If you’ve started a small business, or are in the planning stages, then you know that there are so many things to plan and prepare to ensure your ongoing success. Particularly if you want to build an authentic business that reflects who you are and allows you to be passionate about your work.
How many of us take the time to sit down and write a strategy for how we want our business to be? If we’re truly committed to building an authentic business that’s infused with our own selves then we need a small business strategy.
My small business story
When I opened my first fitness studio in 2009, I had no business training. What I did have was years of experience working in every role in every kind of fitness facility, from boutique personal training studios to monolithic gyms. I had a clear idea of what worked in the industry and what didn’t. I was steadfast on what I wanted to do in my studio and how I wanted to serve my clients. I was full of passion and ready to use my skills to help them improve their health and fitness so they could excel in life.
My passion served me well in the beginning months as I built my clientele; what it didn’t do was prepare me for the daily grind that came with running a small business.
I don’t think anyone is ever truly prepared for how much work goes into running a successful small business. When I look back now, I wish I had coupled my passion with a strong business strategy.
Why I wish I had written a small business strategy
Let me be honest with you; I learnt as I went along. I had no clear plan for how my business would grow and what I would do when it did.
Because I was so full of heart and passion, my business did grow and thrive. I made a good income and impacted the lives of so many people but because I didn’t have any kind of strategy it also burnt me out.
After three years of working like a Trojan, I made the soul-destroying decision to close my studio because I had no more juice in my tank. Even though I had happy clients and a good income, and I went home every night feeling satisfied with what I had achieved, I simply could not keep going.
In hindsight, I know I could have avoided the heartache of burnout if I had just taken the time to write a business strategy.
Why do you need a small business strategy if you’re building an authentic business?
A strategy would have enabled me to grow my authentic small business sustainably. I would have had touchpoints along the growth journey to know when to hire the right staff.
A strategy would have stopped me from getting caught up in shiny object syndrome. I would have been clear on what my offering was, and I wouldn’t have kept adding new classes and programs simply because they were the latest ‘hot’ thing.
A strategy would have enabled me to grow my business from 1 studio to a chain, which would have allowed me to impact more people and create more employment.
A business strategy is not the same as a business plan. It need not be as technical, and it isn’t something you would use to gain outside investment. A business strategy is a plan for you. Think of it as a guide to what you want to create for the long term.
What to include in your small business strategy
Your business goals and objectives
Answer this: What is it that you are trying to create?
Let’s take my studio as an example. My goals and objectives would have been:
To impact the lives of women by helping them inhabit their bodies fully so they can live healthier, more satisfying lives. To give women an appreciation for their bodies and to foster self-love and confidence.
The clients or customers you intend to serve
Know without a shadow of any doubt who it is you’re serving, and you will be able to create products and services that will keep them happy. Knowing your ideal client streamlines your marketing, your visuals and your product creation. It informs your hiring criteria and will keep you on a straight and smooth path as your business grows.
The products and services you will offer
If you can get crystal clear on what you’re offering to the people you’re serving, then you’ll avoid shiny object syndrome. Take time to craft products and services that truly serve your clients, remembering that your business is ultimately about them, not you.
What to do when business takes off
Create touchpoints for growth. Decide at the beginning when you will hire and what roles you will fill as your business grows. For example, you may decide that once you reach a monthly revenue of $8000, it’s time to hire a VA to help with non-crucial social media and online marketing tasks. Thereby helping you avoid the trap of feeling you must do it all yourself.
If you want your business to grow, you will need to free yourself from the tyranny of working in your business and work on it instead.
Infuse your business strategy with you. Let it reflect what you want to achieve. Avoid a cookie-cutter step by step process. We are trying to create an authentic business after all.
Remember at the start of this post when I told you my business grew because of my heart and passion? Let your passion infuse your business strategy, and you’ll find it easier to create a successful business. One that satisfies your soul serves your clients, generates income and allows you to prosper in it for many years.