All businesses are loosely comprised of three components (illustration below). Those components, when fully realized and in harmony, lead to success. The key, and for many the problem, is that they must be in harmony. What do I mean by that? Let’s look:
The first section is YOU. If you are a solo operation then that is where this section ends. If you have a team then this section incorporates your team members as well. Regardless of whether you are an army of one or a legion of many though the critical components here are:
- You have a clear picture of where you are now. You have taken the time to understand your strengths and weaknesses. What you and your team do well and what they need to improve on.
- You have a clear picture of where you are going. You have well defined and well articulated goals. You know what your destination is for the short, mid, and long-term.
- You have a PLAN to get from where you are NOW to where you are GOING. This is the secret that so many miss. Once you have identified where you are now by accurately assessing you (and your team’s!) strengths and weaknesses and once you have taken the time to establish challenging but realistic goals that cover the short, mid, and long-term you NEED to develop a plan to bridge that gap. Identify resources that can help you. Assign team-members specific roles in that growth (or, if you are on your own, prioritize your list and give yourself timelines to accomplish specific steps on your plan).
- Develop systems and processes. The more you can systematize your business the more readily you can scale. Take the time to document things that work (and the things that don’t!) and utilize the basic system that you just created again and again. This will do two things for you:
- It will allow you to see what works and what doesn’t. By doing things the same way you can make tiny adjustments and troubleshoot (test) the results, which allows for incremental improvement. When you don’t do things the same way it is impossible to know what works and what doesn’t, leaving you at the mercy of every business owners least favorite 4-letter word: LUCK!
- If and when you decide to grow and add staff you will have systems and processes in place that will make on-boarding, training, and scaling MUCH easier.
Here is the link to a post I did that covers the “YOU” component of your business: #1 Indicator of Entrepreneurial Success
The second component of your business is your audience/customer. Quite obviously without them this is a hobby and not a business. That probably isn’t news, and yet it shocks me how many of my clients don’t truly UNDERSTAND their customers.
- What do your customers WANT from your product/service?
- What language do they use when they explain their problem?
- Can you describe what they get from working with you, in THEIR language, the way THEY would say it?
- Steven Covey teaches to Seek First To Understand Then To Be Understood. While applicable universally it is CRITICAL when describing your relationship with your audience!
- Where do your customers/audience hang out? Where do they get their information? What websites/blogs/periodicals do they read? Do they go to conferences? Which ones?
- When you are addressing them, whether live (in person or over the phone), through email, or other marketing tools are you addressing them and what they will get out of working with you OR are you talking about yourself, your product/service, and what makes you special?
HINT: Everything after OR in the last sentence is the wrong approach! 😉
The third component of your business is your product/service. This is how you serve. This is what monetizes your efforts. This is excellent, and the best you can make it at this time (and you are constantly looking to improve this) OR you are going out of business.
True? – Also Yes!
If you are not providing an excellent service (or product!) then nothing else is relevant. That is the price of admission to the party. Without this there is no point. Now that I have your attention let me expand on that:
- Don’t try to be PERFECT. While Good is the enemy of Great, Perfection is the enemy of EVERYTHING! Focusing on perfection will immobilize you. It will leave you crippled with doubt. Put out the best product or service you can and know that you will iterate and improve it later.
TIP: One year from now if your FIRST product doesn’t embarrass you a little then you waited too long to release it!
- Feedback, feedback, feedback. You’ve taken the time to get to know your audience/customers. You’ve sold them on working with you, now take the next step and find out what they like about you. Find out what they don’t like. Find out what caused them to buy. Find out what they’d like to see you provide next… AND THEN APPLY THE FEEDBACK!
Rant Warning! Rant Warning! Rant Warning!
Note: When I named my company I chose the name Applied Knowledge Enterprises LLC because that name encompasses my belief. Knowledge (in this case feedback) is WORTHLESS without systematic application. What good does it do to learn something if you don’t USE it. Rant over… for now…
Exiting Rant! Exiting Rant! Exiting Rant!
- Have a plan to expand around your customers and audience.
- If you sell products, can you provide a service that compliments that product? Example: If you sell a software product can you provide implementation services or premium training?
- If you sell a service can you productize that service? Example: If you are a coach can you create “specific outcome” packages or can you write a guide to accompany your sessions?
At a basic level, these three components are the parts of any business, but you aren’t reading this for “any business.” How are are you going to apply this to your business? How are you going to tie these things together to achieve your outcome? Please let me know in the comments below!
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