Helen Zad, Administrator of Active Plus Home Health and Divine Grace Hospice, and Host of Femme Fatale by Helen Podcast.
While no two paths to success will look alike, I believe there are some foundational elements that any successful business will have in common. Here are my three non-negotiable starting principles that I always employ with my business ventures that I hope can help you maximize your own potential.
1. Write a detailed business plan.
Your business plan is your springboard when you’re starting to build. And while you may need to adjust it as you go, your plan from day one should be complete and as detailed as possible.
You can find all kinds of free templates online for how to structure your plan, but here are the key ingredients.
• Your product: Write a description of your product or service, how it compares to other products of its nature in the market and why yours will be successful. How does it meet a need? Include extensive market research—you should know the field and your competitors inside and out.
• Passion: You need to strongly believe in your product. Why do you want to produce this? Why do you think this is worth selling? What does this mean to you? Knowing your “why” is going to be the cornerstone of your success.
• Growth potential: You will have vastly more room to grow if you choose a business that doesn’t have a cap. Usually, a business will be tied to how much space and manpower you have as well as how much product you can physically produce. Some businesses are so tied to the restraints of physical production that even if you want to create more, you can’t. Find out how you can mass produce with the least amount of manpower and space to create more freedom of expansion for yourself.
• Your projections and sales goals: Figure out how long you expect to take to develop your product or service and how much profit you expect to make within the first year, two years and five years. In order to get where you want to be in five years, what do you need to accomplish in one year? In six months? One month? A day? Next, calculate your budget: yearly, monthly and weekly. For instance, if my projection is to sell $3 million in a year, I divide that amount by 12 months to get a desired monthly figure of $250,000, then divide that figure by 4 weeks to get $62,500, then by seven to get a daily goal of $8,929. From these figures, I can create a guideline for myself for how much I need to produce by the end of each unit of time.
2. Find the capital.
If you have capital, my advice is that you don’t need to put millions of dollars into your business—especially in the beginning—in order to be successful. With an exceptional sales strategy, you can start with almost the bare minimum needed to own the business and develop enough cash to put back in and grow as fast as possible. The key will always be your customer service and salesmanship, which you can hone for free.
If you don’t have capital, find a company that speaks to you. If you have passion for what they do, then you’ll be able to excel quickly within that space. Be honest with them about your goals and interests, and commit to helping them grow. Work just as hard for them as you would if you owned the company yourself, and at the end of the day, you will become irreplaceable. When you are irreplaceable, you are in a position to set the rules—to get the stakes and benefits you’ve earned and to ask for shares of the company with your own conditions.
It is more valuable and less common than you think for companies to find someone willing to put in the sweat equity and take on a business’ goals as their own. If you do this, you will be noticed and rewarded for it. Just be exactly who you said you are going to be under any circumstances. Never think you work for other people; you only work for yourself, your dreams and your goals. When you have knowledge and capability, you can control any outcome that you want. You have everything you need already to make it happen.
3. Know your industry and stay confident.
Here are the most important components to remember as your startup gets going.
• Your product: Choose something you’re passionate about selling or creating. The more you have passion for what to sell or create, the better you will be at selling it.
• Selling strategies: What kind of strategies do you need to learn, practice or research for what you are planning to develop? It is vitally important to master your sales techniques.
• Your essentials: Your essentials include your location, goals, finance and plans. Always know your stats, and be fully aware at all times of what is going on with your admin and finance.
• Curiosity: There will always be more to learn. You’ll never know enough, and you don’t know what you don’t know. Stay humble and teachable.
• Attitude: Live your dream like it’s already here—because it is. You’re doing it. And remember that a part of being who you want to be, a business owner, is committing every day. Don’t give yourself excuses not to be productive on a given day because every single day matters.
Starting your own business takes vision and creativity, but it also takes grit and determination, even when you’re working hard and being met with resistance and rejection (which you will be). You will feel tired, and sometimes you’ll feel like throwing in the towel.
Remember as you continue that you don’t know what your limits are until you push yourself—so keep pushing. Realizing your full potential and building something new from the ground up comes with incredible rewards if you commit yourself to putting in the work.
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