Starting a new business is a scary proposition. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, half of all businesses no longer exist after five years, and only about one-third make it past their 10th anniversary. Central Indiana, in particular, sees a flow of new businesses and ventures — from tech startups to restaurants — come and go year after year.
As the owner of a company celebrating 100 years this October, I’ve learned a thing or two about how businesses can make their mark in Indiana and beat the odds. Here are the three things I believe every startup needs to do to be successful:
Make it personal
Your customers are more than numbers in a database, and your employees more than just headshots on a website. Take the time to coach your employees one-on-one. At the start of a business, most employees have joined because they believe in your company and what it can provide to its customers or clients. Get to know each of them and nurture the talent they bring to the company. As you grow, ensure your employees have the training and mentoring they need to bring everything they have to offer to work every day.
Your clients should know who you are, too. Work face-to-face with your clients or customers, and really listen to how you can solve their problems – not the other way around. Follow-up with every potential interaction, and make sure loyal customers or clients know they’re valued. Remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, too; tailor your product to each person who walks through your door.
Nurture positive values and relationships with employees
If people work in an environment they’re comfortable in, they’ll work harder and take more risks that could benefit the business. If you’ve made your business personal, then you already know what types of personalities and work ethics do best at your company. While your initial employees will likely strongly support your business and its mission naturally, new employees might need more training and explanation to understand what you do and why it’s important to your consumers. Don’t just hire people with skills you want – skills can be learned. Consider how a person would fit into your company culture, and how their character might encourage and drive their colleagues.
For example, I like to look for two different personality types in our offices: nurturers and drivers. When two management positions work closely together, we try to pair a nurturer with a driver so that the personalities fit together instead of clash. Look around at your own office and consider what personality types work well together to help accomplish your goals.
Once you have a steady stream of income and leave the red behind, don’t settle back in a comfortable space. Keep pushing and expanding your offerings to help your customers. Consider what additional problems you could solve for your customers or clients, or how you can streamline your current process to bring more things into one convenient place for your customers. Don’t make your customers go to someone else to fully resolve a problem. With so many disrupters hitting every industry in our economy, you can’t rely on just one product or offering to keep your company afloat for more than a few years.
As more entrepreneurs come to Indiana to seek their fortunes, new companies need to take the time to learn the ropes so they can beat the statistics and succeeded in business. By approaching your business strategy with these three approaches, your chance of success will significantly improve and you, too, can become one of Indiana’s success stories.
Jim Litten is the owner and CEO of F.C. Tucker Company.