Getting a business off the ground is invigorating and also deeply challenging. For me it’s about applying the same set of rules to anything that you really want to succeed in, whether that is training for and running a ‘marathon’ or starting up that business.
It sounds simple. To get your business or product flying you need something that brings a valuable output that people in your target market will pay for. Like any life goal it should mean a lot to you - a passion that shines through the years and gives you a real buzz. To make it fly - you need to nail it. Then repeat. Endurance and stamina are crucial.
Your quest is too important not to have a 5-year-plan. It will serve you well with clear goals, objectives and milestones that you will deliver, no matter what.
According to Investopedia 30% of businesses fail within the first year. Experience tells me that a product launch may also ‘fail’ if viewed through the lens of an annual plan, if the early goals are too ambitious. In my running, I set myself the goal of a fast 10k run by the end of the year. I achieved the goal at the end of the year, three years later!
Here are some of the leading reasons for start-up failure (from various sources) and some ‘challenging questions’ you might ask yourself:
- Not investigating the market enough – Are you getting out enough, networking and are you really listening and then acting on it?
- Business plan problems – Are you going too fast? Is the plan thorough enough to re-assure you that you are going in the right direction after a frustrating day?
- Too little financing – Are you investing in important things that will make a difference?
- Rigidity – Is your mind open to learn every day and to make adjustments? Really?
The temptation is to run as fast as possible from the word go. When training for my first marathon my improvement trajectory was incredibly motivating. I was getting faster, my stamina increasing, so I trained more. Then I got pneumonia and during recovery I struggled to run up the road! Holding pace, having time to breath, being creative and achieving your best thinking is crucial. Don’t run the risk of too much huffing and puffing.
To achieve your marathon, you need a plan. The great thing with business as well as running is that if you’re prepared to invest in your plan, talk about it, share it with trusted experts who’ve been there. Also, draw on your own experience and take confidence in that knowing if you ‘work it’ you will improve and hit your goals! You really will. ‘Work it’ means re-visit it every day and constantly adapt it. Checking that the goals and milestones remain meaningful. If not. Ditch them.
A good plan relies on recovery as much as increasing the intensity of the activities in the plan. For running this can mean the same frequency of training for a week each month but with less effort. In business it might mean having more time blocked in your diary to review your plan, for personal development or for an earlier finish this Friday. Go on. Do it.
For your business/product the time available to achieve the right level of results is limited. The set up money will run out and you can hear the clock ticking. Your leadership team is expecting the launch in quarter 1. So, let’s stick to your pace, be confident in your 5-year-plan. And let’s constantly review progress, challenge methods and priorities to nail that marathon. Deep breath! You can do it.
Release Life Sciences and Diagnostics Ltd (RLS) helps life science and diagnostic companies to grow with commercial and marketing services, interim management, training and development and career development and coaching.
Contact RLS today to discuss your specific requirements.
Author: Simon Walker, Founding Director, RLS. November 2018.