Part 3: Follow These Steps, or Risk Failure
You’ve quit from your job and you’ve made provision for the dry months ahead! Now you are ready to run and run you must, but not so fast. This stage also has its own processes that need to be taken into account.
Before you start operating your business, you must draw up a business plan. Yes, that long involving document that a lot of people think is a waste of time! I have come across way too many entrepreneurs who do not have this guiding document and often times you can tell when they don’t. This is how you can tell someone never invested anytime in writing his or her business plan:
- Their understanding of the market they operate in is very limited and very presumptuous.
- They may know who their competitors are, but they do not understand how they can gain competitive advantage over them.
- The way they deal with the little money in their disposal: no monthly cash budgets and no reconciliations.
- Sometimes they price out of emotion, meaning their pricing is based on how THEY feel about their product/service and not necessarily based on market evaluations.
- Ask them where they see the business in a years’ time and “we’ll see where it takes us” is a standard response.
Just like any big project you undertake and prepare for, you must do the same for your business and a business plan is the best way to do so. Part of my work as an InnerLifeSkills® Master coach is to advocate for a more nuanced process of business planning. This process that I use not only brings out the technical components of the plan but it also ensures that you see your vision for the business as an extension of yourself. Starting a business is a dream come true for many, and surely YOUR dream needs to have YOU written all over it! Many of you would know that I am against the outsourcing of this part to third parties (please read my previous blog: Who’s Doing the Planning for Your Start-up?) simply because you lose ownership from the get-go and when the going gets tough, it’s a lot easier to throw in the towel; it is someone else’s articulation of your dream after all.
The process I take my clients through is called the InnerLifeSkills® 7 Step Dream builder. Below are the areas we delve into to define your business dream and what it will offer to the world:
This process is concerned with fully understanding who you are l and translating that into your business dream. Understanding that the marketing power for your brand lies in the ownership of your identity is key in this step. “If you do not know who you are, how can you know what to do?”- Colleen-Joy (who she?)
Now that you know who you are, you must now build a vision of what you want to do with your business. Here we are concerned with creating vision statements that speak to the impact and reach your business will have.
How do you effectively communicate your identity and vision to the world? We all know that the test of the great communicator is on how well they listen. Before you speak, listen. Before you answer, always ask. Through this process you will identify your target markets and what their pain is and how YOUR solution makes the pain go away.
- Forming Relationships
In my last vlog, I speak about the importance of purposeful partnerships and collaborations for the realization of your vision. As Suze Orman put it, “Money flows through people. Understand your competitors; model success; build your database and invest time in building relationships”.
- Be an Authentic Leader
True leaders embody their truth in everything that they do. As a business owner you will do well to understand your personal truth and how not to betray it (especially when success comes). Something as simple as understanding what you are offering can do for the market and communicating that truth can be what sets you apart. Often time’s people exaggerate the power of their solutions and this does a disservice not only to them but also to you as the business owner.
- Money! Money!
Without money, your dream cannot see the light of day. You must understand where the money will come from, how often and how it will be spent. Understand money and understand financials…When you do not know where the lifeblood of your dream will come from, your dream is as good as dead. Understand that CASH FLOW is king, for real!
- Ready, Steady and GO!
It is good to run and service the world, but make sure you have systems in place so you are able to sustain the growth momentum. Know who needs to do what for the business to move to the next level and ensure that you adapt and change what is not working as you go along.
When you go through this process, you not only understand yourself and offering, but your market also understands you. You are then in a better position to make a success of your dream. From this process, you will have your business guide that is a fluid document that can help you get to where you want to be, a lot faster!
Note: for a standard business plan template, I recommend using the one from the National Empowerment Fund (NEF).
Check out the fourth article on my series coming next: Transitioning into Entrepreneurship.
Please check out Part 4 on my series: Transitioning into Entrepreneurship.