The ultimate aim of any small business owner is to get to a stage where the business becomes self sustaining or what I refer to it as ‘putting your business on auto pilot.’ That is allowing your business to run with little or no supervision from the owner. This is an error I have discovered recently from some small business owners who have a lot of ideas they want to explore. They are so enthusiastic about their ideas that they want to take all of them to the market at the same time. While it is good to hands off, as it shows that the business has matured enough to do without you, an entrepreneur must get the timing right.
A friend recently launched a new business. The quality and features of his product was his major selling point and customers loved it. 6 months later, I was invited to assess the business performance and make recommendations. Amongst other things, I observed that my friend never stays around to monitor the activities going on in his business. When I asked, his response was that he wanted to allow the business to run on its own so that he can focus on establishing other things. Great as that may sound, I told him it was too early, and the move was wrong. As usual, he told me “I know what I am doing”
Recently, he told me he was not breaking even and cost was driving him out of business. He then said, “I am not losing customers, but I can’t explain why I am not making profit.” He couldn’t explain ‘why?’
The early stage of your business is not a time for exploring other business activities, it’s a time to consolidate on what you have, identify the direction and learn more about your current business. Like my friend, you may not be losing customers, cost is going up, and you are not gaining new customers because you are yet to learn the uniqueness of your business. You are yet to identify means to efficiently and effectively satisfy both new and old customers.
The early years of your business is a time for
· Building a system
There is no better time to put a structure in place than the early days of business. You have to build a structure that will distinguish you in the market and set you on the path of growth.
· Strengthening strategy
As you grow daily in business, so does your strategy grow older. Handling the activities in your business helps you reinforce your strategies, and better define your business vision.
· Knowing your customers better
If you are not losing customers, and it cost you more to service the same customers, then there is something about your customers/client that you are missing.
The airways of business are too rocky for you to put your business on auto pilot as a young start-up. The early days of your business are too important to be left under the care of someone else. It should be a time of learning and experimenting, testing strategies and bringing in of creative and innovative ideas into your operation. This cannot be achieved without continuous and systematic innovative activities by business owners.