Let’s imagine we’re sitting together in a local coffee shop. You’ve brought your A-game and have shared an excellent business idea. You’ve even started thinking through your business goals and spent time working on a mission statement.
I would look you in the eye, congratulate you on the progress you’ve made, and tell you to buckle in because the ride is a long one. And then I would start talking to you about the keys to a successful, prosperous business.
After all, no one wants an unsuccessful business. I’d hate for you to spend time, energy, and money on something that isn’t going to deliver what you expected. In Money Mastery, I say, “Take action. Some of the best ideas in the world are still in somebody’s notebook or iPad somewhere.” Your idea is not stuck in a notebook. That’s a huge step.
Now it’s time to get serious about the nuts and bolts. It’s time to answer some difficult questions and write down – on paper – the keys to your success. (By the way, grab a FREE worksheet that walks you step-by-step through the following 3 keys to a prosperous business at the ends of the post!)
Here we go. Grab your pen and get to work. The following are three keys to a truly rewarding business, along with the questions you must ask yourself in order to nail these three keys!
3 Keys to a Truly Prosperous Business
1. Know Yourself
It may sound simple, but I promise you it isn’t always so. Knowing yourself is one of the biggest roadblocks to true success. You have to be honest with yourself and with those on your team. You need to spend time sharpening skills where you are a weak and investing in ongoing education. You must know yourself.
In addition to knowing your own self (your strengths and weaknesses, gifts, passions, and more), you must know your product and your idea. You have to understand the value of your business, as well as the way your business will relate to the community.
To know yourself, spend time answering the following questions:
- What is your personality type? How does your personality type engage in the business/work world?
- What are your 3 greatest strengths? How about your 3 greatest weaknesses?
- What can you do to sharpen the places where you are currently weak?
- How do you relate to your friends and family when you are under stress?
- What are your top 5 passions? How often do you engage with these passions?
- If you are a Christian, what are your spiritual gifts? Do you use these gifts in your daily life?
- What are your greatest accomplishments and deepest embarrassments?
- Do you believe that you truly know yourself? If yes, why?
To know your product/business idea, ask yourself the following:
- When did you first start dreaming about this idea? Has your passion wavered?
- What value will this business bring to your life, your team, your family, and your community?
- Does this business idea follow a passion you mentioned above? If no, why not?
- Do you have the time, energy, and money to invest in this idea right now?
- Who benefits from your product? Be specific here. Think long-term.
- Are you willing to take a risk on this business? Why? How much of a risk?
2. Know Your Market
Next, it is essential that you know your market. I briefly mentioned this above, however now it’s time to get specific. If you aren’t sure who will buy and/or support your business, pause. Make sure you know how to market your product idea and have the money to do so. Know your customer down to a single, definite person.
This sounds tedious – and it is – but it should be! If you are not willing and able to spend time thinking about the details of your market, you should not venture ahead with this business idea. You will be living and breathing your market for the rest of your business career.
To understand and know your market, ask yourself:
- Who is your ideal customer? Be incredibly specific with this question. Think about his or her age, marital status, income, children, lifestyle, career, hobbies, passions, likes, dislikes, struggles, and pains. Some entrepreneurs even go so far as to create an avatar of their customer. I think that’s excellent.
- How will your customer benefit from this business/product/service?
- How will you get the product/service into your customer’s hand? If it’s not a physical product, how will you deliver value immediately upon support and/or purchase?
- What relationship will you build with your customer?
- Where will your customer first hear about your business? Why will he or she take action?
- Think through your overall marketing strategy. Develop a specific, concrete plan of action.
3. Know the Details
Finally, in order to sustain a prosperous business, you have to know the details. If you’re still reading and engaging with this blog post, I wish I could take you out for a real cup of coffee. You’re a go-getter and you are going to succeed. But it won’t be without a lot of planning and effort.
Now that you’ve thought about yourself, your idea, and your market, it’s time to nail down some details. These are aspects like your partners, resources, activities, and revenue streams. Don’t get lost here! Simply take the next step until you understand all of the details and are completely ready for success.
To know the details, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who are the suppliers and co-laborers you will use?
- How will you continue building an ongoing relationship with your suppliers/co-laborers?
- What resources do you need? Specific materials, staff, a building, etc. For example, if you are a breakfast shop, you are going to need coffee and bagels!
- What activities does your business need to run? For example, the breakfast shop above would need activities such as baking, making coffee each morning, running the numbers each evening, etc.
- What are your customers willing to pay for your service/product? How do you know this?
- How much money do you need to operate?
- Is this a sustainable, long-term business venture? If so, celebrate!
The list of questions seems long. Don’t feel like you need to answer every single one of them in one sitting. Rather, print out the free handout by signing up at the end of this post and then think through your answers as you go about your day.
Answering questions and getting your thoughts down on paper is a key to success. So, spend time getting to know yourself, your market, and the details of your business idea. You won’t be sorry that you spent time with these questions!