22 Keys to Building a Business

28 de Dec de 2013

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22 Keys to Building a Business

  1. 22
  2. Work Hard There simply is no substitute. You may not be the smartest person in the room - and usually you won’t be. But a person of average intellect who out hustles a person with above average intelligence will win almost every time! When others are relaxing or sleeping what are you doing?
  3. Identify Your Calling Focus on your gift. Many of us spend time in jobs or on business ideas that may be interesting or lucrative, but that have absolutely nothing to do with what we were placed on this earth to do. What are you good at? What is it that you can do in your sleep that others have to work hard at? For some of us it can be difficult and take a lot of time to really identify our gifts, but the effort is worth it; and moving forward without being clear about your giftedness can be futile.
  4. Establish a Goal And make it a Big Hairy Audacious Goal – a BHAG… A clear, compelling, aggressive goal with a clear finish line…. a goal that your friends don’t think you can achieve, but that you know can be accomplished under the right circumstances. Your BHAG gives you something to work towards and an opportunity to prove the doubters wrong.
  5. Claim It Tell people what you are doing. Explain it to them and try to get them excited about it. If you say it you’ll start to believe it - they will too; and the combination will make your vision come true.
  6. Write a Business Plan Whether your business is just getting started or is 50 years old, you need a thorough plan. Writing this plan will force you to think through all of the aspects of your business, from office space to technology, and from marketing strategy to financial plans. The business plan will help you see more clearly what it will take to succeed, it will help you identify your businesses strengths, and it may even convince you that your concept is not such a good idea after all – which is better to realize sooner rather than later. Many are tempted to skip this step because it’s just too much… Wait, see #1 above.
  7. Identify Your Weakness Knowing your weaknesses is as important as knowing your strengths. Sometimes we don’t like to face our imperfections, but we all have them. A big enough blind spot can cripple an otherwise viable idea or business, but if you know where it is it will enable you to go and…
  8. Get Help Many of us don’t like to ask for help, but at some point or another, we all need it. If you are able to tell someone specifically what type of help you need and why, you will be surprised at their willingness to provide it. No one gets anything significant accomplished on their own, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  9. Choose Good Partners Starting or building a business is not only hard work, but it can also be very lonely. A good partner can make the journey more enjoyable and help you keep your sanity, while bringing another point of view to the effort. Just like any relationship though, a good partner is hard to find. Look for partners with whom you share a common vision and moral or ethical foundation, but who also offer complementary skill sets that can create a natural division of labor. This match may not occur on the first try, but can make all the difference between a successful or a failed venture.
  10. Get the Support of Your Spouse A simple, but often overlooked notion. Your spouse or companion will often see things in ways that you don’t, or that you miss entirely. Their perspective can help you be more sensitive to your environment, and they can also provide a hard check on your approach or assumptions when needed. Additionally, a supportive spouse can make the ups and downs of entrepreneurship much more bearable while a companion who is not fully on board can make it very difficult to enjoy any successes.
  11. Insist on Excellence All that you have is your reputation. You can build a good one by making certain that your every presentation is the best one that it can be – the math is right, the images are crisp and the spelling is correct. Vendors, employees and contractors contribute to your presentation and reputation. Inspect what you expect and insist on the best from anyone that represents you.
  12. Look the Part The first impression that people have of you is your appearance - so look like a leader in your field. Of course, someone building a business in the culinary arts will dress differently than someone in management consulting, but the first element of credibility is what you look like. You don’t have to shop at Neiman Marcus to look great, but rundown shoes, a wrinkled shirt or dirty fingernails is never impressive. Get dressed on purpose and look the part.
  13. Hang Out With People Who Are Where You Want to Be Wealthy people spend time with wealthy people, barbers socialize with barbers, and entrepreneurs can learn a lot from other entrepreneurs. So, if you are starting or building a business, find a group of people who are a few steps ahead of you, look for mentors and make a few friends, and begin to hang out with that group. People who are where you want to be can share insight with you, inspire you and prepare you for the opportunities and challenges that can come with achieving your goal.
  14. Know Your Stuff Abraham Lincoln said that it is “better to remain silent and be thought a fool, that to speak out and remove all doubt.” But better yet, how about speaking with authority, but only when you know what you are talking about. Cultivate an area of expertise with in your professional discipline and become known in your social and professional circle as the expert on the subject. Be sure to read industry magazines and periodicals to remain up to speed on the latest trends in your industry and develop your own opinions and perspectives on how those issues will shape your business and market.
  15. Market Your Business Find the most effective ways to let the world know that your business is there. Have business cards printed and, unless you are in the most creative of sectors, keep them simple. Depending upon what business you are in, you may need to consider television, print or radio advertising. These days you will almost always want a well done website; and get comfortable with one or two social networking platforms that will allow you to cultivate your brand, get to know your customers and expand your base of contacts.
  16. Phone Calls and Email People won’t call you unless you call them first; and people won’t send you emails unless you send them one first. So, make it a point to call a series of contacts each month to keep the professional dialogue going. Send a periodic email newsletter to your database and send emails to a group of contacts to ask questions or, from time to time, share a relevant article that you read. This lets contacts know that you are thinking of them, and encourages them to think of you. This can be especially effective on your most discouraging of days – when you are least in the mood to do it. Reestablishing connections on those lonely entrepreneurial days can provide new thinking, renewed energy and open doors to new opportunities.
  17. Relationships, Not Transactions If you intend to build your business for the longterm, then you will be more interested in relationships than transactions. Transactions are short term, not strategic, and may be manipulated so that one party benefits more than the other. If you are transaction focused you don’t look forward to the next interaction, you are not focused on customer satisfaction and you want to get as much as possible today, with little concern for tomorrow. Relationships are long-term and emphasize mutual benefit, fairness and exceeding expectations. Relationships encourage customers to refer others to you and to stick with you when times are tough. Relationships ensure the longevity and success of any enterprise.
  18. Follow Up! Follow Up! Follow Up! Follow Up! Do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it! People do business with people that they trust. People trust people who do what they say they will do. Keep a to-do list, and Follow Up!
  19. Be Persistent! Nobody ever said that getting something worthwhile done would be easy. Accomplishing your entrepreneurial goals are likely to be difficult and trying. You will inevitably run into unanticipated hurdles and obstacles. False starts are common. Business plans will have to be rewritten. Partners will lose interest and contracts will fall through. Count on it, and press forward anyway.
  20. Learn Some Accounting In any business, the person with the best knowledge of the financial statements has an upper hand. Not only do you need to know that Revenue – Expenses = Profit, but you also need to understand the categories of Assets, Liabilities and Equity along with how the Income Statement and Balance Sheet work together to create your Cash Flow Statement. Without a working knowledge of the financial statements, it may only be your accountant who is getting rich.
  21. Have Credible Financials Not only do you need to understand accounting, but you need to assure that financial statements are created on regular intervals so that you can measure your progress. Several software packages will allow you to input financial information and create financial statements, yet this area is often a weakness for smaller businesses. If your firm has greater than $1 million in revenues you should have a certified public accounting firm produce Compiled or Reviewed statements annually. If you ever hope to sell your business and have revenues which are greater than $5 million you will want to have Audited financial statements produced annually. This work can be expensive, but it adds important credibility to the operation of your business.
  22. Word Hard This was covered already, but it bears repeating. If there is nothing else that this list conveys, it’s that entrepreneurship is hard work! It’s complicated, diverse, takes tenacity and humility, requires a broad set of skills and is a long-term commitment. Entrepreneurship takes hard work – so get to it!
  23. It’s Not About You Entrepreneurship is about personal satisfaction in the workplace and ensuring that our dreams and needs are met, but in the final analysis it’s about service. Our businesses are a means to serve our creator, our customers, our employees and future generations. It’s not about you, so focus on being of service.
  24. © Dream Big Then Execute, 2013