Why start ups survive and prosper

20 May 2020

Only half of new New Zealand businesses survive longer than ten years and even then, only 5 per cent of those ever reach a turnover of $1 million. That is bad news.

The good news is that of the 5 per cent of businesses that reach $1 million turnover, one in four grow to $10 million turnover.

As a start-up, finding the right strategies, tactics and culture to grow profitably and sustainably will put you into an elite group of businesses – the long term winners. Below is some advice to help you get started and survive.

A bird in hand is worth two in the bush

How many times have you heard stories about companies offering special pricing and better products to win new customers, yet they continue to overcharge loyal customers for older products and services? It costs five times as much to win a new client as it does to keep an existing one.

Value your staff

Keeping good people is about respect and values. A friend recently recounted a tale of a boss who took him for granted. One day this boss asked, on a whim, for him to change then redo a job that he had spent weeks working on. This is what the worker had to say: “That was the day I mentally left that company. It was a year before I found the right job to go to, but the decision had been taken twelve months before. They offered me better money and benefits to stay but it was way too late for that.”

Avoid profitless prosperity

Just because a deal is big it doesn’t make it worth doing. It’s okay to walk away from any bad business. Handing these kinds of duds over to your competitor can be good for your business. It frees you up to provide awesome, profitable products and services to clients who value them.

Don’t be a bank

A quarter of all debts that go past ninety days overdue are never paid. This rises to over half at 120 days overdue. Look at this another way. an unpaid debt of $1 means you will need to generate $10 in new revenues just to make up for it if your net profit is 10%.

If you have tried all reasonable ways to collect debts to no avail, then send a final warning in writing. If this fails, then using a reputable debt collection agency is a perfectly valid option. If this seems drastic, then remember it is your money and your company. Only you get to choose who keeps both.

Get good advice

Developing the skills and contacts to ensure you can reach out to the right expert at the right time is an essential craft in helping your business succeed. Getting good advice may seem expensive on occasions but can save you a world of pain in the long run. EMA offers fantastic advice to members in several key areas, at very reasonable or even no charges.

Plan for the Future

Many great businesses end up on the market having reached the stage where age or ill health have forced the owner to sell. Having a mix of ages, skills and personalities within the leadership of your company is a must. The energy, enthusiasm and contemporary relevance of youth is a potent partnership when combined with the hard-won experience of age.

My business partner Richard and I look forward to when we get to sit in the balcony seats of Total Utilities, cantankerously muttering and critiquing our new generation of leaders just as Statler and Waldorf do on the Muppet Show. The trouble is, of course, that no one will be listening.

All the best for 2020. May you live long and prosper.