Before we start any journey, there must be a motivation. A motivation to achieve a result. The result could be as simple as driving to a destination. It is possible that people can start a journey unconsciously, but at some point in the journey, they will become conscious of achieving a desired outcome. Starting a business is just like any other journey. The people who focus right from the beginning are the ones who will actually make it to the destination and get there fast.
People will start businesses to achieve the following objectives:
- Financial security and independence
- To satisfy a creative entrepreneurial flair
- Work/life balance
- The pursuit of excellence
- Control over one’s destiny
- The creation of a legacy
My next question to you is, if you didn’t rate yourself an 8 or above in every category, then what are you going to do about it? Are you going to let your business dictate how you live your life, or are you going to take back control? Don’t forget you went into business to have greater control over your destiny.
Achieving the first five objectives listed above is usually enough for most people. However, eventually many entrepreneurs find that those goals are not enough. Once they achieve the first five, they feel an ache. Or feel directionless. They know that there is a higher purpose driving them to achieve something greater than self. The first five points are self-centric—goals that define how you want to live your life with yourself, your friends and your family. But will you be satisfied to limit your scope to yourself and the people immediately around you? Or will you want to transform the lives of people around the world?
People who say ‘Yes’ to that last question are driven to create a difference for as many people as possible. To leave the planet a better place than when they arrived. They have a purpose greater than self. These people are visionaries—passionate people who have tapped into their Why. One of the most powerful lessons that I have learnt over the years is that if you connect with this, it permeates your business and will become your key to success. In everything—from sales to team alignment to personal happiness—knowing your Why will help you make the right calls, imagine creative solutions and give you the energy and the will to succeed when others fail.
The Pre-Business Phase
Step One – The Why
You need to be clear on your Why before you start. Developing your purpose assists in articulating why you do what you do—not just for others but also for yourself. This will provide you with a strong focus. It answers the following questions that will be the foundations of your success:
- Why do I get out of bed every day?
- Why should someone buy my product or service?
- Why should someone work as part of my business?
- Why should suppliers support me?
- Why should my family and friends support my journey and me?
So, if you learn one thing from reading this book, discovering your Why is the most important one.
Step Two – The Law of Economics
Do you have a product or service that someone wants to buy? This fundamental question is another way of portraying the law of economics, Demand vs. Supply. There must be a need for your product or service. Without it there is no business. Some products and services are already required in the world, so history indicates that there is a need. But be careful, because history is not always the best indicator of the future. The world is currently experiencing a changing landscape driven by technology and globalisation (further suggested reading on this is a book by Thomas Friedman – The World Is Flat). And it’s all changing at a faster pace than we’ve ever experienced before. This change may result in some products or supply sources going extinct. This is happening in businesses today—catching many entrepreneurs off guard. This effectively means that the business values in some industries are eroding as we speak.
Just think about the number of jobs in existence today that never existed thirty years ago. For all of those new industries that have sprouted up, businesses that were once prevalent have disappeared.
So how do you keep your business alive? The trick is to get really creative with your thinking and ask yourself three questions:
- Will there still be a market for the product or service that I am selling in the future?
- Could technology or globalisation replace what I can do?
- How can I pivot ahead of the change?
Step Three – Is the Business Idea Scalable?
The mistake that some people make is in overlooking the fact that some business ideas are scalable and can grow into a much larger business while others only present an income stream for the owner. A popular term of phrase for an income stream is ‘buying yourself a job’. A lot of service-based franchises are designed for just that reason.
Moreover, there are many business models that can be scalable to a certain size but need to evolve fundamentally to grow beyond a certain point. An example of this is a graphic design business. These businesses generally can scale to between ten and twenty employees. The cornerstone of the success of these businesses is the creativity of the leaders and staff in the company. But creativity comes from the individual and is therefore hard to productise. Sure, there are examples where businesses have been successful in scaling above this size, but it will require a huge amount of leadership to align the creativity of the team to ensure consistency across the business.
Step Four – Mindset. Do You Have What It Takes?
You need to consider what is possible for this business and whether you are the person who has the ability to make it happen.
The journey is tough but hugely rewarding. It provides a platform of creativity and satisfaction beyond most life journeys because if you get it right, then you can achieve the reason Why you went into business in the first place, which can create amazing satisfaction. Pushing through frustration and challenge to achieve your goals is an exhilarating feeling. It provides some wonderful highs but also some horrible lows. The trick is to manage both well and remain focused on your Why. Discipline is the key to staying on track.
You know yourself better than anyone; you know your strengths and weaknesses. You need to assess yourself against the demands of a business owner. Do you have the mental discipline to cope with the difficulties of owning and operating a business? My advice is if not, don’t do it. Or if not and you are still inspired by the idea of being in business and what it has to offer, then learn how to focus.
Extracted from “Dream to Realisation – The Business Owner’s Journey” © 2017 Matt Murphy