You read that correctly. We said, MIND YOUR BUSINESS. By which, we mean pay attention to what you must do to conduct business, to have business, to sustain business.
Let us expound, STOP ‘playing’ business and START ‘doing’ business. When launching a company, creating a name and business plan are essential. However, too many people get caught-up with crossing off to-dos. A Google search will pull-up a myriad of ‘how-to start a business’ articles that are nothing more than fluff— marketing tactics to draw you in. Many are written by companies that are strategically soliciting business from you— offering packages and the like. Sound familiar?
Don’t be distracted by the set-up. Filing for limited liability certification or patents, or purchasing insurance and/or inventory are all ‘musts.’ What we’re referring to are niceties, like a fancy, full-color business card/website, and an impeccably decorated office are lovely, but they are not necessities. A black and white business card from Staples (and a strong e-signature!), a Facebook business page and IG account, and your kitchen table will do “the job!” Of course, if you’re in retail, then your space is a different story.
Keep it simple! And by “it,” we’re referring to everything. You don’t need a program, a complex process or electronic forms to run your business— at least not at the onset. Sure, technology can help streamline processes and ensure efficiencies, but if Excel or Calendly isn’t in your wheelhouse, then get started with notebooks, pens and tab folders. As your business evolves, you can grow into using programs and/or tools appropriate for your capabilities and your company’s objectives. Don’t use software and apps, just because some ‘how-to article’ suggested you do!
Do what works for your business. Just because your mentor, colleagues, and/or competition wrote a book, started a podcast, or offered grand promotions last year does NOT mean that you should, too! You may be in a similar industry and you may offer a similar product or service, but your business is—and always will be— unique to YOU. Your goals and motives are distinct and; therefore, your methods of pursuing and achieving those objectives should be, too. In fact, what makes your business stand-out from the competition is what will support its success.
Don’t be a copycat company. It’s ‘business and marketing 101’ to research your competition and ensure your differentiating yourself. However, many people fall into the trap of mimicking their mentors and/or companies they admire. You do you. Period. Success is made from authenticity, so if you’re following the footsteps of another, the path will never lead your business forward.
Stop comparing. Of course, you need to monitor the market— your competition and your audience—but you must keep in mind that the business coach, owner of the boutique you’ve shopped at for years, or the entrepreneur whose national conference you attended did NOT achieve her/his current success or high-profile in one-, two-, or even three-years.
Narrow your focus! Sure, we’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Start small and “Work Backwards from a Full Belly,” as we advised in a previous Fine Line blog post (LINK). Key to a successful business plan is having a niche. You know, doing, making or offering something so unique and so well that clients/customers want it.
Whatever your ONE thing is, ensure you’ve perfected it (or nearly) before prematurely expanding. Growing and differentiating too quickly can undermine the quality of your products or services. Think we’re not considering the big picture, then consider this: Spanx started with one amazing product, Outback is known for steaks, and Apple built an empire on one computer.
Finally, enlist professional expertise for nonnegotiable items or, as we refer to them, keystone communications pieces, like a boilerplate and logo that visually and succinctly reflects who and what your company is all about. Sure, you need to be cost-conscious when starting a business, but there are branding and marketing basics that you can’t afford to skimp on. This though, my friends, is a topic for a future Fine Lines Blog Post.