In addition to the challenges of maintaining passion and excitement for your business, entrepreneurs also face challenging, economic conditions. However, it is a fact that entrepreneurs and small businesses are the cornerstone of a sustainable economy. This fact alone should be an encouragement, but is it enough to keep the passion alive? Probably not, so now that 2014 is off and running, it is the perfect time to ensure you are moving according to plan and keep the passion ignited.
Exactly, how does an entrepreneur or small business owner maintain the PASSION?
P – Plan and Position
A great resource to help re-evaluate your plan is a book by Michael E. Gerber, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Do Not Work and What to Do about It. In this book, Gerber contends that “the problem is that everybody who goes into business is actually three-people in one: The Entrepreneur, The Manager, and The Technician.” Gerber guides the small business owner into a clear understanding of their various roles and how each role is distinctly different but important to the success of the organization. The entrepreneur serves as the visionary, the manager oversees planning and the smaller details that ultimately guide the effectiveness and efficiency of the outcome, and the technician gets the job done. Is your infrastructure designed to maximize each role? Are there areas that can be delegated or outsourced?
Once you have answered these questions, it is a great time to write a one-page business plan if you do not already have one in place. A one-page business plan should include a concise plan for the year. If done appropriately, it will guide a business to success one quarter at a time. It will also encourage clarity on monthly, weekly, and daily planning and tasks. It should include specific themes and marketing strategies for each quarter. It is wise to remember that, typically, marketing strategies take time to work and should be evaluated on a quarterly basis. Always inspect what you expect and make sure systems are in place for consistent follow up and follow through. In addition, effective sales and marketing systems are paramount to the success of the plan but must be supported by strong infrastructure.
A – Attitude
Charles R. Swindoll said, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts… we cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.” What is your attitude toward your business, your clients, and yourself? Does it need a reality check? If so, now is the time. Find the significance in every opportunity even if it appears to be a waste of time but do be mindful of how you invest your time. Embrace change with a can do attitude and constantly monitor your circle of influence. They say you become like the people you are around the most. Attitude can make a huge difference in gaining the trust and confidence of a new client or losing a ton of business because of a poor attitude toward that one client. The news of bad experiences travel much more quickly than pleasant ones.
S – Sound Strategies and Scalable Solutions
Sound strategies create a firm foundation. In his book, Michael E. Gerber stresses the importance of a business implementing the following strategies: Organizational, Management, People, Marketing, and Systems. Now is the time to ensure that your business has these strategies in place. Also, it is important to make certain you are maximizing your team’s talents and investing time and money into cost effective resources.
Developing scalable solutions is another vital area. Scalable solutions are systems that can be expanded as your business expands. For instance, if you invest in specific software, be sure that the software has the capacity to serve more functions as your business grows. It helps to keep this in mind as you are developing, re-evaluating your systems and business model or solving a business challenge. It is a cost saving measure to ensure the systems have the capability of being replicated on a larger scale and the ability to be used for multiple functions.
S – Success-Driven Mindset
As an entrepreneur with a success-driven mindset, making solid decisions and taking action is a daily routine and is critical to the success of the company’s bottom line. A success-driven mindset requires prioritizing and a great work ethic. It requires doing the most important activity right now and finding the opportunity in every obstacle. A business owner with a success-driven mindset also seeks continual education in his or her industry or profession.
I – Inspect and Expect
Again, the one-page business plan is critical to keeping an entrepreneur focused on the activities that directly impact the bottom line. Many business plans are created but the best plans are the ones that are put into action. Pick up your 100 page business plan, dust it off, and create your one-page plan of action. This will help you inspect what you expect. Here are some categories to consider including (bullet point as much as possible):
- Marketing Strategies
- Total Yearly Budget
- Income Projection with concise explanation
- Cost Projection with concise explanation
- Business Model with income streams (products, services, etc.)
- Key Performance Indicator Plan
- Future Income Streams
- Personal Growth Goals (skills you want to improve or credentials you are seeking).
Whether you alter a system or implement a new one, it is vitally important to do periodic inspections to ensure effectiveness. Also, when delegating tasks, it is important to follow up and make sure you have the right people for the right tasks and that the appropriate infrastructure is in place to support the goal.
O – Overdeliver and Underpromise
Superb customer service is guaranteed to keep your pipeline filled. Nothing travels faster than word of mouth and word of mouth can be your greatest ROI (return on investment) because it is FREE. By providing superb customer service, you are telling your customers you appreciate and value their business. One of the main goals of customer service should be to make your customers feel like they are special and that you go beyond the call of duty to fulfill their needs. Great customer service is an ultimate sales tool that is often overlooked and underutilized. If it is not taken seriously, word of mouth can also become your greatest liability. It is also important to refrain from making promises you can not keep. However, communication is key if you are not able to deliver the product or service at the agreed upon time.
N – Network with Impact
The question is not what someone can do for you but what value can you bring to someone else? It is important to manage the investment of time and money when networking or building relationships. Look for organizations where you can develop mutually beneficial relationships, build collaborations, and strategic alliances. Include networking in your one-page business plan because it is a huge discipline and marketing strategy.
After you have identified your networks, what is the next course of action? Determine what you would like to accomplish prior to the event, be sure your business card and elevator speech convey what you offer, identify your uniqueness, and what problem you solve. It is also important to ask your new contacts how you can help them and be specific in telling them what you are looking for. As soon as you receive a business card, record the date, where you met the individual and key reminders. Finally, be sure to follow up within 24 hours. Remember, a new relationship takes time to develop and consistent communication is key.
We can learn from an old Chinese Proverb: “When you hear something, you will forget it; when you see something, you will remember it; but not until you do something, will you understand it.” Act on the information provided, focus on the opportunities and not the challenges, and you will keep the passion in your business and continue to make a difference in our communities and the world.