Being an entrepreneur is not only exciting as you will work on your great idea and follow your passion, but it is also a rich process of learning and self-development. In many cases, aspiring businesspeople have a vision in their head, but they struggle to articulate that vision and make it a feasible proposition for potential clients or investors.
I have worked with many businesspeople, managers and board members who can talk eloquently about their ideas without including a single number to measure the feasibility of their thoughts. So, at the end of the day, they only have a fantasy that is not impressing anyone. Your success as a professional or businessperson depends on your ability to talk numbers and specific goals and address what your stakeholders are looking for.
A few months ago, my client Jacklyn had contacted me asking for guidance and advice on how she can lead her team. Jacklyn was promoted from a team player role in a big insurance company to a team leader who is leading some case consultants. She could speak regarding a number of cases handled by her team; her supervisor was not interested in the number of cases handled, but profit, loss and savings. While her team handled a large number of cases, the department was not achieving positive results and affecting the company’s bottom line negatively. In collaboration with Jacklyn and two of her team, we managed to develop a set of key performance indicators for the team to assess their success in line with how the top management evaluate the department success.
Like Jacklyn, I worked with another client, Amanda. Amanda is a brilliant young lady who decided to work as a virtual assistant. After several years of working as a freelancer, Amanda decided to incorporate her business and hire several virtual assistants to handle clients’ requests.
During the last year, Amanda has attended many networking events hoping to find investors who will be convinced to invest in the company and help her establish a comfortable workplace for her virtual assistants to work and be close to her. This way, she will be able to manage the team effectively.
What was missing in Amanda’s pitch was the business traction. She could not demonstrate the feasibility of her idea and explain the viability of transforming her business from a freelancing model or a corporation model. So, we worked on a business plan that included a clear description of how she plans on creating revenue streams and generate income so the new company will be profitable. We also included ways that will build customer tractions starting with customer profiling.
Making your business traction, has several pillars as follow:
MAINTAIN THE ‘LEAN’ MODEL
As you engage in the planning process of your career or business, you have to design your survival toolkit. Today’s markets are very dynamic; client’s demands are becoming more sophisticated, and laws and regulations are increasingly complicated; this mandates higher degrees of agility and flexibility in today’s businesses.
In my business, my team and I try to maintain the “Lean” factor by building the company’s knowledge assets and keeping the service provision as flexible as it could be. We also focus on building our collective capabilities and skills-sets as individuals as well as a team.
START WITH THE BASICS
Enterbreunures and business people usually fall in love with your idea and do not invest enough time in customer profiling. That is why you need to revisit your business plan several times during the growth stage of your business and ask the fundamental questions:
- Who is my target audience? Are my prospect clients the same as when I started?
- What will motivate them to buy my product or service?
- How can I optimise my marketing and PR efforts?
- What are the effective ways to track the efforts to reach my customers?
- Which customer development strategy works best?
TRACK YOUR KPIs
Tracking your efforts and results is crucial to building your business traction. You need to establish a healthy understanding of quantitative measures and performance indicators. Performance indicators such as the number of users, the number of visitors, revenue, profitability metrics, and Return On Investment (ROI) are examples of some measures that you can use to evaluate your efforts.
The fundamental principle of management measures as “what you can measure you can manage”. Setting specific goals will help in benchmarking your success and will give you insights to how to grow. You can learn about the best performance indicators to use from publications related to your industry. A restaurant owner might use different indicators than a Tech startup.
As a business consultant and entrepreneur, I have noticed that entrepreneurs spend a significant part of time and effort focusing on their product or service, ignoring the marketing planning phase and get confronted with the challenge at the launch the venture. This leads to haphazard marketing efforts that have little impact on the success of the business. Your efforts in marketing should be 25% of your total efforts to make your venture a hit.