I wish it were that simple, but a good idea and a determined entrepreneur just aren't enough in today's world. According to the Kauffman Foundation, national startup activity rose in 2016 to its fifth-highest level ever. Translation? You've got a lot of competition out there. Your good idea and smarts just aren't enough to guarantee success.
With 15 years of coaching, interviewing, and observing entrepreneurs, ranging from the insanely successful to those who just don't have what it takes, it's not difficult for me to sum up the differences. If you possess, or are seriously working on, these 10 differentiators it's a great indicator that giving up is not an option; in fact, success is likely on the horizon.
1. You know what sets your business apart from the rest.
Your concept may not be new, but you have put a truly unique twist on your product or service so it stands out from your competition. You made it easy for your perfect customer to identify that your product or service is the one for them.
If you don't believe with certainty and conviction that you hit the target with your UVP, use a tool like Alex Osterwalder's Value Proposition Canvas, take yourself away for a couple of days and hammer it out.
2. You know how to manage capital.
Startup entrepreneurs think it's a dream come true when someone invests in them--and then the majority of them die on the vine. But you won't be one of them because you've ascertained how much money you need to cover costs and to keep your business running for at least two years. You know that you don't need a trendy office and an on-call limousine service. Naturally, you make smart decisions and run your business as though you have $5,000 in the bank, not a million.
3. You are a stellar communicator.
You may not possess the marketing savvy to convey your marketing message powerfully; that's fine, because you're smart enough to hire someone who does. But you cannot hire someone to communicate your company's purpose and mission to your employees so you've learned, and continue to learn, the traits of a stellar communicator.
Keep it up by reading books like The Art of Communicating, by Thich Nhat Hanh and How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age, by Dale Carnegie and Associates.
4. You document every, single process.
Every savvy entrepreneur understands that value doesn't stop at the product or service itself. Procedures must be in place and well documented to create a turnkey operation and simplify the training process. That's why you've taken the time to make videos, take screenshots, and detail each step of every process.
If you've fallen short on this one have your employees construct a list and documentation on their responsibilities. You can look it over and suggest changes and upload your new training manual to a site like process st.
5. You have a smart pricing strategy in place.
You have tested your pricing in the marketplace to allow for just the right amount of profit. You also know the difference between gross profit, gross profit margin, and net profit and keep your eye on the numbers.
If you need help on this one here's a good wikiHow resource.
6. You and your partner have a very detailed partnership agreement and an exit plan.
If you share your dream with a business partner, you've done it wisely. Your attorney has provided a partnership agreement has a striking resemblance to a prenuptial agreement.
If you don't have an attorney and want an affordable approach, look into a service like Legal in a Box.
7. You don't chase every bright and shiny object.
Because you have a strong vision, a plan in place and a strategy to reach your goals, you know how and why to stay on track. Of course this includes identifying and understanding your values and purpose (all a part of a brilliant culture).
If you've let this one slip, find a business coach who can help you understand your 'why'. This will transform your life and business.
8. You continue to build a collaborative and intentional culture.
Being the smart leader you are, you maintain that an intentional culture engages --even delights--employees, delivers exceptional customer service, and reaches its full earnings potential.
Want to know more? Read this article and check out books like The Culture Secret: How to Empower People and Companies No Matter What You Sell, by Dr. David Vik and Delivering Happiness, by Tony Hseih
9. You keep your marketing message fresh.
Because you know how quickly trends change, you stay on top of your marketing collateral. You've budgeted ongoing updates for your website and promote your product or service in a variety of ways.
Does your website content or social media campaign need a facelift? Identify a small project, like a blog post, and try out a few different marketing focused copywriters. Upwork, LinkedIn's new ProFinder, and even a wacky website like Fiverr.com are all good resources.
10. You never, ever rely on just one customer.
A few years ago a new client came to me with over twenty-million in annual revenues. Great right? Not so. Nearly all of it was from just one client. But you know better. You have diversified enough that if one client leaves unexpectedly you will have time to replace that income before you crash and burn.
If all of your eggs are in one basket, you don't own a business, you are employed--and very vulnerable. It's time to outsource what you can (and you can!) and spend time recruiting more business. If you don't delegate well, now is the time to learn.
See? You've got this one, so go make your dream happen.