Building a business doesn’t occur incidentally. You don’t fabricate a business and after that sit tight for it to develop. You begin with a scarcely practical thought and you support it, controlling it through a few periods of development until it turns out to be verging on unrecognizable. In case you’re fortunate, it will continue developing until you begin creating a significant benefit, and get to be sufficiently steady to consider a way out technique.
In the event that you continue squeezing, you’ll see that there are seven principle “stages” of business possession, each with its own particular difficulties and open doors. Adapting more about these stages can help you get ready for your business’ development and give you key bits of knowledge on which to manufacture your association.
# The idea
The idea stage is a bit more than just coming up with the original idea for your business, though it is that as well. Once you’ve got some solid business idea, the remainder of this phase is spent putting together all the pieces of how, exactly, you can pull this off. That means creating a thorough business plan you can use as the blueprint for your business, working out all the kinks you didn’t think about when you came up with that initial spark, compensating for the competition you anticipate, and figuring out how you’re going to finance everything.
# The launch
This phase marks the “official” start of your business, though you can still consider yourself an entrepreneur in the first phase. At this point, you’ll have all the resources you need to begin operations. You’ll find an office (if you need one), secure equipment (if you need it), and start looking for your first clients and customers. This is a hectic stage, but usually doesn’t carry any financial risks–you’ve secured enough funding to see you through this phase. The big problem lies in facing the first line of problems you didn’t anticipate in your business plan–and they will come up.
The next stage is probably the most volatile, because it’s a make-or-break point for your business plan. You’ll start to run out of your initial funding, but it’s still too early to have any manageable flow of revenue. You’re likely changing things in your business daily, so your structure is volatile, and all the while you’re scrambling to pick up enough clients to keep you afloat. Your business will either learn to adapt quickly or burn out in a flash–it’s up to you and your team to decide which. Adaptation is the key to surviving the “survival” stage, and it isn’t easy.
# Floating steady
Though the process will be slow and gradual, eventually you’ll secure enough clients and revenue to pull yourself out of the survival phase. At this point, you’ll be able to float steadily, breaking even or making a profit on a predictable basis, and all your internal processes will start to stabilize. You’ll learn to count on your core team, your products will be consistent, and you’ll start to think that theoretically, your business could sustain itself forever–and if you let it, it just might. Some businesses stop at this phase and self-sustain indefinitely, and there’s nothing wrong with that unless you’re after something more.
The growth phase involves acceleration beyond your floating steady setup, and though it can happen naturally through word-of-mouth and high client retention, it’s more likely that you’ll instill this growth through some effort of your own. You can achieve this in a number of ways, usually involving heavy leaning on your sales and marketing teams. The more you promote your business, and the better job you do at retaining your existing customers, the better your chance at scaling your business upward. However, be aware that with growth comes volatility–growing too quickly or too slowly can put too much pressure on your resources.
Generally speaking, as your business reaches a certain point of growth, it’s going to need to change in some drastic way to continue growing, or even to survive. For example, it may need to split into different companies, or it may need to acquire a new company to help it in some key area. It may need to branch out into different locations, or it may need to adopt a new model for some of its central processes. This evolution will be difficult, as your business has been consistent for some time, but it’s necessary to keep moving forward.
Finally, at some point, you’ll reach the level you wanted to achieve, and it’ll be time for you to move on. That might mean selling the business, passing it to one of your team members or a family member, or simply retiring and letting someone else figure out what to do (though I don’t advise this).
No two businesses are alike, and entrepreneurial journeys range from months to decades. These seven stages represent a general path that most entrepreneurs take, and you may find yourself experiencing some of them, all of them, or most of them but in a different order. Still, these seven stages define the general course of entrepreneurship most business owners take, and can help you prepare for the key moments and evolutionary stages that will help you become successful. Be wary of the pitfalls and opportunities of each stage, and keep pressing forward as you develop the idea that dates back all the way to stage one.
When I meet effective businessmen who are at the summit of their vocations, the one thing they all desire they had a greater amount of, is time.
Time is the immense equalizer.
At that point why is it a few people can complete twice as much in a fraction of the time, and others are falling behind constantly pushed and seeming like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland saying, “I’m late, I’m late for a critical date”.
Yes, there are insider facts for how to deal with the seconds, minutes and hours that make up the twenty-four we as a whole get every single day.
First, you need a strong dose of determination to stamp out the procrastination that shows up for just about everyone in one shape or another. Do you start with the easiest tasks to get them out-of-the-way and then feel the need to sprint to get the more important projects finished? Or do you take the hardest one and suddenly it’s time for sleep, and all the little “to-do’s” stay trapped in the long list of forgotten items until that “oh crap” moment, when they finally get the long overdue attention.
Here are some of the ways to get past time anguish
I recently interviewed a man ready to start his third new company. He has lots of money now and could relax and coast. I wondered why he was putting so much effort into another new business. He said he is an adrenaline junky, for one, and then he gave me the clue to great business success.
“Learning how to play the game of time management” he said was his biggest failure in the first company and the biggest success in his second company.
Here are the 5 best ways to get time to be your servant and not your master :
# GTD Method: Thanks to Dave Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, you have just about the most complete guide to making time work quickly and easily. His themes are to capture, clarify, organize, reflect, and engage. First you record what you have to do and break down to actionable work items. His whole system is clear and concise and his book has been a winner for years and years. Find at http://gettingthingsdone.com/.
# JOS Pattern Breaker: The hypothesis is that in business we are here to solve problems and that is good. However, once the same problem keeps occurring time after time it is now a pattern. This is where lots of time and aggravation show up. Patterns keep repeating because of outdated assumptions. The OUT technique is meant to help you find easy to be more effective ways and get to the heart of the pattern repetition. Check out www.ceoptions.com for more information about pattern transformation.
# Time boxing: Divide schedules into separate time periods, called time boxes. Each has its own deliverable deadline and budget. In this way you can keep your eyes on the clock. The increased pressure is actually good for you. It leads to better task focus. You can learn more at www.timeboxing.com
# Pomodoro Technique: This is even better. Once you have the basics of time boxing under you go to this method, which is based on having 25 minute time boxes of focused concentration separated by a 10 minute break to allow your mind to recover and be ready for more intense thinking. You start a timer (you can get one shaped as a tomato–Pomodoro in Italian) at the beginning of each focused work time. And in just setting the timer you are already showing your determination to follow through. It works. Go to www.pomodoromethod.com
# Tickler file: Data labeled file folders that are organized as an up-dated electronic to-do list. It is good to keep your memory sharp in this day of data overkill. This will help you accelerate your workplace flow and keep you from suffering information overload. Think of it as a memory tickler. Check out Merlin Mann’s website www.43folders.com
The more you begin to look at time as an ally the more effective you can be. Capture time and capture success.
Business enterprise is diligent work. I’ve been in the trenches of establishing innovation organizations since 2001 and have brought over $40 million up in subsidizing for my two organizations SVOX and Pixability. I’ve discovered that one of the hardest parts of business enterprise is dealing with a financial specialist’s desires for you and your organization. Be that as it may, through clear, genuine, and successive correspondence with financial specialists, you as the business person can guarantee the proceeded with their backing of your vision.
Here are tips to build relationships with investors :
# Prep well
Managing investor expectations begins with preparing well. Your business model should dissect the market in depth. It can be difficult, but investors will expect your model to be thorough in estimating your addressable market. For example, investors get irritated if you claim to be going after a billion-dollar market and then claim “we only need to capture 5% of the enormous market” without showing what 5% of the market you will concentrate on.
# Don’t communicate when you are down in the dumps
When communicating with investors, it’s important to be clear and level-headed. As entrepreneurs, we’re often riding the emotional ups and downs of the “entrepreneurial roller coaster.”
But when managing investor expectations, the tone of your reports should be steady and honest. Also, take care to address what you’re going to do to improve your business. At Pixability we learned a few years after our founding that our video marketing data was actually more useful and monetizable when we used it to place video advertising. That was a scary pivot into a – for us – unknown market but our investors backed the change because we had frequently communicated our thinking along the way. Investors won’t be disappointed if you have to change direction as long as you don’t change direction every week. While you’re keeping your investors informed, don’t forget about courting new investors for the next investment round. Prospective investors want to understand how your company is evolving long before you ask for their money.
# Don’t expect a check immediately
Don’t expect a check after the first meeting, or even the next. Investors are trying to get a read on you and how you conduct your business. When meeting with investors make sure to listen and write down their input. When going out for fundraising, I’ve always adhered to the maxim “ask for advice first, money second.” You don’t have to take all of their advice, but if you do, thank them for it — people love to hear that their advice was valuable. Then keep that conversation going. At Pixability, I kept in touch with an investor for 3 years (since our A round) before they eventually invested in our $18 million C round.
# Once the money hits, the management doesn’t stop
Once an investor cuts that check, managing expectations only becomes more critical. Get in the habit of updating your numbers regularly. It’s never too early to be disciplined about your company’s metrics — not only are they important to you as a benchmark of progress, they’re important to your investors as well. Also, while sharing good news with your investors is essential to managing expectations, it’s important to report difficulties as well. For example at Pixability, I maintain communications with our largest investors with frequent calls plus a monthly written investor check-in, with a rundown of what’s working and what’s not.
# Boil it down
# Be clear when you will need more money
Lastly, clear and frequent communication is important when you need more money. Start fundraising early, at least six months before you need the cash. Nothing is worse than having to turn to investors with no runway left. By staying proactive in understanding and communicating your runway, you should be able to jump start the next phase of fundraising.
We’ve all heard the exhortation, and for the vast majority of our lives: you can do anything, the length of you endeavor to arrive. Diligent work pays off. There are a million quotes about diligent work, and I’d have a tendency to concur with the vast majority of them. Diligent work is essential, and it isolates you from most of the populace who aren’t propelled enough to buckle down for anything.
However, I have to confer some slight obscenity here and say: diligent work isn’t sufficient to make your business succeed. The answer for enhancing your business, or yourself as a business person, isn’t only “diligent work”- – and here are 10 reasons why:
# Hard work will exhaust you. Work too hard, skipping breaks and vacations, and it’s going to catch up with you. You’ll be less productive, you’ll feel like garbage, and you might even become so burnt out you don’t want to be an entrepreneur anymore. Yes, there’s a certain level of honor in fully investing yourself into a project, but if it saps your will to go on and leaves you exhausted, what’s the point? Don’t be afraid to take breaks–it’s actually good for your productivity.
# Entrepreneurship is a team sport. Few businesses grow to be successful based on the efforts of one individual. It takes a team to devise a good strategy and eventually carry it out. Accordingly, you can work as hard as you like, but if you’ve hired the wrong team members, or if they aren’t working the same way you are, it could all be for naught.
# Working hard doesn’t always make your work more valuable. Would you rather work for 10 hours on a project that pays $400, or work for 5 hours on a project that pays $500? Assuming the nature of the work is similar, the answer is obvious. Pouring more hours in doesn’t make those hours more valuable; find ways to improve the value of your work rather than its raw quantity.
# Hard work can’t come up with a good business idea. Can you force yourself to come up with a good idea if you spend enough time thinking about it? If you can, I want to partner with you. For most of us, good ideas come as random, unpredictable strokes of inspiration that we pursue and develop later on. Try to come up with a good business idea right now, through “hard work” alone–it’ll drive you mad.
# Hard work doesn’t equate to productivity. Here’s an idea for you; hard work doesn’t necessitate getting a lot done. For example, riding your bike uphill demands a lot of effort, but doesn’t get you very far. You may exert yourself in any number of ways, but it won’t necessarily get you closer to your goals. Find ways to work “downhill” instead.
# Hard work doesn’t yield creativity. This is similar to my claim that hard work can’t generate good ideas; it can’t problem solve for you, either. “Cultivating creativity is a must for business success, and it can’t be forced or extracted…” says John Rhodes, co-founder of ScreenCraft, and someone I had the pleasure of interviewing a few weeks ago at the Sundance Film Festival.
# Hard work can’t trump experience. Experience leads individuals to make smarter decisions, at an almost intuitive level. Hard work can’t beat that (at least in most cases). Consider the game of Go as a good example–the most experienced players often describe their best moves as “feeling right,” the product of experiential intuition rather than the product of exhaustive logic.
# There’s a limit to the brute force approach. Hard work is a kind of “brute force,” by which you wear away at your tasks, but there’s a hard limit to this approach. There are only so many hours in the day, and so many ways to solve a problem directly. Finding alternative problem solving routes and maximizing those hours is the only way to get the most for your effort.
# Time is money, and it can be wasted. Let’s adopt the analogy that “time is money.” Spending lots of money doesn’t necessarily mean acquiring lots of value; for example, you wouldn’t rate a $100,000 real estate investment as holding the same long-term value as a $100,000 investment in cottage cheese. Like money, time can be wasted, meaning hard work only counts if it’s spent on something that matters.
# Your competitors work hard, too. You’re working hard, but does that automatically make you more competitive? I’d argue no. Most, if not all, of your competitors are already working hard, so if anything, working hard puts you on par with them. You’ll need something else if you want to get ahead.
Does this mean that you shouldn’t work hard, or that hard work isn’t important? Absolutely not. In fact, hard work is imperative if you want to be a successful entrepreneur. All I’m saying here is that it shouldn’t be your only preoccupation, and you need to understand that “hard work” alone isn’t the solution for everything. Find paths of least resistance, work smarter, delegate, cooperate, think outside the box, and don’t forget to take breaks! Hard work pays off, but only when you do it appropriately.
It’s surrounding graduation season, when the air is thick with sayings. One pearl of alleged intelligence routinely cast out is the guidance: “Pick a vocation you cherish and you’ll never work a day in your life.” By the force of the Internet it’s been connected to Confucius, however the old person was much more astute than that.
Above all else, a great many people – for a wide range of reasons- – don’t have that choice, and they definitely know it. Why rub their face in it? Be that as it may, far more terrible, the announcement suggests there’s something not exactly alluring about working. Actually, if your lone objective is accomplishing something you cherish, odds are you’re just taking the simple way.
If I’d gone that route, I probably would have been a history major in college. I love it, and because I do, it seems easy. Instead I majored in economics partly because the “dismal science” can be damn hard to understand. Decades later, I still want the same kind of challenge. That’s why I look forward to work every day.
It’s a curious fact that our company’s focus from the beginning has been on developing and manufacturing products that improve people’s comfort, yet one of the reasons I think we’ve been able to grow so quickly is that we stay “uncomfortable” by giving ourselves new challenges. We’re always pushing our limits and trying new things in order to understand them. That’s what led us from fans to lights to interconnected smart devices, and has us now working on HVAC systems. It’s how we’ve acquired close to 150 patents, with almost as many pending. Contrary to what some might think, we’ve found that tackling a problem despite not having years of experience in the field can actually be a benefit because we see it with a fresh set of eyes.
Rapid growth–in our case about 30 percent a year over the past six years–means that every part of the business becomes something of an engineering challenge: Will it run, can it scale, how far can we push it before it breaks. Our engineers spend much of their time testing and retesting, then interpreting the results in order to make our products better, not simply meet standards. That’s essentially our approach to everything. Let’s test this plan or structure to see if it works, and if it doesn’t, let’s try something else.
Sometimes it’s not so much a deliberate plan as an inevitable result of rapid growth. Departments expand, responsibilities change, new opportunities arise. Recently we realized that the sales approach that had worked at $30 million was proving less effective as we near $300 million, so we totally restructured our sales and marketing teams. Everything is always up for review in an effort to make it better.
Too many manufacturers stunt their growth because they’re reluctant to try new things. They don’t want to rock the dinghy out of fear of sinking, so instead they moor themselves in a safe little harbor, focus on keeping down expenses and never venture outside to explore. The way I see it, that’s about as exciting as watching water come to a boil. It’s also an easy way to plot a course straight to the bottom.
A couple of weeks back, I had an opportunity to talk with Mario Martinez Jr., CEO of M3Jr Growth Strategies and one of the main specialists in Social Selling. He said something that delineates the present battles business people face.
“The cutting edge purchaser has changed, however deals strategies and pioneers have not,” he said. “Purchasers are currently socially, digitally, and versatile empowered. They investigate, assess, and will participate in an altogether new way.”
From at a very early stage in his profession Mario knew he had a one of a kind capacity to identify with individuals. Amid his 18 years in deals, he has seen a movement as his industry moved far from frosty calls, splash and implore email impacting, post office based mail pieces, and held onto long range interpersonal communication as another approach to draw in potential clients clearer, speedier, and better. Truth be told, somewhere in the range of 57 percent to 75 percent of the purchasing adventure is presently done on the web.
Mario formed M3Jr Growth Strategies to teach social sales skills that caters to the evolving behavior of buyers. “I provide the leadership needed to help people and businesses of any size, develop and implement a Social Selling strategy, which creates quantifiable sales results,” said Mario. “I also help organization’s sr. leadership to drive top performance out of themselves and their teams through Social Selling.”
As a Sales Leader, if you are turning your back on the concepts of social selling, this may be the reason your phone isn’t ringing. Here are things you are doing wrong and how you can make it right.
# Don’t rely on a conventional approach to achieve unconventional goals
Achieving your sales goals often requires a fresh approach. “Ninety-nine percent of the time when I speak to a sales leader, they haven’t brought in a sales lead in months or even years, and they have little to no social engagement with buying communities,” said Mario. “But social selling can allow sales leaders to manage their teams and get to the modern buyer while enabling a social army of salespeople.
As a man not known for his convention, Mario’s approach to building relationships starts with a different perspective. For him, this business isn’t about collecting contacts. It requires more than that. Rather it’s about nurturing those contacts and establishing a feeling of trust. Mario positions himself not only as a fan of potential buyers by sharing comments about their published work, but he presents plenty of content of his own on LinkedIn, YouTube, and other social platforms, thus establishing himself as a reliable source on sales, leadership, social selling and management. This strategy also invites others to share viewpoints based on his content too.
Because of his Social Selling expertise and the above-mentioned advice, Mario was asked to be a Keynote Breakout Speaker at LinkedIn Sales Connect in Oct. 2015, where he showed 100′s of other sales & marketing leaders how to develop a strategy, launch, and drive 100% rep adoption of Social Selling within a sales organization. What’s notable is that he was able to drive over $2 million in revenue attributed to social selling in four months. Within eight months, the program was able to drive a 50% increase in company social shares on LinkedIn alone.
Now is the time to activate your social sales routine. Show your teams or peers the way to engaged social selling by redefining your networking strategies, taking ownership of social selling, and exploring unconventional strategies that cater to unique customer relationships. Then watch your sales numbers skyrocket as you connect, engage, and provide insightful content to the modern buyer. If a five year old can understand Social Selling, so can you!
# Networking is more than just hitting ‘Likes’
The name of the game in today’s sales arena is knowing the contact before you engage with them. Much of Mario’s success in achieving a 99 out of 100 score on LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index is because he uses LinkedIn to socially engage or connect to his buyers by understanding their positions, viewpoints and / or questions which they may post via this social networking site.
“It’s not just about hitting ‘Like’ on a post. I’ll add comments that provide answers to their questions, and I will often refer them to other contacts that may be able to help with a concern,” said Mario. The goal is to help. When Mario has potential buyers in mind, he reads their published articles and follows their profile, then he comments on that post and refers to a particular point he enjoyed, can expand on or attempts to add value to the discussion. “That comment sets the stage for future contacts and puts me ahead of the competition whose pounding away on the buyer’s phone or email with next to no response,” he said. Mario says “the idea is to be seen as a resource or thought leader to your buyer.”
To “new school” for you? Think again. LinkedIn performed a study that showed 92 percent of B2B buyers would likely engage with a sales representative who is a known industry thought leader. Mario’s own personal story of how he formed M3Jr Growth Strategies, is a perfect example of how establishing yourself as a thought leader can lead to amazing opportunities!
# With social selling-yes, it’s personal.
Throughout his career, Mario has discovered a way to embrace the changing trends in selling. What makes Mario so good at what he does is that he combines leveraging Social Selling with the “old school” personal touch that buyers still seek. Buyers enjoy sharing tips about their hobbies, and they like it when someone takes an interest in them and or their family. These are the types of conversations, which contribute to a strong business relationship.
He added, “The sales leadership team needs to own social selling. They need to own how they grow the business and drive adoption of techniques and cadences through the organization. Sales Leaders need to be front and center in both engagement and connecting with buyers. Sales Leaders need to lead by example in not only building their brand but that of the company.”
He reminds us to keep our ultimate goal in mind. “Remember, your goal is to take every online conversation to offline. Make sure you are not just ‘liking’ and ‘sharing,’ but connecting and mapping valuable content so the modern buyer can get to know you and the business problem you help solve.”
Whether you possess a current block and mortar business or you’re building an ecommerce brand, legitimately setting up your web nearness is a standout amongst the most critical duties you’ll ever be entrusted with. Tragically, numerous entrepreneurs either don’t realize what they’re doing or neglect to take after best practices.
In this article, we’re going to investigate a modest bunch of the essential strides you have to take with a specific end goal to put your business in a position to be effective. Right away, here are five particular things you ought to concentrate on:
# Find a CMS Platform
Next comes the CMS platform. While there are a number of ways to build websites, a CMS platform makes it easier on those who don’t want to deal with all of the coding and technical aspects. You can research as many CMS solutions as you want, but the following three are the most popular:
- WordPress. By far the most popular and easiest to use for beginners, WordPress is perfect for small and medium sized businesses. Not only are there thousands of gorgeous templates available, but finding a WordPress designer is easy.
- Joomla. If you’re running an ecommerce site and want something other than WordPress, Joomla is a great solution. It does require more coding knowledge, but this shouldn’t be a problem, assuming you’re hiring a freelance designer/developer to handle the site.
- Drupal. Finally, there’s Drupal. This is by far the most technical CMS, but it’s also extremely powerful. If you plan on building a large website and can find a developer with Drupal knowledge, you may want to consider this option.
If you want a side-by-side comparison of these CMS solutions, then check out this handy infographic. As you’ll see, each comes with its own pros and cons.
# Design Your Website
Think of your website host and CMS solution as the foundation of a house. You can’t build a strong home without a foundation, but the foundation itself doesn’t make the structure a house. You also need walls, windows, doors, siding, and thousands of other elements to create a visually pleasing home. This is where design comes into play.
Start by deciding the purpose of your website. Will it be a static website with the main goal of providing a reputable front for your business, or will you actually use it to sell products? You can always pivot in the future, but deciding the purpose of the website up front will help you choose a design.
Once the purpose is established, you’ll either need to find a pre-designed template or hire a web designer to create the site from scratch. Both options are suitable and your choice will likely depend on cost and experience.
# Choose the Right Website Host
For businesses that are just getting started online, the process of developing a website is often confusing, but it’s really not a difficult concept. Simply put, you’ll need two partners to develop a site: a website host and a content management system (CMS).
As the name suggests, the host is the company that provides the technologies and services needed to store and display your website for the world to see. The CMS platform–which will be discussed in the next section–is used to actually develop and design the site.
Finding the right website host (e.g. HostGator) is all about determining which service provider meets your needs. There are three basic types–individual plans, dedicated servers, and reseller accounts–and you should research the details of each to find out which will work best in your situation.
# Invest in Content Marketing and Social Media
With your website squared away, you’ll want to expand your online footprint by investing in content marketing and social media.
- Content marketing. In the world of internet marketing, content is currency. Content is what attracts search engine traffic, facilitates social sharing, and establishes your brand’s reputation in your respective industry. You’ll need a strategy for creating and disseminating onsite blogs, guest blogs, press releases, articles, and more.
- Social media. As you know, social media is a massively important catalyst for small business success. It allows brands to reach millions of prospective customers without having to travel around the world or invest major resources into global marketing campaigns. Establish profiles on major platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to get started.
Content marketing and social media should be your major focus in the months to come. They frequently work in unison to engage your target audience and direct them to your website.
# Develop an SEO Strategy
With your website built, it’s time to start driving traffic to the site. Since most customers aren’t going to type your website URL directly into their browser–at least in the early days–you need to put your site in front of them. Search engine optimization (SEO) plays a vital role in this.
“Search Marketing is vital for any business trying to succeed online,” says expert Chris Alley. “Potential customers are looking every day on Search Engines like Google and Bing for the products and services that you offer. Getting your website in front of this audience will undoubtedly lead to new customers for your business.”
SEO is a very complex topic–and it would be impossible to even scratch the surface in this article–so you’ll either want to spend some time researching the ins and outs of the industry on your own, or hire an expert to develop a strategy for you.
# Give Your Business a Strong Online Foundation
Virtually all modern businesses and brands have some form of an internet presence. However, only a small fraction of these businesses have a strong foundation that’s conducive to long-term growth.
If you want to position your business for the future, then it’s critically important that you gather your key decision makers and develop a concerted plan for getting started.
By outsourcing certain tasks and handling others internally, you can develop an online presence that you’re proud of.
Essentially characterized as the “change of crude information into important and helpful data for business purposes,” business insight (BI) is basic for your organization to comprehend where it stand now and later on. With a strong BI program set up, you’ll have the capacity to pinpoint any remarkable zones of achievement and disappointment – both similarly imperative to advancing and enhancing your item or administration advertising.
Be that as it may, the information needs to move well past fundamental data that is pleasantly bundled as a dashboard or other comparative visual stage on the off chance that it will produce real esteem for your business.
The New Wave of Business Intelligence Providers
While it may have previously been an enterprise-only domain–think of resource-rich giants such as IBM and SAP–business intelligence capabilities are now being offered from the ground up, including from cloud-based startups that cater to both small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as well as some larger companies.
These smart solutions are helping managers understand what’s really happening in their companies, going beyond traditional data points related to sales and past transactions on a surface level only.
With new players entering the business intelligence scene, it will be necessary to determine whether the data-driven insights revealed are any good–or, in other words, if they have the potential to generate actionable insights that can guide your future business decisions. There are a couple of things to look out for in order to fully understand the potential of BI reports and their role in generating actionable business insights.
Timely Access to Information
According to a detailed infographic on unlocking competitive advantages using business intelligence, prepared by Boston University citing data from Gartner, “47% of business professionals report dealing with slow or untimely access to information which impedes their ability to make decisions–which could be improved with better business intelligence.”
This suggests that nearly half of business professionals are falling behind competitors due to outdated data. Therefore, while there is much hype surrounding Big Data, sometimes ensuring streamlined access to raw, smart data is of more urgency. In fact, BI data can also help drive immediate decisions that can impact companies, their employees and additional stakeholders.
For instance, by examining purchase histories or other customer behavior, managers can make informed business decisions regarding customer service on the fly.
The Right Visualization for the Data at Hand
Often enough, large amounts of data collected by BI companies will be condensed in the form of some type of report in order to be easily digested by the report’s audience. But advanced technologies can help visualize even complex data intuitively and according to custom requirements and indicators.
The type of data visualization required will depend on the type of analysis you’re looking to perform, whether it’s comparing a specific metric to last year’s benchmark or more complex trends that will involve more data points, from multiple sources and multiple structural models.
For instance, Sisense, a leading business intelligence software company, recommends–as an example of data visualization–using a scatter map (such as the one below) specifically when looking to “visualize geographical data across a region.”
For many data tracking needs, a straightforward dashboard which allows you tocompile website analytics data from multiple sources in one convenient view is sufficient.
However, today’s sophisticated business intelligence software helps makes sense of simple and more complex data. By providing data on various areas of business operations, both back-end and front-end, BI helps individuals and companies to grasp where they stand now–and to provide insights into the future market by revealing patterns and data-based trends.
To make the most out of the benefits provided by these types of platforms, business leaders need to perform extensive internal audits. This process helps to determine what data areas they are looking to focus on, from sales to finance and other pertinent departments in between. It’s a need that will continue to grow as more and more emphasis is being placed on data and results-based decision-making.
However, no matter what the scope of your BI program is, it will make sense to narrow down your efforts based on the potential for greatest ROI.
As of late, it was uncovered that Snapchat has brought another $1.8 billion up in financing bringing the startup’s worth up to nearly $20 billion. For business people all over, this news is approval that the fantasy is conceivable – that with the right thought, an organization can become greater than anybody ever envisioned.
In any case, the truth is that Snapchat is an irregularity. A 2015 report from Sage observed that two out of each five new businesses fall flat. What’s more, one of the top reasons is being established by business people who don’t watch costs firmly enough.
Running a startup is expensive, which is why even wildly successful companies like Snapchat still need influxes of cash. But, it takes a while to get to that level. Startups need to do whatever they can to stretch their resources. That means adopting a lean business model, which focuses on getting your startup launched soon and in a manner that requires less initial capital.
Having a lean enterprise means knowing how to cut the wheat from the chaff. However, that doesn’t always come naturally.
Here are four ways to make your startup leaner:
# Make decisions quickly
Time is money. By taking substantial amounts of time to make decisions you’re holding your company back. Every option you consider, every time you weigh the pros and cons, the startup isn’t moving forward.
That’s not to say you should just flip a coin whenever faced with an important choice, but you need to realize that you’ll never have all of the information you need. All you can do is process the information you have and pull the trigger.
And if every decision has to go through the founder, CEO, and each investor, it’ll be a big waste of resources.Have a plan in place about the chain of command whenever a certain type of issue arises. Know who’s responsible for what choices and the criteria that will be used to evaluate options.
# Constantly run tests
If you’re waiting until your launch date to see if there’s a market need for your startup, you’re setting yourself up to fail. If no one buys into your company or its product, everything you’ve done up to that point is lost.
The better option is conduct smaller tests throughout development in order ensure you have an end result that there’s actually a market for. For example, at Coplex, we take the time to experiment with our clients to collect data about what parts of their ideas work and which don’t. We may end up developing something completely different from what we originally imagined, but it’s much more likely to be a success.
# Know what can wait
Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking everything has to be perfect by the launch date. The product has to have every possible feature and every potential issue has to be figured out. It’s more important to nail down the basics and get the business running as soon as possible.
For example, say you’ve developed an idea for the Uber of dog-walkers. You get caught up at the office and need someone to go let your pooch out. Sure there are other features that could be added to make the service more interesting like grooming or training, but they don’t need to be ready to go from day one. Adding all those extra parts will just take more time and money and keep pushing back the date when you can actually start making sales.
Decide what the core of your business is. Focus on getting that off the ground and when you become more financially stable you can develop further and make improvements.
# Think twice before hiring
Once your company begins to grow, you have to hire more employees to handle the load. And since startup companies are always evolving, chances are the types of employees you needed at the beginning won’t be the same as the ones you need in six months or a year. So you bring on even more employees. Next thing you know your payroll budget is out of control.
A 2015 First Round survey found, 68 percent of startups planned on hiring as many as 20 people over the course of that year. But you have to wonder how many of those hires were actually necessary. Were there enough new duties and responsibilities to create a whole new position? Did no one else on the team possess the skills needed to do the task? Could it have been done by a temporary contractor? Ask yourself those questions before hiring and you’ll know if a new employee is really the best way to go.
Startups are expensive and unless they’re run properly they will bleed money. As an entrepreneur the best thing you can do is have a lean enterprise that allows you to allocate your resources in the best way possible.
In the perpetually changing universe of business and money, where market strengths, innovative advances, global occasions and flighty client requests appear to move once a day, numerous organizations end up exploring harsh waters looking for the colossal business sector open doors that exist not too far off. A few organizations misread the momentum and wind up submerged – consider great organizations like Kodak. Others can ride the influxes of chance because of watchful arranging, keen exploration and tenaciously planning for every possibility.
The importance of having a comprehensive business plan, with the participation of (and buy-in from) your management team cannot be underestimated, especially in times of dramatic economic and industry upheaval. The world may seem to be spinning out of control, but with a smart, thoughtful plan, surprises can be mitigated, crises can be controlled, and levelheadedness can lead to opportunity. I learned this lesson through personal experience early on in my career, and it has been a crucial component of what has made me successful in the disparate fields in which I have worked.
One of my first formative professional experiences was with the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. I was recruited and retained by a group of local business executives to analyze the financial condition of the Atlanta public schools. After months of research, analysis, interviews and assessments, we concluded that one of the fundamental problems facing the school system was, as a large operation working without a coherent business plan. This resulted in an inefficient use of funds that further depleted the resources available to the deserving children of Atlanta. The school system was a big business but did not apply basic management principles into its operation. For me, this crystalized the importance of having a plan.
Due to my work at the Chamber of Commerce, I was hired by the president of the Portman Companies to assist with strategic planning. As a young member of the executive team, I was often critical of executives that did not have a plan. Challenges and mistakes, however, have a remarkable ability to provide valuable lessons. They help us remember to practice what we preach. As my career progressed at the Portman Companies ,I eventually ran a business unit at a very young age. Guess what I forgot to do? I did not seek the input of my colleagues or thoughtfully analyze all aspects of my business. I did not have a business plan and boy what a mistake it was. After launching a business on gut instinct without a thoughtful business plan, I promised myself I would never approach business again without a well thought out plan.
What are the parts of a good, solid plan? First it involves sitting around a table in an environment where people feel comfortable debating, disagreeing, and presenting different perspectives. This back and forth pushes the boundaries of what is possible, generating the best ideas from your team. This can be a lengthy process–you cannot force creativity. But once it concludes and a framework is formalized, after verifying everything by the numbers, metrics, financials and relevant market research and analysis, I follow disciplined adherence to the plan and pursue it vigorously, checking in every month or so that we’re still on the right path towards success.
In 1995, NASCAR had a terrific product but did not have a comprehensive brand awareness strategy and did not aggressively advertise the sport, resulting in limited interest and investment by Fortune 500 companies. After I arrived, we developed a sophisticated and disciplined approach — a strategic plan — that focused on consumer marketing. It led to unprecedented results for NASCAR. Similarly, strategic planning was critical to our success at IMG, where we re-invented various lines of our business which caused its value to triple.
Equally important during this internal planning phase is to not only consider the steps that will ensure success, but to develop contingency plans for unforeseen events and potential hazards on the horizon. This requires carefully and honestly thinking about the “what ifs” and “then whats” allowing your business to better handle shocks and surprises. With critical foresight, you and your team will be more surefooted as external forces push and pull you and your competitors in different directions. You will be able to stay on your feet and walk through the storm instead of getting tossed around–or even worse–sunk by it. Thinking critically of any possible deal or investment, no matter how attractive it may be, minimizes mistakes and limits surprises should Murphy’s Law ever take hold.
Today, as head of Bruin Sports Capital, the twin yardsticks of devising a comprehensive business plan, validated by its financials, and the value proposition of finding companies riding a tailwind–in marketing, in digital and in fan experiences–have led me to make the investments we’ve made so far–four with our first year alone–and give me (and my investors) great confidence for success beyond Bruin’s first birthday.
How do you know if your startup will be successful? originally appeared on Quora -the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
Answer by Leigh Thompson, serial entrepreneur turned serious entrepreneur turned lighthearted entrepreneur, on Quora:
You know your startup will be successful when you validate your idea before starting it up!
To say there’s no way to know if a startup will be successful is untrue. Some people assume success means to be the best in the industry, up to the standards of a Facebook, or a Whatsapp.
If success means to provide enough value to enough people to generate a profit, then yes, you can absolutely identify if your startup will be successful early on.
Essentially, validating a business is proving that your idea will work before spending time and money creating that business.
Before coming to me, my last three consulting clients all spent over $15,000 to build a website, produce a product or content, and then market it. Unfortunately, all they did is waste their time and money. They spent all of that only to find no one wanted to buy what they were offering.
I hear all the time, “But people loved my idea and thought the idea would be great.” Here’s the problem with starting a business because other people thought it was “great”: People are nice (usually), but their words aren’t enough to get an accurate idea of whether a business will work or not. Here’s an example of what I mean.
- You (talking to a group of friends and family): “Hey guys, I came up with this idea to sell padded pens so you can write longer and more comfortably! I’d sell them for $15 each. What do you think, would you consider buying them?”
- Them: “Definitely, we love it! What a great idea! You’re going to sell millions!!!”
This is where most people feel like they’ve validated their ideas and now go about wasting time and money creating it. Expanding on the scenario, here’s what it would look like to actually validate the idea.
- You: “Oh, that’s so great to hear! I actually have the first batch in my car now, I’ll go and get them. Who wanted to buy my padded pens for $15 again?”
- Them (any combination of): Crickets. “Oh, I don’t have money on me now … I need to check with X first … I don’t need a padded pen … etc.”
If you went about starting your business half way through the above conversation, you risk wasting time, energy, and money. Imagine instead, you finished the above conversation and found out no one wanted to buy your idea. That’s ok. You could ask them why, ask what they would buy and then “pivot” to a better idea that peoplewould pay for.
There are hundreds of simple, cheap, or free and fast ways of validating a business. In this day and age, that is the best way to start a business.