Even brilliant people need a plan.
A few of years back when I still worked my day job, I called myself starting a business on the side. So I put up a website, wrote some blogs, and even set up some workshops for people to come and learn from my brilliant self. Of course people were going to start flocking to my website and workshops because you know, I was brilliant. But alas, they didn’t come. Because my brilliant self didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have a strategy to actually reach the people I was intending to help. I don’t know what I was thinking. Maybe I thought because I was sooooo brilliant, that things would just work out.
I mean, how hard could building a business be? I had a logo, business cards, a website, a Facebook account and knowledge to share. What more did I need? Turns out, I needed a whole heck of a lot more.
Needless to say, when people didn’t show up to my workshop, I got the point. Building a successful business is serious business. And back then I wasn’t serious enough about doing all that was needed to really make it work. Just being brilliant wasn’t enough. And I’m thankful that I learned that lesson then, while I still had my day job.
But I don’t think I’m alone in my error. I’ve come across many other brilliant aspiring business owners who have lots to share with the world, however they aren’t seeing the results they want because they don’t have a strategy in place for how to be successful.
“But I’ve got a website, and a logo, and fancy business cards!”
That’s nice. That means you’ve got a website, and a logo, and fancy business cards. Those tools are worthless if no one is using them. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have those things, but those tools are just tools. They can’t accomplish anything on their own. They have to have the right know how applied to them to create anything of value for you. It’s like having a hammer, and drills, and a bathtub to build a house. If you don’t know what to do with those tools, then your house won’t get built. But of course you’ll still have a hammer, and drills, and a bathtub.
“OK, so I’ll just start telling everyone I know about my business”
Hold your horses. That’s not a strategy either. That’s mass media (read annoyance) that will ultimately teach people to tune you out. And that’s not what you want, especially from the people who you know, who you have relationships with, and who trust you. You don’t want to lose the quality of your relationships just because now you have a business and you want them to buy your stuff.
People respond to things that add value to them. But first you have to cut through all the noise. And there’s a lot of noise. So how do you get your customers to actually pay attention to the value you bring? It all starts with having the right strategy.
A strategy is simply a plan that puts you in the best position to serve your customers
It sets you up to be able to cut through all the noise to deliver value to the people you choose to serve better than anyone else. There are three core elements to building a good strategy.
Know what it is you are trying to accomplish
What is the problem you are trying to solve? Who are you solving it for? And how will you solve it? By clearly defining what your objective is, you are able to focus your efforts on activities and tasks that contribute directly to helping you achieve that goal. When creating something new, its very easy to try and do a lot of different things, because the opportunities seem to be endless. But focusing your efforts on the best way to achieve your purpose will help you get the results you seek much more quickly.
Know your customers
Without customers, you don’t have a business. So get to know them. Really understand the ins and outs of the need your customers have as it relates to your business. This includes such things as learning about how they know they have a problem, as well as who and where they look to to solve that problem. Its also a good idea to understand the values that influence their decision about how to get their need met. The more you know about your customers, and how they work, the more efficient you can be in reaching, communicating, and delighting them.
Know your market
You aren’t the only one that’s working to influence your customers. There are many other things competing for their time and attention. As such, you have to make sure that you have a plan in place that highlights your uniqueness, as compared to your competitors. You also want to make sure your plan makes the best use of your strengths. Knowing your market also means having a firm understanding of local conditions that impact the way you operate your business. The better the market conditions, the easier your journey to success will be.
Don’t be discouraged. You can build the business you dream of. All it takes is commitment and a good strategy to get you started. And if you’re willing to invest the time and energy to do it, you’re putting yourself in a great position to be successful. Add that to your obvious brilliance, and its only a matter of time before your target customers come flocking to your door!
Need help figuring out how to get started building your strategy? Check out the “plan” section of our site and let the questions in our free business planning tool guide you along.