07 Feb, 2013
DO IT! OR DITCH IT – Fall In For Business Success – Bev James
Planning to set up in business is invigorating; but starting up can be slowed down by concerns about the concept or anxiety about the risks involved.
My work as a leadership coach and business mentor have shown me time and again that if the business plan is sound and the start-up finance is in place (and managed wisely) only 20% of business success is down to having the right concept – the other 80% is to do with personal resilience and developing a mindset for success.
I have worked with a number of Olympic athletes who want to set up their own businesses when their years of competing come to an end. My role is to help them to plan their business strategy and to help them to appreciate their transferable skills. It is easy to see why they have achieved incredible success.
Their motivation is tangible. They don’t just know how to compete in a certain sport, they know why they compete. They are team players whose focus is fixed firmly upon the goal.
Those who have served in the armed forces share similar characteristics. They too display determination and self-discipline. They also the ability to perform under pressure.
Achieving what you set out to do has been a primary motivator. These are the character traits for success and are the ideal skills for adjusting to the world of business and entrepreneurship.
The people who stay ahead of the game and who get the furthest ahead in business are those who allow themselves no room for self-indulgence or excuses. They have a plan, they keep to the plan; they know their strengths and delegate the tasks they are not very good at, or dislike.
They stay focused on doing whatever is needed to achieve and surpass their goals. The best are also team players who know how to direct without dictating – and develop the ability to play to people’s strengths.
But there is another factor to bear in mind when running a small business – the willingness to ask for help and to listen to advice on matters where your skill level may be low. This can be the tougher skill to learn – but is the one that will be the most beneficial to those who are serious about success.
Following are my top tips for getting started – and deciding whether you are ready to DO IT! or DITCH IT.
1 Do it! Do your market research
Too many start-ups spend too much time developing the product or service and not enough time planning how to take it to market and how to sell it. Make sure your business idea is a calculated risk, not a foolhardy gamble. Never make assumptions about your customers, competitors or pricing.
Know your customer profile and make sure everything you do is aligned with targeting that market.
2 Do it! Expect the best – plan for the worst
A commercially sound plan is an essential roadmap for success. A common mistake is to over-estimate the number of customers or level of revenue in the first year of trading. A useful strategy is to start (very) small and grow gradually.
That way you can test results and adapt your approach or pricing if necessary. Test and measure all the way.
3 Do it! Find a business mentor
Working with a professional business mentor to jump-start your skills will put you in a position of strength. It can be hard to ask for advice if you are used to being self-reliant. But if you take good advice in advance, you are less likely to have to learn from expensive mistakes.
4 Do it! Believe in your idea 100%
Only dedicate time and energy to developing your business idea if you feel passionate about it. Belief is what keeps you going when the going gets tough – and inspires others to follow you.
5 Do it! Create a business presence
Having a social media presence via networking sites is now as important as having a professional website or being in the right location. A professional profile that is appropriate for your customer base will help to get you noticed.
Without one you will have to work harder to get recommendations and market your company. But always keep your business and social sites separate. Businesses that provide a confidential service can still create a presence that entertains or focuses on company values, without giving anything away.
6 Do it! Be prepared to sell, sell, sell
Until you have customers you don’t have a business. To build a sustainable business you need to tell as many people as possible that you exist and to keep communicating your business message as clearly as you can – and ask them to be proactive about recommending you too. Selling and success go hand in hand.
Forces personnel have access to a great network of people, so start with who you know – and work out from there.
7 Do it! Set personal goals – and stick to them
Maintaining momentum and self-motivation can be the hardest things to achieve in business – especially if you are a sole trader or used to the camaraderie of a larger team. Set yourself tasks and challenges. Schedule your time. Know your objectives – and follow up promptly.
8 Do it! Get Profit and Loss savvy
Look at your costs; look at your prices; set them properly and view your business as a business. Ask yourself: What are my running costs? How much do I need to earn per year? How much do I need to allow for tax and insurance?
‘How much profit do I need to make – per year, per month, per week – to make this work? Do the figures add up? What is the turnover likely to be? What’s the profit margin? The better organised you can be from the outset – the stronger your business will become.
9 Do it! Manage your cashflow
Manage your finances as if your business life depended on it – because it does. Cashflow problems are a serious threat to all businesses. Ask yourself:
- Do the books balance?
- Are invoices going out promptly?
- Have I factored in all the bills that have to be paid?
- Have I taken account of seasonal variations?
- Am I keeping track of the paperwork and thinking far enough ahead?
10 Do it! Ditch the excuses
Many people talk about their dreams instead of taking action. Ideas lose their momentum while we procrastinate. Ask yourself what first step will take you closer to reaching your goal – and Do it! today.