Planning for Success
Building a successful business is a lot like cultivating a garden. You have to plan what you want to grow. I see business owners try one thing after another without ever taking the time to figure out what they want or why they want it.
It would be like tossing out flower seeds when you hoped to harvest a bumper crop of vegetables. Take some time to envision what you want your business to be in 6 months, a year, a few years, even 5 years. At least start with six months and a year.
What kind of clients do you want? How many? Will you have more employees? How many hours do you want to work? How much flexibility do you need or want? How much money do you need to earn and how much do you want to earn? How much of that will be reinvested into the business and why?
See What’s New
One of the great joys of gardening is seeing what else is available. What else is possible? It’s important to do your research and keep your eyes and ears open to possibilities. Dream. Dream big. Dream often. Capture those ideas on paper or create a Pinterest page, so you can refer back to them.
I have a client who is a successful classical artist and teacher. She opened a studio and found great success. As she expanded her business to a new location, she wanted to know what else she could do that related to her business. They opened an art supply store to provide her students with their tools of the trade rather than send them elsewhere. Her business is so successful she is now expanding with more teachers and inventory.
Learning from the Past
Each year I evaluate what went well and what struggled to survive in my garden. Did I place my plants where they would thrive? Did the sun-loving plants get enough sun? Did I water too much or too little? Was it better to start from seedling or purchase starter plants? Was my soil rich enough? Did I dig down deep enough?
In business, you can ask yourself very similar questions. Did I place my efforts on things that counted? Did I pay attention to my clients enough? Did I give them what they wanted and needed? Did I try to do everything myself, or was I willing to ask for help or invest in something to help me grow it faster? Did I dig deep enough, or did I give up? Did I start with the right ingredients for success?
Prep the Soil
Before a seed goes in the ground, to ensure the best harvest, I add compost and till the soil.
In business, often times, that soil is you and your employees. It can also include your family. This is the soul of your business. Feeding the spirit of your business means understanding what is important to each member touched by your business. Nourishing them ensures they can better support your business.
Sharpen Your Tools
If you’ve ever tried to dig holes with dull tools, you know the effort is exponentially harder than with sharpened blades. Make sure, too, that you have the right tools for the job.
Businesses are offered new tools all the time – new software, new technology, new hardware, and new media for advertising. Making sure you are using the right ones is important.
Sharpen your skills and the skills of your employees. Take and offer courses for improvement. Giving opportunities to grow creates a happier workplace too.
Get Busy Planting
Stop planning and start doing. It’s time to get dirty and have fun! Too many business owners spend too much time investigating and planning,because they want to do it right the first time. At some point, you just have to dig in. Go for it,and adjust as you go. Ask for help if you need it.
Get Rid of the Weeds
Weeds rob your plants of nutrients and can literally strangle the life out of them. Staying on top of them becomes a regular practice for a gardener.
What are the weeds in your life? My equivalent to bind weed (the kind that strangles) is email. I can lose hours in a day trying to stay on top of it. If I truly evaluate my time spent (which I do to help keep me on track) and am honest, I could delete 60-80% of my time if I just deleted non-essential emails.
Rid yourself of negativity and pessimism. Being realist is different. Realize, too, that you don’t want to surround yourself with “yes” people. Have people who are willing to tell you their honest opinions and reward that behavior. Make it clear, though, that negativity won’t be tolerated, and be clear what consequences will follow if not corrected.
Water & Feed
Pay attention to your garden. Pay attention to the details of your business. A great way to do that is a daily meeting (even if it’s just with yourself) to make sure you are on track and working on the right things to reach your goals. Invest your time in your customer service, sales, marketing, and nourish your relationships.
It’s time to enjoy your successes. Take the time to recognize every win in your business. Celebrate your growth and your accomplishments, and share your lessons with others. If you get a bumper crop, then share in the wealth. Give back to those who can use your time, expertise, or even financial help. Most of all, have fun!
Lynda Colter-Bergh is the CEO of Bottom Lines Consulting and is a practical business consultant. Her passion is to help small businesses succeed. She starts by making sure her clients aren’t wasting money with their merchant services account. It’s one of the fastest ways to free up cash flow. She then focuses on the day-to-day struggles of the business, combining of her experience and her intuition to identify new options and opportunities. Lynda helps businesses identify their key differentiators, target markets, niches, sales opportunities, marketing materials, channel partner programs and prides herself on her ability to foresee potential issues, overcome obstacles, and create new avenues for income. Contact – Website – Facebook
Photo Credit – Gualberto107