When the lines of holiday shoppers recede, some startups will find themselves in the black for another year. In other words, their holiday sales pushed them into profitability for the year. Other businesses likely weren’t so lucky. These companies are not only in the red, they’ve entered into all out survival mode.
Though many entrepreneurs call it quits when this happens, some will hunker down instead -- hoping that the next year will be better. The good news is, like the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. If you make it, you’ll be rewarded with fresh confidence and the skills for even more success down the line.
Here’s how to get through the hard times:
Don’t panic. Tough situations can be made exponentially worse if you start to make rushed decisions. If things aren’t picking up speed as quickly as you thought they would, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to scrap entire projects and start over. If you’ve got a solid plan, step back and look at the big picture. Tweak as needed and stick with it. You’ve got to give yourself a chance to succeed.
Prioritize. It may seem like you can’t afford even the slightest error when you’re operating in survival mode. To keep errors at bay, carefully write out the situation at hand. See exactly what you need to do and the order in which you need to do it. If something isn’t absolutely necessary at the moment, put in on the backburner for a while. Check things off your list one at a time until you start to gain a little breathing room.
Sacrifice. No one is going to determine your success but you. If you’re struggling, it may be time to make some personal sacrifices. This may mean a month without a weekend. It may mean pushing back that trip to Las Vegas by a few months. It may mean late hours, early mornings and cooking dinner at home for a while. This shouldn’t faze you. If you were weak of heart, you wouldn’t have started your own business in the first place. Stay positive and stay motivated. Look forward to the times ahead. Nobody realizes his or her dreams by taking it easy.
Don’t cut corners. While you may have to make personal sacrifices, don’t sacrifice your business. Of course you should always be looking for ways to cut costs. But don’t make the mistake of trying to cut corners like scrimping on ingredients or jettisoning your key -- but pricey -- crew members. In the long run, your business will suffer for what is essentially a quick fix. Remember, you business is a reflection of your dreams and desires. Keep fueling your investment and it will reward you in the future.
Don’t despair if business is slow or expenses are high. While survival mode may be stressful and even frightening, ultimately it will make you stronger and even more driven to succeed.
What tips or recommendations would you make for those in survival mode? Let us know in the comments section below.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Vancouver, B.C.