Seth Godin encouraged us to push through The Dip.
Jim Collins talked about using the “hedgehog concept” to create a breakthrough in Good to Great.
Malcolm Gladwell called it “The Tipping Point“.
It’s that moment when your business transforms from “just another business” into “THE business”. It’s the moment when your company straps on a rocket pack and zooms into the stratosphere while every other business is left behind.
How can businesses achieve that? What makes the difference? I think about this a lot and work with clients who are driving toward it.
So, what ARE the ways that businesses can get there? Well, I don’t think it’s a magic formula — “Do these 5 things and you’ll get it” — because there are plenty of factors involved. But it seems to me that if a small business owner/entrepreneur is going to explode his or her business, the following things need to happen:
- Deliver clear value: Make people feel that they can’t live without your products or services. This is a branding, selling, vision-casting, and value-chain effort!
- Focus on your sales funnel: Avoid getting caught up in the myriad of marketing opportunities and business models available. Find a few things you do well (a few lead generating things, a few prospect qualification things, a few selling things, etc.) and just do them over and over and over and over and over! Create a way to capture more people and lock them in to a relationship with you.
- Invest in excellence: Identify the mediocre elements of your business and get rid of them. Spend (wisely) to improve, automate, and scale. In my business this includes a toll-free number, an assistant, and supporting applications.
- Stop doing it all yourself: Get someone to help you with your business. Seriously. Hire an assistant. (This was something I knew I needed for a while but kept putting off. My friend Heather Villa of IAC Professionals finally pushed me to do it and the impact on my business has made me regret not doing it sooner).
- Work today for tomorrow: In the early years of business, you’re often working today for today — just trying to generate near-term revenue. But at some point you need to start building business “investments” for tomorrow. Passive income, automatic revenue streams, etc. Michael E Gerber (the E-Myth guy) called this “working on your business instead of working in your business.
- Plan, plan, plan, plan, plan: Plan your year, your quarter, your month, your week, your day. Have an exit strategy on every project and on your business. I’m talking about business plans, marketing plans, workflow plans, publishing plans, and plans for every project and customer.
- Take risks: Try new things, collaborate and partner, create initiatives. Some stuff will fail and that’s okay; you’ll still learn from it and it all builds towards a brighter future. Eventually, you will hit on a winner.
- Act: Planning and thinking and strategizing are good. Reading and researching and talking to a mentor are good. But at some point, these need to be acted on. “Analysis paralysis” is an epidemic among SMBs.