Building a business from ground zero challenging yet rewarding work. Deciding to leave the comfort and security of a 9-to-5 and branch out on your own takes’ courage, determination, and a set of strategic steps in order to ensure that your business stands the test of time.
Quite often, business owners dive into this new work with passion and drive, only to find out that they are quite ill-equipped to handle the ups, downs, and potential pitfalls of small business. Through a series of mistakes, market uncertainties, and not enough capital, they find themselves picking up the pieces of a failed endeavor and wondering where it all went wrong.
They failed to plan strategically. A failure to plan is a plan to fail.
Let’s look at some simple action steps that you can take to ensure the longevity and success of your business, even when the going gets tough.
Action step #1: Get….and then stay….organized. To remain successful in business, you must become organized and commit to that daily as you go about your daily duties. Invest in scheduling software that allows you to set reminders, log appointments, and create “to do” lists so that you can see the steps you need to take in order to keep moving forward. If you are like many business owners, attempting to stay organized and on top of things without a reliable system of support in place is a recipe for disaster; any investment that you make in software or systems to stay organized will pay for themselves in dividends as you blast through tasks.
Action step #2: Keep impeccable records. The most successful businesses keep detailed financial and customer information records. Keeping account of everything earned vs. everything spent will allow you to see what you need to do to increase this gap. Keeping an accurate record of customer transactions allows you to see what is selling, what needs to be revisited, and even how you can serve customers better by examining a history of their transactions, their returns, and their trends over time. Discovering all of this information will help you to more efficiently serve existing customers and attract new ones based on your knowledge of inventory and sales trends.
Action step #3: Analyze the competition. Study and learn from your competitors. What are they doing that is working? What do you do better? What must you do better to rise above the rest? Keep your friends close and cozy up to your market “enemies” to know what strategies you must employ to stay competitive.
Action step #4: Understand risk and reward. With every business decision, there is an element of risk involved. In order to develop and grow your business, you must weigh the risks vs. the rewards gained. There will be some gains, there will be some losses. Overall, as you examine each step, each risk, you will have to determine if any reward gained will be worth a potential loss incurred. Learning the delicate balance of this aspect of the business will keep you moving in a forward direction.
Action step #5: Be creative; think outside the box. Always be looking for ways to stand out from the rest of the crowd. Don’t be afraid to do the unconventional and go the extra mile for clients and vendors alike; your creativity and flexibility will be not only appreciated but remembered as people return to you for your fresh ideas and passion for what you do.
Action step #6: Remain focused, no matter what. Rome was not built in a day, and neither was Apple. Strategic steps and plodding through minute tasks will produce more consistent results than sporadic patterns of work interspersed with leisure time. It will take patience and time to produce consistent results, so don’t get discouraged if you have periods of time when not much seems to be happening. Over time, you will see deliberate and steady growth.
Action step #7: Be okay with sacrifices. You will have to sacrifice money and time when building a business; the initial planning is nothing compared to what happens when you finally open your doors--and your website---to the public. Putting in your time in the beginning to build solid systems of support and structures that work will ensure that you can take some time for yourself and your loved ones in the future.
Action step #8: Commit to superior service. The company that is willing to go the extra mile to connect with clients and provide superior customer service and exceptional products will gain a loyal following. Build your reputation one transaction at a time, following the principles of the Golden Rule in business, and in no time, you’ll have a customer base that gains referrals all by itself via your customers’ rave reviews.
Remember your passion, remember your “why,” and commit yourself to excellence and growth one business decision at a time. In no time, you’ll be at the head of the empire you’ve always dreamed about, and success will be something you keep building on in the future. Here’s to your future success!