Survive and Thrive in Business
Having walked through the 4 Pillars, we now turn to the question of how to turn this knowledge into business success to give you the best chance to survive and thrive.
Let's quickly recap.
There are four foundational pillars that apply from self-employed small businesses to large Fortune 500 companies.
Whether you like it or not, you are a leader when you run your own business. This is obviously important when you lead a team, but your personal leadership is also important as a solo-operator dealing with the multiple challenges of running a business. Developing your leadership skills is essential, and this includes your motivation and organization skills.
Let's face it! No sales = no business. Consequently, every business is a marketing business.
There are countless examples of someone with a 'better mousetrap' not doing anywhere near as well as a business with an inferior product. Why? Because that business was better at marketing and sales.
For your business to survive and thrive, you need effective, consistent marketing to make both potential and existing customers aware, along with effective sales skills to convert those leads into sales.
This is all about doing the business of the business. Effective marketing and sales leads to customer expectations. You must meet and even exceed those expectations for your business to survive and thrive. Consequently, this pillar is all about the systems to ensure a high-quality product and timeframe that delights your customers.
According to Investopedia, "Running out of money is a small business's biggest risk." Consequently, managing cash flow, along with the other administration and finance activities are critical to business survival and prosperity. Whether your business is a one person show or a large international company, you must dedicate adequate time and resources to the finance and administration aspects of your business.
Bringing It All Together
The four foundational pillars are all requirements if a business is to survive and thrive. The degree of focus will vary for different businesses but, maybe with the exception of someone who is forced into a sub-contract arrangement with the one employer, all are necessary.
In the 'Product Delivery' pillar we talked about Standard Operating Procedures, and in reality, SOPs are useful in the other pillars as well.
But another tool that brings all the pillars together and used extensively by larger businesses is a 'business plan'.
A business plan is something that is neglected by many self-employed small business owners who either don’t see the need for it or are simply scared by their paradigm of what a business plan requires.
However, it doesn’t have to be the long, formal document. Instead, let the level of detail be determined by how complicated your business is and whether you need outside funding.
There is no question that a business plan will make you more successful.
Your Business Plan
Why You Need a Business Plan
The first reason is that the process of doing a business plan helps you think about the things you need to know to make you successful. Things such as:
- Identifying who your customers are so you can market to them better,
- Identifying who your competitors are and what you have to be doing differently to make sure potential customers buy from you rather than them, and
- Planning your finances because this is critical to survival as well as success.
The second reason is that it gives you a blueprint for running your business as you can use it to map out your goals and action plans.
People often think of a business plan as a lengthy, comprehensive document with loads of data and financial forecasts. While this may be needed when seeking outside funding, an effective business plan doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, there are a number of templates for a 1-page business plan available.
Your plan provides the blueprint for building your business, so it only has to be as long as you need to set out your goals, action plans and financials. It will significantly increase your probabilities for success.
Almost all very successful business owners will tell you that they create business goals and action plans on a regular basis, sometimes as often as once a month since markets can change quickly. In addition, if you have been struggling in your business or are considering something new, the entire process of creating a business plan will help you see where you can be most profitable. It will also tell you where you are going wrong and need to change.
The Key Components of a Business Plan?
Most business plans are comprised of the following parts:
- Outline of your business model and your target market. A description of the business model you are adopting and the customers you are targeting?
- Unique Value Proposition. What makes you different from your competitors and why should potential customers buy from you?
- Business Goals. What are your goals and when do you want to achieve them by? Goals should be specific, measurable and achievable.
- Marketing Plan. What are your planned marketing strategies and the timeline for implementation?
- Action Plan. What action do you need to take and the timeline for completion?
- Financial Forecast and Budget. What expenses are you going to incur and how much revenue to you expect to make on a monthly basis? What are your forecasts for both profit and cash flow?
How to Use Your Business Plan?
A business plan is a living, breathing document that will grow and change along with your business.
When first starting a new business, your business plan helps determine if you have a good, financially viable idea.
At the beginning of each year, it helps you to plan out your goals and strategies. Of course, if you need to raise money, people will want to see a detailed plan.
However, remember that you need to revisit your business plan regularly. As market conditions shift, laws or regulations change, or you aren’t seeing the results you expected, it’s time to adjust your plan. Use it as your guide and refer to it often as you plan each week, but don’t let it restrict you.
Your business plan serves as your blueprint for success and everyone running a business can benefit from creating one, whether you are working online or offline.
Where To From Here?
Let me tell you a story...
When I first started my own business, I used to talk to my brother about the business - the challenges I had - the successes I had. And then one day my wife said to me, "Why do you do that? Can't you tell he doesn't understand what you are going through and even feels threatened by the idea of you being successful?"
So, the next time we had a discussion, I paid more attention to our discussion and his body language. And I saw she was right. So, that was the end of those discussions.
But the truth is that this generally applies to all people who run their own business.
Being a self-employed small business owner can be a somewhat lonely existence. Your employees don't have skin in the game and don't have the same level of commitment as you. And they get paid whether cash flow is plentiful or tight. And you family members who have regular jobs don't understand either.
That was a major reason why we commenced the Self Employed Small Business Academy - to give people who take the risk to become self-employed and run their own businesses someone to talk to... someone who really understands.
The other reason we started the Academy is because we have helped so many small business owners over the years and we know we can help you.
We firmly believe in the 4 Pillars and are passionate about helping people who make the decision to become self-employed, to be as successful and they can potentially be.
So we have sourced and created training courses and resources, that you can access to boost your own skills and, as your business grows, the skills of your team members in the pillars of leadership, marketing and sales, product delivery along with administration and finance for a small monthly fee.
But the truth is that action takers have the most success.
Click on the link below to take a trial of the Self Employed Small Business Academy for just $1. Take action now!
The video presentations on this page contain images that were used under a Creative Commons License. Click on the links below to see the full list of images and attributions:
Survive and Thrive in Business
Your Business Plan and Why You Need One