What Not to Do if You Become a Small-Business Owner - VR Business Sales Blog

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

What Not to Do if You Become a Small-Business Owner

Peter King
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There are always concerns and reservations when buying a business. Particularly, there's the question of "What if I make a bad decision while going through the process or moving forward after the transaction." Every industry is going to have its own set of pitfalls that you want to avoid.
Here are a few things that you should NOT do when you're going to be buying a business:
Set Up an Equal Partnership
Business owners often share the start-up responsibilities with a partner or partners. However, sharing 50-50 or by thirds or quarters is a big mistake. Conflicts will always arise down the road, and you will need someone in a controlling position to make a final decision. Choose a CEO (someone with experience and skills needed for success) and give that person a greater decision-making authority and a bigger salary, even if it is only bigger by a small margin.  
Having Inadequate People and Planning
You need to become a strong manager when the business starts to move forward. Many fail because the people in charge don’t have the managerial qualities or strengths to cope with the challenges that come with buying and running a business. Additionally, stress can put a strain on personal relationships and make the challenges harder to deal with.
Personality assessments can determine if you’re cut out for a managerial position, and training can prepare you for the new rule as an executive.  
Without proper market research and a solid plan, a business is more likely to fail. The more preparation that you do, the better the chances that you have to succeed.  
Relying Too Heavily on Fewer Customers
Having too few customers makes your business vulnerable. It ties your future to the decision of other organizations. If their business falters, it puts your hard work and dedication at risk – through no fault of your own.
Therefore, having scores of customers, even though none of them are gigantic, is a smarter move in the long term.  
Insufficient Financing Can Cause Cash Flow Troubles
While some people are successful at jump-starting their own enterprise with little or no outside investment, they do so by being fortunate, modest in their spending and by plowing profits back into the business.  
The majority of businesses, however, don’t deliver the projected first-year sales volume. It’s better to overestimate your need for capital resources at the beginning and to underestimate your projected sales figures. It’s better to be pleasantly surprised at your success than to lose the business and your house because the money isn’t there when it’s needed.  
When contemplating an expansion of your business, be wary of spiraling costs. If you’re in a cyclical business, or one vulnerable to recession, be sure to be very calculating about your expenses and develop a Plan B well before you need to implement it.  
Failing to Admit Mistakes
Business owners are sometimes the last to admit that their idea doesn't have the spark that it once had. Having advisers that you can trust is important. Cut your losses and move on if your advisers all agree that you should. This may save the company if you can move quickly enough to capitalize on your mistakes, or shift the product or service to take advantage of other opportunities.  
Underestimating the Competition
Your competition won’t stand still for long, once you’ve demonstrated their weakness in the marketplace with your product or service. Expect them to plug the hole quickly and even try to outflank you in the process. Your business and marketing plans should anticipate how to deal with new initiatives from your competition. If you conduct ongoing research, product and service evaluations and marketing campaigns, you should always be one step ahead of the competition.


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