Editor's note: This week's BBB Business column was written by Keith Roberts.
If you are like many entrepreneurs, you started a business because there were boundless riches ahead by being your own boss and customers would be flocking to buy your unique product or service which filled a void in the global market place.
Then reality set in. The next few years were filled with disappointing revenue and a roller coaster filled with many challenges. To top it off, you were working twice as much as when you were working for someone else. Don't worry, you're not alone.
Each year there are an average of 550,000 startup businesses in the United States. Typically, 40 percent of those fail during the first two years and by year 10, an average of 70 percent fail.
You do not have to be a statistic. Whether you are new or have been in business for years, here are some helpful tips to help you get on the right track:
Keep your personal needs to a minimum. Pay the business bills first and then pay yourself. If you drain the business, you lose your dream and your investment. Do not pay personal bills out of your business account. Ask the IRS about that.
Know the numbers by keeping a well maintained bookkeeping system such as QuickBooks. If you are "administratively challenged," hire the help. It might save you and your business. Expect highs and lows in business. Stay on a budget and keep the cash flowing. Avoid the credit card.
Create a superior value proposition. A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered and acknowledged and a belief from the customer that value will be delivered and experienced. This becomes your brand because they know what to expect from your products and services.
Know your customers by surveying their experiences. Respond to them no matter what they say. There is rarely an excuse for an unhappy customer if you do your job right. Remember an unhappy customer will tell at least a dozen others if their experience was bad.
Stay organized, de-clutter and eliminate distractions that keep you from accomplishing your goals. Have clarity and be relentless in developing plans and measuring your results.
Create a positive image through community involvement. People like doing business with people they admire and trust. Be involved where you can make a difference.
Create balance between your work and personal life. To continue to be fresh and effective, work on you, your spirituality, hobbies, reading or learning something new. Leave at 5 p.m.
When you feel overwhelmed and "stuck," remember, a spouse or friend is too close to the situation to be effective, and an untrained professional is not specifically qualified to support you. You will get the best results by seeking an experienced mentor or coach.
Keith Roberts, owner of The Business Coach and partner of AutoGlass Express, is a Certified Master Business, Executive and life coach with over 38 years of experience as an entrepreneur, technology industry leader, trainer, and C Level executive. Keith is a member of the BBB Board of directors, is a BBB Ambassador, and his businesses have been BBB Accredited Businesses since 2010.