13 Jul You Wanna Start a Business…NOW??? Top 9 Thoughts for a Startup in Pandemic
You Wanna Start a Business…NOW??? Top 9 Thoughts for a Startup in Pandemic
I once saw a quote that said “Today is your opportunity to build the tomorrow you want”. Lately, I have been coming across a lot of folks who are trying to start up a new professional services business. Becoming an entrepreneur is a brave and daring move under any circumstances, but starting a business during the middle of a pandemic might be considered risky and downright foolish! Nonetheless, the true entrepreneur is a doer, not just a dreamer. Today might not be the perfect day to become an entrepreneur, but how much different are things going to be tomorrow??? Today we are facing financial insecurity, quarantines, social injustice and business-reopening restrictions. Unless we stand up and make our impact in the world, tomorrow is likely to be a repeat of today… In the wise words of Phil Conners in Groundhog Day, “What if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today!”
If you have an entrepreneurial spirit in your soul and you want to see the world changed tomorrow – in a way in which there is less social injustice and financial insecurity – then own it and step up! I think today is the perfect day to be brave and powerful – to stop dreaming and start doing!
Here are the top 9 criteria I think you need to start a business today, tomorrow, and every day; these are the powerful habits and attitudes that will lead to success, one day at a time, one failure at a time. Sometimes the key to success is to build that dream into reality before you are ready because some things are best learned as you go.
Starting a business requires a maximum dose of courage that can be applied upon demand. So fire up your fearlessness resources, you are going to need them! One of my favorite brave woman among Chicago entrepreneurs is Sarah Victory of The Victory Company. I met her when I was a fresh, new entrepreneur and I was filled with insecurities and doubts. She told me, in a way that was warm, welcoming, and filled with spirited tenacity, to do something brave every day. Even though time and space have passed since we have been in touch, I think of her every day as I truly do try to do at least 3 things a day that make me uncomfortable. Guess what? The things that I feared in the past are not very scary for me anymore! As I challenge myself and grow, so does my endurance, spunk, and determination. I need it, because not every day is all sunbeams and rainbows in the world of entrepreneurship.
Lifestyle Congruence/Reverse Engineering Your Numbers
To be successful in a startup, you have to define what success looks like for you. A minimum standard of living must be achieved for us to feel safe, secure, and confident that we can focus on prospering the biz because our personal needs have been met. When we don’t know if there is enough money to put food on the table and a roof over our heads, how can we expect to make good business decisions? We need a minimum level of comfort to know that we can focus on the large task of building the business. At Reconciled Solutions, we help our small biz clients identify what their minimum standard of living looks like by helping them calculate the minimum expenses that must be paid in order for them to feel safe and secure. With this total of personal expenses, we work the numbers backwards to come up with a Real Revenue goal that will be congruent with their personal need for safety. That means that we have pre-determined and designed their profitability backwards, using the Profit First method. We know that there will be a cost to produce their product or service, that there will be general and administrative expenses, that there is a tax liability because the new biz will show a profit – because we designed it that way. All these numbers are important as we determine lifestyle congruence, which is the understanding of how many widgets you need to sell to support your personal comfort. In startups, this is highly powerful info: one must understand the relationship that expenses play in recognizing our Lifestyle Congruence.
Unique Offering and Repeatability
Once you know your minimum standard of living, you can jump into the game of designing the best version of your product or service. The price must be high enough so that you can support your total biz and lifestyle expenses, but it must also be unique enough that your service will be chosen over a competitor. It would be great if you were able to sit down and figure out your secret sauce in why your service offering is unique and competitively priced right from the get-go. Unfortunately, designing your unique offering is a trial-by-error event that requires constant tweaking of packaging, positioning, pricing, and design. Keep at it! Every failure is one step closer to success. Repeatability can begin once you identify a product or service that resonates with your clients. When your process and price point are repeatable, then you are positioning yourself for growth and even more opportunity to build the next unique offering and repeatability!
Now that you have identified the right exchange of money for product or service, it is time to go deep into how you attract your potential clients. Not everyone is a potential client. Start small and find the client that suits your style, brand, and belief system. The more specific you can be in identifying what your ideal client looks like, where they hang out, how they shop for services, and their likes and dislikes, you are ever so much closer to identifying an attraction method that will be tailored to them. Get to know your ideal client, and for that matter, get to know who you DON’T like doing business with. A startup business often takes what clients come their way, and that is OK because you have kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. Don’t be afraid to date your client, from the sense that if you identify things you don’t like about doing business with this person, it will help you build clarity on who you DO want to do business with. When you are operating in your sweet spot, this is when client attraction becomes easy, price increase become natural, and work becomes fulfilling.
Sales Funnel/Client Conversion
Just because you have attracted the right client doesn’t mean you have closed the sale. What will make them take the leap of trust to do business with you over your competitor? Pushy salespeople, such as the stereotypical used-car salesperson, are dreaded. What is it that will make your prospect feel safe and secure in doing business with you? Persistence is the habit of victory when it comes to client conversion. You won’t close every sale because your business is not right for everyone – but it is right for some. By being persistent and measurable, you are building the muscles of victory. Measure your client conversion by measuring everything about the potential sale. Where did the opportunity come from? How many times did you reach out to the client? In what ways did you communicate? What was the potential’s response when you said your pitch in this way or that way? How many potentials do you usually have for every sale you close? These are all things that can be measured. As a startup, you need persistent and measurable habits to reach a victory.
We don’t always say the right thing, we don’t always communicate with clarity, and we don’t always get it right the first time around. Just keep trying! Once you realize you have made an error, own it, learn from it, and move on. Don’t let the voices in your head tell you otherwise – just keep swimming, just keep moving. Confidence is the absence of doubt and if your expectation is that you will have some bumps and bruises, you will be able to pick yourself up and dust off to move forward faster and more confidently.
Delivering On Commitments
As a startup, you have spent a lot of time designing; finally it is time to DO – to deliver on your commitments. One of my biggest mistakes that I still slip into today is the propensity to overcommit. I am your typical entrepreneur in that I am easily distracted and I am always finding a new bright, shiny object that catches my attention. When I do this, I am risking delivering on the commitments I have already made to not only my clients, but also myself. Is my business not growing “fast enough” for my taste? If not, I suspect it might have something to do with fully delivering on my commitments. This is a common problem that we face as entrepreneurs – we get distracted easily and change our minds a lot. Set expectations for delivery that are realistic and reasonable. I can’t say it enough, there is no substitute for setting realistic expectations and delivering on them. If you say what you are going to do and do what you say, you will not only build confidence in your own ability, your clients will notice and be confident in you and your company.
Collecting On Commitments
Collecting on commitments is not only about collecting a fee for product or service provided, it is also about collecting on your client’s commitments to you and to yourself. At Reconciled Solutions, part of our new client contract is setting the requirements for Client Expectations. We require our clients to be committed to the process of achieving financial order while increasing profitability and sustainability. We do this through crystal clear expectations as it relates to payments and collections, yes, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. In order for us to help people find financial security, we are the collector of commitments and accountability. We require that our clients are just as committed to their financial success as we are. We also require their feedback. If we have done something poorly, we need to know, if we do something well, we also need to know. Collecting on Commitments means that our clients have been provided with a plan – a runway of sorts – and they have agreed to certain commitments in efforts to get the plane off the ground. As the flight attendants, we are responsible for making sure the client understands their responsibilities as it relates to piloting the plane and delivering them safely to the destination.
The last thing I can say about starting up a business during times of social injustice and financial insecurity is that you better be prepared for some turbulence while piloting the flight. It is sure to be a bumpy ride. However, the opportunity for reward during such trying times is ripe for the taking. Success is no accident, it is the continued effort of hard work and hustle, alongside compassion and integrity.
Ladies and Gentlemen, enjoy your flight!
My hope for you as a budding startup is to buckle yourselves in for the ride of a lifetime, one in which courage, confidence, and resiliency will be powerful tools used in a successful flight.