It’s a fact that one in three small businesses in Australia fail in their first year of operation, two out of four by the end of the second year, and three out of four by the fifth year. However, there are five simple steps you can take to ensure that your business is sustainable.

5 simple steps to ensure your business longevity

  1. Have a tight business plan

    “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” This quote from Lao Tzu has been used as an inspiration since 600 BC. Entrepreneurs should start by having a well-thought-out business plan. It’s vital to have a firm understanding of your business, your market, your customers and how you plan to market and manage your business.

  2. Live the dream

    The first step required bravery but the second step is about managing the unknown. The freedom of working for yourself is naturally an adrenalin rush. Time restraints are now a thing of the past. You now have the freedom to allocate your time to whatever you feel like. The decisions are all yours to make. Start-ups have few forms that need to be filled and few policies to slow down go-getters.

    Long hours can be fun when you are doing what you enjoy. The goals in the business plan were always intended to be just that, goals and not demands. But this is also where changed circumstances can turn a dream to a nightmare. To live the dream of working for yourself you must stay awake to the risks and temptations of losing focus.

  3. Keep selling

    The old saying that ‘every call is a sales call’ has never been truer. Every conversation is a broadcast of your progress to success. Questions such as ‘How it is going?’ could be perceived as supportive or as an attempt to expose any weakness in your self-confidence. It could, of course, be both. Discipline must now replace the daredevil spirit that got you into this opportunity.

    Every enquiry is a potential sale, not always to the person asking but they may be wanting to be sold on your product or service before recommending it to another. It is vital to keep selling.

  4. Be realistic

    Just like first-time parents who naively assume their baby’s arrival will not change their lives, a start-up’s new owner is likely to be in for a rude shock. The business will change your life forever.

    While you invested in the company believing that it would change your life for the better, this golden opportunity does come at a cost. Experienced folks may wryly suggest that any start-up will cost twice as much, take twice as long and be twice as hard as expected – and that’s if all goes to plan.

  5. Staying alive

    The unstated goal for any start-up is to survive the first year. What most people don’t realise about thrill-seeking entrepreneurs is that they are often the opposite of their public persona. They are surprisingly disciplined and patient which is revealed in their tenacity.

    The first year of a start-up also delivers the delightful lesson of humility. No matter what you do it all seems to be taking longer than anyone expected, and everyone, yes everyone, is watching.

Having taken that first step in the start-up journey you will learn that not only will you be in business for yourself but you will be on a journey of learning about yourself.

The obvious lessons will be that no-one can predict or manage the future with fixed plans and you will not know when you have arrived at the end of your journey. But from my experience, and that of many others, we would not have it any other way.