Passion may inspire your business, but planning will save it. Passion is an overused buzzword for small business owners: “I have a passion for coaching/financial planning/auto repair/marketing/real estate.” Is your passion enough to build a thriving business? No, you need to make sure your business has a profit center and a plan for success.
Will your passion survive:
- monster national brands moving in on your customers?
- a health crisis in your family?
- a plummet in sales and you can’t figure out why?
All of those are real scenarios my clients face, and while they’re all passionate about their businesses, when a crisis hits, you need a detailed business plan to take over when panic sets in.
Create a Realistic Business Plan
What’s the perfect business plan? The one you actually DO.
Too many small business owners never actually take the time to create a well-thought-out plan. You can turn to strong resources from the SBA, SCORE, Derek Sivers (author of Anything You Want), or try business plan software www.Enloop.com, and of course resources on, Melinda Emerson’s blog, to help you develop it.
It’s critical to do your research on your target audience (I promise you it’s not “everyone”), your initial start-up costs (they will be more than you think), and your revenue predictions (probably less than you think). I’ve listened to potential business owners pitch angel investor groups, and their revenue predictions were wildly inflated.
Do your homework, talk to a more experienced mentor, and develop a solid business plan that allows you to thrive in a vision-based business.
Build a Support Team
Even solopreneurs never really go it alone. Successful business owners realize they have gaps in their expertise and skill set, so they turn to trusted professionals who can help them see what they’re missing.
If your business is local, become a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and do more than just spray the room with your business card. Get to know the accountants, lawyers, financial planners, city/county planning office, and veteran business owners. They will be invaluable when you have questions or face a crisis you have no idea how to handle.
Groups like Vistage, Young Entrepeneurs Council, and The Alternative Board are paid networking groups for entrepreneurs who want a peer review group on a regular basis. These are experienced teams that can help you when you have personnel issues, financial crises and other situations requiring confidentiality and expert advice.
If you’re an online business, find an online advisor who can help you, one-on-one. I’ve hired many, and can tell you from personal experience that no one “coach” knows everything about how to run a successful online business. What I’ve found is each online expert has deep knowledge of one specific area. I recommend hiring someone for a brief period — say one quarter — and if you see results, continue the relationship. If not, move on and find someone else to help you.
Don’t Let Business Be Your Only Passion
You’re definitely going to work long hours to launch your business, but don’t let it be your only passion. You want your family and friends to be there long after your business is sold or you moved on to something else. Don’t neglect them during those early years, no matter how tempting it may be to work around the clock.
Hobbies are important to de-stress and give you deeper insights into your life and work. Getting away from pressing problems that seem to have no solution is often the best way to solve them, according to Barbara Oakley, author of A Mind For Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra). While you’re business challenges many not solely be math problems, overwork and frustration aren’t good for anyone. Get away from your office (especially if it’s at home) to enjoy your passions you indulged in before your business.
You’ll be a stronger entrepreneur for it.
About the Author: Maria Peagler is founder of Socialmediaonlineclasses.com, where small business owners learn how to marketing using social media. Connect with her at @sm_onlineclass.
“Business Team Stacking Hands” courtesy of stockimages / www.freedigitalphotos.net