Starting a business is risky, but effective entrepreneurs know how to mitigate that risk with due diligence, steadfast focus and unwavering determination. The calculated optimism of these perceptive risk-takers is balanced with a vision and purpose to create products and services that meet real needs and enhance lifestyles.
You need to be in the right frame of mind to start, sustain and scale your business. Not every business owner wants to be the CEO of a mega company with lots of employees; some are content with running a business that is conducive to a lifestyle they envision for themselves and others prefer to start, scale and sell. Whichever scenario you identify with, there are 3 stages you will experience and need to be prepared for
Smart business starts creates traction
To start a business, have a resolute purpose and succinct plan of action. You have to be critically clear about the “who, what, where, how” and most importantly, “why.”
At the core of every start-up is an identified market, addressed need and articulate message. It’s imperative that you know who you are communicating to and speak their language. They need to be able to hear your voice above all other chatter across all mediums. You must be the best at what you do; whether that be in value, price, quality, service, culture, diversity, etc.
Streamline your processes. Tweak. Repeat. Time is of the essence in business. Markets and trends can change quickly. Without a solid foundation, you could easily get left behind, become obsolete or stagnate. Have a solid infrastructure (branding, marketing, organization, client service, technology and financing) and continuously streamline processes for efficiency and agile growth. Early feedback from beta testing and client sampling can be telling and useful for nimble adjustments while you build trust and consistency with your target market.
Think globally, but act locally. With boundaries consistently being broken down with the advances of technology and the Internet, it is easy to overlook what is going on around you. Don’t forget your community is a nucleus of support that can’t be easily replaced with unknown faces.
Sustainable businesses adhere to financial, client and social network fundamentals
Most businesses are lost during the sustainability phase. Under capitalization, stagnation, a disconnect with the client experience and mismanagement of social capital are generally red flags and root causes of business failure.
Financial management is crucial for starting, sustaining and growing a business. When you are getting started, you need to be lean and focus on necessities and essentials. You also need to limit expenses and reinvest in your business to strengthen its core. To sustain your business, you must monitor your metrics and focus on the products and services that generate the best revenue and profit. By eliminating what is ineffective and unproductive, you free up resources needed to expand and enhance that which is working well. How well you manage your finances will determine if you are properly prepared for scale.
Target market needs change all the time for a wide variety of reasons. Clients will always navigate to those who meet their needs the best. Only by transparent communication and nurturing client relationships, can you increase your value and usefulness to them. The more clients you service proficiently, the more leverage you have for customer loyalty and referrals.
Social capital is a practical way to solidify and sustain your business position. Social capital is generated by your ability to not only deepen your network; but utilize your network for its highest and best use. This includes earning trust, cultivating reciprocity, sharing information and developing constructive collaborations. The quality and how you implement your network is more important than its quantity. You can get further, faster when you connect the dots between what you need and who can provide it.
Scalability is determined by value, knowledge and timing
Being vision- and mission-focused, should always be what drives you forward. However, you can’t let passion and excitement override common sense, reality and due diligence. Due diligence mitigates risk. It bears informed decisions.
Developing and advisory board of professionals in a variety of specialties can help you chart an appropriate course for growth and expansion. Your network and advisory board should afford you various access points to the finances you need to grow. This includes funds to hire staff to tend to tasks that allow you to service more clients and focus on revenue generating activities. When entrepreneurs learn how to leverage their time, energy and resources; they can scale their business with nominal margins of error. Knowing when and how to shift your business into the next gear requires prudent decisions.
Start, sustain and scale your business with facts, support and vision. Do the work, holdfast to fundamentals, but be open to change. Manage resources, prepare for opportunities and take conscious risks.
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Simplicity expert and Micro Business Therapist™, A.Michelle Blakeley helps entrepreneurs align their purpose, priorities and principles with their business practices for agile growth. Connect with her on Twitter at @simplicityinc or check out her online magazine, Micro Business Therapy