What do you need to do first when you open your business? Typical responses include open a business bank account, create a website, get business cards, design a logo and start networking.
Yup, you need to put all those pieces in place and none of it will make a difference if you don't answer the following three questions first.
1. What do you sell? This includes how it's priced and packaged.
What I see happening again and again is a new entrepreneur gets up the nerve to start networking and talking to people. The conversation goes great. The problem is that they have nothing to offer beyond the conversation. You must have a clear understanding of what product you sell, how someone can pay you for it, and how much it costs in order for the conversation to be productive, and for the person you are speaking with to either get the help they need or help you make connections.
2. Who do you want to work with and, this is super important, who don't you want to work with?
When you are first starting out there is a tendency to say yes to anyone who is willing to pay you. You rationalize it by thinking that you need the money and the experience is good. However, there are simply some people you should not be working with.
Take some time to think about the qualities of the person you want to work with. Who will benefit most from your products or services and who, even though you could help them, would be a drain on your time and energy. What I can promise you is that these people tend to be the ones that complain the most and in the end cost you the most. When you say no to someone you give yourself permission to say yes to the right clients.
3. What value do you bring, and how and why are you qualified to deliver the product and service that you sell?
Many people I speak with tell me that they will get started as soon as they have one more certification or as soon as one more piece is in place. Please stop waiting. Unless there are legal requirements, chances are you are already more than qualified to do whatever you're setting out to do. You already bring knowledge, experience and value to anyone you interact with.
And let's get this out the way, too. There is definitely someone more qualified than you out there, and there is someone who you are totally able to help through your services right now. A mentor of mine always says, “To a fourth grader a fifth grader is a star.” Even though you may not be the absolute top of your field there are people who can already benefit from where you are.
Remember that there is someone who needs you today. What will they be able to do when they work with you? How will their life change? What is that worth to them? What value can they get by working with you today before you get that extra certification?
Oh and one more thing on this … even if you yourself are not perfect at whatever service you provide, it is okay. For instance, I am a business coach. My business is far from perfect and I don't do everything I know I should. In fact, there are plenty of times I make a suggestion to a client and think “Yeah, that's a good idea, if only I did that too.” Know that what is important is that you're working on yourself and you are ahead of your client.
I just spent a few minutes re-reading what I wrote. I've been in business since late 2002. I truly believe in what I wrote, and I also know that as you and your business mature you need to continually revisit these three things.
The business you create today is simply your starting point. It will change and morph as you and your business grow. Don't wait until you can answer these three questions perfectly just answer them for now, get started and have fun.