How to run a successful business? Other than having a business plan, financials in place and ongoing market validation you will need some other skills as well. Being unique, authentic, creative and resilient will set you up for success.
Don't do what someone else is doing. Well, that is a hard one since almost everything has been done before. So try to find your uniqueness in your space - whether that is a physical or an online one - in colours, design or imagery. Stand out from the crowd by making bold statements about your product or services. Make a point, take a stand and stick to it.
Finding your Unique Value Proposition is not an easy exercise. Can you describe your core promise in just five words? Think about what problem of your client you are solving and what you will be delivering to that customer. In a lot of cases business owners tend to overcomplicate their core promise; too long, too much and not clear. If I visit your website or physical space I need to understand immediately what I will get for my money.
Be yourself and don't pretend to be someone else. We all come with a rucksack of upbringing, education and self-taught behaviour. That is what makes you which is perfectly fine, but make sure it aligns with your business offering and that you can connect those elements with your clients. Staying true to yourself is the easiest to uphold. Pretending to be a different person will cost you too much energy plus clients will see through this behaviour very quickly.
Authenticity means embracing your wins and bubbly personality but also your flaws and imperfections. When you start out a business - especially after having worked for someone else for a while - it takes time to find your own voice. If you struggle with that, start by writing down facts of your life, ie. education, birth country, relationship and blog about it. The next step is describing interests or hobbies and slowly you will feel more confident to show your authentic self in your updates on social media or in your newsletter.
Ah, is that where you can showcase your artistic qualities? Sometimes you can do that but being creative is more about using your imagination in line with your business strategy. Just being creative for the sake of it is perhaps something you might keep to yourself. Using creativity to promote your products and services is colouring outside the lines. Doing things a little different; changing things up.
It could be using a bold colour, an image that requires deep thinking from your clients, collaborating with your competitor, completely overhauling your website. Doing something unexpected that changes the perspective of your clients. Even if it is for a short period of time. Not out of shock value but to say 'hey, remember me?'. It has shown that people are more likely to recommend you when they see something new and fresh. Use your imagination and dare to change things up.
Running a business is not a smooth predictable ride. You can plan and so you should, but unexpected 'things' will happen. Being able to deal with the unexpected is essential to be an entrepreneur. Of course you set your business up for success and development but when things go pear-shaped are you able to pick yourself up? Resilience is about letting go, accepting change and adapting your business into something new.
We all like to stay in our comfort zone. It is just what humans do. But we also know that real development - and fun - happens outside of it. So, try and aim to step out of this safe zone to create new business. No need to do everything all at once or completely change your business model. Learning to brace yourself for the unexpected by taking a risk here and there will also help you to be more resilient.
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Marco Dingemans is a certified Authentic Pilates Education International (APEI) instructor