7 Steps To Kickstart And Boost Your Business!
“What does it take to drive a successful business?", I have been asked this question at various platforms by women looking to start their businesses and those who want to take their respective business to the next level.
My response is - it’s quite similar to delivering and nurturing a baby! The two differences are - you may be a man running the business and it’s a journey of over 9 months. When your child is born, you do your best for the child in any given circumstances. And it’s the same with your business.
The 7 Stages of Starting a New Business
Stage 1: The First Trimester
You’re still taking time to adjust and accept that you are having a baby. Sleepless nights, worrying about the future and some overwhelming feelings. Also, you get 10 different opinions and advice including that of your doctor!
Now, assume you are starting a new business. For the first few months, you plan, both on paper and in mind, you meet people, understand consumers, conduct extensive research so that when you launch, your business is well accepted. You have sleepless nights and the only agenda is making it a successful venture.
Top Tip: Create a good business plan, make a rough sketch or prototype and share it with experts for feedback.
Stage 2: The Second Trimester
In the next trimester, you can feel the baby inside you. Now you make sure to lay down the strong foundations of a healthy child.
Similarly in business, the next stage after planning and research is to make it more visible by discussing the idea at valid forums, meeting potential clients and talking about it. Some must-follow steps during this stage are to create a network in the industry for understanding competition and to get associated with potential partners and vendors. It might be appropriate to conduct an idea validation exercise for optimum results.
Top Tip: In fact, it’s a great idea to have a coach or mentor at this stage.
Stage 3: The Third Trimester
Now your hospital visits are more frequent, you become careful as a slip off can be very dangerous - while also planning the post-delivery scenario.
Similarly at this stage you find people connecting to you more, your idea pitching sessions and investor meetings become more frequent. You give your best shot to launch it and become very cautious with the launch strategy. Here, estimate the funding needs and participate in investor pitch - even if you do not require funding, it is a good idea to pitch it in front of stakeholders.
Top tip: Focus on developing a business model and the launch of a minimum viable product;
Understand if it matches the customer requirements and potential market. Incase there are variations required, implement those.
Stage 4: The Birth
Once your baby is born, you rejoice and plan ahead for the next few months or even a year. Planning helps you manage routine and resources.
After launching your business, you are bound to celebrate for a while and then get involved in management on a daily basis, putting resources in place, getting work done from the team and are involved in nurturing it. Be careful while hiring people but once hired, give them a direction and pass on your vision to them. Your goal should be 30% management and 70% business development and networking.
Top tip: Understand that as an entrepreneur your role is to make the best use of available resources and not get into micro-management.
Stage 5: Nurturing
The first few years of starting a business are about maintaining a work culture, marketing, getting more clients, team management and quality assurance. Marketing and sales are really important at this stage. Make these teams feel significant and accountable for growing the business. Service is the key here.
Top tip: Network well and reach out to clients, set standards for your company and the industry.
Stage 6: Growth
In a span of five years, your business gets to a stage where your involvement is lesser than before, the whole system is on an autopilot of sorts and you just have to oversee the activities.
Letting it grow from here is by networking, adding more projects or products, diversifying or expanding geographically. So, reach out to as many stakeholders as possible, see synergies available with existing partners or make new partners.
Make sure that your business is in autopilot by now and you have some key leaders supporting you in business development and in delivering quality on time.
Top tip: The main task here is not execution, just supervision.
Stage 7: Encash
Your child is a regular in school, performing well and giving you more reasons to smile. You are still watching over things, but enjoying parenting at the same time.
In business as well, your sales will soar and even growing it in various directions will be a routine now. It'll be reaping profits! The one advice here is to stay on ground if it’s doing too well. If it’s not...then,
Top tip: Look for a solution and keep up the standards, build a strong branding and watch for competition.
All the 7 stages are crucial and may come across as never ending. The good news is they evolve and you too evolve at each stage. From a start-up to a successful business owner, from a beginner to an established entrepreneur - you get here only when the foundation is strong. So happy business parenting!
Even if you are struggling, don’t be disheartened. Parenting is not a lesson that can be learnt, it comes with experience and every experience is unique.
This is a personal narrative by Sarita Chauhan, a business transformation expert and coach and a mentor at SHEROES. She’s passionate about giving solutions to women entrepreneurs and runs two companies of her own. If you have any query, opinion or comments reach her at [email protected] and on SHEROES too.