How is business?
Sitting at a coffee shop with a friend I was asked some business advice. He has recently left his previous company and considers “doing his own thing” in the people services sector. In my interpretation this means he would like to offer a service (value proposition) and get paid for it (profit). In the process he will need to identify and understand the needs “out there” in the target market, develop the service in order to address the need effectively, and put the processes in place to sell and deliver.
Maybe, before the “what?” and “how?” questions, the deeper question he should answer, is this: why do I want to do this? The “deeper why” as it is often called. Knowing the answer to this question right from the start, often keeps entrepreneurs going when the going gets tough.
I have been in the “place” where he is now. It can simultaneously be very adventurous and very scary. On the optimistic side we see ourselves building something wothwhile that will be beautiful and successful. But we also know that according to Moneyweb 70% to 80% of all new small businesses fail. And that’s where the fear kicks in – the fear of failure. The best way to deal with this, is to acknowledge and embrace it. Your fear of failure is an inner voice, asking for some reality checking, and often paralysing you with negatives. But don’t push it away – the voice is part of you. Hear what it has to say, learn from it, answer its questions, and put it to rest. Then, move on.
What other advice can we offer my friend? I will give it my best shot, but I wish we all could sit together in a room to brainstorm this topic. Below are some points and questions. Actually, I think we all should ask some of these questions to ourselves on a regular basis to make sure we stay relevant.
- Purpose and passion: I normally take people through as process to discover your unique divine design. Who are you? Looking back, what in your life so far have excited and energised you the most? When do you normally add the most value to other people? (Contribution). Why are you here on planet earth?
- Proposition: What are the pains, needs, struggles out there that you can bring something to? We sell value, not time or products. How can you optimise your value add? How can your offering be unique, different or special? What new skills, knowledge or tools do you need? What can you change, adjust, add, take away to increase the value you add? Think inside and outside the box? What’s in the box that you can use more effectively? What’s not in there that you can acquire?
- Processes, procedure, systems: How will your business work? How can you make sure your product (service) really gets to the client? Also look at your financial and administrative functions. Simplify whatever you can.
- Promoting your service / product: How will you make the desire to gain from your service or product stronger than the pain to get it and use it …and pay money for it?
- People: Who will help you? Who should be on your team? And who can be in your network of co-workers?
- Place: From where will you operate? Do you need to have a physical address? Or will it be virtual?
What about Profit? Yes profit is extremely important. Yet, if it is the only reason why you are in business, your business will most probably not last that long. Or at least you will not enjoy the higher reasons we are in business. However, when you worked hard and have lots of expenses, but at the end the numbers do not add up and you make a loss, your business is dead in the water. Profit is normally the consequence or outflow of a healthy business, a business run well. There is nothing wrong to manage this aspect intentionally. Quite the contrary! Put goals and timelines to it, and then monitor it closely.
In all of this, the most important person you must manage well, is yourself!
May we, in these times, really help each other to be courageous and wise, passionate and realistic, creative and cautious. Let’s not be dream busters, but cheer leaders. Let’s give support and practical help where we can. Collective wisdom is so much more than individual knowledge. And right now, the world needs more dreamers and competent business people with integrity that can go out and impact the world!