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Fatal Mistakes to New Business Survival

In 37 years of advising new business owners the biggest single mistake that I keep seeing is to start a new business without having enough working capital to see them through to when the business is better established. The best form of working capital is cash in the bank. Borrowings can be OK (especially from family) but these are best kept in reserve. Five other mistakes are also often fatal.

Break-Even Point. Unfortunately very few business owners know what their break-even point is. So simple to calculate - yet absolutely vital to business success. If you know what your break-even point is you can tell on a daily, weekly or monthly basis whether you’ve sold or earned enough to survive. If you haven’t you at least know you have to do better or cut your cloth accordingly, whether that’s reducing your outgoings or cutting your drawings. Do you know yours? 

Budgeting. Again, so many business owners don’t bother with a budget yet tracking your income and expenditure against your budget or what you expected to sell or spend is a simple and cheap, extremely effective, business tool. If you know you’re not on track you can then at least investigate, find out why and then take corrective action. Even if your sales are uncertain, budgeting for your costs should be easy and then you can work back up to the required level of sales by using your Gross Profit Margin and use the figure generated as your budgeted sales. If the figure is unrealistic at least you know you’ve got to do something drastic.

Effective Marketing. Marketing is greatly misunderstood by many in business, especially those new to business, who confuse marketing with advertising. Advertising is just one type of marketing, whereas marketing is the process by which companies create customer interest in products or services and can encompass a huge range of activities - anything from making sure your business continues to focus on delivering its core products or services in the way the customers want, to networking, referral strategies or Blogs or giving away things for free. As a business owner you cannot delegate marketing and you should be spending at least one-third of your time on marketing.

Working Business Plan. Most small business owners spend more time planning their annual holidays than they do in their business, yet international research reveals that on average, businesses with a working business plan achieve 63% higher revenue growth and 58% higher profit growth. Planning is about taking prudent, calculated risks rather than blindly reacting to events, making the best use of available resources and setting a path to achieve the lifestyle you want. As the business gurus say, if you aim for nothing you’ll hit your target every time with remarkable accuracy!

Systems. If there no systems in a business everything takes longer, things are done differently every time and mistakes can be made. When you are not that busy i.e. in the early stages of a business, that’s a great opportunity to develop your systems so that when things pick up, you don’t waste valuable time and things run like clockwork. A systemised or well organised business has more value to potential buyers, investors, and business partners and will help you attract better employees and customers. It's also easier to work in!

If you need help in your new business contact Nick on 0800 ASK NICK or email us on We are business start-up specialists with a wealth of experience in every aspect of starting a business.