll find that managing complexity affects all sizes of businesses, rather than adverse market conditions. Fortunately, instilling order in business operations is a manageable option, and with the right people on board and the right tools, it is easier than ever to run an organized business.