My family and I were having a dinner conversation a while ago. During the course of conversation, we were discussing jobs and business. I asked Cole “what does it mean when you own your own business?” His answer is the subject of this entry. I’ll break his answer into the three natural segments he gave me.
“Well, first you have to get a little shop.” He couldn’t be more right! You have to start by establishing the basis of your operation. Not every small biz needs a store front or a ‘shop’, but you need to decide what it is you stand for, where you’ll be working from and
what exactly you hope to achieve. BE SPECIFIC! You have to be super clear on what your ‘shop’ is and what you plan for it to be. Call it vision, mission, unique selling proposition or whatever you want. Your little shop will begin to take on it’s own DNA the minute you open the doors and you need to clear on what that DNA is to look like or else it will evolve into whatever the strongest personalities on your team will make it. Step 1: build a little shop.
“Then you have to get really popular with your customers.” Owners, this is sheer gold. The single most important function of an owner, the one place he must begin, sustain and an increase momentum from now until the grave is sales and marketing. Packaging, delivery, follow up will all be able to happen, but not until you get sales flowing. The world is full of really fantastic business ideas that flared up like fireworks and died just as fast. You get some investment money, build your dream shop and then run out of cash because you have no sales. It’s a dark road, but not a lonely one. If there is any one thing you must become obsessed with, it’s sales and marketing. It’s not that you can’t hire great people who can help with this. But like the building of your shop, it needs direction. It needs your DNA. Step 2, according to an eight year old, Get popular with your customers.
“And then you can build a bigger shop” This is the dream stage. You’ve got sales momentum. Your customers are calling and your product is moving. Now you can continue to build off of what you started and continue to grow the business into whatever it was you envisioned to begin with. A bigger shop doesn’t mean you don’t have to work anymore. It just means you have to work differently. And it means that you have resources at your disposal you didn’t have when you started. That gives you options. Those options feel pretty dang good. Step 3, grow into a bigger company, organically.
One of the mistakes small businesses make is trying to be a bigger shop too early. Most don’t want to, or know how to go through the stage of building the small shop and then sticking with it until sales are strong. We want to shortcut it to a bigger shop, so we take our loan money or investor money and throw it all into fancy equipment, state of the art technology and great facilities. Those things all look and feel like a real, successful business. But without sales, they will very quickly become a huge liability. So be cautious of spending money on those things if your business didn’t create the cash to do it with. Buy only what you need to fulfill your sales and marketing promises and leave everything else to grow organically into the business. Build a little shop first. Get really popular with customers second. Then, and only then, can you build bigger.
Thank you, Cole, for the business growth wisdom.