This is a guest post from Colette Cassidy, the Director of an Irish tax consultancy company named All Finance Tax, specialists in financial and taxation advice.
For many people, the thoughts of working in a functional 9-to-5 job simply to pay the bills and fund a living can be demeaning and dull, so they might well decide to follow their passion and form their own company.
Entrepreneurship is very common, with as many as 1 in 5 adults choosing to go down this route, and can be extremely rewarding, but it is also fraught with pitfalls and requires vast amounts of dedication and self-confidence.
Irish finance and taxation specialists All Finance Tax (www.allfinancetax.com) created this infographic which sums up really succinctly the main things that anybody needs to know before they consider setting up a business.
For every successful business venture, there are many more which fail all too quickly, and the main reasons for business failure are pinpointed below. It also identifies the main characteristics of a successful entrepreneur, a thorough checklist for setting up a business, and the contents of the all-important business plan.
Anybody seeking to start their own business should be expecting to thrive rather than merely survive, but if you go into the enterprise game unprepared, even survival will be very difficult.
The points contained in the below infographic are simply the starting point for an entrepreneur to know what to avoid, what is the least they need to do, and indeed whether or not they have the personality traits necessary to succeed in business.
Welcome to 2016!
To grow your business this year, for many it’s not going to be any different from 2015.
But for a few, it is going to be the greatest year of their lives yet.
None of these two outcomes are automatic; they both require your permission to come to pass.
To have the same kind of year as you did last year depends on you. To have a different year than you did last year, also depends on you.
Fortunately, this unusual article is for the entrepreneurs seeking the second outcome; to make this year 2016 the greatest year of their life yet!
5 Killer Activities to Grow your Business this Year
To grow your business this year, you will need to focus on some very fundamental activities that produce killer results. I have always believed in fundamentals, they are the unchanging elements of getting anything worthwhile done.
Rather than occupy myself with the latest fad or gimmick or tactic in town, I focus on sharpening the fundamentals. Gimmicks, fads, and tactics will always come and go, but fundamentals remain the same. They are timeless!
So rather than telling you about the popular business gimmick, fad or tactic in town, I’m going to draw your attention back to the fundamentals that you’ve been ignoring. These fundamentals are not going to be ideologies that you are going to passively learn and forget soon, these are going to be activities.
They are actions you must continually take throughout the course of this year in your business. They are practical actions you have heard of in the past but not actively doing.
I call them killer activities because of their dual impact on any business.
1). They are killer activities because failure to continually do them and do them well is what will KILL your business. That’s a guarantee!
2). They are killer activities because continually doing them and doing them well is what will GROW your business. Again, that’s a guarantee!
In other words, their impact on any business is powerful. It can kill and it can transform. They are unavoidable. Period.
Here they are;
This is one of the greatest fundamentals of growing your business this year or any other year ever. It’s a do or die fundamental activity of any business.
Let me repeat myself; to grow your business this year, this is a DO or DIE fundamental activity!
There’s no substitute to marketing. I have witnessed this fundamental activity over and over again in my business that I can boldly say this; without it, your business is a living corpse. It’s just a matter of time, it will eventually die!
There’s never enough marketing. So if you aren’t doing it at all, then you are simply digging your own grave. Those who do it are working towards doing more of it because they have experienced the killer results it brings.
So what is Marketing fundamentally?
Every activity that involves reaching out to both your existing and potential customers in order to add value.
Here are the keywords to bear in mind;
- Activity: it’s an action. Meaning, if you don’t do it, it doesn’t get done.
- Reaching out: it’s always about others. Meaning, you do it in order to connect, engage and communicate with others. It’s not done in isolation.
- Existing and Potential Customers: it’s for both kind of customers. Your old ones and the new ones you are pursuing. It’s not one sided. Both deserve to be reached out to continually.
- Add Value: it’s about helping the customers. Any marketing that isn’t focused on helping the customer is a failed strategy. It won’t last. You reach out in order to help them solve a problem or achieve a result they can’t do on their own.
Now that we have covered the fundamentals, to get started, you need to have the 3M’s of marketing;
- The Message
- The Messenger
- The Medium
To grow your business this year or any other year ever, will require the collective efforts of several skilled and passionate people other than yourself.
The growth potentials of your business is directly dependent on the collective potentials of the people working on it. By taking on two additional vision partners last year, my business exponentially grew. We broke through the limitations placed on our revenues!
The saying that; “together efforts achieves more” is no cliche. It’s a fact!
Don’t think you will earn less by bringing on other smart people to join you. The ironic truth is that you will actually make more money than you ever did alone. But this doesn’t happen automatically, you do need to get the right people on board to make it so.
I have witnessed on several occasions people whose business crumbled when they got in others. It’s all a question of getting the right people on board. To know the right people, read this unusual article on team building.
So what is Team Building fundamentally?
Bringing in on board other smart people to complement you with other skills critical to the business’s growth.
Here are the keywords to bear in mind;
- Other smart people: don’t bring on board a fool. Don’t bring on board someone you are smarter than in all areas. They must be competently skilled with one or more skills the business needs but you don’t have. Don’t bring on board your jobless brother or sister or cousin or nephew just to help them.
- Complement: this is the objective; someone to complete you in the areas where you are weak. I tell my vision partners, that I don’t expect anything less than 110% from them because I know I brought them in to enable me focus on my strength 110%. In return, I expect them to focus only on their strengths too. That way everybody performs at their best and not averagely.
- Other skills critical to the business’s growth: for growing businesses, don’t bring in two of the same skills at first. Duplication of functions early will allow other areas to suffer. So highlight the key skills the business needs to grow and first fill all with at least one very smart person that will serve as the leader of that function.
Once every team member complements one another with the critical skills for the business, the next phase is to duplicate yourselves with new subordinates. This time around, you are not just getting them for their skills, you also want to show them how the business works in relation to their skills.
The function of the first team members is to help create a system of how that function will be performed going forward in the business. That’s why you really need a very smart person for this first role. Not just anyone with the lacking skill set.
The best mouse trap will soon become the obsolete mouse trap if there’s no improvement. I’m often amazed when I see entrepreneurs with mediocre products/services complain of slow business.
For crying out loud, who wants to pay for trash!
If you must go into business, unless you are the first in that line of business, the least product/service you can start with must be at par with the existing competitions. And that is already a wrong position to start with.
So when I see entrepreneurs with even less quality products in the market I just wonder how they ever think they will succeed by being less.
To grow your business this year, you have to continually step up your products/services by adding more layers of improvement that adds more value to your customers.
Don’t think you can keep selling trash and hope to grow. Your customers will only keep tolerating you until a superior offering shows up. This is one of the crucial reasons why team building was discussed above.
Without good heads in your business, how then will you create products/services better than the competitions?
Only the best brains can create the next market wave. If you doubt me, go and ask Apple, Google, Facebook and all these technology pioneers. You can’t create tomorrow by hiring people from the past!
You need forward thinking people who will help you create innovative solutions that addresses the problems your target customers have and are dying to solve.
Don’t settle for average. Always be in the forefront of the market with new and improved versions of your existing products/services. The company with the latest improvements becomes the center of attraction in the market.
That’s how you maintain market relevance; by continually reinventing your products/services and introducing new ones.
To grow your business this year, your team members and including yourself must never cease to learn. Growing a business is not a static function or activity. Business is a fluid terrain; it is constantly ever changing, so you need to be at the top of your game.
Capacity development is all about sharpening your skills and that of your team members. Knowledge is the ingredient used to think up new products/services. If you are still using only what you learnt 5 years ago to run your business, then I am not surprised why it is struggling.
Investing on trainings and other information products like books, seminars, CDs, etc. is how you stay at the top of your game. When something new pops up in your area of competence, no one other than yourself should be the first to know about it.
Your mind and that of your people is the greatest asset of your business. You need to keep sharpening it. Don’t depend on old skills to compete in an ever changing business terrain. Keep on learning!
So what is Capacity Development fundamentally?
It is the conscious effort to continually increase a business’s ability to do more through reading, training and knowledge sharing.
Here are the keywords to bear in mind;
- Conscious Effort: just like every other killer activities discussed above, capacity development is not automatic. It won’t be done until you do it.
- Continually Increase: it’s a never ending process. It doesn’t end. So don’t be tired of reading, attending seminars, trainings or sharing what you know with your team.
- Business’s Ability to Do More: capacity is your ability to do something. So if you know one thing for instance, you have the ability to do one thing. The moment you know two things more, you just increased your ability to do more than one thing, now you can do 3 things. So if your capacity development is not translating to increasing your business’s ability to do more, it’s not effective. The result of knowledge is improved action, decisions and thinking.
- Reading, Training and Knowledge Sharing: these are the 3 fundamental ways of capacity development. Knowledge sharing can be in the form of mentoring and coaching.
Successful businesses are built on systems and systems are run by people.
There’s no growth without stability. To grow, your business must be able to function without chaos. This is why you need systems to create some level of stability and structure in your business.
I have come in contact with several entrepreneurs who rely on chance to run their business. And yet they wonder why they experience stagnation. Growth doesn’t thrive on chance, it thrives on stability and structure.
So if you want to grow your business this year, you have to focus on creating some form of stability and structure. This can only be done through systems development.
So what is Systems Development fundamentally?
This is the deliberate organization of several repeated activities in your business into structured processes that can be easily documented and duplicated.
Here are the keywords to bear in mind;
- Deliberate Organization: chaos is the opposite of organization. To create systems you need to be organized and this takes deliberate efforts. It won’t happen automatically. If you can’t do it, get someone who can.
- Several Repeated Activities: running a business is all about carrying out several activities daily either by you or other members of your team. Soon, you will realize these activities are often repeated. By grouping several repeated activities is how you create a system.For instance, the several repeated activities that you undertake to create a product/service can be grouped into the production system. The way you handle customer complains can be grouped into the customer care system.
- Structured Processes: a process is a guide to do things or a way of doing things. The grouped repeated activities are outlined into step-by-step processes in their order of implementation. Without these structured processes of carrying out these several activities, there is no system yet.
- Easily Documented and Duplicated: this is the ultimate objective of systems development in your business, to have it written down and passed on so anyone with the required skill set can perform that function easily. Having it documented enables you to save time when another person is coming on board to do the work. It also enables you find loopholes in the entire process and think up better ways to achieve the same results with less activities involved.
This year can be a whole lot better for your business if you simply focus on doing these 5 killer activities. You won’t gain mastery doing them this year alone, as you progress in your business you will need to be upgrading your knowledge and skills in these 5 fundamentals of business growth.
My goal with this unusual article was to help you focus on the few things that matters so that you can take actions without much confusion. Don’t do too many things this year, just do these 5 killer activities very diligently and you will sing a different song come December 2016!