The Dream is Over
2018 is poised to present amazing opportunities for those who are willing to play it smart. As many of you have made renewed commitments to your New Year’s Resolutions, some of you may have decided that it is time to start your own business. If this is the case, let’s me begin by congratulating you on your decision to take the plunge.
Now the dream is over and the launch begins. Buckle in, it’s going to be a wild ride. Statistically speaking, you have less than a 1 in 8 chance of making it past the first year. Since the onset of the digital revolution, we are seeing new businesses come and go faster than a speeding bullet. While many businesses fail within the first 12 months, we usually know if a business is going to make it in the initial 6 months of opening its doors. Having been involved with countless business start-ups since 2007, our team knows a thing or two about what makes a business succeed initially.
With this in mind, here are a few suggestions we would like to share with you as you begin your journey:
Know Thy Customer
Chances are you already know something about the business you are getting in to. Most of our client’s are current customers of the industry they are starting a business in and would like to build a better mousetrap. This is a great jumping-off point but we would like to caution you against losing sight of what your customer really wants. Sure, you currently know what your clientele needs, but “wants” and “wishes” change very quickly, especially in the digital age. Understanding how your customers change their minds and how quickly trends in your industry change are a key-component in your business’s success. Pay close attention to how your customers interact with you and never stop asking how you can do a better job.
If you think you know everything there is to know, please do yourself a favor and return to your day job. Owning your own business is a humbling experience. Some of our most successful clients have used mentors to achieve their dreams. Our recommendation here is actually quite simple. Find local successful, retired business owners who are willing to sit with you and discuss your challenges. We have found some of our best mentors at local community service organizations such as Rotary International. If you are in a major metropolitan area, find the closest Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and get information about their individual programs. Here in Orlando, there are several programs we specifically like.
Test, Test, Test What You Believe
You are probably in this business because you have a bit of experience in it. Thus you believe you know how everything should be. We challenge you to stress-test your beliefs. Look at companies within the same industry who are successful, then find companies who have failed. Try to figure out the differentiators of these sets of companies. All too often precedent exists. In our agency, we often recommend for new clients to run simple paid ad campaigns on AdWords or even Facebook to test an idea. Once we have proven the concept, then it makes sense to invest in a longer-term strategy such as SEO.
People on The Bus
In Jim Collin’s book From Good to Great an analogy is made that a business is like a bus with many seats. Each seat represents a specific task and is occupied by a specific person. As the business grows, more people get on the bus. Some people get off the bus; others move from one seat to another. The whole point of the analogy is to understand that the success of the company largely depends on having the right people in the organization. Jim Collins goes on to state: “First Who, then What”, meaning that the type of people on your team are ultimately more important for the success of your company, than the product or service you are going to offer. Make absolutely certain that you have the right people with you, even if it comes at the price of slowing growth until you have the right team assembled.
Nothing will prove your concept faster than sales. Sure, you want to assure that you have a solid product or service, but all too often we see companies trying to perfect their product before launch. We have found that some of our most successful clients try to sell early. They do this to fine-tune their value proposition and hone their sales discipline. They also know that true customer feedback happens when a customer has actually purchased your product/service because the purchase entitles them to an expectation.
Learn & Implement
In the beginning you may only be focused on making the company profitable. Thus your biggest concern is revenue generation and expense reduction. Unfortunately, as you grow, your most valuable commodity becomes time. A good business owner is involved and works in the business. A great business owner is involved and works on the business. This may be a very subtle distinction, but we have seen time and time again, those business owners who are able to make the time to learn and implement new strategies are true entrepreneurs. The business owners who stay in the business end up becoming slaves to their own organization eventually being nothing more than an employee in a company they also happen to own. Ultimately, those organizations will only grow to the sole capacity of its owner. Thus, you must be a thief, a thief of time. Steal time from other projects and allocate it to learning and implementation of those things that will make your company great.
Now for the most exciting part, if you think you just mastered the hardest part of your business venture, let me burst that bubble for you up front. The hardest part you’ll ever face in your organization is scale. Scaling a business from a successful start-up into a process-based growth machine is going to take more tenacity than you have ever needed before. We were interviewed for an article in Entrepreneur Magazine on the topic of scale. Our findings on the topic convinced us that it is probably one of the hardest things to conquer as a small business owner.
For more information how we can help you with your business, feel free to reach out and speak to one of our amazing team members.