When you first get an idea for running a business sometimes the hardest part is knowing where to start. Often people will gather as much information as possible and then find it impossible to translate the piles of guides and advice into a workable plan. This can really batter confidence and some people at this stage, feel like giving up before they’ve even started.
So here’s some tips to get you started – so you can give your business the kickstart it needs:
1. Be Clear on Your Vision
As a Business Coach I support lots of women at the start up phase of their business and it never eases to amaze me how many people don’t have a clear vision for their business. Often when I ask a client what their vision is I get the response, “I just want to sell my jewellery (or cards / make-up / training services etc)”.
If you want a viable business you really need to be clear about what your vision is. What is your business going to look like in the next 3-5 years? How big is is going to be? What turnover and profit do you need? What hours do you want to be working? Who do you want to be working with?
Spend some time really thinking about what you want. Often developing a vision board can help with this as you create on paper the life that you want to lead. It really helps you to create clarity and focus about what you want to achieve – and that way, you have a starting point for developing a real plan.
2. Have a Plan
Now you know what your vision is, it’s time to create a plan. I often say to my clients that you wouldn’t get in the care and drive without knowing where you are going. Treat your business in exactly the same way. Your vision is your destination (although don’t think of it as your final destination – you need to continually evolve if you are serious about growing your business) and once you are clear on this you can develop your roadmap on how to get there (your plan)!
If you know you want to earn £X per year, then you need to consider how much turnover you need (pre-expenses) to achieve this; and just how many paying clients or customers you need to cover this. Set out your plan for how you are going to achieve this (the information below will really help you) and break your targets down into manageable chunks: if you need 200 sales per year – how many do you need per month / week / day? Also consider whether your product is seasonal – you may need more sales in the summer or at
Christmas and expect a smaller amount the rest of the year. Either way, you should know EXACTLY when you need to achieve your sales and plan to make sure that happens.
3. Identify Your IC
You need to identify who your Ideal Client (IC) is. Someone out there needs to purchase your products or services, so it is essential that in order for you to build up trust with them – that you can speak directly to them. I do not mean this in the literal sense (although in some cases you may), what I mean is, that you marketing has to come across as if you understand them and are speaking directly to that person.
Of course, your IC will depend on what you are selling. If you make and sell premium, vegan make-up products your target audience might be women of a certain age, with a high disposable income who ethically minded to think about where their products come from. If you are selling HR services you may want to target owners of growing businesses who are not big enough to have in-house services but still have HR needs.
Think about your products and who is your ideal customer. This of course, does not exclude others from buying, but it will ensure that you can develop a strategy for targeting and identifying with your ideal market.
4. Identify How You Can Help
Once you have figured out who you want to work with, you need to work out what their particular problem is that you can help them with.
Think about what keeps that person awake at night. What are their top frustrations? What is stopping them being happy?
If a person has a genuine problem – then they have a motivation to buy if you can offer a solution.
In the examples above, a woman might have difficulty finding brands of make-up that make her skin feel amazing but have no animal products. A business owner might be wanting to take the next step in growing their business but nervous of the HR implications of having staff. These are real life problems (albeit first world problems).
If you can identify your IC’s problem – then you have identified why they will be willing to pay for your products.
5. Construct Your Solution
Ok, so now you have identified who you want to work with and what their problem is – so now you have to present your solution. This can also form part of your branding if appropriate (i.e., you offer one product which has a clear advantage).
In order to project your solution to your IC, then you really need to think about the opposite to your IC’s problem i.e., how their life will be different (for the better) by having your product. Focus on the results they will get!
In the examples above, if you focus on selling the ethical benefits of your make-up, you may make a few sales but there are loads of make-up companies out there that also sell vegan products. Also people won’t be willing to buy unless they know the make-up is any good. What makes yours different and what are the benefits? It might be that your products make your eyelashes look really long or make skin feel really young and soft. Here you have your real benefits.
The better you can describe the benefits to them, the more likely your IC will buy. So articulate this really well in all your marketing materials and be consistent.
6. Find Your Market
So you know who your IC is, you know what their problem is and how to communicate your solution to them. So where do you find them?
Here, you really need to think about where your audience hangs out. If your target audience is Male Accountants, you wouldn’t expect to find them (or lots of them) at a Zumba class. So really concentrate on who your IC is, what interests they have, what do they do of an evening. This will help you formulate where to target your marketing both online and offline.
7. Get Your Message Out There
Now you have to tell people who you are and what you do. Get the word out there – but make sure you are telling them the benefits, not the process.
Think of all the marketing opportunities you have identified in the steps above and go for it! If you don’t, you can’t be surprised when nobody buys.
8. Have A Call To Action and Follow Up
It’s great to market and make connections with your IC – but be specific about what they need to do next.
If you have loads of information all over your website about what you offer – make it clear what they have to do next to work with you or buy your products.
If you meet with a potential client and it’s clear you can work together or your product is a great fit with their needs – don’t wait for them to approach you, tell them how they can proceed.
If someone needs time to think, this does not mean that they are not interested. It means just that: they need more time to consider. It takes trust to buy from someone, and this takes time to build up. If someone needs time, let them know that you are still there – ask them if there’s anything else they need to know (about you or the products); keep in regular contact so that when they are ready to make that purchase, it is from you!
Don’t lose sales because you are too worried about telling them what they need to do – it is your job to get sales, otherwise your business will fail.
9. Believe and Go For It!
The steps above are easy to map out in principle but I have had many clients fail to put it into practise just because they don’t believe they can do it; or they are leaving money on the table by lacking the confidence to make an offer, or follow up a lead.
These negative beliefs and fears really can hold you back – but only if you let them. If you have negative beliefs, stop them in their tracks. Write down positive affirmations and say them to yourself. If you are worried about making a phone-call to follow up a lead; imagine yourself feeling really confident and making the call with ease and really think about the words you will use. The more you practise this in your mind, the easier it will be to do – and then it will become normal.
Don’t let your limiting beliefs get in the way of a good plan – go for it!
By now you have a clear plan to get out there and have the makings of a brilliant business. However, another big step is to regularly review how it is going. Look at your targets and plans at least weekly and consider what has worked well and what hasn’t. Do more of what works, learn from what doesn’t and adjust your plan to reflect.