Business survival awareness

Business survival awareness – and telling the truth

I find it shocking that so many small companies fail in the first few years. If only 40% reach their fifth birthday and around 20% get to ten years you’d think it would stop more people even trying. But business owners are tough and they overcome immense difficulties to get their ventures off the ground.

We’d hate to ever discourage anyone from setting up their own business. There’s nothing like it and I could never imagine working for anyone ever again. But having worked with so many businesses over the last 15 years I’ve seen too many lack the fundamentals that make their chances of success automatically lower.

The ultimate reason behind almost every business failure is a lack of cash, whether a formal administration or receivership, or the owner just quietly giving up because they couldn’t make it work. We want to help business owners to create strong profitable companies by helping them easily get to grips with key component of long term business success; financial resilience, profitability and cash.

The one thing that almost every business owner has is common is a dream. A dream that they could have their own business. Being in control of their own future, doing something they love and making a difference to the world. Obviously not every business is going to succeed, not every idea is great, and not everyone has the skills or grit to make it happen. But one thing I do know is that good businesses stop trading or go bust because they didn’t understand their finances, didn’t have enough gas in the tank to get through the difficult times and didn’t know how to get help.

I’m a small business owner, I’ve owned my own business for over 15 years now and come from a small business background – my parents have always owned their own business.  And having worked closely with over 200 small companies in the last 15 years I totally understand what it takes to start and run a small business, and what it means to a business owner.

There’s a huge amount of business press with amazing stories of overnight success and people selling out for millions. This can be both incredibly inspiring but also pretty depressing when you’re business doesn’t look anything like these super success stories. I think to help companies survive long term we need to tell the truth more about how it really is much of the time. That way if we know that what we’re going through is “normal” it will help us to dig in and get through the tricky times.

To make a business work you have to give it everything you’ve got. As well as being exciting and fulfilling the reality for many business owners is:

  • The first few years can be very difficult, with little or no pay
  • Long hours
  • High levels of stress
  • The pressure and stress of continually finding enough work to pay your staff and bills
  • Little pension provision
  • No holiday pay or sick pay
  • A continual steep learning curve as we take on new challenges to keep our business moving forwards and grow as leaders and managers.
  • We tend to pay ourselves last, whatever is left over.
  • Very few perks of the job, such as the things we’d expect if we were employed in a senior management role.
  • Very few holidays and time off
  • Taking significant personal risk that most people just wouldn’t take, often with our home on the line secured on bank debt or running up personal debt to support our business.
  • Significant personal sacrifice, and not seeing families and friends as much as we’d like.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not being negative here. We’re off-the-scale optimistic people and we believe that anything is possibly if you’re committed and have a positive mind-set. We just want to temper that with a reality check because most of the time it’s just damn hard!