Finance New Mexico: Survival tactics help business owners stay on track
Entrepreneurship is exhilarating and dynamic, especially in the beginning, as the business plan is set in motion and a product or service begins its path to market. The unpredictability of this journey is part of the reason it’s so stimulating to start and build a business, but maintaining that level of excitement and drive can be challenging when the business’s evolution doesn’t unfold according to plan.
When initial funding from family or an investor runs out before benchmarks are met, a startup owner can worry about his ability to repay investors and stay on track. Even businesses that reach the second stage of maturity can stumble — for example, when a large account goes to a competitor or a product doesn’t find traction.
No matter where the business is in its life cycle, the entrepreneur has a lot at stake, as do his investors and employees. Stress can build when the business owner attempts to meet the divergent needs of all stakeholder interests — especially when a business is just getting off the ground and 16-hour days are typical or when revenue is lower than expected.
Fear of failure can result in loss of passion for the business and loss of enthusiasm for the product. When the entrepreneur is immersed in the monotonous details of running a business and not engaged in the fulfilling tasks that stir creativity, it’s easy for him to forget why he launched the business in the first place.
When the business owner has lost his motivation and begins to disengage or operate on autopilot, he needs to recalibrate the internal compass.
Remember the why: The stressed business owner needs to remember the genesis of his creation — how he felt and what he wanted to achieve at the beginning. It often helps to dust off the original business plan for inspiration and discuss it with a core partner as if pitching it for the first time. The owner might discover that his goals were unrealistic and now need adjusting.
Recognize success: It’s easy to lose sight of achievements and start seeing everything through a negative lens if the business is struggling. Owners who celebrate every success — even relatively small ones — find it easier to believe in themselves, their team and their mission. Some find that doing a SWOT analysis — an inventory of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats — can provide a fresh view of the company. If the professional and personal strengths and abilities of key leadership members are included in the analysis, a business owner can be reminded of the characteristics needed in those positions and make changes if they are out of alignment.
Return to roots: As a business grows, its owner often loses direct involvement in tasks he once enjoyed as that work gets delegated to others and he assumes strategic leadership activities. One prerogative of being the boss, though, is taking a desirable assignment once in a while or working alongside staff to enjoy camaraderie.
Continual improvement: Absorbing deeper knowledge about a subject — even one that’s not directly related to the business — can inspire a business leader to broaden his perspective that may lead to improvements in the company.
Finance New Mexico connects individuals and businesses with skills and funding resources for their business or idea. To learn more, go to www.FinanceNewMexico.org.