Regardless of your work experience, starting a new business is like stepping into the unknown. While many have gone before you, no one can really predict how your journey will end. Take my own story – I built an award winning events business ten years ago. Then I lost it all virtually overnight when my now ex-husband financially betrayed myself and my family. After this shake-up, I restarted from square one as a marketing and business development consultant, and have since worked across small and large corporates alike in addition to developing my own social assistance organisation. The demands and challenges that I have encountered across the course of my work life has shown me that there is no definitive formula for “making it” on your own. But there are 7 key steps that give you a darn good shot.
Step 1 – Stick to your knitting
When starting your own business, it is vital to be aware of your weaknesses as well as your strengths. You would never ask a painter to take care of the plumbing on a construction site. Why persist with trying to build your own website when you have no idea what a “widget” or a “slider” is? Attempting to do it all will only result in wasted time and sub-standard quality. Instead, outsource the tasks that you don’t really understand. Stay true to what you know and surround yourself with people who make up for the skills you lack. A business starts with a single vision, butneeds a well-rounded team to become a success.
To be successful, you need clients. To attract clients, you need appeal. To take clients away from your competitors, you need their trust. And the best way to build trust is by leading with generosity. Whether you are selling products, services or a hybrid of each, there is always something you can offer your market for free. Perhaps it is an eBook, a discount voucher, or even a competition. I have always respected organisations that lead with generosity. I think it shows class, honesty and a true respect for their clients. Most importantly, it demonstrates that they are transparent about their offerings, and committed to providing high quality products and services. Make customers an offer where they have nothing to lose. Trust me, they can’t refuse.
Step 3 – Choose your investors wisely
Bringing an investor on board is a simple way to fast-track your business. But this short term gain is not always worth it in the long run. When another party is brought into the mix, your authority over your vision is compromised. Their investment of capital usually translates to partial control over business direction – even if this isn’t the initial agreement. Things may get hairy down the track when you and your investor disagree on a new path, or if you business it is taking longer than expected to generate profit. Conflict and business are never a good mix. Before accepting investors, ensure that the money will make a genuine difference to your potential for long term growth. If you know that you can do it on your own in a time frame that you are happy with, it’s best to keep flying solo.
Too many new businesses make the mistake of creating a pile of products that are designed for every man and his dog. They follow the logic that pleasing everyone will increase product appeal. Nine times out of ten, starting big will bring your business unstuck for 2 reasons:
- When people invest in a product or service, they look for a reflection of themselves or who they want to be. Your offering needs to have character and personality – they need to support a certain type of identity. Nobody will connect with a service or product that is marketed toward everyone.
- Quantity usually comes at the cost of quality. The more products you have, the less energy you devote to perfecting each. Three strong offerings will serve you better than ten mediocre products.
Understand your target market. Find your strength. Perfect your foundation products. THEN expand.
When you first start out, you can practically taste success. You are pumped full of enthusiasm and will happily spend late nights and early mornings working. In fact, it doesn’t really feel like work at all. But this level of energy can’t last. Many new business owners experience a dip in enthusiasm after the excitement of launch is over. The financial and emotional pressures that accompany running your own business can bring you crashing back to Earth. All of a sudden, the goal you could touch can seem utterly out of reach. I’ve done all of this work, and I’ve only made it THIS far? Remember, just as success seemed like an inevitability in the beginning, this period of self-doubt and dejection is ultimately the result of your perspective – not grounded in truth. Invest time in self-care, and give yourself the chance to reenergise and revitalise. Soon, you will again see your business future with positivity and possibility. Your goals will again feel within your grasp.
Step 6 – Commit and get started
Nothing is impossible – but nobody is going to do the hard work for you either. Don’t waste time waiting for the right moment to launch your business or take the plunge. It doesn’t exist. The only difference between the success stories and your own is that you are just getting started. Commit to your vision, then make it happen.
About Julie Rainbow
Julie Rainbow is the full-time Director of Clarity Road, a part-time business and marketing pro and spare-time Zumba dancer. In another life, Julie was the General Manager of a global IT company and serial meeting-a-holic. After starting her life from scratch almost a decade ago, Julie’s passion now lies in helping other women through life changing events like her own. www.clarityroad.com.au