Small businesses typically take between 2 and 3 years to become financially viable. Once they reach the 7 to 10-year mark, most are not truly successful. Despite the rapid success of Facebook, most small businesses take years before they become profitable. According to Forbes statistics, successful small businesses take years to build.
According to Building Great Businesses, small businesses experience predictable growth rates in their initial years. They are often faced with similar problems and have experienced similar successes. It is important to understand that success may mean different things for different owners.
Below we will look at the first couple of years and discuss what signs of success a small company may find in each.
While year one may be difficult because you are trying to get your startup off of the ground financially, it can also be filled with small successes that lead to rewarding experiences.
Owners have the opportunity to celebrate the success of starting a new company, including incorporating and launching a website. You can also celebrate growing your client list or realizing that your startup can pay your bills are some other great successes in the first year, according to Entrepreneur.
However, these initial successes are not necessarily signs that your business will prosper over the years. However, it does indicate that your business is starting well. Not to be overlooked is the fact that approximately 20% of small businesses fail within their first 12 months. If you make it to year 1, that’s a reason to be proud.
Year two is when your initial successes in year one begin to diminish in the face of cash problems. Your savings may have run out, your credit card may be exhausted, and owners might need to borrow more. This can lead to stress about mounting debt.
This is the year small business owners realize their first customers are not necessarily long-term ones. The truth is that starting a business and maintaining it for the long term are two different things.
The second-year is all about reaching growth milestones. Even small ones. Entrepreneur states that growing your business means you are on the path to building a viable business. You should start to see your client base grow in the second year.
At this point, success may be defined as breaking even or turning a profit. However, it will likely take two to three additional years for a business to become fully profitable and sustainable.
You may now be confident that your business idea is a good one and are ready to continue pushing for its success over the next few decades.
You might also find that success means that your business isn’t sustainable, or that it is impossible to keep up with the demands of running it. This is okay. If closing your company is the right decision, that’s okay. Even for the fastest-growing businesses, a stable long-term business is not a guarantee.
Inc. states that you can succeed in year three if your persistence is not compromised. Figure out which areas of your business can be grown, recruit a solid staff, plan for risk and sharpen your leadership skills. You can also dive into your numbers to find out what clients and products are driving your business’s growth and where you can cut costs.
Year Four +
“Overnight success” refers to a company that is only being discovered after four years. Inc. reports that many overnight success stories have been around for at least 10 years.
A miracle is not a rule of thumb. Small businesses shouldn’t view instant success as a model of growth. It is better to expect lots and little steps back.
These are the indicators of success for small businesses in years four and beyond:
- Sharper brand positioning
- Marketing is effective
- A more efficient management team
- We have refined the process of customer acquisition
- Better product development
- Stronger profit margins
- Finding out what customers want