Being adaptable as an entrepreneur

In small business, change is inevitable. One of the advantages of owning a small business, however, is that you are better able to adapt to this change than a large corporation is. Think of the differences between a sports car and a semi truck. As a small business, you have fewer people to clear changes with, and have more flexibility to make those changes quickly.

Be willing to accept change in your small business and adapt accordingly

It’s important to be prepared to accept changes and alterations to the way that you do business, and be ready to adapt to market changes. You may not like having to develop a new product or service, or ditch an existing one, but if that’s the way your market is going, can you afford to be left behind? As an entrepreneur, you should realize from the beginning that where you are is probably not where you’ll end up. Change happens so often and quickly for entrepreneurs, especially during the planning stages as new opportunities and ideas arise. Lack of adaptability can result in unhappy customers, lost profits – and many sleepless nights for the entrepreneur.

How to prepare for small business change

You can’t always predict the changes your small business will need to adapt to, but you can give yourself the best tools to make the best choices.

Firstly, refer to your business plan – or create one if you haven’t yet. A business plan is a formal document that includes a description of the business you want to run, your business goals, and the plan for reaching those goals. It’ll have important information like what your product or service is, a description of your customer, an estimate of how much of your product or service your customers will buy, and an estimate of your yearly expenses. It’ll also outline plans for hiring people, building your product and getting it to market. It may also contain background information about the organization or team attempting to reach those business goals.

Secondly, surround your small business with the best team you can, people who can enhance your skill set. Look for people who know more about marketing, accounting, finance, operations or strategy than you do. These people can be part of your founding team, advisory board, mentor board, or management board. They can also be professional advisors such as accountants or lawyers. Their advice and guidance will be invaluable to you when change looms on the horizon for your small business.


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Two mompreneurs share their small business stories

Working from home has become a very attractive option to working moms who want to stay close to their families. These “mompreneurs” face the normal challenges of running a home-based small business, but have the kid factor to deal with as well. So how can a mompreneur juggle family and a successful small business?

Schellene Clendenin talked with two moms who run their own small businesses to get some tips for other entrepreneurs. Check out Mompreneurs: All Jugglers, Multitaskers and Communicators Welcome in GoForth Institute’s Entrepreneur Library!

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What’s your out? Why an exit strategy is important

One day, maybe a very long time ago, you had a great idea that also happened to be a great business. You made a few sacrifices at the beginning and worked many an 18-hour day, but now your small business is ticking along smoothly. You might even have time and breathing room enough to sleep eight hours a night! Finally – your small business dream is now a reality.

So – how will you get out of it?

Why developing an exit strategy for your business is important

Aside from figuring out your business’ pricing strategy, location and HR policies, one of your most important responsibilities is the planning of an exit strategy. We know it seems kind of odd – you plan to spend years growing and nurturing your small business. Why would you ever stop? But an exit strategy ensures you’re prepared when the end comes. And it will come – every business has a lifecycle. Family businesses in particular need a well-planned exit/succession strategy.

On that note, a family-run business that plans to transfer ownership to a next-of-kin will likely operate much differently than a business that has its eye on a ritzy IPO in five years. Your exit strategy will inform how you run your business.

Tips for planning an exit strategy

You must have a clear understanding of how you’re going to get out of the business, whether it’s a few months off or many years away. You should take as much time and effort planning the exit of your business as you did in starting it. This won’t be a fast and simple process – planning your exit strategy may take weeks, months or years. Leave no situation unexamined.

Consider who may be interested in purchasing or taking over your company. If there isn’t anyone within your company that may be able to continue with it, consider family members, people within your network, or others looking to purchase a new business opportunity. You’ll want to get as much out of the exit as possible, considering everything you’ve put into your business. You may need to gradually downsize before finally withdrawing yourself completely.

The situation surrounding an exit will be quite different for different types of companies. Whatever you decide, make sure that your strategy is well thought out, planned and implemented properly. It wouldn’t hurt to consult people in your network who may have exited their own businesses – pick their brains to see if they can give you some useful advice.

Did you create an exit strategy for your business? Have you exited a business in the past? Let us know in the comments!

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The challenge for young entrepreneurs: proving yourself

Young Entrepreneurs in Canada

Recently, our GoForth Expert Dawn McCooey was asked the question, “How do I handle clients more concerned with my age than my experience?” It’s a question we get asked often by young entrepreneurs – who we consider to be small business owners under the age of 35.

As we’ve discussed before, young entrepreneurs bring a wealth of positives to the table – endless energy, fresh ideas and adaptability to new technologies. However, there will always be a few people who might cast a wary gaze upon you when you enter the boardroom. But fear not! There are several ways you, as a young entrepreneur, can impress even the most skeptical of prospective clients.

Model behaviours you want to receive

As Dawn says in her answer to the question above, “You’re going to be the one to dictate people’s impression of you.” It’s especially true for young entrepreneurs. Be impressive. Be professional. Be well-spoken. Be honest. Be courteous. Be confident. When your clients leave the meeting room, make sure they remember you as a capable and intelligent person they’d be happy to do business with, and your age won’t cross their minds.

Have confidence in your work

No entrepreneur is infallible or completely confident at all times. We all doubt certain aspects of our careers. But for young entrepreneurs, it can be a little easier to let doubt creep in when the very people you want to work with don’t seem to trust what you are. Here’s the upside: These people are few and far between. Most people care about the end result more than how many grey hairs you have (or don’t). So go forth with confidence and stand behind your business, your pricing, your method and your strategy. After all, it’s the result of hours of planning and research – why undermine it?

Get great experience, and show it off

Say you’re exchanging emails with a prospective client who is focusing less on your long list of completed projects and more on the fact that you graduated university last year. Ease his or her concerns – provide testimonials, give samples and show case studies to increase your credibility. If you’re the right person for the job, prove it – as early and as often as possible.

We should mention that experience doesn’t need to be of the paid variety. Of course, we want you to get paid, but look for other avenues to meet people in your industry, make a difference and also prove your credibility: advisory boards, committees and mentorships are great options.

Know when to back away

This last point might seem counterintuitive for an entrepreneur – I mean, you’re in this to feed yourself, right? But consider a scenario where all above options have failed despite your best efforts, and your prospective client is still not able to get past your age. Ask yourself honestly – is this a person you want to enter into a working relationship with and deal with on a regular basis? A healthy work/life state is a critical function of successful entrepreneurship; one not to be ignored. There is absolutely no shame in knowing when to cut your losses, and moving on to a client who will jump at the chance to work with you and respect you while doing so.

Do you have any other ways young entrepreneurs can prove that success isn’t just about age?

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