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If you know the enemy and know yourself, then you need not fear 100 battles – Sun Tzu

So, we wrote before on why Entrepreneurs tend to strive against odds that are stacked against them, and still come out on top (Art0003 – Beating the Odds). While beating the odds may seem impossible, it is actually feasible if steps are undertaken to mitigate potential risks.

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Here are some steps on how you can beat the odds:

Step 1: Research Your Business, Market And Industry Thoroughly

Homework was not only for school entrepreneurs’ have it too. Simply having a novel or unique idea will not suffice in making the business a success. Market knowledge is the lifeblood of any business. Before embarking on a business it is essential that market research is carried out thoroughly and all bases are completely covered. Talk to people with prior experience in the field you are looking towards entering and gain insights from their businesses. Carry out market surveys to see if the market is ready and the conditions are right for your business. By studying the macro view of your industry and the market, you will also be able to identify any shift in trends that could affect your business.

Step 2: Understand your customer, competitors and suppliers well

There is no doubt that the customer always comes first. Talk to potential customers to determine their needs and preferences. Use platforms such as social media to test your idea and verify if people are interested in your business. Next, entrepreneurs also need to be mindful of their competitors. Keep track of what your competitors are doing and think of ways to adapt your business such that it appears different from other businesses available in the market. Also study and talk to your competitors so that you have a better understanding of their position and this will even lay the foundation for a possible partnership in the future where you and your competitors have a similar vision but different niches. Last but not least, the suppliers are important stakeholders that can make or break a business. Sustain an amicable relationship with suppliers. Ensure that you are able to relate and justify your idea to the suppliers. Understand the needs and preferences of the suppliers as their opinions are as important as your ideas.

Step 3: Make your business plan (internal) as detailed as possible; cover as much detail as you can

Nothing beats a robust business plan that has all bases covered. Make sure that you know all the aspects of a business plan. The business plan is essentially a blueprint and therefore it needs to be as thorough and detailed as possible. Carry out the SWOT analysis to help you in crafting your business plan. Constantly add on to your business plan to improve and strengthen it.

Step 4: Be a devils advocate or get someone to be for your business. Cover as many loopholes and disadvantages as you can. And play forward all your strengths to their most.

Constructive criticism will help strengthen the business by pointing out blind spots which can then be rectified. Get your friends and family to be your devil’s advocate and identify the shortcomings in your business. Brace yourself for criticisms and view them in a positive light as areas for improvement. Constantly reflect and ask yourself if you have overlooked any potential pitfall. List out all the possibilities of failure and look for strategies to mitigate any shortcomings. You can never be 100% covered, but the more you are able to protect yourself, the better the chance you have at succeeding.

Use these steps to tear down those walls, and to beat the odds against you. Be ready and prepared to face those challenges head on. 

July 14, 2016
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