Dave Cantin, President & CEO Dave Cantin Group
In a capitalist business environment, entrepreneurs play a vital role in economic growth. They boost employment, disrupt industries and launch services previously untapped, all of which accelerate economic development. In the ever-changing and increasingly competitive business environment, how you launch and focus on before, during and after that launch is paramount.
Of course, any business venture should start with a well thought out business plan. But the basics are just that: the basics. The next steps are the ones entrepreneurs need to focus more critically on if they want to not only launch successfully, but also break their business through the stratosphere.
There are six key elements that worked for me when I started my business and beyond. These elements are worth the time, energy and focus to maximize the growth and success of your business.
Keep an eye on finances. Cement your financial goals. Cash management can make or break a company, no matter how good the product or service is. In reality, many small businesses fail for financial mismanagement. Keep an eye on your cash flow and payments. Make sure there are cash reserves for contingencies. If you are not an expert in this field, consider using a professional financial advisor or manager.
Walk before you run and listen. Initially, avoid over-expansion into markets that are too large, even if you think you only want a small percentage of that business. You want to be sure to grow incrementally as you develop your network and brand, meeting the specific needs of your market. Whether you’re capitalizing on the latest trend or refining your product or service, pay attention to feedback. Don’t just listen –to belong†
Be flexible and focus your efforts where it counts. Evaluate your company’s journey. We have all learned how to run during the recent pandemic. This is a perfect example of the flexibility needed to survive. You need to understand when a change needs to be made, whether you think you need to shift operations (i.e. online instead of physical) or respond to changing market demand (i.e. restaurants moving to home delivery when needed). Be honest with yourself and listen to constructive criticism. Be open to new approaches, both technological and structural. You may want to consider outsourcing administrative functions so that you can focus more on acquisitions and growth.
Learn to say no. While it may be tempting to take every opportunity that comes your way, it may not be the best idea. Take into account the market, size and culture of your company. You want to make sure you’re doing your best. This helps establish your reputation in your industry. Taking on a project that doesn’t necessarily fit is a mistake that can haunt you and potentially hurt your business in the long run. While you can chase lucrative clients, it won’t work for anyone if they don’t fit your culture or your core expertise. You will also enter learning mode. Don’t spread yourself too thin.
Achieving your five-year goals
Break your long-term goals into achievable short-term projects. It is imperative to be realistic and not set your goals too high. Rome was not built in a day. Divide projects into specific tasks and milestones. Doing this makes those long-term goals feel more manageable and realistic. Not only will you not feel so overwhelmed, but you will be able to focus better on your real useful qualities. Whether it’s about process or result, setting goals is also a way to take responsibility. While long-term goals fluctuate, the process of achieving those goals remains the same no matter what they are.
Think of the Pareto principle. The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, states that 80% of the result comes from 20% of the effort. This concept can determine what you should prioritize so that your efforts have maximum impact. This may sound obvious, but it’s important to focus on the smallest efforts that yield the biggest results. It is impossible to achieve every goal at once. You can use this in your daily routine, in finding solutions to problems that arise and even in quality control. Remember, however, that the Pareto principle does not refer to the effort you put in, but to the why and why of what you are working on. The goal is not to minimize the amount of effort, but to focus your effort on a specific area of the work to create a greater impact. You have to be laser-focused to do your very best in that 20% to get 80% of the results.
Finally, get into the mindset that you are already a successful entrepreneur. Be passionate about what you do. Strategic planning. Have an inspiring, realistic vision and surround yourself with other successful entrepreneurs. If you do, spend more time listening to their stories and applying the winning principles they share that you believe will take your business to lucrative, successful heights.