One of the hardest parts of running any business is simply keeping it alive. With the grim statistic that over half of all new businesses fail in their first year coupled with today’s precarious economic climate, it’s a tough time to be a business owner.

Yet many businesses fail not through a downturn in the economy but because they ignore even the most basic rules of business. This is more than just bad management – it’s almost akin to criminal negligence and is as good as killing your business. If you don’t want your business to join the names of the failures, you need to make sure you make any changes needed before it’s too late.

Revisit Your Business Plan

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When was the last time you looked at your business plan? If it’s the same one as when you first started your business you’re already behind. Any successful business owner will tell you they are continuously revising their original business plan. The business world is constantly changing and evolving – make sure your plan evolves with it.

Be Pro-active, Not Reactive

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Think of all the great sporting events and results. Can you recall who picked up the silver medal or runner-up prize? Probably not – and the same is true for business. Second-place won’t win you new customers or sales. Make sure you’re first out the gate each time and make the market happen around you as opposed to you reacting to the market.

Grasp Opportunities When They Happen

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One of the biggest mistakes any business owner can make is assuming they’ll get a second chance. Missed the holiday sales season? Never mind, there’s always the next time, right? Wrong. In business you very rarely get a second bite at the cherry, so if you see an opportunity go for it there and then. It could mean the difference between keeping your company alive and watching it collapse around you.

Think Locally, Grow Globally

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One of the reasons that so many shoppers complain when a new megastore opens is that it can mean the end of the local corner shop and the personal touch that comes with it. People like dealing with people, not just a faceless number. Make sure you keep in touch with your local audience as well – there’s a whole world of untapped potential right on your doorstep. Having a strong local presence will give you the backing to expand your business to a much wider audience further down the line.

Take a Virtual Business Trip

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If you really want to keep your business alive and ahead of the game, you need to know what’s happening in your field and what customers want. With the abundance of resources online, you have a world of information at your fingertips.

Visit business forums to find out what’s being talked about (better still, start one of your own for your customers to participate in).
Sign up for business alerts from business news sites.
Instigate business referral partnerships with relevant suppliers or providers.
Use social networks to connect with your audience and show your human side.
While there will always be tough times for any business owner, making your business fail by committing basic schoolboy errors isn’t acceptable. If you recognize any of these areas as ones that you haven’t already taken care of, you need to make the change now. Otherwise you could be sounding the death knell on your business.