5 Tips for Making Your New Business More Robust

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Starting a new business is always going to be a daunting thing to do – and not least of all because of the fact that an enormous proportion of new start-ups fail, within a relatively short timeframe.

Of course, it’s important to realise that setting yourself up as an entrepreneur isn’t, generally speaking, a “one-shot” kind of a deal. If you’re anything like the majority of today’s leading business figures who started as ambitious entrepreneurs, a certain amount of failure, followed by periods of time spent back at the drawing board, is part of the process.

Nonetheless, there are certainly things that you can do to help make your new business more robust, and to reduce the chances that it will fail.

Here are a few tips for making your new business more robust.

  1. Have backup systems in place

When you are setting up your business, you should make every effort to structure it so that it has backups and contingencies built in, and can operate in a largely self-sufficient way, if all else fails.

One of the major benefits of having a web-based business, is precisely that you will often have much lower overheads, and will be able to manage more “in-house.”

Of course, however, “backup systems” can take many different forms, depending on the specific nature of your business. It might be that installing rainwater tanks on your premises, or having your own backup generator, might be the key to ensuring that you can “keep the lights on” (maybe literally) if and when there’s a hiccup, and you get let down by companies and services who you would otherwise be dependent on.

As a general rule of thumb, the less you have to rely on other people and their good graces in order to run your own operation, the more resilient your business will be, and the more likely it will be to still be standing once the storms have passed.

  1. Try to formulate your business so that it is “light” and “manoeuvrable”

The author Nassim Nicholas Taleb is well known for his insightful books on uncertainty, probability, and the outsized impact of unforeseen events on structures and systems.

One of his key observations has been that certain systems are “fragile,” others are “resilient,” and some are what he calls “anti-fragile.”

A feature of a fragile system is that it is destroyed when adversity and the unexpected manifest themselves. Robust systems, on the other hand, are able to withstand some punishment, absorb the damage, and stay standing – but will not be any better off as a result of the event.

Anti-fragile systems, on the other hand, are systems that actually benefit from uncertainty and adversity, and become stronger as a result of it. Taleb uses the example of the Hydra from Greek mythology to illustrate this concept – the Hydra being a many-headed monster that would grow two new heads for each one cut off.

You’re not necessarily going to be able to structure your business in a way that would make it as “anti-fragile” as the Hydra. But, if you can formulate and structure it in a way that is “light” and “manoeuvrable,” there’s a good chance that it will be able to adjust quickly to a lot of unexpected and potentially unfavourable conditions, that might sink more sluggish companies.

Among other things, you can take steps to make your company lighter and more manoeuvrable by running your operation in as spartan and efficient a manner as possible, while also relying on as few complex systems and tools as possible.

The faster you can react to unforeseen circumstances, the higher the probability that you will be able to run your company in an “anti-fragile” way, where new hurdles can mean new opportunities, rather than stumbling blocks.

  1. Put in the work

Much gets written and said about the importance of “working smart” as opposed to just “working hard.”

This is, of course, an important point to make. But, being creative and efficient in how you run your business doesn’t in any way mean that you can slack off, cut corners, and avoid actually doing the hard work, all the same.

It’s pretty much an axiomatic rule that cutting corners makes your business more vulnerable, and increases the chances that something will go wrong, and that you won’t be able to compensate appropriately.

Instead of allowing this to happen, be sure to do your due diligence, and put in as much work as is necessary to ensure that the systems you do rely on are as robust and well thought out as possible, and aren’t just “hacked together” in a way that might cause trouble down the line.

  1. Focus on only one or two core elements of the business at any given time

When you try to do too many things with your business, it is inevitable that you will spread your resources too thinly, and it’s very likely that your business will therefore “fizzle out” instead of moving from strength to strength.

By focusing on one or two core elements of the business at any given time, you significantly increase the odds that you will be able to make significant improvements in those areas, and carry those forward.

  1. Gather feedback continuously, and adjust course before issues become overwhelming

Generally speaking, a business’s ability to withstand adversity and continue on a path of growth and prosperity, is highly dependent on the ability of the business to adapt and alter itself through numerous iterations, based on customer demand and events in the broader market and society.

To ensure that your business is able to do this, you should be very careful to gather feedback continuously from your customers and clients, and to constantly be on the lookout for ways in which that feedback can be used to generate new and better ways of doing things.

You know the old saying – “the customer is always right.”

If you regularly get a huge amount of feedback complaining about a particular feature in a product or service of yours, and you then choose to ignore that feedback, you are choosing to keep your company rigid and brittle.

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