Many of us think about starting our own businesses. Often we have such thoughts when a boss treats us unfairly, or when we receive poor service and think, “I could do that better.” The sad fact is, yes, you probably could do it better. However, in order to be successful you need to make launching your own business a positive choice, rather than a vague notion or pipedream. Most people never get that far.
So, if you have decided to start your own business, congratulations! The first decision any entrepreneur must make is to go for it.
When Starting a Business, Preparation Is the Key
It can be very tempting to take off at a hundred miles an hour, throw yourself into developing your business and never look back. But I believe running a successful business is a bit like running a race. Not a sprint, but a good long distance race—the kind of race where preparation is the key to not running out of steam after three or four miles.
This analogy is pertinent to the concept of Business Strategy, the first of my Seven Business Disciplines, introduced in an earlier article.
Imagine that you have been selected to run an Olympic race, but the organizers have refused to give you any details. What distance will you train for? Will you prepare for 1,500m or 3,000m? Or will you work on your sprint distances instead? Either way, you are unlikely to win, not because you are a poor runner (although this may be true!) but because you do not have a clear picture of the challenge and therefore cannot plan for it or commit 100 percent effort.
Business Strategy is not about using business school models, although these may help. It is about defining your goal, your destination, what you want to achieve with your business. It is the what, not the how. (The how is covered in Business Discipline # 2.)
Business Discipline #1 is all about THE BIG PICTURE.
The First Step: Crystallize Your Vision
The first step is to crystallize your vision. Do this by recording your thoughts on paper. In a few choice words, describe exactly what your successful business is going to achieve. I think 50 words is about right. Any more words and your vision will likely lose clarity and slip out of focus; any fewer and you will probably miss key information. Keep editing the statement until you get it right.
When I started Diva Cosmetics, my vision statement could have read, “to sell makeup,” or even, “to sell colorful makeup,” which would have been true, but would not have captured the essence of Diva or its Unique Selling Point (USP). Diva’s success came from the fact that the displays were located at non-traditional cosmetic retail points, places like clothing stores and fashion outlets instead of drugstores or department stores.
So what was Diva’s overarching vision statement?
To be the No.1 preferred supplier of own-label color cosmetics and gift sets to fashion retailers on the high street within three years. To consistently deliver excellence in terms of customer service, quality and new product ideas, ensuring our customers are provided the best choice possible on the high street.
Fifty words exactly in case you are wondering.
Diva’s vision statement explained what I was going to sell, where I was going to sell it and by what date I was going to achieve my goal. It also described how and why we would be the supplier of choice. A good vision statement will condense your overall business aims into a declaration that answers those key questions.
Weigh Decisions Against Your Vision Statement
When you have defined your vision, you will then be able to look at certain choices or decisions and determine whether they fit the vision or not. And if they don’t fit, don’t pursue them.
So, that is my first challenge to you. Stop and write a 50-word vision statement before plunging in at the deep end. That may be difficult when you are excited and pumped up and everything seems to be moving too slowly. Patience takes discipline. That is precisely why my seven disciplines are named disciplines, rather than rules or guidelines.
Everyone knows that rules can be bent or broken, and guidelines are easily ignored, particularly if you are having a bad day. Business success requires hard work, application and discipline. I am asking you to break your bad business habits and learn some great new ones.
I truly believe that adopting the Business Strategy discipline, and the remaining six disciplines in the series (check back for upcoming articles on the rest), can help your business achieve its potential for success. Why not find out for yourself?
About the Author
Emma Wimhurst is an entrepreneur, international motivational speaker and author of BOOM! 7 Disciplines to Control, Grow and Add Impact to Your Business. Emma took her first business, Diva Cosmetics, from her kitchen table to a multimillion dollar turnover in just four years. Now, as an international motivational speaker and business mentor to small business owners and entrepreneurs, she shares the secrets of her success with others. Visit Emma’s website, www.EmmaWimhurst.co.uk and learn more about her book and DVD at www.boompreneur.co.uk.
Read more articles by Emma Wimhurst.