You’d be surprised how much brain-work it takes to run a business. If it’s your first time, you spend so much time thinking that it seems like your brain can get worn out. It’s tough to sleep that first night after you’ve taken the initial, irrevocable first step.
The fact that you will probably have read every scrap of advice to entrepreneurs plays a factor in your state of mind as well. Including this article! You’ve checked out the books, talked to friends, gone to the seminars, watched the educational videos. And now that you’ve learned from all of us experts, I’m going to give you one last piece of advice:
Because there comes a time to throw away the rulebook. Once you’ve followed the guidelines and you have your business running, once you’ve survived the first year or two, once you’ve paid back the investors and are in the black, it is time to throw that rulebook away and start writing your own.
The thing that stagnates first-time business owners sometimes is that they play it too safe. Most businesses get wrecked by not playing it safe enough, of course, but there is that tiny bit who survive and are so astounded to have beaten the odds that they stay right there in that niche forever. One big risk was all they had in them. They’ll be conservative and retreat into a familiar pattern, and then they will stagnate. One morning, they will awaken to find that the competitors in their field are passing them by.
Oh, wretched pity! Because if you’ve survived year two, if you’ve started with thin air and created a business that is actually making a profit, that right there proves that – miracle of miracles – you really were as smart as you thought you were all along. Which means that just maybe, you’ll be able to take off and soar beyond the rulebooks that we have so carefully laid out for you to follow. Maybe ten years from now, we’ll be reading you!
Here’s some opportunities to push in new directions:
1. Innovate. Are you not the only restaurant in your area? Then be the only one offering Mediterranean cuisine. Other restaurants selling falafel, hummus, and babaganoush? Then be the first to deliver it. Are others delivering it? Then be the first to let customers order online. You get the idea.
2. Delegate. Maybe your place isn’t at the wheel of your own ship. Maybe your gift is in starting things going, but you might get bored and start looking for that next challenge. If you have someone that you trust who can run your business for you, appoint them to a position and then go off and brainstorm some more… about your next venture! Nothing succeeds like succeeding twice, and you can use your income from the first venture to launch the second.
3. Market. Marketing is one place where you can always pour your extra creativity. Yes, it’s fine to buy ads in media, but what other kinds of advertising can you think of? Have you printed up T-shirts and hats to advertise your establishment? Made a video about your business and uploaded it to YouTube? Granted an interview to the local paper? Donated money to a charity which will honor you with a plaque on the wall? Sponsored an event to expose your new name?
4. Expand. Your niche might be great, but once you have it conquered, your only possibility for growth is to find related niches. Your party and costume store might be able to expand into party planning. Your dating service can start matching up roommates and travel buddies as well. You might consider making your competitors sweat a little by opening a new branch location.
It is just as important to recognize when it’s time to strike out blazing your own trail as it is to know that when you’re still new, you need to stick to the trail for your own safety. Here are two products that can help immensely depending on what you need. If you need to find new profitable markets, I suggest you look closely at this. Then get it!