The Secret to Long-Term Business Success? Sometimes It’s Throwing Your Business Plan Away

You’ll likely enter the small business world with a specific plan and set of rules in mind. But the secret to long-term success may involve throwing those away.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, only 25% of new businesses stick around for 15+ years. This stat has been true for 30 years and can teach current and aspiring entrepreneurs one very important lesson: founding conditions, rather than market changes, play a crucial role in long-term success.

It makes sense when you think about it. If a business has a flexible structure and embraces creativity and change right off the bat, it’s more likely to succeed. No matter its industry, it will thrive when the market is going its way and survive when it’s not.

So, if you’re a startup or a newer business, it’s a good idea to dive deep into your founding structure and internal processes. Have you created a dynamic environment that can quickly and effectively respond to market changes? If the answer is “no” or “kind of,” it’s time to get to work.

Founding conditions, rather than market changes, play a crucial role in long-term success.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to set your venture up for 15+ years of success, including:

  • Evaluate your current situation: Take a close look at where you are today and where you hope to be in the future. A SWOT analysis is a great way to do this as it can allow you to hone in on your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Share the SWOT with your team and brainstorm ways to respond to the weaknesses and threats while taking advantage of the opportunities.
  • Invest in training and development: It’s worth the time and money to equip your employees with the knowledge and skills they need to think creatively and overcome market or competitor challenges. Training and development can also help you motivate and retain your team.
  • Adapt and innovate: Just because your business model and offerings work today doesn’t mean they’ll work tomorrow. Be flexible enough to adapt to changing market conditions, customer preferences, and competitor initiatives. Continually seek new ways to innovate and stand out from others in your industry.
  • Communicate: Whether you have one employee or hundreds, honest and open communication is everything. Keep your team informed of your expectations and what excellence means to you. Explain how you’d like them to handle changes and difficult situations.

The reality is that “winging it” won’t work in today’s rapidly changing business environment. If you want to ensure you’re around decades from now, you must anticipate and plan for change through a dynamic business environment and team.

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