Watch for the Five Ps in every small-business success story. This will not be the first time you have read about the importance of critical items to startup and early stage, small-business success.
After spending more than 10 years mentoring and coaching startups, I am equipped to opine on the most important Ps in early stage small businesses. These are things, in my opinion, that are essential to small-business success and I believe many of my associates would heartily agree.
A powerful or compelling emotion or feeling for the business. One would assume that every entrepreneur is passionate about his or her business, right?
The simple fact is that some are only checking the boxes and are not truly committed to the pursuit of something they must really care about pursuing. Passion is essential and you can identify its presence in the first five minutes of a conversation with most entrepreneurs.
There is no substitute for a quality product or service. No matter how much you advertise, promote, or hype a mediocre product, it’s still mediocre and won’t be the key to a highly successful business.
Businesses must strive to make their product/service the very best it can be. It may not be the next Apple iPhone, but it should be unique in its attractiveness and execution. A product or service that delivers, fills a need, provides value, and attracts new customers could be considered successful. But there are many ways to gauge success (users, clients, revenue growth, etc.) and it is ultimately the entrepreneur who decides if he or she has a successful product. So, it’s incumbent on that business leader to pivot to another product version or a different business model if product failure is on the horizon.
Though much has been written about the death of the business plan, it isn’t dead yet.
Every business needs a track to run on, to check progress against and to detour from when appropriate. Surely, it doesn’t need to be a 100-page tome detailing every last item, but it does need to say where the business is going and how and what method it is going to use to get there.
An approach currently in vogue is the rapid prototype and market -receptivity test. Although it is important (the Lean Startup) for most businesses it is not a business-plan substitute. A business plan will detail what problem or opportunity a product/service is solving or capitalizing on and demonstrate how it will do so. It must also allow for innovative thinking and change of direction.
There are a number of new ways to look at the process of business planning, but whatever method is used the plan doesn’t go on a forgotten shelf to gather dust; it must be referred to frequently to check progress. It should be a living document.
It can be a simple, one-page business model canvas that is updated on a regular basis or especially if financing is required it needs to be a thoroughly detailed outline of the business with financial projections that are supported by the plan. Funding sources are interested in where the business is going and how it will progress. Whatever the nature of the document, a plan is a necessary element of business success.
This may sound trite, but perseverance is critical to existence of any small business.
No matter what you are pursuing, there will be actual physical and psychological obstacles. They must be overcome by consistently insisting they will be overcome; in other words by persevering in the face of adversity. Not giving up, but being innovative and finding unique methods to solve problems. Because, like it or not, problems and challenges will present themselves and act as obstacles to progress.
The last P might sound somewhat contrary to the previous point.
Patience is defined as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting distracted, angered, or off track. Yet it is almost universally true that in small businesses, nothing happens as fast as you would like it to happen. The entrepreneur must anticipate delay and be prepared to adapt to the situation, for it won’t be the first nor the last. They say patience is a virtue; in the case of small business it is a very essential virtue
Small businesses, whether startups or longtime existing entities, should regularly review where they stand in terms of the Five Ps. Being conscious of them and reflecting upon the impact they are having is a useful exercise and will go a long way to ensuring a successful venture.
article published in the BJNN on May 29, 2018
By Paul Brooks, a business advisor at the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Onondaga Community College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org