Building your business success as a freelancer, a web designer, or an entrepreneur can be a challenge these days. No sooner do you have a plan in place than things shift and you have to pivot, adjust, or reorder altogether.
Even the Dollar Tree, which any budget-minded shopper has visited once or twice, has had to shift the price point of their products. Where once you could easily count on a number of products for only a buck, now you can expect to pay more.
Times change – whether you are a big chain or a mom and pop.
Several years ago, a mega store moved into town. Mom and pop stores were falling by the wayside in its wake. One store focused on providing above and beyond service. Even though the prices in that store were higher than the prices in the megastore, customers returned for the service.
After all of the buzz about the megastore subsided, the mom and pop store changed managers. One can only assume that the focus was back on higher profit margins because the condition of the store and the quality of the service fell – along with the customer loyalty.
Business success comes with a willingness to learn, to adjust with the learning, to shift when necessary, and to change (and change happens whether you want it to or not so you might as well embrace it).
In the following article, we cover the definition of business success, simple finance rules, ideas for recurring revenue, and business plan basics for building success as a freelancer.
Determining Your Business Success
One of the biggest struggles most businesses face is keeping up with the Joneses – or whatever name brand happens to lead the market. Trying to do it like everyone else simply leaves a business (or individual) exhausted and resources depleted.
You have to find your way and define your success if you’re going to reach your business success.
It’s that simple – and that challenging.
- What does success mean to you?
- What does success look like?
- What does success feel like?
- How does your success align with what others are demanding?
- Where are places you can shift to create alignment?
- Where can you ignore the need to align?
More Thoughts On Defining Business Success
Success in business means what you want it to mean. It is that simple and that challenging.
It’s simple because you get to define what you want success to be.
It’s challenging because the people around you – friends, family, mentors, society (a.k.a. THEY) – will all have an opinion about what success for you should look like.
When you take a moment to define success and then invest in setting down a firm foundation on that defined success, it will be easier for you to overcome or work through the demands they pour out over you.
Take a moment to picture what success looks like for your life. What would your day be like? What would you be doing? Get into the amount of income you’ll bring in or any other details that are relevant to your image of success.
If you have a gaggle of THEY flying around you, keep your success picture to yourself. If you have people around you that cheer you on (and if you don’t have those then you will need them to build your success), share with them what you have defined as being a success.
The Right Stuff for Business Success
Have a Plan
A business venture without a plan is a money pit in the process of being dug. It’s like trying to figure out if your spaghetti is done by throwing noodles against the wall and seeing if it sticks. Sure, eventually you’ll know if it’s done, but along the way, you lose part of your dinner and you make a huge mess. If you had a plan (like directions on the side of the package) then you would be able to make better decisions about what, when, where, and how.
Every business needs a plan.
Elements of a Solid Business Plan
- Vision/Mission – have a summary of what you are doing and why you are doing.
- Target market – know exactly (in as much detail as you can find) who the one ideal person is for your business.
- Budget – know how much you will spend each day, week, month, and year. The more defined your budget, the easier it will be to monitor your progress.
- Marketing outline – define how will you reach your target customer and how will you make money through the connection
- Comparisons – look to see how the other people in your industry are moving forward. Seeing what they are doing and how you can improve on their processes will help you clear the path for business success.
- Goals – the SMART goals webinar is a great place to start when it comes to determining where you are going with your business.
This is just a rough outline of what you can put into your business plan. The more you prepare to reach your defined success the more you will be able to manage the unexpected twists and turns that will show up.
A business without organization is chaos pushing you towards the money pit dug out by lack of planning. Lack of planning can enhance disorganization. But even with a plan, you need to have well-defined systems for keeping track of things.
Like many things in business, organization can be personalized. Some people will look for online tools, like Trello or CoSchedule (which offer ways to share statuses and make working as a time easier). Other people prefer pen and paper. No matter what way you prefer for organization, find your way and put it to work.
A business without connections is a lone ship lost in the dark. It will shrivel up and blow away. We are designed to be in relationships with others. It is by listening to those who have gone before and investing in those coming behind that we nurture the relationships we need for business success (and for life fulfillment). Join business organizations, attend community events, and/or volunteer for events (#WordCamps are not only a great way to connect with new people but they also offer amazing learning opportunities for WordPress-related topics). Be invested in developing relationships. Everything worth doing and worth being is founded on relationships. Being connected is essential to developing the right stuff for business success.
Dare to Try
A business without daring and a willingness to risk will become stagnant. Stagnant anything is never a good thing. You have to be willing to try new things, new ways, or to pursue new ideas.
If you are going to keep growing, you have to keep learning. If you are going to keep learning, you have to be willing to try.
A business tangled in fear never gets off the ground. Having a plan and being organized will reduce and even eliminate the space where fear can grow. Manage the risks by defining them and having a plan before they show up.
Know When to Say When
A business that tries to do it all will never be exceptional at any of it. Do what you do best (and where you are unique). Reach out to others for help in their unique best.
Build a Budget
Yes, we’re going to say it again. A business without a financial plan is headed for financial disaster. Have a plan that includes working funds that will last for six months. If the last year has taught us anything it’s that anything can happen.
Define and Pursue the Important Things
A business that doesn’t define what’s important will expend all the resources on things that aren’t important. You’ll be busy, but not productive. You’ll be going but not getting anywhere. You’ll be doing but not doing what you need to do to reach your goals.
Set one major goal for your business each day and get that done. If you have time or resources remaining after your reach that goal then you can tackle another one – or give yourself a break and celebrate reaching the one goal.
Be Invested in Others
A business unwilling to invest in others will shrivel up. We are designed for relationships. When you find ways to intentionally invest in others you discover that it not only meets the relationship needs for your business but it also feeds the heart.
This is the second level of the connections point mentioned above. You look for ways to be relentlessly helpful to the people, for the people, and with the people that you have connected with. The investment then begins to grow connections into relationships.
Give Them Something to Talk About
A business without a way to be discovered will remain hidden. You have to talk about your business to others and you have to get others talking about your business. Ads can create a buzz, but there is a cost. Word of mouth is still the most effective force for being discovered.
Plan to Succeed
A business without a vision for upscaling will be caught off guard when things take off. Have contingency plans for what you will do when the dam of opportunity breaks and new customers and possibilities begin to pour in.
A business without a focus is a business split in too many directions. Multi-tasking only means you aren’t getting anything done to the best of your ability. Get focused on your goal. Even better, get hyper-focused on YOUR defined success and the SMART goals you have set up to get you to where you want to be.
In the end, you determine your success, but there will be some outside factors that may demand attention. If you have a loan to support your business (or partners) then your business success may be partially determined by the rules set by those outside influences.
The key to setting a firm foundation is to set a success goal based on your business alone, and not that of your competitors or other businesses.
Your understanding of success may shift as your business grows, you learn more about the industry, or outside circumstances have an effect on the inside of your business focus. The Dollar Tree didn’t set out to have prices higher than a dollar, otherwise, the name wouldn’t have been the right choice. The world changes and companies are being challenged to make changes to deal with the world circumstances.
You may have to change directions or focus as well.
Can Anyone Have Business Success?
The short answer is yes and no.
The long answer is that anyone can build business success if they gather the right stuff to make it happen. It’s not overnight, and it can’t even be handed down. No matter how much you start with or how little you begin with, you will have to make the investments to grow your business success.
If you aren’t willing to make the investments, then success will always elude you. Anyone can be successful in business – all they need is the right stuff.
And sometimes a willingness to change. It turns out that even with the perfect plan, the right stuff to implement the plan, and the resources you need to follow through there are things that can still go wrong.
The Dollar Tree had a great plan. Many people utilized their stores and were appreciative of their products. Most people would prefer the old dollar plan. But things happened that were outside the control of the store.
Things happen, and when they do you may need to refocus your business plan.
Best Time to Refocus a Business Plan
Right now is always the best time to refocus your business plan. As soon as you notice an issue or see a problem headed your way, make time to refocus.
Now happens to be the beginning of the final quarter of the year.
Or now happens to be the last few weeks before the beginning of the new year.
Or now happens to be the few weeks before the big event.
Now is always a time when you can set about making a plan that refocuses based on what has happened and the results you’ve seen from past actions.
No matter how well you plan your business success, you will end up facing the financial forces that dictate your continued journey or the end of your quest. Stay on top of your finances or your finances will crush you.
Simple Business Finance Rules
Actionable items to make your business more successful and more profitable. Web design and accounting aren’t actually that different.
Track Financial Results
Unless you’re tracking your financial results, you don’t really know how your business is doing. Accounting is the “language” of business (and if you don’t speak the language fluently then find someone who does).
- Financial statements – Looking back (history) – tells you where you’ve been and how you’re doing
- Income statement: profits – statement of profitability. Revenue (money) – expenses.
- Balance Sheet: Statement of Financial Condition. Looks at what the company owns (Assets) and what the company owes (liabilities)
- Cash Flow Statement: Cash
- Budgets and forecasts – looking forward
Focus on the Basics
Accounting and finance are not rocket science. There are just a few basic things you need to know. First, you have to keep up with what you are spending. Second, you have to keep up with what you are making. Third, you have to know how much time you are investing (because your time has value).
Understand the Difference Between Profit and Cash
Cash is not the same as profit. There was a local tackle store that always had lots of cash on hand. The owner was known for buying used boats, bows, gear, and guns for a decent price. He was also known for making a great deal for those who wanted to purchase said items. Despite the constant cash overflow, his profit was almost zero. Eventually, the store had to close because the cash was high but the profit didn’t exist.
If You Don’t Sell Enough, You’ll Lose Money
The truth in all business success is that product has to be exchanged for income. If you don’t move enough product then you will lose money – because many of your expenses will remain the same no matter what the product flow.
If You Spend Too Much, You’ll Lose Money
Every business has recurring expenses (which is why you also want to build a recurring revenue source). It’s important for every entrepreneurial business to include salary to the owner as one of its expenses. Employee costs, rent, and subscriptions will also be recurring costs. When your outflow overwhelms your income, you are on the verge of losing your business. Make adjustments to make ends meet. Always try to make your salary the last cut to consider because you have to pay yourself or you are invested in a hobby, not a business.
A solid financial plan includes an income plan. You need to understand how you plan to make money if you are going to make any money.
Recurring Revenue Drives Business Success
Nathan Ingram, the training specialist over at iThemesTraining.com, shared some great points on how you can create recurring revenue for your business’s success.
He suggested ways to dig deeper into your business so you could create a solid strategy.
It starts with packages.
Find ways to create packages for your clients. Be sure they align with what your clients actually need. You find this out by asking a few questions.
- What are the things that my customers really need?
- What are the problems they’re trying to solve?
- What are the services that I can create to meet those needs?
Get Away and Think
You need to think strategically about your business and distractions will get in the way. Turn off your notifications, electronics, and other alerts. Find a quiet place where you can be alone (or where your team can be alone). Now focus on the following parts of your business and how you can expand on them:
Write down the types of businesses or categories of businesses you work with.
What does your customer need to accomplish?
What could your customers gain if they could work more effectively?
What are their pain points?
What solution could you offer to help solve their problems?
Add a Value Proposition
Let’s look at an example and assume you’re working with a small business owner (insert any category or niche) and they have hired you to create a new website for them. But this customer doesn’t have a strong technical background. In other words, they don’t know what they don’t know.
Let’s brainstorm a list:
- CLIENT PAIN POINT:
- They will need to keep the WordPress plugins up to date, but won’t understand how to do it. You can highlight the problem before offering a solution. You know from experience that a website that isn’t maintained and has out-of-date plugins will inevitably cause something on the site to break. It could also lead to getting hacked.
- YOUR SOLUTION:
- Offer a solution to this problem with a monthly website maintenance package that automatically updates WordPress plugins to keep your customer’s website performance solid and secure.
- You can assure them that you have a solution that offers peace of mind and support when you need it if a problem arises during updates.
As you go through this process you’re going to identify additional opportunities.
For example, let’s look at nonprofit organizations. They need to regularly communicate with current and potential donors about their work. Every nonprofit knows they need to do this, but many of them struggle with this very basic function because they lack the staff with adequate skill or lack the time. They have trouble keeping their message or brand consistent in all the visual media.
Here’s an idea for a package to answer the needs of your nonprofit clients. Offer an email marketing service to plan a message calendar and create emails coordinated with web content. You sell this package by helping your clients understand:
- What they gain when we do this
- How this answers their struggles
- What this frees up for them
- The additional benefits they will gain
Make YOUR Plan for Their Package
You’ll need to look at what you will need to be able to deliver. Time to consider the specific tasks you’ll need to perform to fulfill all the things in your packages.
- What are the resources I need to assemble to pull this thing off?
- What are the roles that need to be performed?
- What contractors need to be hired?
- What tools need to be developed or purchased?
- What third-party services do we need to utilize so we keep things in order?
Going back to the nonprofit example, the mutual understanding is that nonprofits are understaffed and rarely have the manpower or expertise to maintain strategic communication. The package you develop will offer them access to a professional (who has access to a team) who they can meet with face to face to define and meet the needs and focus specific to the organization.
Knowing what you can offer to meet specific needs will allow you to develop packages and products that bill monthly. The recurring services create a recurring income that helps solidify your business’s success.
Nathan is a wealth of information and knowledge. If you aren’t already joining in the iThemes training opportunities, get involved now. Not only will you learn more, but you be growing relationships at the same time.
No matter where you are learning, you have to determine to do all you learn. Building success as a freelancer or growing an entrepreneurial empire will come down to some basic points.
What are the 5 Keys to Business Success?
Not all businesses will take the same journey. Not all businesses will be affected by the same circumstances. Not all businesses will be defined in the same way.
The time, the place, and even the persons involved all factor into the successfulness of a business. But there are some factors that will always play a part – no matter the size or the location of the business.
1. Will the business bend or break?
Remember, changes happen. The Dollar Tree learned firsthand that things change. Whether that change will force the tree to bend or cause the tree to break will determine if business success will be achieved.
2. Will the business learn?
If a business isn’t learning then the business is on the way to dying out. Business success sinks or swims based on the willingness to learn.
3. Will the business grow?
Learning is only the first step. A business that refuses to grow from experience, from learning, and through circumstances will whither away.
4. Will the business invest in others?
It is ALL about relationships – whether it’s an investment in clients, customers, employees, or investors. Without relationships, a business will fail. There are no two ways around that truth.
5. Will the businesses accept or adjust?
Because change constantly happens, every business is constantly having to accept the change or adjust to it. A business willing to make adjustments and keep moving forward will be a business that sits firmly on a foundation of success.
Your business success depends on you. Will you choose to be a business like the tackle store that had more cash than profit? Will you follow the example of the mom-and-pop store that successfully invested in their customers, or be like the new manager that put profit above people? Will you become a business whose name and focus are overshadowed by circumstances like the Dollar Tree?
The choice is yours.
The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. We are here to encourage and support you on your journey to business success.
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Kathryn Lang believes it is simple, and as an award-winning author and natural-born hopesmith, she shares tips on how to find your why, pursue your purpose, and live a bold, intentional life – always with a dash of twisted encouragement.