“What you love and God’s will for you are the same” – the Passion Test.
There is a good chance that the reason why you are considering stepping into the world of Entrepreneurship is because you are currently working a job that you are finding boring and unfulfilling. True? Well I can tell you that if you start a business just for the sake of getting yourself out of that job, you will soon find yourself right back where you started. Chances are it could be worse because you are the one that has to pay the bills and there is no guaranteed pay check every month.
Running your own business isn’t all the glamour and fun that it looks like from the outside. It is damn hard work and requires strength of character, persistence and more persistence. So what is the best way to make sure that you wont give up when you hit the first speed bump or throw the towel in when the going gets too tough? It is essential that you find something that you are passionate about. Something that you believe in, something that drives you and excites you.
“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you” – Steve Jobs
Take time to explore what it is that you love to spend your time doing. When my sister took over my bookkeeping business, after a few months she seemed frustrated and began searching for something else because she didn’t seem to be enjoying it. She started to explore what it was that she enjoyed in life, what she was good at and what she was passionate about. She told me that what she loved was “helping people”.
She started to explore other careers and none of them fit in with her goals and dreams. So she stepped out of her comfort zone and started attending a business coaching program. She soon realized that what she was doing in her business was “helping people”. She was very good at it and running her own business was a path to her financial freedom. Once she acknowledged this thing that she loved and focused on it within her business – things started to shift and her business grew and grew. She attracted more and more of her ideal clients and she was able to help many people feel better about the administration and financial side of their business.
If you are really not sure where your passion lies, I recommend you check out The Passion Test www.thepassiontest.com It really helped me to more clearly define my life’s purpose. As well as The Passion Test, spend time everyday just reading and learning about things that interest you. Trust your instinct and stay positive, that thing that you love will reveal itself all in right timing.
2. Have a Purpose, then create a plan.
When you take that first step out into the business world it can seem very daunting. So much information to take into consideration sales, marketing, accounts, finance, tax, staff etc etc etc How do you stay focused on what you set out to achieve in the first place? How do you stop yourself from becoming overwhelmed, from drowning in all of the “to do’s”? The answer is:
1. You need to identify your purpose. Ask yourself WHY you are committing to this journey as an entrepreneur?
2. You need a plan and you need to break that plan down into smaller more achievable steps.
3. You need to then take ACTION and tick those items off your to do list.
“It is precisely the possibility of realizing a dream that makes life interesting” – The Alchemist, Paulo Coehlo
What is your purpose? Is it to be the most recognized hair designer in town for your style and innovation? Is it to be financially free so that you have choice and freedom? Is it to put a dent in the universe as Steve Jobs did? Take time to explore your ideas and once you have worked out what your purpose is, pin it on your wall or on your bathroom mirror or on your computer screen saver. Remind yourself regularly about your purpose – it will help you to make the right decisions and to keep you on track when you are feeling like things are getting way too tough.
Does the sound of a business plan scare you? I am an accountant and I can tell you that it even sounds scary to me. I have seen many people get bogged down in the most intense and detailed business plans but then fail to take action and execute them – probably because they look at the “book” that is their business plan and don’t know where to begin.
Although my belief is that intricate business plans are not necessarily essential, I do believe that it is vitally important to spend time planning the actions required to achieve your purpose and your goals. Take time every week, Sunday night preferably, to review your goals and then identify the actions that are required to achieve those goals. Realistically schedule things in and then just DO IT. As you move forward and tick things off your list you will feel like you are making progress and it will be massive inspiration for you to keep going.
Remember as you move along your journey you will come across people, places and opportunities that you never dreamed you would. So while you are actively planning and working through your to-do list, remember to be flexible. Plans are never set in concrete, things can change, so be sure to flow through your journey.
3. Be Realistic.. Do the numbers stack up?
So you have found something you are passionate about, something that will make you jump out of bed in the morning. You are clear on your purpose and you have a plan of action. Awesome… But now it is time for a big reality check. In the words of Zig Ziglar “Money isn’t everything but it ranks right up there with oxygen”. If your passion or idea doesn’t stack up on the profit and loss statement, the cashflow statement and the balance sheet, the reality is you won’t be passionate about it for very long.
Even if you are already a millionaire and you plan to do it for love not money – you will still need to see if the numbers stack up. If you don’t check this and the numbers don’t stack up, the wealth that you have worked hard to build over time could be gone quicker than you can blink.
My good friend Jane, has been a beauty therapist for many years. She has worked hard, putting lots of hours and money into establishing a reputable business with a strong clientele. Her customer’s love her – she is excellent at what she does. She put on an employee as demand grew for her services. After years and years of battling it out there was more often than not very little money left over at the end of each year for her. So the first thing we did when she came to me for help was to review the numbers.
“I believe that if you show people the problems and you show them the solutions they will be moved to act” – Bill Gates
The numbers showed that Jane’s hours in the salon were very productive and that she made a significant profit. However instead of her employee making her more money she was in fact costing her money. All of the money that Jane was making was literally just going into paying her employee’s wage. When Jane saw the numbers in black and white, it was like a light bulb going off. She immediately took action to change her business structure and to consequently change her life.
The moral of the story is – run the numbers first. Don’t wait for years of heartache and then run the numbers only to reveal what you could have known at the start. Get a good accountant to assist you with the following;
1. Projected profit and loss report – You want to know how many cakes you have to sell, or how many legs you have to wax everyday to have enough money to reach your goals.
2. Capital Requirements – how much money do you need in the bank to get this idea going? If you have no other source of income you need to be realistic about how long it is going to take to make the business profitable so that it can provide you an income stream to live off. So don’t only take into consideration set up costs for the business but also living costs for the time it takes you to be cashflow positive.
3. Cash Flow report – Profit is one thing but Cash is king. You might be making money but all that money could be going towards interest, lease payments or loans. How much cash will you have left over every month? Is it enough for you to live week to week?
4. If you need to employ staff, get the low down on minimum wage rates, employment contracts, superannuation requirements and PAYG tax requirements.
Run the numbers, be realistic and then review the numbers regularly to see if you are meeting your targets. If you are not, act immediately, don’t wait. Don’t bury your head in the sand and say everything will be ok. Be aware and be realistic.
4. Know thy customer
Sales and Marketing can be one of the most challenging aspects of running a business. In fact if you don’t have sales and customers you don’t have a business. So where do you find your customers? What marketing method do you use? How do you let them know where you are and what you have to offer them?
When I completed the Dale Carnegie Sales Advantage course I learnt amongst many things, that there are a variety of reasons why a customer buys from a business – the main reason is NOT price. Can you believe that more likely than not people buy from you because they “like” you? – well it’s true.
“A sale isn’t a thing, it’s a process. It isn’t standing still, its moving. It isn’t one long job it’s a series of smaller jobs” – Dale Carnegie Sales Training Course
I was observing all the comments being made on one of my friend’s Facebook post recently. She was talking about why she doesn’t buy from big chain outlets. She believes that contributing to shareholders is unethical for her. Her preference is to purchase from small local suppliers or in this case she used the local cash converters (pawn shop).
There were many comments made on her post from others about how they believed that cash converters was unethical, they believed that most of the goods at cash converters were stolen and turned in for cash. People felt very strongly about their buying choice, it had to match with their values, beliefs and morals. Some people just said – “you have too much time on your hands“ – for them it was a choice of convenience. Lots of people, lots of different opinions, not one of them was making a choice to buy based on price.
I believe it is important to get clear on the message that you wish to deliver to your audience. You need to put yourself in your customers shoes. Think about what their challenges are, feel what they feel, “be” them and work on your product or service representing the solution for your customer. Establish credibility by solving their problems and frustrations and make sure you offer service that is second to none.
In order for you to know what method you need to use to deliver your message, think about where your audience spends most of their time. Are they attending networking groups? Are they on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest? Are they carrying around a smart phone in their pockets? In my opinion television, radio and newspaper are old methods of marketing that you use if you have got a big budget. Unless of course you can engage some good PR and get some free exposure, that will work a treat especially in your local areas – people love a good “story” rather than a good “ad”.
This is a sample from a chapter in the book, Business, Business, Business! Available from Amazon