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As a mother of five, I spend a lot of time – a lot! – talk about lessons learned and how to apply them to improve our lives and ourselves. It’s the same with my business as it is with my family: What hard-won lessons I’ve learned can I pass on to other solo entrepreneurs to try and make their own way forward a little easier?
With so many entrepreneurs venturing out on their own today (and yet about 50% of them fail in the first handful of years), business owners and leaders need to take full advantage of highly strategic steps they can take to increase their chances of success. against all expectations.
Top 5 MVPs (Most Valuable Processes) to drive business growth
I recently wrote about the five biggest mistakes I’ve made when successfully running a business. Yet it is now time for the flip side of that: the five most positive and profitable lessons I learned along the way to ensure growth instead of stagnation. I call these lessons my “MVPs” (most valuable processes) because they are all actionable steps that companies of all sizes can embrace and implement from the start of their venture. Each is “little” in terms of cost, but all deliver maximum ROI in terms of the smart and smart application of readily available resources.
MVP #1: Network, network, network!
This was by far the most influential skill I possessed when it came to growing my business. I didn’t understand profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and tax codes at first, but I knew how to talk to people and connect. So that they feel heard. To make them feel like they matter.
This translates to pretty much any industry: start by creating a circle of contacts around you (strength is more important than size here), watch it nurture itself and expand automatically as people tell other people about your service and your expertise. It is people who create business, not the other way around. So pick up the phone. Attend events. Join professional associations. Find a mentor. Arming yourself with networking skills is half the battle won.
Related: Effective networking requires mastering these 5 skills
MVP #2: Have an inspired idea and a clear vision.
If you don’t wake up every morning buzzing with exuberance about your fundamental idea – what you contribute to your market – why should anyone else get excited about it? Be original and inventive. Limit your focus. Clarify your vision. Create a self-explanatory service menu or product line.
Do people read mission statements on websites more? Maybe not. But write one anyway – more for yourself, to serve as your North Star. To get Real clarifying what makes your business exceptional and why it is the right choice. Only when you have set your intention and are motivated by it on a daily basis will you be able to effectively communicate it to others. If they can see your vision, they can help you achieve it.
MVP #3: Find the right people with the right skills.
People are everywhere. Skills are everywhere. But hiring the right people with the right skills at the right time? That’s the difference between having a talented workforce and having exactly the kind of talent that will best serve your customers by achieving their final goals.
Don’t underestimate the passion factor here either. When you find employees or contractors who are passionate about what you do, they are open to you teaching them the art of your craft. As their skills grow, so will your company. It’s a constant give and take between effectively leading your people to achieve business objectives while also allowing them to shine in their own fields of mastery.
Just like in your relationship, don’t settle. Wait as long as you can for just the right person for the role you need to fill. In the end, it will save you a lot of disappointment and annoyance.
Related: 6 steps for hiring the right people to build effective teams
MVP #4: Focus on the goal, not the process.
We’ve all heard of not seeing the wood for the trees, of getting lost in the details. The weeds will always be there, ready to trip you up, so one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is the daily reminder to focus on the big picture – that vision you’ve mapped out as the leading star of your company.
If it’s your own business, you’re in full control of your final destination. You are the captain of your own ship. There are probably innumerable and sometimes uncertain routes to get there, but if you keep your eyes fixed on the horizon you’ve marked as your end goal, whatever sea lanes you find yourself in as you travel, there are some rather inconsequential routes. Choose the right product that you excel at and choose the right people to bring it to market, and you’ll stay on point.
MVP #5: Make a clear outline of your field of activity.
Perhaps nothing saves you more time and energy than specifying in writing exactly what you are expected to do and deliver to your customers. The business contract is the least fun, but it is nevertheless vital.
If you can afford to consult a contract attorney about the proper terms and conditions, it’s worth it. If not, build your own streamlined, transparent document template in plain English that you can customize appropriately for each client. Either way, you need to protect both you and your customer by ensuring rights on both sides; on your end, the point is not to slowly explode the parameters of a project to the point of bursting and make sure you get paid for your work.
Make no mistake: Scope creep is all too real. And it will eventually burn you. Stay out of the heat by getting a contract to keep you and your staff on time, on time and on budget.
Networking. Clarify your vision. Assembling the right team. Stick to your main goal. Avoid scope creep. None of them cost anything, yet each and every one of them is an invaluable asset that will fill your company’s coffers… Besides you, of course. Never forget that you are the real treasure of your own solo entrepreneurship!