10 Steps to kickstart your business

When you first get an idea for running a business sometimes the hardest part is knowing where to start.  Often people will gather as much information as possible and then find it impossible to translate the piles of guides and advice into a workable plan. This can really batter confidence and some people at this stage, feel like giving up before they’ve even started.

So here’s some tips to get you started – so you can give your business the kickstart it needs:

  1. Be Clear on Your Vision

As a Business Coach I support lots of women at the start up phase of their business and it never eases to amaze me how many people don’t have a clear vision for their business.  Often when I ask a client what their vision is I get the response, “I just want to sell my jewellery (or cards / make-up / training services etc)”.

If you want a viable business you really need to be clear about what your vision is.  What is your business going to look like in the next 3-5 years?  How big is is going to be?  What turnover and profit do you need?  What hours do you want to be working?  Who do you want to be working with?

Spend some time really thinking about what you want.  Often developing a vision board can help with this as you create on paper the life that you want to lead.  It really helps you to create clarity and focus about what you want to achieve – and that way, you have a starting point for developing a real plan.

 

  1. Have a Plan

Now you know what your vision is, it’s time to create a plan.  I often say to my clients that you wouldn’t get in the care and drive without knowing where you are going.  Treat your business in exactly the same way.  Your vision is your destination (although don’t think of it as your final destination – you need to continually evolve if you are serious about growing your business) and once you are clear on this you can develop your roadmap on how to get there (your plan)!

If you know you want to earn £X per year, then you need to consider how much turnover you need (pre-expenses) to achieve this; and just how many paying clients or customers you need to cover this.  Set out your plan for how you are going to achieve this (the information below will really help you) and break your targets down into manageable chunks: if you need 200 sales per year – how many do you need per month / week / day?  Also consider whether your product is seasonal – you may need more sales in the summer or at

Christmas and expect a smaller amount the rest of the year.  Either way, you should know EXACTLY when you need to achieve your sales and plan to make sure that happens.

 

  1. Identify Your IC

You need to identify who your Ideal Client (IC) is.  Someone out there needs to purchase your products or services, so it is essential that in order for you to build up trust with them – that you can speak directly to them.  I do not mean this in the literal sense (although in some cases you may), what I mean is, that you marketing has to come across as if you understand them and are speaking directly to that person.

Of course, your IC will depend on what you are selling.  If you make and sell premium, vegan make-up products your target audience might be women of a certain age, with a high disposable income who ethically minded to think about where their products come from.  If you are selling HR services you may want to target owners of growing businesses who are not big enough to have in-house services but still have HR needs.

Think about your products and who is your ideal customer. This of course, does not exclude others from buying, but it will ensure that you can develop a strategy for targeting and identifying with your ideal market.

 

  1. Identify How You Can Help

Once you have figured out who you want to work with, you need to work out what their particular problem is that you can help them with.

Think about what keeps that person awake at night.  What are their top frustrations? What is stopping them being happy?

If a person has a genuine problem – then they have a motivation to buy if you can offer a solution.

In the examples above, a woman might have difficulty finding brands of make-up that make her skin feel amazing but have no animal products.  A business owner might be wanting to take the next step in growing their business but nervous of the HR implications of having staff.  These are real life problems (albeit first world problems).

If you can identify your IC’s problem – then you have identified why they will be willing to pay for your products.

 

  1. Construct Your Solution

Ok, so now you have identified who you want to work with and what their problem is – so now you have to present your solution.  This can also form part of your branding if appropriate (i.e., you offer one product which has a clear advantage).

In order to project your solution to your IC, then you really need to think about the opposite to your IC’s problem i.e., how their life will be different (for the better) by having your product.  Focus on the results they will get!

 

In the examples above, if you focus on selling the ethical benefits of your make-up, you may make a few sales but there are loads of make-up companies out there that also sell vegan products.  Also people won’t be willing to buy unless they know the make-up is any good.  What makes yours different and what are the benefits?  It might be that your products make your eyelashes look really long or make skin feel really young and soft.  Here you have your real benefits.

The better you can describe the benefits to them, the more likely your IC will buy.  So articulate this really well in all your marketing materials and be consistent.

 

  1. Find Your Market

So you know who your IC is, you know what their problem is and how to communicate your solution to them.  So where do you find them?

Here, you really need to think about where your audience hangs out.  If your target audience is Male Accountants, you wouldn’t expect to find them (or lots of them) at a Zumba class.  So really concentrate on who your IC is, what interests they have, what do they do of an evening.  This will help you formulate where to target your marketing both online and offline.

 

  1. Get Your Message Out There

Now you have to tell people who you are and what you do.  Get the word out there – but make sure you are telling them the benefits, not the process.

Think of all the marketing opportunities you have identified in the steps above and go for it!  If you don’t, you can’t be surprised when nobody buys.

 

  1. Have A Call To Action and Follow Up

It’s great to market and make connections with your IC – but be specific about what they need to do next.

If you have loads of information all over your website about what you offer – make it clear what they have to do next to work with you or buy your products.

If you meet with a potential client and it’s clear you can work together or your product is a great fit with their needs – don’t wait for them to approach you, tell them how they can proceed.

If someone needs time to think, this does not mean that they are not interested.  It means just that: they need more time to consider. It takes trust to buy from someone, and this takes time to build up.  If someone needs time, let them know that you are still there – ask them if there’s anything else they need to know (about you or the products); keep in regular contact so that when they are ready to make that purchase, it is from you!

Don’t lose sales because you are too worried about telling them what they need to do – it is your job to get sales, otherwise your business will fail.

 

  1. Believe and Go For It!

The steps above are easy to map out in principle but I have had many clients fail to put it into practise just because they don’t believe they can do it; or they are leaving money on the table by lacking the confidence to make an offer, or follow up a lead.

These negative beliefs and fears really can hold you back – but only if you let them.  If you have negative beliefs, stop them in their tracks.  Write down positive affirmations and say them to yourself.  If you are worried about making a phone-call to follow up a lead; imagine yourself feeling really confident and making the call with ease and really think about the words you will use.  The more you practise this in your mind, the easier it will be to do – and then it will become normal.

Don’t let your limiting beliefs get in the way of a good plan – go for it!

 

  1. Review

By now you have a clear plan to get out there and have the makings of a brilliant business.  However, another big step is to regularly review how it is going.  Look at your targets and plans at least weekly and consider what has worked well and what hasn’t.  Do more of what works, learn from what doesn’t and adjust your plan to reflect.

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5 reasons why having a Coach is great for business

When many of my clients first come to me for support, they really are at the end of their tether – they are stressed because they are putting loads of effort into their business and the return they are getting, just doesn’t reflect all that effort. Sometimes clients are seeing having a coach as a last ditch attempt to make a go of their business before deciding whether they should chuck it all in, as they had never anticipated that owning their own business would be that hard.  A few months down the line, most of these clients are saying they wished they had come to me sooner, before they ever got that way as coaching had helped them and their business immeasurably.

So how can having a coach help your business?

1. Clarity and focus

One of the biggest first wins, is gaining clarity for my clients.  Often my clients really can’t see the wood for the trees.  They come to me because something in their business isn’t working: they may not be getting the clients, earning the level of income they want, working too hard,  not having work-life balance, lacking time…  sometimes they’re not even sure what the problem is – they just know it’s all too much.

Owning a business is such a responsibility and people go into business with the expectation that it’s going to work – so when things aren’t going right, it’s stressful. Admitting that your business is failing, is like admitting that you’re a bad parent: that baby you’re looking after and are responsible for, is not thriving and turning out to be what you had in mind.  It’s overwhelming at times, and those small problems can easily escalate into feeling like HUGE problems.  Therefore, helping my clients to understand what the problem is, is so rewarding.  And often, it puts everything into perspective, that it isn’t so huge: it’s one small (or lots of small) problems that can then be managed in a focused way.

Of course, understanding the problem is the first part.  The second is then deciding what the outcome needs to be; and then setting manageable tasks that will deliver that outcome.  This creates that focus needed to make things happen.  And guess what?  When you are clear on the outcome and what will drive you towards it, you are more likely to be focusing on the tasks that will get you there: making you more effective, more time efficient and more likely to achieve!

2. Connection

Understanding the power of connection and alignment is really powerful.  Often clients do not know why their business is important to them; or what they need to achieve from it.

I help my clients understand why their business is important and therefore, what it’s purpose is for them.  In order to do this I help clients to understand more about themselves and the lives that they want.  Business and home life are completely linked when you’re a business owner so ensuring that your own personal values and goals are connected, is important.  This could be about using the business to drive a personal ambition e.g., often it’s having a successful business to fund a lifestyle of children; or to get personal recognition.  Getting to the root of this purpose is critical because then we can ensure that the business can achieve it for you.

It’s often enlightening for someone to truly understand their reason ‘why’ (or purpose) and connecting this to their business.  But once a client has truly connected their purpose with their business vision and the activities within their business, the magic really begins to happen.

3. Time and space

It’s surprising how many people don’t take time out from working in the business to work on developing the business.  Having a coach will give dedicated time to focus on how to develop the business and make it grow and /or work for you.  Furthermore, I have some clients who take time out to work on their business but have no idea on where to start.  A coach can help with this by giving you the time and headspace to think about what’s important and then to help you with getting the clarity and focus on what you want to achieve – and of course, most importantly how to get there.

So often, my clients say that having the time and space to talk and think in a challenging but supportive environment has enabled them to move forward so much more quickly than if they had been trying to work on it on their own.

4. Mindset

Having a mindset that drives you forward is one of the biggest determinants on success.  Often my clients know exactly what they need to do but they either don’t believe they can do it, or they lack the confidence to do it.  Either way, it holds them back.

Being able to identify exactly what is holding a person back and supporting the client with their mindset so that they can move forward with absolute certainty that they will achieve, is so powerful.

5. Accountability

When you’re a business owner it’s so so easy to talk yourself out of doing something, or to put something off.  But of course, if you are regularly putting off those actions that will make a positive difference to your business, the only person missing out, is you! A Coach acts as an accountability partner and will ensure that the actions you set for yourself are achievable for you; and will challenge you to make sure that you achieve them.  So if you know that being accountable for your actions is something you struggle with, a Coach will definitely help you to take your business forward.

 

 

 

 

Why a mastermind is good for you and your business

Running Mastermind sessions is a passion of mine.  I love watching a group of people who may not previously know each other form a strong group: challenging each other to get things done, bouncing business ideas around, supporting each other when work feels tough, and celebrating in each others success.

But still a lot of the people I meet in business do not know what a Mastermind is, or how it can help them and their business.

So what is a mastermind?

A Mastermind is a group of people who meet monthly (some meet more regularly or less frequently, but my groups meet monthly) to discuss areas of their business they want to work on.  The aim of the sessions is that everyone gets an opportunity to discuss an area they wish to develop and they are then supported by the rest of the group to create a clear plan on how to deliver.  This is usually achieved through good questioning by the rest of the group and also by the group offering their knowledge and expertise (it’s good to have a group with different skill-sets for this reason).  But of course, having a plan is not enough – the group is also there to hold each other accountable; ensuring that if someone has made a commitment to do something, they do it.

Why is a Mastermind good for you and your business?

1. You will be part of an exclusive community

As part of a mastermind you will become part of an exclusive group. You will meet monthly and you will form strong bonds with the group you are in.  Not only that, mastermind groups are usually formed for their complementing skills.  This means that the group as a whole will be able to problem solve easily, ideas will flow and you will develop amazing action plans that really deliver.

2.  You will have peer support

It can be pretty lonely being a business owner – particularly if you are part of a small business, or work from home.  Having people who in your mastermind who you know are in a similar position and who you can bounce ideas off is great for giving you further sense of purpose and making you feel that you are not alone.

3. You will achieve results – FAST

A huge benefit from having a group of people listening to your work issues, is that you have a range of experience to draw on.  This means that when it comes to finding solutions you will come up with them quickly.  Also you will develop great plans for delivery and have a whole group of people asking about how the work is going.  Therefore, you have accountability – there is no hiding from getting the work done.  Consequently, unless you want to be the one to admit to the rest of the group that you haven’t done what you said you would; you will get your plan delivered – and of course, that means you will get results and much faster than when working on it alone.

4. You will gain confidence

There is nothing like feeling part of a successful community and delivering in your job.  When you feel successful, guess what? Your confidence soars! Who wouldn’t want this?

5. You will grow your network

The mastermind may be small (usually less than 8 people) but you will get to know those people really well and they will become your best supporters.  Therefore, you will be introduced to / recommended to, each of the members networks over time.  Consequently, by being part of the mastermind you will grow your network not just by the number in your group, but you will typically also gain the network of those in your group.  And the best bit is, that a a group you will genuinely want to support and help each other – and that means promoting each others business, which of course, leads to more business.

6. You will meet new people to collaborate with

As a close group who want to support you (and with complementary skills), it is highly likely that members in your group might find ways of collaborating.  You might find someone in the group who is a perfect fit for a project you are working on or you might have the skill that they need.  This will allow you to achieve far more.

 

If you would like to find out more about Mastermind groups or are interested in joining a mastermind in the Somerset / Devon / Dorset area, then contact:               Yvonne@astara-coaching.co.uk for more details.