Having a vision and starting a business does not mean success. Entrepreneurship is a process that needs proper management to maintain the idea and grow the idea into a success. Entrepreneurs are those people who when they see a problem they seek and then design the solution to that problem. We’ve all seen start-up companies flourish, and we’ve also seen some of them fail. Failure of these companies is not only caused by company’s financial situation or by the country’s inflationary environment.
There is much more to a business than having a good product or service and talented staff. You must have a solid financial plan, good accounting practices in place, good marketing plan in place too. With this in mind, there are many things that are required that can uplift and maintain the success of the business. I will try and put below what I have seen as the do’s and don’ts of entrepreneurs:
DON’T Choose the wrong Partners
2 Corinthians 6v14 God said, “Do not be unequally yoked.” Again The Bible also talks about Bad company ruining good morals. When an Entrepreneur chooses a partner who does not share the same vision with him the results are always for the worst of the business. Human beings are like machines. Partners must be fit for the purpose. Having business partners is common in today’s business world because the benefits partnerships poses. But it is quite tricky to pick the business partner who is a good fit for you and your business. Choosing a partner just because he is your friend or relative doesn’t mean that the person is the right business partner for you. Because a business partnership is like a marriage; that means there will be misunderstandings and fights. These misunderstandings and fights are necessary for the health of the enterprise but may grow to levels that can destroy the enterprise.
DON’T - Too Much Planning
In my earlier article I taught about the importance of planning. However, it must be noted that the planning must be moderate not too much. Lack of planning is a recipe for disaster, but too much planning can also lead you to the same path. Too much planning can in fact weigh you down. Instead, a good plan is always something that leads to a decision. So how do you make a plan that leads to clear decisions? Focus on a few important points instead of addressing all your future challenges immediately. Strengthen what areas are already bringing revenue to the company before moving onto minor issues.
Don’t Ignore Public Relations and Marketing
Concentrating on all the other facets of the business but ignoring good public relations and marketing of the organisation and its products can lead to the vision dying. No matter how beautiful or how your product or service is; if you don’t market it well; it ends up being your own to consume. Ignoring Marketing is digging an own grave.
- Brand partnerships
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DON’T assume your employees know as much as you do about a transaction.
It’s crazy, but, they can’t read your mind. With that being said, communication is key. If you aren’t giving them the full information needed to properly input your transactions or to support your vision, they could make incorrect assumptions and take your business off track. You also want to review their work. They do their best, but it is not uncommon for items to be misinterpreted or for them to make mistakes. After all, employees are only human.
DON’T ignore the financials just because it’s hard.
It is crucial that you take the time to understand your financials and, above all, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The more questions you ask, the more explanations you will receive, and over time the numbers will start to make more sense. Set aside a few hours each month to devote to the review of your financials. If you can’t get an expert to join you, log your questions and follow up with them.
Don’t Ignore The Voice of Branding
Your brand reflects your consistency and when you are inconsistent, people lose their trust in you. How do you destroy your brand? Ignoring your customers, not listening to criticisms and feedback, and refusing to change are a sure fire way to destroy your brand. A brand talks to the stakeholders. Stakeholders make decisions from what they see and here. Your Brand talks!
Don’t Wear Too many Hats
I have often seen so many Entrepreneurs multitasking. These believe that they are the brains behind their businesses therefore they do everything better than all the other employees. This wears the Entrepreneur. The Entrepreneur will end up neglecting critical thinking. Research has already found evidence that multitasking can harm your brain and affect your productivity. Multitasking will not make your company grow quickly or increase your profits. In fact, it can do the opposite because you will wear yourself down by wearing too many different hats at the same time.
Do not Lack Focus
Successful Business people like The Jeff Bezos, The Elon Musks, The Strive Masiyiwas and so on are all known for particular businesses. They have been consistent with one particular business line. By so doing they have learnt to master the game. If you lack focus, you won’t just be harming your business but your relationships with your clients and partner as well. Customers are a special type of stakeholders. They are happy to partner a business that focusses on improving the service they get f or product they are offered. If you sell tomatoes today and tomorrow cars i.e “Jack of ALL TRADES” then specialisation will lack and efficiency will not be created. For the Jack of all trades kind of business people the advice that is often given - “you have to find your niche” can sometimes seem implausible. However, it should be noted that diversification is not the lack of focus and it remains “A-No-Sin approach.”
Not listening to customers
Customers are the reason why the business was created. A Vision follows a path of satisfying customers who end up becoming clients. Customers play the most important role for the business leader. To me, the customer is on the apex of the Stakeholder ladder. Product reviews and feedback should be provided for customers’ reviews. They help you gauge which approaches work best with your customers and which don’t. Paying attention to these helps you improve your business and avoid approaches which do not work well with your customers. When your customers see that you care about what they have to say, you will be able to earn their loyalty. More so, they will become your most effective marketers. Word of mouth spreads like veld fire. Once customers are happy to be part of your brand they make referrals which costs nothing financially to the business. Satisfied clients always make repeated sales.
Trying to be perfect
Everybody is familiar with the quote which says that nobody is perfect; this is true. Each one of us has flaws, so do businesses; thus, it is natural to make mistakes. It is a fact of life that mistakes are inevitable. When this happens, get up and find out what’s wrong, re-strategize, and start all over again. What’s important is to not keep committing the same mistakes. It follows that there is a great need to formulate the Research and Development department.
Don't become too predictable.
Your plans must not be predictable by competition. Competition may use it against you. Keep your formula to your chest.
DON’T Wait for too long to launch
It is easy for the scope of your project to get out of hand. However, the product you have does not need to be perfect at first, and the additional buttons and features you painstakingly add are not necessarily fundamental. When you get your product out there, you can get feedback easily and you can modify your product/service along the way. Waiting too long can contribute to a loss of momentum. Nike says; “JUST DO IT.” Indeed, what are you waiting for? Just do it!
DON’T think that you are “above” getting down into the numbers.
The best new businesses, large or small, keep tight financial controls and understand where the revenue comes from and where the expenses are going. Monitoring your books with precision will not only help you understand the flow of the business, it will also allow less room for error. One dollar here and five dollars there can add up overtime.
DO keep your business and personal finances separate.
Most start-ups make the mistake of believing that what the business is generating is personally mine. The business is a legal persona on its own. It’s not fun to sit at a bank for hours on end, but it is important to open a separate business account. As I reiterated in my previous article, the business must have a budget and manage its own finances. If you start off with your accounts combined, there will come a day when you need to unravel the two. This is not only costly and inconvenient, it’s also extremely time consuming and takes you away from the work that really matters. The business has its own debts and needs to grow and maintain its own affairs.
DO understand your costs.
When businesses collapse it is usually because of liquidity crisis. This crisis may have been caused by not understanding the escalation of costs or not managing costs. Take the time to figure out why your costs are changing. Doing so won’t make you a tight wad, it will make you successful. If you can confidently explain why you spend “x” amount of dollars on one particular product while cutting back on another, you will be able to make financial decisions in the future that could make or break you. Wasting money is not an option in a start-up or any business. Control your expenses better than your competition. This is where you can always find the competitive advantage. You can make a lot of different mistakes and still recover if you run an efficient operation. Or you can be brilliant and still go out of business if you're too inefficient.
Do have a good Accountant
Most of the times for a start up there won’t be any need to employ a full time accountant. The business leader can choose to hire an accounting Consultant like this writer to help with the accounts. A good accountant knows his numbers well. He can advise on taxes due, costs and can guide on good cash flow management. Understanding Cash flows can make the business remain liquid. What good will it be if one day the business ends up with Tax debts. This can lead to unnecessary legal costs too. Periodically review your financials. I repeat; good accounting and bookkeeping is the difference between businesses. Yes, good cash flow management is the difference. I can’t stress this enough: DON’T FALL BEHIND. Confirming that your financials are in good hands will make your life easier and will help to ensure the success of your business all while keeping excess costs to fix your financials at bay. Say what? That accounting class your neighbour took in college doesn’t make them an expert and the five months your mom worked in an accounting firm doesn’t make her a bookkeeper. If you put your financials in the wrong hands in order to save money, chances are they won’t be done right and the cost of fixing them will drastically exceed what you originally wanted to pay. Use experts. You get what you pay for in all aspects of life.
DO realize that poor financial reporting makes lenders and investors lose confidence.
I once overheard a lender asking a business owner if they knew “anything” about their business’s finances when they were receiving the projections for a loan. Don’t be that person. Chances are that loan will fall through and you’ll be back at square one. Impress the people who want to help you succeed. After all, a part of your future is in their hands.
Do Commit to your business.
Believe in it more than anybody else. If you love your work, you'll be out there every day trying to do it the best you possibly can, and pretty soon everybody around will catch the passion from you – like a fever. Lead Lead Lead! You are the example. You are the pillar for all your employees.
Do Share your profits with all your associates, and treat them as partners.
In turn, they will treat you as a partner, and together you will all perform beyond your wildest expectations.
Do Motivate your partners.
Money and ownership alone aren't enough. Set high goals, encourage competition, and then keep score.
DO- Be Accountable
Effective leaders and successful businesses are accountable. When there’s no accountability, there is no standard to measure employee performance and as well the leader’s performance. As a result, good employees are not recognized and bad employees are not penalized. In the end, the good employees are frustrated and leave the company filled with bad employees. What happens next is not difficult to guess.
Do Talk less and work more.
DO Communicate everything you possibly can to your partners.
The more they know, the more they'll understand. The more they understand, the more they'll care. Once they care, there's nothing that will stop them.
Do Appreciate everything your associates do for the business.
Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They're absolutely free – and worth a fortune.
DO celebrate your success.
Don't take yourself so seriously. Loosen up, and everybody around you will loosen up. Have fun. Show enthusiasm – always. All of this is more important, and more fun, than you think, and it really fools competition.
DO Listen to everyone in your company.
And figure out ways to get them talking. To push responsibility down in your organization, and to force good ideas to bubble up within it, you must listen to what your associates are trying to tell you. They know something you don’t know. This gives better feedback.
Do- Aim at exceeding your customers’ expectations.
Give them what they want — and a little more. Make good on all your mistakes, and don't make excuses — apologize. Stand behind everything you do.
DO Swim upstream.
Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom. If everybody else is doing it one way, there's a good chance you can find your niche by going in exactly the opposite direction.
Do - Have a Mentor
A mentor helps you to avoid mistakes that have been committed before. He also helps to show ways that have tried and tested that paces up or quickens your way to success. A mentor can rebuke and correct you’re the Business’ leader’s shortcomings.
Francis Chitambira is the founder of SMARTFISCAL CONSULTANTS – a Business Advisory firm, He is a cut above the rest business consultant, Business Trainer, entrepreneur, Tax consultant and business developer. He has interests in Agriculture as well as Marketing Fields. He can be reached at cell/WhatsApp: +263775844941 or email: [email protected]; website: www.smartfiscal.co.zw