I wrote some of this to my personal and family contacts here  on Long Island and in Stamford, but I also wanted to include it for you, my Long Island and Stamford (or beyond) business owner friend. Because I’ve been very affected by what happened in the Philippines last week. It’s shocking, painful, and the devastation wrought by “the worst storm of all time” is only barely being uncovered. One report I just read said that there could be 10,000+ dead in one city alone.

Mind-boggling tragedy.

How have you been processing this event? Part of what often makes us all numb to these disasters is that “daily life” must go on. So there’s a natural disconnect.

Here I am watching images of severe devastation, safely ensconced in my Long Island and Stamford accounting offices — there I am grabbing a holiday-themed peppermint latte with a double shot of espresso.

But what are regular entrepreneurs to do, besides pray, donate … and care? Again, I’d be interested in your thoughts.

(And, as an aside, I’d also be interested to find out if you have located an effective place to send donations–the big organizations spend so much money on “overhead”, that I find it difficult to believe I’d get the most “bang for my buck” in donating to them. Any thoughts?)

It seems a bit jarring to transition from something such as this, into the daily activity of running a Long Island and Stamford business — but onward must we all go. It’s up to us — the business owners, entrepreneurs and producers of our society — to create the resources and capabilities in order to put them to use.

So…run your business WELL. Do what it takes. The world needs you.

And the world NEEDS good businesses that are started in this environment — but far too often they fail right at the start.

So I’ve put together some of the primary mistakes made by those in startup mode — but also, they are made by established Long Island and Stamford businesses who have lost their way.

I don’t want to see your business go the way of the ones that I’ve seen, so watch out for these…

Michael Kessler Shares Five Start-Up Mistakes
“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” -George Bernard Shaw

Let’s jump right in, shall we? Here are the big mistakes even Long Island and Stamford(!) people make when starting a small business…

•  Not having a CLEAR strategic business plan.
A good strategic business plan will guide you through the first few months and years of your business. It should contain metrics that help you monitor costs as well as progress.

It doesn’t have to be fancy, or even something that would hold up under an investor’s scrutiny (though, certainly, if you’re going down that road, go the extra mile and make sure it’s good). But it does have to give you a roadmap to the goals you should be hitting by certain points — 3 months, 6 months, 12 months.

•  Doing everything yourself. Even in a one-person operation, you’ll have your hands full. If you’re not in a position to hire employees, at least be ready to outsource the tasks that aren’t integral to your daily operations.

In this way, of course, you free yourself for the highest-level activities, such as marketing and sales.

•  Targeting the wrong market. Nothing takes the place of solid market research before you launch your business. Find out who needs your product or service, where they are, what they expect to pay for it, and whether there are enough customers for you to survive.

But the BEST way to do this, is not to use statistics or data … it’s to start small, and sell something to your targeted market first which is very similar to what you are wanting to ultimately provide. Survey results are one thing, but having people “vote” with their pocketbook is a much better predictor of future results.

•  Failure to prioritize sales. Your great idea for a product is only that–an idea. To actually grow, you’ve got to devote sufficient time to sales. Instead of trying to perfect your product, work on getting it out to customers. Let your customers help you perfect things, especially after you start selling to them.

•  Underestimating your resources. No matter how detailed your business plan is, chances are your startup will require more time and money than you anticipate before it gets off the ground. Be patient, and plan for the long haul.

In fact, here’s a good rule of thumb:

1) Take your projected costs: double them.
2) Take your projected revenue: cut it in half.

If your proposition is still profitable, give it a shot.

And don’t forget — we’re right here for you, if you need us: (516) 449-2852 or (203) 658-5092

I would ask that you forward this article to a Long Island and Stamford business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance–or simply send them our way. These particular articles relate to business strategy because, as you know, I’m a Profitability Consultant who also specializes in tax preparation and planning for Long Island and Stamford families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.

Warmly (and until next week),

Michael Kessler
(516) 449-2852
(203) 658-5092