The new year is fast approaching and perhaps you’re thinking that you want to become a business owner in the new year. If that’s the case, you will want to not only put together a business plan, but you will want to determine whether you’ve got what it takes to lead. Not everyone who has entrepreneurial drive has the skills to be a leader.
Whether you’re a solopreneur or are leading a small cadre of employees or contractors, you will need to answer the question of, “Do I have what it takes to lead” before you leave your day job.
Consider these qualities and determine whether you fit the bill. (Remember, that leadership and business skills can be taught by working with a business coach):
- Could you share your professional value and your expertise with others? Either verbally or on paper? If you’re a business owner and need to lead, you need to be able to articulate your vision.
- Do you have the skill to look at a problem and determine where your solution aka expertise will fit in and solve the problem?
- Many a great business idea has fallen by the wayside because its creator didn’t have follow through. Do you have the follow through to cope with disappointments and downsides of being a business owner? The ability to get up and dust yourself off after a failure?
Are you looking to become a business owner in 2015? If you’re not sure where to begin, give our office a call and we can walk you through the start up process.
Business owners — whether you’re a new entrepreneur or have been in business for decades — still need to spend time marketing themselves and their businesses in order to achieve growth and success.
Here are our top three business building steps:
- Word of mouth and credibility will take you a long way. New entrepreneurs will need to work to prove credibility and this can be done by consistently performing at high levels of service.
- Once you’ve signed a client to a contract, the work isn’t over, it’s just beginning. You need to be available to your clients and responsive to their needs and concerns. You also need to be visible at networking events, volunteer organizations and other places in which you can network with others to grow your business.
- Share your expertise and skills. How can you do this? By blogging. By being on a board or a member of a group in which your talents will shine through. It is your unique expertise and the knowledge that you bring to the services you offer that set you apart.
Being a business owner is only the first step in the process of success. Continuing to network and market yourself and to continue keep up with trends in your industry are crucial.
In order to make the most of your business coaching session, you should take steps to prepare for it so that the time you spend with your coach can be beneficial and help you walk away with a plan in place to grow your business.
Here are the five steps we believe should occur during the course of a coaching relationship:
- Be clear in the goals you hope to achieve in your coaching session. Do you want to find a work/life balance? Bring in more clients? Make a conscious decision to expand your organization? What outcomes are you ultimately seeking from your coaching relationship?
- Once you have honed in on a measurable goal your coach will work with you to put a time frame into attaining that goal. Once you have a time frame, you will need to “work backwards” to break the large goal into smaller, measurable steps.
- Your coach will hold you accountable for the goals you’ve set and the time frames under which you want to meet them. He will walk you through specific tasks you will likely need to complete in order to achieve them.
- You and your coach need to acknowledge the goals you have set for yourself. Both of you will talk through roadblocks or mini-setbacks you may have — and you should be prepared for them and look at them as learning opportunities.
- Celebrate your successes! Once you reach a milestone in your goals or complete a major portion of a task pat yourself on the back. If you’re struggling to get over a hurdle, celebrate when you clear it!
Coaching is a two way street with the client (you) knowing you need assistance reaching that next level in your business and having that outside source (your coach) showing you ways to reach them!
Is there a magic formula for achieving goals? We believe that while there is no magic formula, there are specific steps that business owners can take to help them attain the goals they have set for their businesses.
These steps include:
- Setting goals that are time sensitive and deadline oriented. Rather than setting a goal to “get more clients in 2014” set a goal such as, “get new clients a month in 2014.” This goal means you have made it time sensitive and deadline oriented. Having a measurable goal brings it into focus.
- Set a goal that “forces” you to persevere. Goals that are too easy don’t challenge you as a business owner and will not push you toward greater heights of success. While you don’t want to set goals that are continually unattainable, you do want to set goals that make you work to achieve them!
- Finally set a goal that showcases your expertise and helps you achieve the measures of success you’d set for yourself at the beginning of the year. Setting a goal to “clean off your desk” isn’t helping your business grow. But setting a goal to “increase revenues by 25% by year’s end” pushes you toward success.
What steps do you take to achieve your business goals?
When you took on the role of entrepreneur you took on a lot of responsibility, not the least of which is the leadership of a company. If you’re like most business owners, you will want to grow your company from a one man show into a flourishing enterprise.
In order to make that happen, you, as the business owner need to stand for something. What you stand for — and it could be part of your mission and vision statement — will be guiding principles of your business. Leaders impact every aspect of a business and you need to be a person to whom your staff can come and know the answers you give are based on the company’s guiding principles, not given on a whim.
What makes up the traits of a business owner who stands for something:
- You choose to follow your mission and vision statement as the way you run your business and make your decisions.
- Your clients and employees trust you because you are true to your word and make decisions based on fact not emotion.
- Your personality and vision attracts like-minded people and your clients appreciate your ethics.
True leaders don’t look at themselves and think, “this is how I will rule!” They look at theirs as a role of responsibility that leads to meeting the needs of clients and employees.
What do you stand for?
Whether you’ve been in business for decades, a month or a year, there are times you need to step back and measure the metrics of your success. These metrics are different for every business industry, but there are five ways to breathe new life back into your business and get you back on track or assure that you are right on track. They can be as simple as following these five steps:
- Review your business vision. Why did you get into business in the first place? Whom did you want to serve and are you fulfilling those goals?
- What is the mission for your business? This can be gauged in both dollars and customers. Are you meeting the mission you set forth when you opened your doors?
- What is your purpose for being in business? To change the world? To make money? To create a better widget than the manufacturer down the street? Whatever your purpose for having become an entrepreneur, it’s useful to revisit that at least annually.
- What goals did you want to meet? Have you met those goals? Are there reasons or roadblocks that have prevented you from achieving the goals? Did you set goals that were so lofty they seem unattainable? If that’s the case, you will want to step back and break the goal into smaller, more manageable goals.
- What timelines have you set for yourself and your business growth? Are you meeting the timelines? Keep in mind that timelines may be both financial as well as physical growth of the company.
Take an hour or two and pull out your business plan and see if you’re on track. If you need help determining this information or don’t have a business plan, give us a call and we can get you back on track!
Entrepreneurs know they should have a business plan when they move into business ownership; some do, some don’t. Regardless of whether you have a formalized business plan in your office and refer to it on a regular basis you may still want to keep a journal of the process. We’re not talking about a “Dear Diary” type process, but one in which you make note of how you got where you are in the business process and where you hope to end up.
There are three items you can make note of and track in your business journal:
- Entrepreneurs with a business plan already have a formal, this-is-how-we-do-things, but a business journal is a place where you can jot down various new ideas that may pop into your head — a new process or service to offer, new way to market for clients, random thoughts on how a service can be tweaked or revised. This is a place for business dreams.
- Use your journal as a place to reflect — whether it’s on the day just past, a week in review or a conversation with a potential client that didn’t come to fruition. This is a place where you can jot notes and review what you might do differently. The business journal is a place where you can congratulate yourself on a job well done.
- Planning for the future. Before you put your next steps into your formal business plan, use the business journal as a place to plan for future services to be offered, ways to grow the business, changes you may need to make in staffing, etc. Because you’re not reworking your formal business plan, your thoughts are more free to flow as you uncover new paths for your business to follow.
Do you have a dedicated place in which to jot down random thoughts that pop up during the course of your business day and your client interactions? You should!
When it comes to marketing we find that many of our clients have a “scatter shot” approach, they simply aren’t targeting on a specific bulls eye but are sending out messages “everywhere” hoping that something will hit the target. This is no the way to go.
Here are some steps you should implement to make your marketing efforts, and your marketing dollars, make sense:
- What is your brand and how are you using it? Do you have a logo that you use consistently? Are there specific keywords that you want your brand associated with? If so, are they being used in your marketing messages? Your brand, bottom line, is your company image, its mission and vision statement and you and it must be authentic in all of your dealings.
- Do you have a strategy in place for your marketing? Strategy involves understanding where your clients congregate and putting plans in place to reach them there whether that’s through newspaper or radio advertising, attending networking events, visiting LinkedIn or Facebook or both or even having a robust Twitter presence. You can’t strategically market unless you know where your target audience is.
- Planning and implementation of that plan go hand in hand. Once you have a strategy, you then need to plan how you will actually market. Your plan could include, “posting to social media sites five days a week” and then to implement it you need to have a person dedicated to making it happen.
If your company needs assistance implementing a marketing strategy give our consultants a call.
We’ve all heard the saying that, “failure is not an option.” As business owners though, we know, that in order to succeed there are times when you simply have to fail. Why? If you’re not pushing your business’s limits and your own personal boundaries of growth, you will remain in a safe, but likely stagnant, place.
Fear of failure holds many business owners back from making that next leap whether it’s hiring their first employee or opening a second store front or offering a new service or product. If you don’t try you will never know whether your idea would have borne fruit.
How can you embrace the idea of failure? Here are our thoughts because we feel that the fear of failing will negatively impact your potential by:
- Not expanding your growth and learning potential. If you don’t fail and don’t learn from your mistakes you will never grow.
- Fear of failure could mean you don’t achieve the successes that you should. You need to push yourself and your business and that may mean taking risks.
- You could be missing out on opportunities if you hesitate and are too cautious in trying new ventures.
As a business owner you can either take actions and keep your business moving forward and experiencing growth or you can watch your competition as it makes those leaps into the unknown.
What “fear of failure” practice is holding you back?