Make Your Success Inevitable
It’s the dream. You own a business that runs itself. You do the work you like to do, you have time to have hobbies and hang out with family, and you have the money to enjoy it all. I would argue that if these aren’t your goals, you would do a lot better by drafting up your resume and get a job - it’s much less hassle! The payoff for the work of owning your own business should be extreme. Yet, getting out of the day-to-day can be daunting. With this mindset, a business that runs itself is not only possible, it’s inevitable.
Begin with the end in mind
Everything is easier when you know where you are going. By starting with clear goals in mind, you will stay motivated to see it to the end. It’s not that you can’t change your goals as you learn more. As you learn more, you will have a clearer sign of what your goals should be and can adapt them.
Have some fun with it as well. One of my early goals with Avalon was to have a company slow pitch team. Why? It covered lots of things in a simple goal: a large enough company to field a team, time to play, and camaraderie enough that we would choose to spend time together outside of work.
What do you want your business to do for you? Envision the engine that will give you time, money and purpose.
Here’s a goal-setting tip that works for me:
Write out your target income (the end)
Calculate out how big your company will have to be to support that pay
Work backward to see when this will be possible at realistic growth rates
Make this your sales goal
Come up with 3 daily tasks that will help you get closer to that goal
Do those 3 things today, then tomorrow and so on
Focus on your strengths
When you started your business, chances are you were doing everything. This is effective in the beginning as you usually have more time and energy than money. As you approach two years in business, it’s time to take a closer look at what others could do better. And you can free yourself up to do what you do best.
Many people avoid the financial aspects of their business (bookkeeping, tax payments, etc.). This is a logical place for many to start off-loading their responsibilities, but it could be other areas too. You may want to start by hiring a virtual assistant, marketing coordinator or content writer. The point is: don’t try to do it all or you will be a little bit bad at everything. Fill in your gaps with exceptional talent.
This goes for your business too: do not try to be everything to everyone. By focusing on what you do well, you can create systems to deliver awesome results every single time.
Learn to sell (even if it’s not a strength)
Selling should not be a dirty word. If you believe in your product or service, it is your DUTY to sell to people who need what you offer. You can apply this meta-skill to many situations. We are social animals and selling is social. If you are new to the game, buy some Zig Ziglar books and you’ll be off on the right foot.
Adapt or die
You started your business to address some problem you saw in the world. You made a lot of assumptions, many of which turned out to be true (nice job). However, it would be impossible to predict everything. Adapting to the realities and opportunities of the present is critical. Even if it means that you have shifted from your original purpose. Be open to changing your vision.
Don’t put the cart before the horse
Small businesses get into trouble because they try to grow before they have a couple of critical things in place:
A clear understanding of what they sell (solid product/market fit)
A foundation of processes to do what they do (wash, rinse, repeat)
The results of growing before you are ready are brutal. You will be stressed of course, but the failure of an otherwise awesome business can happen because you run out of money and/or gain a bad reputation. In the world of Amazon, people’s expectations of businesses are extremely high. They want it faster and better, so better be ready before broadcasting.
If you can’t build a process for it, you’re probably not very good at it. Get good before you get big.
Step back once in a while
Everyone has heard of the “shower moment”. You are in the shower and all of a sudden, you come up with a solution to a problem that has been bothering you. Two years ago, I had one - I knew I had to fire a client and it just became so clear that this was a huge piece of moving my business forward. I set it in motion that very day and still think back to how pivotal that decision was.
Challenge yourself. Take a day away from your business and reflect.
If you were to start your business again, what would you do differently?
What would it look like if this were easy?
What obstacles are in my way that, if removed, would make my business stronger
How can I improve my business a little bit every day?
Bringing it all together
Businessing is hard. It’s unlikely any of the above is news to you, but what is critical is action. Can you step away from the urgent to attend to the important? Early in business, it’s all urgent - that’s normal. However, if you have been in business longer than 2 years and are still working on 90-100% urgent things, it’s time to take a step back and start building a business that works for you and not the other way around.
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