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 VISIONING

Have you clearly articulated your vision. What’s that you say? Clearly articulating your vision is when an entrepreneur creates an image, a vision of where he sees his or her company 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years from now, so clearly that you could describe every aspect in the minutest detail. Every heard of a vision board? It doesn’t need to be fancy, it just needs to be visual. I have seen vision boards on a piece of napkin. Why do this you say? It is important for any entrepreneur to be able to not only create that vision but see the its completion in living colors. It is a commitment to the long haul, it’s the song that keeps you up at night, it will change and take shape as you move along. Visioning is the single most important thing you can do for yourself.

 

PLANNING
John Maxwell says that planning is 80% of the pie, execution is 20%. Planning takes the vision created in your mind and puts it down on paper. It’s the roadmap. A thorough roadmap that documents, the critical path, constraints, limitations, assumptions, risks and controls surrounding all aspects of your venture. With uncertainty surrounding the outcome or your guaranteed success it is important to plan for contingencies. This makes planning a key strategic invaluable component. Think of the plan as your written short term and long term objectives. You will alter and modify as you go along, the path may change, the goal will never change. So plan for it and stay steadfast.

 

RESEARCH
It is the basis for certainty, it provides reassurance and confidence in the decisions you make as you steer your enterprise. It is understanding the environment and the favorable conditions under which you should take action to achieve the best results. Understanding your target market is essential to your growth, research allows you to manage your direction and realign your objectives accordingly given the information that your obtain. Note that research is ongoing and is part of your evolution process throughout the life of your business. Seasoned enterprises spend huge amounts of of money on research in their efforts to maintain a competitive advantage, always on the cutting edge of innovation setting standards in the industry. It’s a jungle out there protect yourself, know the habitants, and arm yourself with the right tools to protect your dream so you can get out on the other side.

 

NETWORK
Do you have a network? Do you leverage their worth? Nurturing relationships is vital in the world of Entrepreneurship. If you have a product or service to sell you need a buyer. You may not know one, but through your network you can find one. Usually everyone has a friend or two and every person you know is a gateway to at least 6 other individuals. Its important to expand your knowledge and obtain feedback. Your network will provide you with the information you need to understand how to best tailor what it is you have to offer. If you do not have a network of friends, make some, register at local organizations that have a similar passion as you do. Participate and share your talents. Be open to feedback and be transparent in your communication. A strong network means security for your business. Ever wondered why you don’t see any wealthy individuals at the dry-cleaning store (even though they all need their clothes laundered)? They simply tap into their network to obtain all the services they need. Whose network are you tapped into?

 

BRANDING
The first time I heard the word branding I had no idea how important this would be to my business. Branding is the single most important element that will separate you from your competitors. Google defines it as the promotion of a product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design. It’s how your customers identify you, know you, trust you, it’s a reflection of you and what your enterprise represents, it invokes emotional reaction whenever it is identified. Brandimag describes why it is so important to brand…  “it can change how people percept your brand, it can drive new business and increase brand awareness”. It takes hard work and precision to build. However, it can bring your business to its knees if it becomes plagued with scandal or carelessness. Branding is an extension of you!. What do you want your customers to know about you. Make that clear and transparent through branding.

 

MARKETING
The epitome of the color of your financials, black or red!. If customers don’t know you exist, they won’t be able to utilize your products or services. CEO and Founder of MagImpact, Peter Havranek provides us with Marketing 101:
 –  Marketing is an ongoing process, not a one-time project.
 –  Promotion and marketing are not the same thing. Promotion is just one of many aspects of marketing (and usually one of the last steps of the marketing process).
 –  Marketing starts with product conception—determining the needs and wants of customers and then researching and developing products and services that excel at meeting those needs.
 –  Marketing involves pricing your products in the sweet spot where you maximize overall profits (balancing a low enough price to encourage a sufficient volume of sales and a high enough price to keep profit margins good). Pricing also involves planning strategies such as offering coupons, discounts, etc. to fuel sales.
 –  Once you’ve developed your products and priced them strategically, you need to work out distribution channels—i.e. how are you going to make your products available and accessible to customers?
 Promotion can only be done effectively once you have researched and developed your products, priced them strategically to optimize cash flow and profits, and set up sufficient distribution channels. Without successfully completing the full marketing cycle, promotion is expensive and will fall flat.

 

HIRING
When you hire an employee, you bring on board a reflection of your values, hopes and aspirations. Your employees are also an extension of you. Marcus Lemonis, Billionaire Entrepreneur states clearly that in all of his businesses he focuses on the three Ps, Peoples, Process, Products. But the “peoples’ he mentions does not refer to the customer, it refers to the employees he has hired. He does not ascribe to the general concept of the ‘customer is always right’. He firmly believes that if you treat your employees well, if they are happy and are empowered to do their job, it will improve communication, reduce risks, improve the quality of the output and create a thriving business. But it all starts with your ability to hire the right individual. Hiring is not as simply as reviewing resume’s and making selections, you must know the precise job functions you are hiring for in order to ascertain if the individual you are about to hire is the right fit. Often start ups make the mistake of hiring the cheapest labor in order to minimize costs. That may come at the expense of seasoned knowledgeable personnel resulting in poorly executed services or poorly manufactured products. When you know the specific duties of each position, you are best placed to prioritize which values/duties/ are critical to the role you are hiring for. Hiring the wrong individual could be devastating, and worse off, not hiring enough individuals can cause burn out. Before you hire anyone, write down the qualities, values you want the individual to have and then write down the critical technical expertise they should have. Then get excited, each time you hire someone your company is growing in turn you are providing a livelihood for someone else.

 

OPERATIONS
This represents the day to day activities of the service or product. It is a huge bucket consisting of everything it takes to keep the doors open from personnel, to product quality control, to processing… it is the work that keeps the lights on in the most efficient manner possible. What are the inner workings of your operations? Do you have documented processes? Are you aware when your company is working at optimal efficiency? If your answer is No!. Then you need an operations business plan. What are your numbers? Do you know how much it costs to run the company at bare minimum with no sales? If you do not know the answer, its not too late to start tracking. Track how long it takes to do something, how much money it costs to do the next thing? Which roles should be assigned the desired functions? Then document your findings and come up with internal policies that maintain those expectations and sets standards. Operations is the daily inner workings of the enterprise.