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Five Keys to Start-Up Success

by Roy Osing

posted in Business

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Unfortunately the casualty rate for a small business just opening it's doors is high; according to a recent Industry Canada Report, half don't make it to 5 years and 3 out of 10 fail in the first 24 months.
The message is clear: you must have a short term focus if you hope to be around in the longer term. You want the 5th year to show up!
Your game plan should cover no more than 24 months. Your challenge is to execute the critical things necessary to get sales FAST. It's a game plan (rather than "strategic plan") because it's prime purpose is to execute toward an uncertain and unclear end point.
Many will argue that this is being shortsighted; that longer term opportunities could be missed. Here's the thing: there are NO long term opportunities if you can't launch and sustain your new venture at the get-go.
Your objective is to survive the 5-year 50% mortality rate, and if you do, you earn the right to have a shot at longer term success.
Here are 5 keys to avoid your start-up being a casualty:
1. Declare how many customers and how much revenue you want at the end of your 24-MONTH game plan period. This will determine the "character" and risk of your plan. Going from 0 customers to 1,000 will require a much more aggressive approach than targeting 100 customers. And break the number down by month so you understand the "run rate" you need to reach the 24-month number.
2. PINPOINT the customers you want to target. Think small. You simply don't have the capability of going after a large market in your early days. If you do you'll die. Of course you will want to have a broader perspective on the size of the opportunity before you, but trying to boil the ocean when you begin your journey is a deadly mistake.
3. Create your business to BE DiFFERENT be in some way from your competition. If you're the same as everyone else, you will be invisible and you will attract ZERO attention. You will be boring and unremarkable. If prospective customers don't value you over the other guy you won't make it. Try my ONLY Statement: "We are the ONLY ones that... " as the way to distinguish your team from the small business herd. And beware of benchmarking best in class; copying will NOT allow you to stand-out.
4. FOCUS. FOCUS. FOCUS. "Public Enemy #1″ for small business is the temptation to take on too much. This is the biggest mistake I see new organizations make. Pick a few critical priorities. Avoid the possible many; you don't have the bandwidth to chase too many potential opportunities. Chasing stuff will tire you out and will take you off course.
5. Review your results EVERY MONTH. Did you achieve your customer and sales targets? Where did you fall short, and why? What worked really well? What tweaks should you make? The monthly review process forces you to learn from execution and improve your performance "on the run".
You can avoid becoming start-up road kill; focus on the next 24 months, separate yourself from the competitive drones and keep your feet moving.
About the Author: NEVER has it been more important to carve out a distinctive and unique place for your organization (and yourself) in the market than it is today. If you're not different you're dead (or soon will be). Visit Roy's site for tools that will help you on your journey to BE DiFFERENT. Learn more about his BE DiFFERENT OR BE DEAD book Series, subscribe to his Blog and take the BE DiFFERENT Quiz to find out if you're different (or dead).
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