4 key areas of success most small businesses miss
by Christie Browning
I love business. I love the fun creative ideas that flow when the inspiration strikes for a business. It's so much fun to start dreaming of logos, product ideas and all the customers you can reach! But there are some really important steps we have to remember along the way... steps that mean success for your business. Unfortunately, a lot of small businesses blow past these steps and jump right into the "making money" part of the business. While it is awesome to make money ( and I get it... that's the goal!), it is near impossible to sustain those sales if you don't have a strong enough foundation to build on.
Key #1 - Know where you are going and why you want to get there
Simon Syneck said, "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it!"
It's important to know why you want this business... this particular business... to be successful. Knowing the real root reason for why you want to do something is that inner motivation that pushes you when you tired, pushes you when you want to give up, pushes you out of your comfort zone, pushes you past your fears. Why is this important to you? What do you stand to gain if you are successful?
In identifying your personal connection to this business, you also need to paint a vivid picture of what "success" looks like to you. Believe me, it won't look that same for everyone! You need to be able to identify what the finish line is going to look like so that when you cross it, you can celebrate it and know that you've arrived! Yes, your finish line might get a more defined and come into more focus as you get closer and closer to it, but start NOW to pain the visual. Your heart will thank you for it. That visual should prick the heartstrings and drum up some emotions along with it.
Key #2 - It's your business - make it so!
You are designing YOUR business so make it yours! Avoid the pressure to look like everyone else or to do it like the competition. It's OK that your business might be different or might come together in a different way. It's yours!
You get to design this business around your strengths and passions. You can structure it around your time and calendar. You get to decide how fast it grows, how many people it will include, where you're gonna sell your goods, and so much more. Be true to yourself and pick things that resonate with your heart and your desires. Beware of looking like the Etsy shop next door. If two of your are the same, one of you is not necessary!
Key #3 - Put the right process in place to win
We all want to play in the glamorous part of the business. But truth be told, success is made behind the scenes, in the nitty-gritty facets of your business that aren't very flashy. You need to know what processes will sustain you and give you leverage for success. How are you going to operate your business day-to-day?
How do you plan to fulfill orders? Do you make your items two days a week? Do you only ship on Tuesdays and Thursdays? Are you going to be open at night or on the weekends? What's your holiday policies? What is the best "market" for you to sell in? Are you strictly an online shop or are you looking for tangible space? Do you need to work one-on-one or can you handle groups? These are all logistical questions that have to be answered.
While we're on the subject... how do you plan to handle refunds, exchanges, cancellations, coupons, bulk orders? Will you offer a wholesale price? Will there be different policies in place for different seasons such as Christmas?
Key #4 - Making the noise that brings in the biz
This is the fun stuff... marketing! And to begin, you need to know who you are as a business and who you are trying to serve. When it comes to who you are, the buzz word in "brand." What's your brand?
Branding is the look, tone, and feel of your business. The look meaning the visual style of your company such as the colors, images, and graphics used. The tone are the words you use to talk to your audience whether that's on your website, in your ads, or on social media. The feel is the customer experience. What do you want them to experience after having interacted with you and your company? The key to great branding is to make it true to you. If you aren't, by nature, a sleek, sophisticated, high-style type of gal, don't create a brand that screams Chanel and Gucci! While there's nothing wrong with that brand, it won't connect with you and therefore, won't feel authentic to your customers. Your brand is an extension of YOU and should be reflected in all you do, say and show.
If you are a new business, chances are you may not know who you are trying to reach. Whether you are new or well established, avoid the temptation to make EVERYONE your target audience. That is unreasonable and will get you nowhere. Start by imagining the needs of the customer you'd love to sell to or work with. What is their life like? What things do they do? What are they struggling with? What might make them feel more relaxed, or happy, or significant? When you create a dreamt up customer, then all your branding and advertising is written and created with them in mind. When you write a social media post, you are writing to that dreamt up client. When you create a product, ask yourself if your imaginary ideal client would LOVE it! The more you make that ideal client real in your mind, the more you'll be attracting other real-life customers just like her.... and that's the target audience you want, because those are the folks who want to buy what you're selling!