Starting and growing a small business is no small task, especially with a plummeting economy. But even in an ideal world with a booming economy, this is a major undertaking. There are several steps you must take as a small business owner in order to get the ball rolling on your new, small business venture. Let’s explore.
Understanding who you are
This may seem really basic, and you may think you already know the answer to this. But before you jump to any conclusions, take some serious time to reflect. Who are you really? What is your business? What are your business goals? What does your business stand for? Do your products, marketing efforts, etc. reflect these values?
It is absolutely critical to invest time and thought into your brand. Your brand is not just your logo. Says Kevin Plank, American CEO and founder of Under Armour, “Brand is not a product, that's for sure; it's not one item. It's an idea, it's a theory, it's a meaning, it's how you carry yourself. It's aspirational, it's inspirational.” Essentially, your brand is consumers’ comprehensive experience of your company. You need to envision where you want to be. How do you get there? Great question. Read on.
Designing a strategy
Once you have a brand that adequately represents what you, and by extension, your company, stands for, you have to envision where you want to be. You need not only clear, concrete and attainable aspirations, but also a concrete strategy to achieve them. You need to make S.M.A.R.T. goals. Though I have previously blogged about these, they merit repeating, as they are crucial to any business undertaking.
“S” is for “Specific”—it’s the who, what, where, when, why and which. Who is involved? What is expected? Where is it going to happen? When is it expected to happen? Why is it important? Which constraints are there? It is much easier to chase a goal when it is clearly identified and is a concrete aspiration.
“M” is for “Measurable”—your goals need benchmarks. How will you know you’ve reached your business goals if you haven’t identified criteria for attainment?
“A” is for “Attainable”—it is important to never sell yourself short. On the flip side, don’t set yourself up for failure, either. Make goals that are possible and reachable. Each goal achieved is a personal success.
“R” is for “Relevant”—a goal that does not address the core value of your business is not one that is worth having.
Lastly, “T” is for “Timely”—like in my blog about the importance of urgency in business, you need to set a date for when you expect to reach your goal in order to have the motivation to work with rigor towards it.
Nothing ever gets done by just thinking about it—you must execute! Execute your goals and put into practice your business strategies while keeping in mind your vision and values. While growing a small business is challenging, remember that nothing happens overnight. Keep these steps in mind, and when you lose heart, remember why you started your business in the first place. Chances are, you wanted to make a difference in the world and contribute, and what can be more motivating than that?