CHALLENGE: Creating a new business will be the start of a new journey for many in 2013
SO HERE we are in 2013 and maybe you’re already setting New Year goals.
While for some it’s just a bit of fun to set New Year resolutions, if you are running your own business, setting goals and the determination to achieve them, are essential.
Here I will outline some of the key principles you need to master if you are to set and achieve your goals this year and set you on the road to a fulfilling and successful year.
My first article was about clarity. It’s a crucial issue and one I will revisit here.
What specifically do you want to achieve, not just this year but in the next two years, on a personal and professional level? Why is it so important to you? You need a clear vision and mission in line with your skills, passion and purpose.
Now break that vision down into finance, marketing and operations goals. Write down a strategy to achieve it. It needn’t be lengthy; in my book for example I share how to write a two-page business/action plan.
Goals are great - but what will achieving them take? How many sales do you need to make? What activity and costs are involved in making each sale? What tools, resources, skills, support and knowledge do you have and will you need? What assumptions are you making?
These are tough questions and your ability and willingness to face them will indicate your probable success. You’re the captain of the ship. You must set the course, find the crew and stay on track.
Great, now you’re clear about the type of information you need to achieve your business goals. But guess what? Your customers don’t care. They have their own concerns and problems. Your ability to solve their problems will have a big impact on whether your business succeeds or fails – every successful product solves a problem. What are their problems? What do they worry about? How do they want your product or service to look, feel and be packaged, presented, promoted?
Wherever you’re based in the UK, as a black entrepreneur in a tough climate, your success will require building a strong understanding of, communication with, and relationship with your customers at every stage along the way.
Your journey will require courage. Believe in you, what you do and in those you serve. There will be challenges leaving your job and the prospect of a regular pay cheque, and starting out on your own with customers and products and as you grow, hiring new staff. Like an athlete, learn from every race that you win and lose in equal measure.
Also like an athlete you must build an exceptional team to help you.
The chances are you’ll need expertise in finance, marketing and operations. They say we all know 200 people – probably more in this social media age. Most small businesses gain most business through word of mouth, referral and networking. Tell and utilise your network. Broaden your network with the suppliers and expertise you’ll need.
Seek those who share your vision and values but who also have complementary skill sets, strengths and styles. This is not a one way street – your focus should always be on how you can help others. Be creative and resourceful: swap skills, develop a team of associates, and work with others. These things will help you punch beyond your weight.
Ensure everything you say is clear, crisp, concise, customer friendly and compelling: in person, in meetings, at the networking event, on your website and literature. Everything. Drop the jargon; speak your customer’s language. If you’ve got the right product and the right conversation, approach and timing, you will win in business.
Know when to work and when to rest. You’ll be busier in business than you were employed. You’ll need to be focused and self-motivated. Learn what times you (and your team) are at your best for all the different tasks. Take regular breaks or you’ll break. Get organised: create simple systems, processes and procedures and utilise technology to support but not distract you.
Love yourself, love what you do and love your customers too. Begin by taking care of yourself, your health and loved ones. If you do not care about your friends, family and customers sooner or later they will leave you. Care about your customers and not just their cash and you will develop a powerful brand loyalty.
… & Change
There’s an eighth principle which is change. Everything is subject to change. You’ll change, as will the economy, your industry, technology, your customers and their needs. Your life and business goals may change; you may scale up, scale down or even sell up. That’s all part of the natural flow of life. The secret to change is to acknowledge it, be alert to it, accept it and adapt with it. Take time to step back and regularly review, regroup and refresh.
One more thing about change: as an entrepreneur you have the opportunity to make and shape and be the change that you want to see in your life.
I look forward to the new wave of heart-centred business owners who are making a difference in their lives, in business, in our communities and globally. I wish you every success and happiness.
Rasheed Ogunlaru is a leading life coach, speaker and business coach - and is author of Soul Trader – Putting the Heart Back into Your Business. His clients include entrepreneurs, entertainers, Chief Executives and the public. He is the life/business coach partner of the British Library’s Business & Intellectual Property Centre.Visit www.rasaru.com/soul-trader Twitter @rasheedogunlaru