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Small business success means continued learning, striving

Although the ground is fertile in Texas for entrepreneurs, small-business owners never can afford to rest on their laurels. Complacency, self-satisfaction and failure to evolve doom once-thriving businesses to eventual extinction.

Entrepreneurs, says Inc., don't want to gain a skill and then live a routine. Every new skill, every new success - indeed, every new failure - drive small-business owners to keep learning, to keep striving, to keep improving.

Perfection isn't a goal, it's the road to perfection that's the goal. But even the most talented, dedicated Texas entrepreneur can't predict when the next economic downturn will come, when the next market disruption will occur. It's being able to take advantage of these times that can help a small business thrive when others falter.

Have a plan

In an article in the Dallas Morning News, Reid Rasmussen, founder and CEO of a McKinney-based health-care service, talked about ways to thrive during a market disruption.

First, identify something that affects many people. If at affects at least 10 percent of a population base, it's likely there are business opportunities embedded in the changes that are inevitable.

Second, identify companies or industries that have been hit the hardest. Look at the people and businesses that will be under the most stress. For the Texas entrepreneur, this is a chance to show a new, better way of doing business. Every closed door brings an opportunity to open a new one.

Third, identify the sweet spots of high demand. Just having a better way of doing business isn't enough. The Texas small-business owner should build a business plan that takes advantage of high-demand sectors. Rasmussen encourages owners to test their business concept on at least 12 potential customers to validate their approach.

Embrace failure

No one who takes the plunge into the business world wants his company to fail. But it's rare the business that is birthed fully formed and successful for the long term.

Dilbert creator Scott Adams didn't just start drawing his iconic office-based comic strip one day to immediate success. As he wrote in The Wall Street Journal, he toiled away for years before Dilbert came to fruition, including working eight years in banking.

Adams says he failed at a long series of day jobs and entrepreneurial adventures. From one failure, he learned that good ideas have no value because the world is full of them. The market rewards execution, he wrote, not ideas. From then on, he focused on ideas he could execute.

During his banking career, Adams also declined an offer to be the bank's senior vice president's gopher/assistant. By turning down the offer, he learned useful business and banking skills that he wouldn't have learned otherwise.

He also invested - heavily - in Webvan, a mobile grocery delivery business. Of course, it failed.

And that's OK; in fact, better than OK - nearly perfect. Because as an entrepreneur, it's great to be, as Adams put it, "steeped to your eyebrows in failure." Failure is where success likes to hide in plain sight, and everything the small-business entrepreneur wants is in that bubbling pot of failure. The trick, he wrote, is to get the good stuff out.

If you have questions about protecting your family-owned Texas business or related issues, contact our office for a consultation.

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