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.

 

 

 

 

Learning to unplug

I was brought up to believe that I could achieve anything I wanted if I worked hard enough.  It was a belief I strongly held and yes, I have achieved lots in my life: good exam results, great career…but that did come at a cost – I did have to work really hard at it.

Not only that, when my career involved being an employed Director (employed by someone else, not my own business), it seemed that everyone was conditioned to work really hard: putting in as many hours as they could, skipping lunch, and running round the building like headless chickens whilst they demonstrated just how busy and important they were.  And yes, everyone was important, they were doing a great job – but the stress was so visible and a number of colleagues burnt out, including myself.

For me it was a wake-up call.  My burn out manifested itself in lots of illness that wouldn’t go away – my body was literally telling me to stop.  I knew that if I continued at the pace I was, my body might stop for good.  As a mother of two young children, it scared the hell out of me.

It taught me a lot – about the power of stress (and how at it’s worst it reduced me to feeling useless and helpless) but most importantly, about resilience.  I thought I was highly resilient – and I was.  That meant that I was seen as a good worker who delivered, which meant more and more work landed on my desk.  But what I learnt about resilience is that it’s all a balancing act – if our stressors exceed our resilience, then we will break (and everybody has a breaking point, no matter how resilient you think you are).

In order to become more resilient, we need self-care: we need to do things that top up our cup and make us feel good and happy. It really made me evaluate just how much I did for myself: very little.  I thought about all the things I love doing such as running, walking, reading, spending quality time with my boys, spending time with friends, taking a long soak in the bath and actually, I got to do those things infrequently.

Since then I have changed my life enormously.  I now have my own business which I have grown over the past four years – I spend my days coaching and training others in how to develop their business and make it successful.  One of the biggest messages I give, is that in order for us to be successful we cannot work at a hundred miles per hour all the time – if we try to operate like a machine, we will burn out (and actually who leaves their machines and gadgets on 24 hours a day? We all know they will burn out and go up in smoke!).  If we are to be successful we need to be clear on our strategy, focus on the important and we need to make time for ourselves; we need to unplug from the daily treadmill and do things that make us happy.  It is then we have the energy and focus to live enriched lives, to deliver what’s important and to be truly successful.

Every Action has a Positive Intention

“Every Action has a positive intention”, is an NLP presupposition which we should all be mindful of.  So often, we assume the worst in people – that someone is foolish for taking a particular action or selfish, or unkind…

Instead the NLP presupposition assumes that every time someone acts, they are trying to achieve something or avoid something, but that intention is coming from a good place (based on their resources, beliefs and experiences).

In my coaching sessions I have often come across clients who are angry with a colleague; a colleague whose actions may have caused upset; may have lost the organisation customers; or caused damage in some way.  Clients become so focused on the resulting outcome, that they fail to understand that their colleague did not come to work with the intention of doing a bad job.  In fact, most people go to work wanting to do the best they can but sometimes it goes wrong: in trying to achieve something, they take an action which they believe is the right one, but it results in something unintended.  Asking clients to see it from the colleague’s perspective or to discuss the learning from it, rather than dealing only with the outcome, is far more productive (and supportive) and often prevents the incident from becoming more damaging.

I often have to remind myself of this presupposition when it comes to my children too.  Once I left my son in the living room for a few minutes to come back in and find him drawing on the floor.  I instantly wanted to shout and tell him to stop, but reminded myself not to.  Instead, I asked him what he was trying to do, “I’m making a cave!”, he replied, beaming from ear to ear.  My heart instantly melting and I said, “Ok, that sounds fabulous – how about we get some giant paper, so you can make your cave really big and so it doesn’t damage the floor?”.  “Yes, please.”, he replied, eager to keep playing and to keep me happy.

The outcome was good: my son got what he wanted; and not only did my approach save any more damage; it also allowed everyone to continue to feel good (instead of causing upset which would have happened if I shouted).

Remembering that people’s actions generally come from a good intention really does have benefits, for working relationships and at home.