Running a business is really like running a marathon. You need to plan, train and then pace yourself in order to have a successful finish.
How do you "pace" yourself you ask? Very carefully!
Many times the idea or concept takes us running out of the gate, full of enthusiasm and pep. That is all good because that energy is what is going to get you to the finish line, however, pacing yourself in your execution, strategy and growth can mean the difference between making or breaking that strong finish.
The flip side of the obvious quick start is the paralyzing, procrastinated fear of actually launching. You may be shaking your head right now and thinking, "really, people get scared into immobility?".. The answer is, quite simply yes.
Many entrepreneurs either find themselves hitting that wall at the very beginning of their concept, before it has even evolved into a full fledged business plan. I have a friend who is talented beyond belief, full of potential and yet she balks a the idea of actually executing her plan for fear of failure, fear of making a mistake and fear of fear itself. Secondary to that would be the successful business owner that has already launched but has hit a plateau whether it's valid and just a growth block or perhaps they hit a very deep pothole. The fear is still there and still very real.
In either of those situations, you need to force yourself make a list and make your "why and why nots" very tangible. What are you afraid of, drill down form that first answer. If you cannot do it on your own, grab a supportive friend, or hire Life/Business Coach or business consultant!.
(*Here is a shameless plug for my olympic medal wearing, straight shooting, Life Coach, Jeff Pain; whom I thank for kicking me in the ass when I needed it!)
Ask yourself, are you afraid of failure for money reasons or lack of support from family members? Is it more confidence related? Start your short list, then drill it down. What is the worst thing that can happen? What is the consequence of that action or more importantly, the inaction? Then take your list on the upswing, what would happen if you DID succeed? What would that feel like? What would THAT fallout look like?
Regardless of your reasons for faltering, force yourself to view it from all angles. There is a pretty good chance that what you fear isn't as big as the fear itself. Take that first step and OWN it!
Now go be amazing!!
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Serial entrepreneurs have no shortage of ideas and often, they are running off with their great idea before actually getting properly prepared to run with it! Here are 5 tips for any start-up or new business owner to consider BEFORE galloping off into the successful sunset! Ready - Set - Go!
5 Business Start-Up Tips:
1. Research your business name THOROUGHLY. This means your business name at the registry office, your trade name, DBA (short for "doing business as") or your proposed operating name. Then check the trademark databases in your country to make sure the name is not already in use or possibly something too similar. But don't stop there; you will need to make sure the corresponding domain name is available as well as Twitter handle and Facebook! Yes! Your name matters, research it well and cover ALL your bases.
2. Talk to an Accountant. They can help you prepare your filing system for receipts, month end preparation as well as give you advice on tax breaks/cuts you may not have realized you could use. You will want to understand the difference between being a Sole Proprietor or being Incorporated etc. Let them help your startup launch on a clear, planned and strong base.
3. Invest in your brand from day one. Having a business name is one thing, having an identity is another. Plan on hiring a graphic designer and other professional to help you formulate your brand image, from logo concept, corporate colours to social media icons and online personality. You have only a few seconds to make a first impression, regardless if it is online, in an office or a brick and mortar store; make it count!
4. Hire professionals where and when you need them. All startups need to invest in their social media. Companies are being made and broken online every day; knowing your brand and being able to successfully take it to market and bundle it up for social media is crucial. Do not make the mistake of assuming you can do it all yourself if you are brand new to the world of social media; the learning curve will leave you in the dust of your competitors with no guarantees of ever catching up. Launch strongly, clearly and with a strategy in place.
5. Research your market and competition VERY thoroughly. Many people assume that their idea or concept is better than anything in the marketplace and blindly run to production or execution mode only to find that a competitor has already launched a bigger, better version at a much friendlier price! Knowing your competing products or businesses inside and out will always put you at a vantage point. Don't skimp on knowledge!
"Leah, what are some simple organizational tips you can offer to help get out from the awful pile of papers I always seem to have on my desk?" ~Janet, Store Owner, ON, Canada
COLOR CODING FOR YOUR "IN BOX":
Don't have time to file paperwork every day? Color code and "fast track" your in pile. Have a few different colors of post it tags; matching to things like HR/EMPLOYEES, ACCOUNTING, INVOICES (A/R), INVOICES A/P).. so maybe red for A/P (Accounts Payable).
So your staff expense the odd paid out receipt from the till for postage, UPS drivers, Paper towels etc.. most computer/till software programs print out a receipt at the time of the cash payout. Take your actual product/expense receipt and your till pay out copy and staple them together BACK TO BACK. Scan them.
If you have a SCANSNAP scanner, it scans 2 sides at the same time, your staff can scan in your paid out receipts for you or your accountant, this way you have the till paid out copy with reason code and details of the paid out if there are any questions).
SAVVY STAPLING, SCANNING & STORAGE!
One of my filing pet peeves might seem trivial, but when you are reconciling daily reports for 7 retail stores, you will get organized FAST!
5 Tips To Avoid Self-Sabataging Behaviour!
#1: F.I.T– At the beginning of your work week, start with the "F.I.T" mentality. "F" is for Focus, "I" is for intently and "T" is for TODAY! Take the time to plan your tasks for the week, lay them out into your timetable/calendar and then stick to it. No room for procrastination!
#2: Plan to Prioritize– Your inner procrastinator will want to jump to the tasks that are fun and rewarding, stick to your FIT schedule and if needed, prioritize your must-do tasks as Level 1, 2 or 3... and do not skip them when they come up. Success is built on creating good habits and prioritization is mandatory.
#3: Know Thyself!– If you know your bad habits and distractions, figure out how to block them out during your work time, or conversely, figure out to work them IN. If you know you start to fade at 3pm every day, plan your coffee run into your schedule; no guilt! If the hot UPS guy is coming at 11am every day and you cannot concentrate afterwards, acknowledge your weakness but perhaps find somethig else to do at 11am each day?? (to my male readers this is tongue in cheek!)
#4: Social Media Sifting – Do not use Social Media as a valid excuse to avoid tasks. Plan your social media time just like anything else and stick to your schedule. No facebook or aimless surfing allowed outside of alotted time block.
#5: Plan To Win– No matter how busy you are, any business owner needs to make short-term and long term planning as a serious goal. Failing to plan is like planning to fail. It is inevitable. Acknowledge your weaknesses, work with and around them and you will come out on top!
Article written for www.everythingmom.ca
Everybody has something they are passionate about whether it's collecting vintage wines, hiding at Chapters in the Philippa Gregory section or sewing baby blankets. Sometimes, every so often, that passion starts to become something else. An idea becomes a possibility; the possibility becomes a day dream and slowly, it evolves into that magical statement, "what if?". What if I could turn this hobby of mine into a viable business? What if I could actually earn an income, avoid daycare and NOT return to my day job after mat leave is over? Where do I go next?
Many start-up entrepreneurs are over confident ( I know I was!) and under aware of what is involved. But in all fairness, it is a tough plunge to take! How do you know whether to dive in or not?
- do you eat, sleep and breathe your business concept?
-have you made yourself an expert in your field?
-have you researched all your competitors, to see what they are doing right (and wrong?)
-are you prepared to work harder than you ever have in your entire life?
-do you have the financial backing to take the hit of losing your income for awhile or would that put your family at risk?
-are you passionate, resourceful and energetic?
If you have created a product, service or business that makes your heart race with excitement and you have covered the start-up questions. It's time to take yourself to the next step. Aside from qualifying your idea from friends and family, my advice would be to find a consultant in your field who can cut your learning curve time in half. Putting your business plan together with the aid of somebody who has also ate-slept and absorbed your concept will produce faster results and give you objective clarity. Those fabrics, toys or ideas you had, might have already been tried. Don't reinvent a broken wheel. Ask tons of questions and surround yourself with knowledge and industry expertise.
The growth process takes time. If you can take baby steps into your industry, I highly recommend it. Especially in the recession and the volatile economy we are still experiencing. Nowadays with the internet and online everything, you can run many businesses right from your home office. I know on top of my 5 bo bebe stores, I run an entire, 40 page glossy magazine from my office computer. Heck, I could be living in Tahiti and still be running a Calgary based, printed magazine! Research the tools available for online data storage, web hosting, virtual assistants, research the research tools too! There are literally thousands onf online tools that will help you take your business to the next "virtual level" before plunging into signing a longterm commercial lease etc.. I have at least 30 different informational Google Alerts set up for various topics to automatically feed into my email. This keeps me on top of competitors, recalls, industry releases, trade shows, manufacturing issues, European announcements, new trends and more. All served up to my inbox by 8am, every morning, while I sip my morning coffee in my pyjamas.
If you market yourself creatively, use social media and word-of-mouth, you can test the waters of your field without enormous expense. I am a huge believer in creative and "gorilla marketing". When I was still a home-based business doing home-parties, I would hit the zoo on a sunny day and leave flyers on all the windshields of the cars that had a car seat inside them. Labour and time intensive? Not really; 30 minutes by the river on a warm sunny day wasn't exactly difficult. Guess what? It paid off enormously! Be creative, think outside of the proverbial car seat box and most of all, be different. I am a firm believer in being an original. Learn from what everybody else in your field is doing well, then just do it better!
Leah Chevallier, serial entrepreneur in the Juvenile Industry sharing insight, success and 18 years of award winning retail experience! Took $2000 Micro-credit loan and turned it into $30 million!