By Ayodeji Morolani
Lately, I have encountered lots of people in paid employment venturing into the exciting and risky but highly rewarding world of entrepreneurship. While some have succeeded at it, others have failed woefully.
It is pertinent to note that there are great distinctions between being a great employee and running a good business. Running a business requires expertise and skill which does not come overnight. Some businesses that have succeeded today have had several teething periods and have gone through several learning curves in the course of the business’ lifespan.
For your business to hit the ground running and succeed, you need to take the following into consideration;
- Offer what people want to buy, not just what you want to sell.Too often, people jump into a business built around a product or service they like or think will be successful, rather than one that is already proven to have a market. For instance, if you live in the tropics, it is better to sell clothes that suit the weather, rather than insisting on selling fashionable winter clothes. You need to ask yourself, do people need my products or not? There is also a difference between what people want and what they need. Sometimes, they might want a particular product or service as a sort of status symbol. But when it is a need, people will definitely patronize you.
- Always find new ways to keep costs low.You must ensure that your costs are low at the beginning. This simply means you do not engage in outlandish or bogus spending on fancy office or advertisement until you start generating enough cash and income to support the business.
- Focus on sales and marketing manically.In business, nothing happens until a sale is made. From the jump, you’ll need to find a good way to get leads, convert leads into sales, and make sure you keep getting repeat sales from your customers. The way to do this is to find or create a marketing and sales funnel system that you can work, test, measure; one that anyone in your company can utilize.
Too many entrepreneurs focus on getting their brand right before they start to generate leads. That is exactly the wrong way to go about business. Leads are always more important than your brand, so don’t waste money getting your brand right at the expense of spending that same money to buy new customers. Soon, you’ll discover you can build your brand from the ground up, versus spending years and hundreds of thousands of dollars building it from the top down. Don’t presume you’ll even survive that long, because without leads, you won’t!
- Keep Innovating.In business, you need to stay on top of competition. You have to consistently ensure that you are improving on your products and services. The business environment is dynamic, you there need to keep improving to move with changes in technology and the economy as a whole.
- Seek second opinions.Ensure you seek alternative options and opinions before embarking on any issue that might affect your business.
- Get Information.If it is your first attempt at running a business, you need to ensure that you study as much as you can about your preferred choice of business. Find out all the details and know what you need to do to make it work. You can learn to run one, even if it is your million dollar business you are building from the ground up.
However, you need to accept right now that learning always comes before “earning” (except in the dictionary). You’ll need to be committed to learning as much as you can about sales and marketing and operations if you want to have a truly success business. Once you do that, however, the sky is the limit. Knowing and applying those simple fundamentals in a highly leveraged way is one of the reasons many top executives and entrepreneurs earn so much.
Identify those areas and you then can decide to learn it yourself or hire an expert and learn as much as you can from that person–because you never know when you can run across a distinction in thinking or a strategy that can really take you and your business to a new level of success.
- Pay yourself a salary. Most entrepreneurs get this wrong. They assume the business is theirs and therefore, they believe they can dip hands into the profit and spend as it comes. This is wrong as the tendency is that you might spend the capital. Decide how much you want to pay yourself and stick to it. Let the business run as a separate entity, different from you.
- Get a coach.Even if you don’t get a business coach at first to help you and guide you in your planning and operation, get someone who is objective and outside of your business you can rely on for nitty gritty business advice and to hold you accountable to getting results. Too often, we think we have all the answers and are the only people who can really get things done. The reality is that another set of eyes can work wonders for how you operate both on and in your business. An outsider can also make sure you are getting the numbers you need both on the top line and the bottom line to survive.
I hope this initial checklist will be valuable in helping you clarify your thinking and helping you prioritize some activities in your planning and start up mode. I like to say there are no mysteries in business or in life, there’s just information you don’t know yet. So prepare as well as you can, knowing you will need to make changes and corrections. But armed with the right strategies up front, you can cut the time it will take you successfully get to your ultimate destination – wherever it is that may be for you and your business.
About Ayodeji Morolani:
He has worked for over 10 years in the banking industry where he managed various portfolios in Corporate and Consumer Banking as well as branch operations. He currently work as a Sales Development Manager in a multinational organization where he is charged with channel development, sales planning, relationship management and sales coaching. Connect with him on Facebook via Bridge Solutions.
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