By Richard B. Sanford
Small businesses are considered the backbone of the American economy and with national Leaders saying the economic revival begins with small firms, a well-executed business strategy has never been more important, says Richard B. Sanford, an entrepreneur and business coach who has launched 11 successful smaller companies himself.
In past recessions, independent smaller businesses helped fuel economic recoveries. But tightened credit, government regulatory impediments and a lack of Federal support for community banks – the principal source of capital and financial support for small business – has many modern day entrepreneurs fearful of what the future may hold! Proper planning and a well-executed business strategy, though, can clear the way for a smaller enterprise to expand and take reasonable risks that will lead to an improved bottom line, and which usually requires an increase in its work force, Sanford says.
Most people are not aware that the American Small Business success rate of 20 percent is, and has been, unchanged, decade after decade, according to the U. S. Small Business Administration. The challenge facing American entrepreneurs is to increase this success rate. Sanford, also author of a strategy guide for smaller businesses called Success By Design (www.ssbp.biz), believes that the heart and soul of any small business is its strategic plan, and a formal strategic plan increases an entrepreneur’s odds for success!
“The plan is the framework and foundation that outlines how to think, how to plan and how to take action to succeed,” he added. “The American Small Business sector creates more than 70 percent of all new jobs annually. Small business is the job creating engine that expands employment and creates the majority of all new jobs in our country.” Sanford believes that every small business failure is a direct result of insufficient planning, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Sanford’s strategy tips for small businesses and entrepreneurs include:
You must have a strategy. An entrepreneur’s dreams for a successful business venture require strategic planning to turn them into reality. If you don’t have a strategic plan, create one before you make another mission-critical decision.
You become what you think about all day long. If you can visualize success, chances are you’ll achieve it. If all you do is fret about failure, it can become the self-fulfilling prophecy. Think success and encourage your team to do the same.
There may be situations out of the control of the owner, but customer service isn’t one of them. Every business controls how they serve their customers. The ones who can’t get a handle on that simple fact will fail, plain and simple.
“The irony of small business is that, as a business sector, it should be considered ‘too big to fail,’” Sanford added. “The problem is, small business does not have the luxury of a government bailout. It needs to heal itself from the inside, using only available resources and the wits in their leaders’ heads. With all things being equal in the marketplace, no matter the economic conditions, strategic planning makes the difference between success and failure every time.”
An entrepreneur from the age of 14 who served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, Richard B. Sanford has built distinguished careers in adult education, investment management and the insurance industry while leading the cause of small business in his home state of Michigan. Recognizing that small businesses were the grass roots of our nation’s free enterprise system and needed nurturing to grow, Sanford organized the founding of the Small Business Association of Michigan which has grown over 42 years into Michigan’s largest membership trade association. Sanford continues to serve as its founder and Honorary Chairman. Sanford has also served small business nationally as a former National Advisory Board member and Vice Chair, of the U.S. Small Business Administration.