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This is how to tank a business

We’re not the first to tell you that failure is a valuable learning experience.

On the contrary, it’s become a well-worn adage, if not a start-up cliche. But what if you didn’t have to metaphorically step on a banana peel and crash your way into knowledge — what if you could just read some magical blog post to learn basic things to avoid?

OK, so this post isn’t exactly magical, but we’ve pulled together some of the key slipping points that sink businesses every year. Here are just a few we’ve seen in the field.

Poor money management

When you’re not making a lot of money, every dollar counts. This might be an obvious lesson, but cash flow is king, and a business that can’t keep its expenses in check will hemorrhage money. It doesn’t take long to bust a business with little money to start with, so keep an eye on that ledger and don’t splash out unless it’s a real investment in your future.

Misunderstanding the market …

Why are you around, anyway? Who is this business for? The blunt questions are the biggest ones, but they can only give some direction to your endeavors. If you’re not consistently checking in to see if your answers are right — meaning, if the people you think want your product or service actually do want it — you can quickly find yourself operating for nobody. That’s an unprofitable situation if we’ve ever heard one!

… or failing to be found.

Maybe you’ve done an excellent job of shaping a business to meet the exact needs of a target market. If so, congratulations, that’s not easy to do. But all that crafting is meaningless if nobody knows who you are, which means you need to market yourself and get your name out where your people can find you. While this does require investment, if only of the time to run social media channels, the good news is the rise of digital communications has lowered barriers to getting your message out there. You know your market — now go where they hang out and pull them into your orbit.

Losing the daily battles and forgetting the ones tomorrow

Forgive us the poetic spin, but we’re talking about regular management and mid- to long-term strategy. Good planning will prevent a lot of headaches, but you’ll still need a steady hand to fight all the little fires that pop up in the course of running a business. This ability to read the situation, adapt and — crucially — follow through and complete objectives will keep your operations legal, safe and profitable. At the same time, you can’t take your eye off the destination just because there are potholes directly ahead. Keep that vision in mind and plan each step within the strategic framework of hitting those big, longer-term goals.

Despite the driving metaphor in that last one, there is no single “road map to success” in this field. There is, however, plenty to be learned from working with coaches who have been here for a long time and know where most folks tend to slip. That’s precisely what we offer here at Prepare 4 VC. Whether you’re looking for that next big VC infusion, or just need someone with expertise to hear out your business dreams, we’re the ones for you — get in touch online or at 508-444-2571 to get started.

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