Some West Michigan small business owners are content with business as usual. They have an established local business, a few employees and they are content with what they are. But there are a few out there that have bigger dreams. There are some that want to create a small business story that Hollywood turns into a movie. These businesses are looking to go big. So how do you shock the world?
Outside of getting a few breaks along the way there are a few steps you can take to help make your splash. Serve a niche, go after the big competition, be different, be the first to market, and acting bigger than you are, are all great recommendations to follow.
We have all heard the back and forth about whether or not your business needs a business plan. Some people out there think you still need a traditional detailed plan while others believe a leaner version of a plan is more than enough and some say throw the whole thing out the window. Whatever side you sit on, there probably is no right or wrong answer. With an increasing number of business plan competitions though there is a new debate that is gaining steam.
The question being posed is whether or not business plan competitions are beneficial or not. Generally these competitions pit young entrepreneurs or even students against one another to see where their business plan stacks up. Often the reward for winning isn’t an overwhelming amount of money and the coaching quality is lacking. Despite the negatives that some see, these competitions are more than just trying to find a sustainable business.
There is one problem that nearly every entrepreneur overlooks when they dream about growing their startup or small business into a big business. They overlook the fact that when your business grows, you have to get bigger. Bigger means letting go of power, hiring employees, bigger infrastructure and bigger problems. One of the terms that you as a business owner have to get used to when you are growing is human resources.
Delegating power, employees and infrastructure all come with their own sub-issues that can cause you more than just headaches. Having a plan, policies, and hierarchy can be vital. Some business owners are able to stumble into the right hire and get a human resource (commonly referred to as HR) person on their team. Others learn the hard way that they need to take an active role in the HR aspect of their business.
Startup owners are always wondering what the secret to success is. What is that one thing that those entrepreneurs all have that allows them to become so prosperous? In reality there is no key trait or special knowledge. Entrepreneurs that have come before you may have had similarities but there is no secret recipe.
I recently attended a seminar where the 8 things that a startup needs to have in order to be successful were given. These reasons included knowing there is a better way, believing in what you are doing, making the sale, knowing the stages of a startup and more. As part of the seminar, we were broken up into teams to debate and come to a conclusion on which 3 of the 8 reasons were the most important to a startup. It quickly became apparent that it was nearly impossible to pick just 3.
There is one part of my job that I love: meeting new business owners and hearing about their businesses. Now when I say “new business owners” I mean new to me. I think I like it because there are so many businesses I love to frequent and getting to talk to the owners and listen to their troubles and stories is like opening a door to a secret world. Recently though it came to my attention that there are lots of entrepreneurs out there that hate networking. In fact they hate it so much that they don’t do any networking at all. I am here to tell you that if you want your business to succeed you have to network.
I understand the fear, distaste, etc. that people have for networking. Going to an event and having to meet strangers can be overwhelming to say the least. But if you want your small business to grow or if you want your startup to get off the ground, networking is a necessary evil.
West Michigan is filled with strong family ties that connect many generations. This commonly bleeds over into the business world. Family owned businesses are extremely common here. Many businesses are owned by second or third generations and new businesses are being opened by husband and wife teams. Decisions in business are based on business judgment and when family is involved those business judgment decisions can feel personal. So how do you draw a line between dining room table and the board room table?
San Francisco-based family business counselor Karen Calcango says family owned businesses can present some unique entrepreneurial challenges including improper delegation of duties, undefined roles and responsibilities and familial relationships that pull at emotions and can cause bad business decisions.