Hold up! Let’s pick that one apart.
Did you actually start with a well thought out strategy about your business for the first year or so, or did you just jump right into your passion? Most entrepreneurs dive into their business because they have a burning desire to teach, coach, provide a service, or sell a product they feel is truly needed and will benefit their customers. Something that is, of course, absolutely fabulous! After all, if real enthusiasm for the impact of their efforts isn’t at the core, why would anyone go through the hard work and risk of building a business in the first place?
Even if you did craft one from the start, the strategy launched your business with might not be serving you anymore. It may need some major tweaking, or possibly a complete revamp. If your business has survived a full year, you probably have a good idea of what’s working and what’s not. 80% of entrepreneurs starting a business fail within the first 18 months. The bottom line is that most entrepreneurs will not make it past their first year. If you are still in business – kudos! Now let’s make sure that you are ready for years 2 and beyond.
The first year can be greased by passion and excitement, but when the nitty-gritty of the day-to-day and hard work sink in, things may look quite a bit different. That new perspective is a gift! Take advantage of it to make sure your plan is serving your life and business TODAY. Here’s how:
Revisit. Make sure your biz strategy fits your family life. Your whole life. How much do you want to work? Do you have kids, or aging parents, or a husband who travels a lot? What are the aspects of your home life that are impacted by the time and energy you invest in your business? I usually ask my clients to start there. If it doesn’t work for everyone, it’s not going to work, period.
Revisit – Make sure your biz strategy fits you personally. Do you want to work evenings or weekends? Perhaps you only want to work 9 months out of the year and take summers off. One of my early mentors only wanted to work 3 days a week to leave time for her very rich personal life. She had a booming business but said no to many things in order to keep her 3-day-only schedule. It’s your choice. It’s your life. Make it your strategy!
Revisit – Make sure your biz strategy is a short and long-range view of your business. If your strategy was to create online courses but found that you didn’t have enough of a base to make that happen consistently, you may need to regroup. Focus on list building and smaller offers first, then revisit the course idea in year 2. If your online store is just creeping along in sales, how else can you get your product to market? Your short-term strategy may be to start looking for distributors or joint venture partners to assist with your reach to develop stronger store sales. Your short and long-range visions need to be calibrated to the reality of your business as it stands today.
Revisit – nail down 6-12 months. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Map out at least the next 6 months in great detail, and develop a general roadmap for the next full year. What will your offers be and when do you expect them? How will you promote them? What will your revenue and expense streams look like 6 months out? Have a general idea of how that will phase into the next 6 months, building on the first. Small businesses and entrepreneurs can have so many variables to contend with that mapping out a full year might be unrealistic. Give yourself the grace to take it piece by piece.
Will that 6-month strategy change or is this locked in? Well, yes, and yes. Be thorough in your 6 -month plan – mapping out as many tactics, cash and time requirements as you can, to truly realize your goals. Don’t be distracted by new/different ideas. Save that for another time. Stay dedicated to your defined strategy. That said if you find that a major piece of that strategy needs tweaking, or is not working, be ready to dive back in and make the needed corrections. Keep your focus on being profitable and growing your business. Unless things aren’t working, stick to your plan!
Whether you started your business with a solid plan, or just jumped right in following your passions, it may be time to revisit your short and long-term business strategies. If you have made it a year then you are doing something right! But failing to adjust to the new reality of your business as it stands today could cost you growth as you move into year 2 and beyond.