How to start up a business with long term survival in mind

Lots of different skills and abilities are required to set up a business; with these making up an ability to be superior to the competition and sustain this long enough to achieve your objectives.

The following is my view on how to start up a business with the best chance of surviving and thriving:


  • You don’t need a business plan; you need a strategy. 30 page business plans with one of them being about marketing don’t work. Having someone else write it for you rarely works. You have to be so bought in to living the plan every day of the week that you might as well write it yourself. In any case – it’s a strategy you need, not another formulaic document that conforms to other people’s ideas of what you should be doing and differs from others only in the product details.
  • Make the big decisions upfront. Collect the information you need in order to do this. Don’t expect other people to make the big decisions for you. Don’t leave them until you are so busy with your first few orders that you can delude yourself they don’t need to be made.

This has many advantages:

  • It avoids wasted effort
  • It avoids duplication of work
  • It gives you a foundation that, (if done right) will ensure your success
  • It allows you to assess the feasibility in a way that is not possible with vaguer ideas
  • Don’t make any decisions based on what you have time to do or what you currently know how to do. All business decisions need to be just that – based on the business objectives. If you treat the business as a hobby it will behave like one.
    • If you don’t have time to do it right, you shouldn’t be doing it
    • The earlier you identify gaps in skills or capacity; the more chance you have to do something about it.

I’ve worked with lots of start-ups – including those that were told by others that they had no chance of succeeding. These ones in particular are the strongest.

Some things are impossible and shouldn’t be tried. The vast majority however are not. I’ve personally never come across a business that could not succeed. Many won’t succeed according to the current ways of doing things. So this is what should be changed.

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