Start up, Close down
You only have to walk down the average high street or watch any episode of Dragons’ Den to know that a lot of small businesses just aren’t what they say they are. Sure they’re small, but there is no business. The guy who likes comic books so decides to open a comic book shop. The couple that like antiques so open an antique store. Whilst running a business needs passion, having a passion doesn’t make a business.
Conventional wisdom has it that 50% of small businesses fail within the first year and up to 95% in the subsequent years. And whilst I’m sure this is for a myriad of reasons, I can’t help thinking that a lot of it will be this confusion between enjoying and being interested in something and seeing a really business opportunity. I’ve never run my own business, but I’ve been involved in the start-up of a lot of new channels and operations within large organisations. We only ever did it where we thought knew we could make a return.
When I look at the proliferation of Social Media consultancies within business I think the same. How many of these are in it because they can demonstrate clear blue water between themselves and their competitors? How many of them have developed a genuine USP (Note here: just because you say it is a USP doesn’t necessarily make it one)? How many of them can prove (and I mean prove) ROI? And how many are in it because they find social media cool and fun and they want to mess around with Twitter all day?
I’m not trying to knock anyone here and I am sure there are a whole host of decent individuals and organisations out there doing great things. But based on the amount of emails that I receive each day there seems to be a disproportionate amount of providers to the size of business available. I would never wish ill on anyone following their dream to set up their own business, but I have to wonder how many will still be in place in 2012?