Don’t call yourself a business owner unless you have a business. If you’re creating a business that is beyond ‘self-employment’ then you have to start right from the beginning. If you don’t set the foundation early on, it will cost you money and time down the road.
Honestly, you could cost yourself thousands of dollars by staying small for too long. It’s hard work – I’ll be honest, but I’ll walk you through it.
First, you’re going to craft a starting point. I’ll give you the questions you must ask yourself to create your business foundation.
1. WHAT IS YOUR POSITION IN THE MARKETPLACE?
What value do you create? People need to see the value or the benefit of your product or service.
What does your product/service provide your customers? This is your business foundation. Get clear. How will you create value? Who are you creating value for? This is how you identify your target customer.
What are their likes/dislikes? What are their struggles? This will be your foundation. This is who you’re writing to, talking to, and trying to engage. This is the most important piece of your business foundation.
Your emails, social media posts, and blog posts are just ‘noise’ if you skip this step. You need to find your audience and then market to them, create products/services with them in mind, and scale your business approroately based on your audience size.
2. WHAT ARE YOU OFFERING?
This is where you identify your business and what value you’ll provide. What business are you in? How are you helping your audience?
Your operating model is your set of choices – how you will run your business. This is a difficult question. You have to look at all aspects of what you offer. This brings together how you operate your business rather than how you make money.
Can you add onto what you offer? Can an addition add more value? For example a live event and a course together provide more value than either option on its own. Look at it from a holistic view to see what your customers need/want.
Have complementary services, so that you have different price points and meet your audience where they are and what they can afford. You’ll have people all over the board – some want minimal contact and minimal support and will buy your base package, but others may want more and are willing to pay more if you sell other services. If you sell products, it’s why you have products at all price points – you have options for everyone.
See where your customers are at – do your research, see what your competitors are doing and then do it better.
3. WHAT IS YOUR UNIQUENESS?
What makes you different? This is better than better. That sounds crazy, right? It’s the same thing done differently.
How will you deliver your value? What makes you stand out? Why should your audience come to you rather than someone else? What if someone copies you? It’s important to stay unique so that you are always a step above what others offer.
It comes down to your personal brand. No one can copy your brand – that’s a personal thing. Sure, they could copy what you sell, or what you post, but they can’t copy your personality, mission, and values. That’s what it comes down to.
Think about your business plan. What sets you apart? What makes investors or banks want to invest in you when you want to expand? Whether you need a loan or you want individual investors – you must show that you are reputable, have a solid idea, and have the ability to succeed.
There is no right or wrong way to create your business foundation. It’s what is right for you. If you won’t need investors, you may not have to dive as deep, but it can only push you to grow more. Having a solid foundation is the only way to ensure that you have a brand that builds and grows over time.
It’s a work of art and always changes. It doesn’t start and end when you start and stop doing business. It’s something you should revisit yearly.
As you come across new problems, or you want to expand, your business plan changes. Your foundation changes as you grow. Go back in and figure out what sets you apart. Why is this a good decision? Know your industry and know your target market. Take the time to do the research to continually adapt your foundation.
TAKE THE TIME TO ANSWER QUESTIONS
It’s important that everyone takes time to answer these questions. No matter where you are and how big (or not) you want to get – this is your foundation. This is the time to get real. What legal structure will you set up? How will you handle your taxes? How will you grow when it’s time (if you want)?
This isn’t about diving in headfirst – this is giving your business direction. It’s giving you a map to figure out how to navigate your business in the competitive and ever-changing world. It’s not a plan that’s stuck in the quicksand – you should constantly be adjusting. The more flexible you and your business plan are, the more successful you’ll be, but it all starts with the foundation.
Don’t go into business without a foundation, you’ll only set yourself up for failure. Create a sustainable and scalable company that will help you reach your goals.