Build a Successful Business in Four Key Steps
There are many excuses made by business owners who fail to build a successful business:
• Not enough capital
• Too much competition
• Hard to find good employees
• Internet competitors
And the big favorite…
• The economy
However in reality – the two most prevalent, valid causes of business failure are:
1. The business owners are unclear about their goals, or have lost sight of the goals they set when they first started the business
2. The business owners don’t really know what is going on in their business
We used to be surprised at the “deer-in-the-headlights” stare when we ask business owners why they chose the business they are in. After some thought, many say that they wanted the freedom that owning your own successful business brings. For others it is primarily the financial reward they were looking for. But too often the reality is that what they ended up with is a situation that finds them working incredibly long hours for very little return, and a feeling of being trapped in a job rather than owning a business. Like little hamsters on a wheel, they run faster and faster and yet seem to go nowhere.
Not knowing what’s going on in the business is extremely common. When you’re not keeping track of your KPI’s (key performance indicators), you can’t even begin to manage the growth of your business.
• How many prospects you have to connect with to get enough into your sales funnel.
• Getting the right percentage of those to actually buy from you.
• Having enough of them become loyal repeat clients that also generate an acceptable amount of referral business for you.
If you don’t have a strategic plan in place to make all of that happen, you’re likely to end up a statistic in the business failure rate.
STEP NUMBER ONE – Know Where You Are Now
It sounds simple, but you must ALWAYS know where you’re at in your business. You need to be able to identify your strengths and weaknesses, know when you need help, and have the courage and conviction to get it. You have to know how much money you have, and how long it will last. In short, you have to be intimately aware of your current reality rather than getting trapped in the belief that it’s magically going to get better when the economy improves.
STEP NUMBER TWO – Know Where You’re Going
Again, many small business owners (in fact, MOST of them based on our experience) are in business as a result of habit rather than a clearly defined plan. Can you imagine a potential Olympic athlete who approaches their opportunity on the world stage with the mindset – ‘if I show up at training a few times I could win a race, and then possibly get picked for the team, and maybe win an Olympic Gold Medal’? As we all know, an Olympic athlete requires far greater dedication than that to achieve greatness. Well, so do business owners if they are going to be successful and build the business they set out to create. That being said, it’s important to realize that the task of obtaining your ‘gold medal’ may seem overwhelming. So, like an Olympic athlete, you have to break down the big picture into manageable chunks so you not only know where you’re going, but can also see how far you have come.
STEP NUMBER THREE – Let The World Know You’re Here
So you know where you are, and you know where you’re going. Now you need to let your buying universe know you’re here. You need to get customers buying your products or services, but do you know who these people are and where you’re going to find them? Sadly, many business owners work on the ‘Field of Dreams’ mentality (“If you build it they will come”) and while there may be a little truth in that belief, the reality is that it’s going to require that ‘they’ show up and buy a lot faster than your bank account will allow you to wait.
“Word of mouth” and “referrals” are not marketing strategies; rather they are the by-products of an effective one. A business owner’s overall marketing strategy has to combine decisions about who the people are that are most likely to buy what you sell, what these potential customers expect in terms of quality, service and price, and how and where you can most effectively communicate with your target audience. Most of all, business owner’s need to be acutely aware of what needs of their potential customers are well served by the product or service they sell.
STEP NUMBER FOUR – Manage For Success
Fact: Most business owners are too busy managing to avoid failure rather than managing for success.
What’s the difference?
Managing to avoid failure results in knee jerk reactions to financial pressures, operational issues and competition. Managing for success means constantly knowing what MUST happen in order for the business to grow and thrive. It requires pro-active attention to operational metrics and KPI’s, and constantly tweaking the strategies that are not resulting in effective and efficient growth of the business.
Obviously, specific aspects of what applies to each individual business will vary however there are common elements to all business types that ultimately determine success or failure. Having clear goals, strategies, policies and procedures, providing effective training for operational and sales staff, and never losing sight of the goals that were set when the business was started are all critical components of success. Only with attention to key areas of performance can a business owner expect to avoid getting trapped on the hamster wheel.
For more information or to discuss your particular needs in this area with an
expert business coach, please contact me to schedule a complimentary initial
telephone consultation where we’ll provide a customized
12-point growth plan for your business.
Breakout Consulting, LLC
Dearborn, MI ∙ San Diego, CA