10 Steps to Make Your Small Business Dream a Reality

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women_business_owner_business_growthOur friends recently went through an extensive process as they designed their dream home.  They spent countless hours pouring over drafts, drawings, pictures, and concepts to ensure their new home reflected their vision and aspirations.  There were meetings with designers, contractors, city planners, and neighbors.  It was a grueling process, as you know if you’ve traveled down that road.  However, the result of a home that reflected their true essence was well worth the journey!

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Creating your dream business is much like the process used to realize a dream home.  You pour over plans, research, and concepts. You meet with your attorneyaccountant, and strategic coach.  Likewise, it’s a grueling process.  As one of our clients so aptly describes it, “This is hard work!”  Yet it’s common for many entrepreneurs to print business cards, attend a few meetings, declare themselves “in business”, and be sorely disappointed at the end of the day when revenues fail to match envisioned expectations.

Much like creating your dream house, your dream business requires thoughtful planning and preparation It’s important to invest time in plans, goals, and strategies to understand where you are now and where you want to be in the future— and what’s most important to you along the way. Failing to do so might require a do-over, or worse yet, a trip to the employment line when your business fails to deliver what you anticipated.

Here are ten fundamental components to consider as you create your “dream” business:

1.  I know exactly what business I’m in. 
Trick question? Not really. Your answer could determine your company’s future. Apple’s decision to be in the “consumer electronics” business really paid off.  By contrast, Blockbuster didn’t ask that question until it was too late.  They went by the wayside of “selling VHS/DVD” business when overtaken by Netflix who was in the “delivering entertainment” business.

2.  I have a clear understanding of my present and future clients, their needs, and how they acquire their products and services.
The crucial key is to truly know your clients— and their needs— better than they do!  How do you achieve such a feat?  Continual communication and collaboration with your target audience is necessary.

3.  My mission statement fully reflects my values. 
Creating a mission statement for your business is the first, and the most important step, in the strategic planning process.  If you're ready for “mission possible”, ask us for the Craft Your Mission Statement worksheet to create a mission that fully reflects your business.

4.  My vision is clear, concise, and a daily source of inspiration.
To live without a clear image of your own vision is to live someone else’s vision. Illuminate your vision by requesting and completing the Clarify Your Vision worksheet.

5.  I know the strengths and limitations of my competitors and have properly positioned my company.
Two questions to consider include “what key advantages and vulnerabilities do your competitors posses in the area of marketing, service, reputation, and business operation” and “how will/can your business compete?” Uncovering the answers to these questions will help identify your sweet spot in the marketplace.

6.  I have identified my company’s strengths, limitations, and competitive advantage.
Your company’s strengths can improve your position in the marketplace. On the other hand, identifying internal weaknesses can spur initiatives to address those shortcomings.

7.  My company’s primary aim provides direction and focus, and is used as a standard for measuring my progress.
Understanding your company’s primary aim gives you the ability to actively shape your business rather than accept whatever pleasure—and pain—comes your way. It provides purpose and satisfaction and compels you to create a remarkable business.

8.  My business goals and objectives are in alignment with my personal goals and objectives.
Business and personal goals intertwine for many entrepreneurs. Considering both provides better focus, less distraction, greater efficiency, and puts you on the road to better results.

9.  I assess and upgrade my business plan regularly.
I’m a big fan of “strategic tinkering”—aka updating your plan as things change.  Change is an everyday occurrence so minor adjustments in planning should occur with regularity to keep you on track.  You can address more extensive upgrades to your plan monthly and annually.

10. I have identified four key strategies that produce a competitive advantage and direct my decisions.
Strategies guide decisions, save valuable resources, prevent squandering time and money on the wrong projects or pursuing the wrong market, sort out conflicting priorities, and clarify activities. What more can you ask for?  Perhaps a worksheet to identify Strategies to Growth and Manage Your Business. (Click to Ask.)

As you can see, addressing all the different aspects designed to grow your dream business is no small deed!  However, along the way, the time invested provides a road map and practical how-to information for creating worthwhile work that makes a difference.

And, remember the wisdom of a sage man who said, “If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, how much time do you have to do it over?”

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