Since you are taking the time to read this blog post, you must want to have a successful and profitable business. However, for every successful business there are countless businesses that have either failed, or are not making any money. So how do you make your business profitable and overcome the odds?
1) Taking Your First Steps
Ten years ago I graduated from college and started my first full-time job working for a prestigious public accounting firm. Shortly after starting my job, I got married and had my first child. I had a great job, but what I wanted was to have my own business. I wanted my compensation tied directly to my performance and my successes or failures. I was very passionate about starting my own venture; however, it took me over a year to take the first step and start a business. The hardest part (that I kept putting off) was taking the first step. Making the decision and following through and starting my first profitable business.
I founded Northern Value LLC, a “wholesale” distributor of general merchandise. I ran the business for a couple years before closing the doors. I wasn’t able to scale the business at a pace that would allow me to quit my full time job. At first, I considered it a complete failure. I had lost a few thousand dollars, close the business and tell friends and family that it failed. Later on I realized that the experience, knowledge and confidence I gained through starting Northern Value would help shape me and lead me to starting a number of other online businesses over the years. The single most important thing I learned and want you to take away from this story is… Take the first step, today, right now. Stop second guessing yourself and putting off starting your business. You will never succeed if you don’t take the first step and start.
Stop hesitating and take action today. Not sure where to start? Follow our step-by-step process to start your own business.
2) Keeping it Simple
You took the first step and decided to launch your business? Now you need to make your business profitable. There is virtually unlimited information available on the internet on a bazillion different things you should do to create a successful business. Lets be honest, if you try to master, perfect and implement every idea before you launch, you will likely be extremely overwhelmed.
Instead, lets focus on keeping things simple, bring your business to life and validate your business with real paying customers. Why? Two main reasons:
- You will actually get your business launched, which is a huge accomplishment, and
- You will validate your business while minimizing the time and money you spend on a business that may or may not pan out.
So what do I consider “keeping it simple”?
- You need to have a plan,
- You need to have a website. I would recommend using WordPress on a self hosted solution, such as HostGator.com (aff). If you are going to be selling products, I would suggest Shopify (aff), and
- You need to have an idea or products to sell.
Launching a new online business takes a lot of hard work: developing a plan; hosting a website; designing and launching the website; developing valuable content or sourcing products to sell. I would rather launch a business that is in the process of being built, than working toward the perfect business that never launches.
3) Continuous Improvement
Once you have launched your business, it is immediately time to start improving every aspect of it; one item at a time. Similar to Step 2, I recommend that you keep it simple. Start by identifying and making a list of the top ten things you need to improve. I’m serious, make a list and take the time to write it down. Once you have your list made you need to go back and add two pieces of information for each item:
- The potential benefit of each improvement, and
- The cost of completing the improvement, including money, time, and any potential negative impacts it may have on other parts of your business.
Now that you have this list, it is going to be super easy to prioritize your improvements. Find the three items with the biggest potential potential. Of these three items, which one will be the quickest and cheapest to implement. Start with this one. Once you have completed this first item, start the process over with a new list, vs. the second item on your list. You want to continue identifying the biggest impact with the quickest time and cost to implement. Before you know it, you will be driving huge change to your growing business.
Persistence to succeed is a requirement for any successful entrepreneur. Persistence to start, to improve, to excel and most of all, to succeed. There will be good times and bad times. Wins and losses. Victories and failures. You must persist through the bad times, losses and failures to ensure you reach your next victory. If you feel that you are struggling to reach you next victory, go back to step Step 3 and conquer the top item. As you improve your business and move forward, you will develop momentum to keep pushing your business to new heights of success.
Find a mentor or two – I can’t express how important a good mentor is. Every business owner, entrepreneur and employee should have at least one mentor. I would recommend two to three mentors. Spend time every month conversing with your mentor, discussing the key decisions you have made, the key decisions you are facing and any opportunities or challenges you are facing. The two key benefits from having a mentor are:
- Talking through your decision will help you understand the impact and the reasons for making your decisions. In some cases, you will receive insights from this that you had not previously identified.
- Your mentor will offer insights for you to consider, accelerating or improving your current strategies and growth.
Take action today. Don’t procrastinate any longer. Start your business today, whether it is starting to develop your business plan, launching your first product or launching your first website. Make, “Today, not Someday”, your new motto.