According to an article in Forbes in 2013, there were almost 28 million small businesses in the United States, and over 22 million of those were self-employed with no additional payroll or employees. Over 50% of the working population (that's about 120 million people) works in a small business. And the last statistic for now: small businesses have generated over 65% of the net new jobs since 1995.
So, looks like a small business is the way to go, huh?
Well, you need a little more than the proverbial shingle. As I coach and consult with small business owners in creating successful businesses, we cover several areas of business: administrative, list-building, lead generation, marketing, creation and development, training, revenue generation, credibility and visibility, and financial tracking.
It occurred to me that the big graphic can be broken down into more manageable pieces: the pieces you need to run a successful business. Each of these pieces has a basic level and an advanced level.
1. You need to know what it is you really do and craft your concise message accordingly.
- Basic – Think in terms of the benefits people get in working with you. What is the experience your clients and customers get?
- Advanced – Get as clear, concise, and specific as possible as far as your target market. Everything you do and put out into the world needs to have that message woven in. For example, if you speak to groups, then your signature topics need to reflect your message and brand.
2. You need products / services to sell. You have to offer something to the world.
- Basic – You can offer one single product (a book) or a service (consulting)
- Advanced – Create a sales funnel so that you can reach more people at various pricing points and readiness levels. Think group training, packages, and high-level programs
3. You need a way to capture leads in your database.
- Basic – Go to networking events, talk to people, and call them. Document your interactions so that you can easily see at a glance your connections with people. For great success, follow up and keep in touch.
- Advanced – Create a multi-faceted approach: offer a free resource on your site; do online as well as in-person speaking to widen your network.
4. You need a way to let people know how to work with you.
- Basic – In what forms can people work with you? In person, by phone, in classes? Make it very clear HOW you work.
- Advanced – Offer different ways to work with you: privately, in groups, one-off consulting sessions, longer-term packages. Pepper your communications with compelling language (and links) so that people know what you do and how to sign up for what you do. Add a line in your email signature. Have a blurb on your ezine. Make it exceedingly clear on your website where they click to work with you ..
5. You need it to be easy for people to find those products / services that you sell.
- Basic – Is it excruciatingly simple for people to see what it is that you do from your business card and / or website? Spell it out, even if you feel as if you're overly dunce-like.
- Advanced – Once you can easily understand your target market, make it straightforward for them to see which of your products and services fit them. Think in terms of “If you're here, then you want this” language.
6. You need an easy way for people to pay for those products / services.
- Basic – Connect your products and services to PayPal. You can set up a PayPal account for free, and you only need to pay fees when someone buys.
- Advanced – Use a more professional merchant account, and offer a variety of payment methods, like payment plans.
7. You need to tell the world about what you do.
- Basic – Talk to people! Yes, this is similar to Piece # 3 … and “build it, and they will come” only works in the movies. Make sure your message from # 1 is clear and concise, and then stick to it.
- Advanced – Have a multi-faceted, multi-style approach. Create marketing materials in all forms: text, audio, video, pictures.
8. You need some sort of way to talk with people about what you do.
- Basic – This is your 30-second elevator speech: who you are, what you do, and who you do it for.
- Advanced – Keep honing and play with different ways to say it to capture attention and interest. Tweak, tweak, tweak.
9. You need to measure your results.
- Basic – Have revenue goals and track how you're doing.
- Advanced – Measure everything! From number of sales calls and those results to open-click-through rates of emails. Once you know what works and get results, you can tweak some more and maximize.
Are you missing any pieces? Any pieces that can be shored up? Are you ready to move to the advanced level on any of these?
Here's to YOUR successful business!