Creating a Business
In running a business, planning is key. A plan provides direction for many business elements, from product development to budgeting to hiring. So how does a business owner best create a plan? It depends on her style and her needs, and the needs of the business.
Sometimes creating a plan for a company’s future is as simple as creating the vision. While some entrepreneurs started their businesses with crystal clear ideas of what they wanted their companies to do within the next 5 or even 10 years, others hit the ground running and didn’t slow down enough to strategize. This article outlines several ideas that two different types of business owners may consider while shaping the futures of their businesses.
Accidental Jane is a successful, confident business owner who never actually set out to start a business. Instead, she may have decided to start a business due to frustration with her job or a layoff and then she decided to use her business and personal contacts to strike out on her own. Or, she may have started making something that served her own unmet needs and found other customers with the same need, thus giving birth to a business. Although Accidental Jane may sometimes struggle with prioritizing what she needs to do next in her business, she enjoys what she does and is making good money. About 18% of all women business owners fit the Accidental Jane profile.
Accidental Jane business owners often started their businesses by accident; after having been laid off, or to create a product they needed but couldn’t find, or to get out of corporate politics. They sought to leverage their unique talents and interests. Rather than developing a grand plan for a big company, they simply wanted to get paid for work they enjoy. Accidental Jane defines success by having just the right amount of income and work, and by having the ability to make her own rules, set her own schedule, choose who to work with and what to work on, and feeling happy with her life. Accidental Jane business owners are more likely, on average, than other business owners to report feeling satisfied with how much they work, the costs of running their businesses, their stress level and their revenue. Because her business often started as an evolution of circumstances, Accidental Jane often lacks a clear vision – and mostly, responds to the market’s needs.
This type of entrepreneur is exceptionally good at what she does. So over time, demand is sure to increase. When it comes to planning for the future, then, Accidental Jane must make a decision: should she remain an Accidental Jane, and enjoy her Accidental Jane lifestyle? Or should she change her type and go big?
Here are some considerations an Accidental Jane business owner might want to make, with regard to the future:
· Remaining an Accidental Jane means eventually saying no to new work if the workload exceeds what is comfortable. It means hiring a team (which may make Accidental Jane feel tied down). It might also mean raising rates as a way to tamp down high demand. These may seem like difficult decisions for someone who loves being a solo-preneur, loves her freedom and also loves her customers.
· Trying to remain an Accidental Jane means the possibility of becoming another type of entrepreneur – but Accidental Jane has the power to determine which type. If she continues to try to handle everything herself, she may become a Go Jane Go, overwhelmed but financially successful. On the other hand, if she creates a great plan that includes hiring help, marketing her products and services, and continuing to work as dependably as she has been, then she may become a Jane Dough, a financially successful entrepreneur who’s satisfied with her work-life balance.
Tenacity Jane is an entrepreneur with an undeniable passion for her business, and one who tends to be struggling with cash flow. As a result, she's working longer hours, and making less money than she'd like. Nevertheless, Tenacity Jane is bound and determined to make her business a success. At 31% of women in business, Tenacity Janes make up the largest group of female entrepreneurs.
More than any of the other types of business owners, Tenacity Jane will benefit from some serious planning. Because she’s a big-picture gal, Tenacity Jane often lacks the focus she needs to drive her business forward.
Tenacity Jane’s best planning steps:
- Examine the business concept and business model. Any business owner should ask herself these questions: “What is your business?” “What do you offer your customers?” While many Tenacity Jane business owners know what they’re good at and where their passion lies, they have trouble saying exactly what they offer. For example, a trained life coach may coach business owners and executives. She may do writing and public speaking. But to list all those things doesn’t provide customers with a concise, easy-to-understand idea of exactly what she offers. Here’s an example of what she could express as her business concept: “In my business, we’re experts at helping business leaders be more effective, so they can make more money with less stress.” That’s an attention-grabber that answers the two questions, “what is your business,” and “what do you offer your customers?” Once a business owner has her concept nailed down, she should determine whether the business, in its current model, can make money. Will people want to pay what she’s charging, for the service or product she’s offering? If so, is that enough to sustain her business and her personal expenses? A Tenacity Jane with a solid business concept and plan is on her way to a solid future.
- Set specific goals – and start taking real steps toward achieving them. At first, this task may seem overwhelming. However, the key to getting into the habit of goal-setting and achieving is to create one moderate- or a few smaller-sized goals to start with immediately, and then take steps to achieve them, one at a time. In the very short term, it is appropriate to choose one to three goals that will have the biggest impact on the entrepreneur’s business and personal life. To take those steps toward achieving goals, Tenacity Jane can create a step-by-step plan for each goal. For example, one of her goals may be to launch a new web site. While “launch a new web site” is just one line item on a goal list, Tenacity Jane can break that down into several weekly sub-lists. Week 1 may entail reviewing the existing web site, asking customers to let her know what they like and what they’d change, and asking friends and other business owners for web site designer referrals. Week 2 may entail deciding what will be the overall components of the site, whether to write the copy or hire someone to do it, and calling the referred designers to get pricing, timelines, examples and references. Providing herself with “baby steps” that she can easily accomplish will get Tenacity Jane on the road to the future she’s dreamed of – one step at a time.
While some business owners launch their companies with detailed plans as to what their futures hold, others have started and run their businesses for months or even years before they begin to create solid blueprints. One thing remains true for them all: it’s easier to travel toward the future if the future is visible. Sometimes planning for the future is as simple as planning for the future.
Interested in learning more about the five Jane types and which Jane you are? Check out www.janeoutofthebox.com.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michele DeKinder-Smith is the founder of Jane out of the Box, an online resource dedicated to the women entrepreneur community. Discover more incredibly useful information for running a small business by taking the FREE Jane Types Assessment at Jane out of the Box. Offering networking and marketing opportunities, key resources and mentorship from successful women in business, Jane Out of the Box is online at www.janeoutofthebox.com.
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