Thinking about building a business from scratch or have a business that desperately needs attention, but having a hard time getting started? Getting your act together does not have to be this big, overwhelming process. Taking the tiniest, most simple-looking steps could be just what you need to get into gear and jump start your business.
The following are ten practical steps to building a business or starting a new project that anyone can do. With a little willpower you’ll be able to achieve goals you may have never thought possible.
Go through the steps below, and give it a try. You may be surprised by the difference a systematic approach can make.
Recognize what you are ultimately trying to accomplish and why. The very first step is clearly mapping out your goals. Merely having a rough idea of where you are heading is not enough. Write down exactly what you want to accomplish, and more importantly, why you want to accomplish it. I personally am a very visual person, and I’ve found that mind mapping is really helpful in this process. I use FreeMind, which you can download for free here.
Make sure your business goals are manageable. If your goals are too broad or the bar is being set too high, then you will be much more likely to get overwhelmed or burnt out. The trick is knowing how to break down your goals into manageable steps or focus areas. For example, if one of your goals is to learn how to successfully promote your business via social media, you’ll need to break this down into small steps such as:
- Step 1: Getting a basic understanding what each of the major social networking platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest) will allow you to do.
- Step 2: Determining which platforms attract your target audience
- Step 3: Picking ONE social network platform and then….
- Step 4: Learning about how your target audience uses the network
- Step 5: Learning how to optimize your profile
- Step 6: Learning how to optimize posts for targeted reach and exposure
…You get the point? Each step becomes a goal in and of itself that requires sufficient mastery.
Pick a starting point… and start immediately. Let me begin by saying that the actual starting point in and of itself is NOT so important. I know that may seem counter-intuitive, but in practice it’s not. It is much more important to just commit yourself to one area and get going since the biggest hump for most people is taking those first steps. Even if these steps are small and far from perfect, you’ve already put yourself on the road to growth and development merely by starting, and that is no small thing. You also want that start to happen right away, as in TODAY! Pick a very small thing that you can do right now, and just do it.
Keeping yourself accountable. Defining your goals and finding a starting point may not be enough to keep you motivated over the long run. For this reason, you should create additional, “outside” motivators. Depending on your personality, there are several things that you could do. You could make a monetary investment into the business (for example, registering a domain or buying a piece of equipment that you know you’re going to need). You could also get others involved: you could join a support group, find a mentor, or even call on a friend or family member to help keep you accountable to your goals.
Don’t consult too many resources. Another reason why people tend to put off building a business or taking their current business to the next level is that they are overwhelmed by the shear amount of information available, and depending on the topic, a lot of it may be contradictory or unclear. There is just way too much noise: too many “experts,” too many resources, and too much data for a person to possibly go through. You’ll have much to gain by just picking one or two sources to follow and consult. Look to learn from those who have mastered their skills enough that they can teach it to you in a way that you can receive it.
Make sure you have what you need. Before you get started you need to be certain that all the resources you need to accomplish your goals are in place. This includes things like equipment, materials, supplies, and even qualified workers.
Make a commitment to your goals. This may sound simple, but it’s one of the most common pitfalls people have when trying to build their businesses. It’s not just that you need clear goals and the resources to fulfill them, but you have to actively commit yourself to using these resources for the process. This means setting aside the necessary time, attention, and money and doing so consistently.
Don’t move on till you’ve achieved sufficient mastery. Following on the heels of the point above, don’t run after content for content’s sake. Seek to master the gaps in what you already know in a given area. Once you’ve reached a sufficient level of mastery, you can then move on to something else. Again, this is about focus. If you are constantly scattering your attention and resources, you simply won’t get so far.
Work with your natural rhythm and learning style. When are you most productive? What is your ideal learning style? How long can you focus on the given task? Knowing this information and acting on it can make the whole process go much quicker. It will help you to maximize your efforts. To help you find out this information about yourself, you could take a look at the site Qualified Mind. It allows you to conduct experiments on yourself to determine your peak mental performance. To find out your learning style, there are many free online tests you can take. Here is a sampling of some good ones:
Record your progress, test, and get feedback. Building a business from scratch is not a static process. If you really want results, then you need to be testing, reporting, and generating feedback along the way. Obviously, the kinds of reporting and testing will vary depending on what you are trying to accomplish, but it may include things like: A/B testing, looking at site analytics, and other performance tests and reports- all in the name of keeping tabs on your progress. This will help you to stay on course so that you can pursue the activities and strategies that are really working and be alerted to the things that aren’t.
In closing, building a business is a process like anything else. If you know how to approach this process properly, you can avoid a whole lot of wasted time and other resources and end up accomplishing much more than you may have thought possible.
I found your post through BizSugar and enjoyed reading this. What I really liked was your suggestion about picking one social network and learning all you can.
I recently stopped pretty much all social activity for about a month and a half due to the overwhelm and am going to take this little nugget of advice and use it myself.
I know a lot of small business owners who just got burnt out from all their social media “activity” and had very little to show for it. Sticking to 1 or 2 social networks and really mastering them is a proven technique that many probloggers do, and it comes from truly understanding how to connect to the right people on these platforms instead of just broadcasting information.
Hidden among all noise is the fact that there are people behind those social media accounts and analytics numbers. The more you can remember that and seek to connect to these people as you would if you were face-to-face, the further you’ll go.
I agree 100% with you and I have had to reevaluate my social media plan. I have cut it down to 3 facebook, twitter, linkedin. I have set up twitter to post everything to facebook for me. So I will be updating 2. I think it is important to understand what sites will benefit your business the most. Focus on those.
Regarding social media, you’ve mentioned a good point: much of it can be automated. This will give you the time and space to really focus on those platforms that count the most. You certainly do not have to be everywhere. It’s a misconception that ultimately ends up hurting the business owners who fall for it.
I appreciate the details of your article, I found it through LinkedIn. looking at the points as they stand I feel confident that I am addressing and fulfilling them and may need to revisit and refocus on my objectives.
This article has given me a sense of recognition for my achievements so far but I need to stop spinning, find a “toe-hold” and get traction after that.
Many thanks and all the best going forward.
I’m happy that this post was a bit of a pat on the back for you. Good luck finding that “toe-hold” 🙂