Business development

The Key To Starting Your Own Business During A Pandemic

Starting a solopreneur business is a big challenge for anybody. But how do you successfully do it during a global pandemic? Here’s my personal account.

Why do I say personal? Because my solo business turns 1 year old this April 2021! So, I want to share with you my golden nuggets of advice both as a marketing expert and as somebody who has done just that. I started my own (first) business at the same time as the worst pandemic of my lifetime.

In just 4 minutes, you’ll get a mini-guide with 3 steps to follow to MAKE IT HAPPEN! 🎯 

Time to plan your finances

Step 1 – plan your finances

If you are starting your first-ever business, make sure you have done a minimum of a business plan for the first year/preferably two.

This should include your expected return on investment in year 1 and how to reach break-even point by year 2, depending on the size and nature of your business.

If you are boot-strapping your business – as opposed to gaining external investments – it’s crucial that you plan ahead:

1- all the parallel income streams you will have in your household in your first year in business. Hint: having multiple streams is often a must-have;

2- the exact allowance you need to set aside for your personal living expenses for the first year;

3- all the expenses you must incur to take your business to launch (e.g., marketing, infrastructure, tech tools, staff support, advertising, etc.)

4- the investments you ought to make in yourself: the most important resource in your business. Too often this is the most underestimated key driver of success. If someone who wants to set up a business doesn’t appreciate the need for investing in learning, training or mentoring, they should question whether they are ready to be entrepreneurs.

In times of global economic crisis, it’s even more important to analyze your financial health and business profitability before launching.

You may likely have less money coming in and your earnings could fluctuate over an extended period of time. So, you’ll need to avoid making the right investments at the wrong time or the wrong investments all together.

Plan for your new business

Step 2 – lay your business foundation

The second essential point for the success of any new business is to have made a marketing plan before launching.

As a minimum, you need to have 4 key factors in place:

1> A clear business model devised following a market research and the validation that your products/services are viable.

2> A brand identity created on the basis of your values and your vision and in a way it’s recognizable, relatable and meaningful to your audience.

3> A marketing strategy that will make you uniquely different from the competition as opposed to being one more player in a crowded space.

4> A marketing communications plan designed to hit the business goals that you set for the short, mid and long terms.

Every week I meet at least one new person that has recently started a business without completing these actions. The common feedback they share with me is: “something isn’t right” or “it’s not kicking off” or “I don’t make enough money”.

If you are reading this, you have either started a business recently or are thinking to start one soon. So, I’d like to invite you to ask yourself this:

💡> On a scale of 1 to 10, how much am I committed to start/ continue my own business?

If you answered at least 9, ask yourself this:

💡> Looking at the 4 key factors listed above, which ones have I neglected so far?

If you have completely ignored at least 3 of them, ask yourself this:

💡> What could be the risks involved in going ahead and starting my business without doing this planning work?

If you are prepared to face those estimated risks, continue and do it that way.

If you would like more of a safety net before launching, ask yourself:

💡> What is preventing me from completing all that planning work?

Your answer will give you a clue as to what tools and resources you need to line up, in order to future-proof your business. I would advise to start this thinking process at least 3 months before your desired launch time, and monitor the market closely.

Here are 3 extra reasons to complete some robust planning at the time of a pandemic:

1> Economic crises create major changes in customer/ consumer patterns that existing businesses must be able to quickly spot, adapt and respond on. The reality is, big, structured businesses usually struggle to adapt quickly enough – and that’s how suddenly there’s an opportunity for new, lean start-ups or solopreneurs to provide the relevant products/services which are in demand at that time. But you need to spot that opportunity!

2> Market competition is at the highest levels in many sectors: with all the shifts in employment caused by the crisis, there’s an overflow of new entrepreneurs trying to start a business at the same time. Many are competing for the same slice of the market pie, so in the early stages of making your personal or business brand known, you’ll need to be smarter in your targeting and sharply on-point in your comms.

3> In cases of global pandemic, you’ll need to study the commercial and regulation dynamics in place in your sector, in order to spot the best way to market your product/services to a broader target audience, primarily using online channels both to market and to sell. This implies a bespoke lean sales infrastructure.

I am my own business

Step 3 – master your new solopreneur life 

If you are boot-strapping your small business, chances are you will be running it by yourself for several months, until you generate the level of funds needed to hire any members of staff.

This is a big operational challenge because you need to be in charge of all business functions at the same time – and naturally you may lack either the skills, the time or the energy to stay on top of them all.

As a solopreneur, you need to tick all these boxes to stay on track:

√  keep a big-picture view of what the priorities are in your business at any given point in time;

√  bounce back a natural tendency to procrastinate and carry out all priorities at the right time;

√  be positively critical with yourself to identify which tasks you really have to delegate to an external more expert person (a freelancer/ collaborator etc.);

√  identify ways of working that make you more productive and your business more profitable (these two metrics are correlated);

√  manage your own performance just like your boss would do, so that you can learn from your mistakes.

In addition to the above, when external events like a pandemic have a major impact in your life, you will need to invest a lot of extra effort to work on your resilience.

You will need to have a regular sit-down with yourself and find your way to overcome new barriers you couldn’t have predicted (e.g., social distancing, lack of products/ services, shifts in working hours and in regulations).

In many cases, you will need to devise a business pivot into online formats which may be new to you. And once again, speed to market is a winner in this case.

Drastic economic crises also bring up to the surface a Win/ Lose mentality in many people and this can add a negative toll on small business owners.

You will meet potential customers who expect your product/ services for free or with an extra-ordinary discount because they want to save their money, and neglect to consider the impact that would have on your earnings instead.

You will need to get past this negativity and continue to focus on adding value with your products/services at reasonable market prices.

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The key to make it during a pandemic?

What makes the difference during these abnormal times is to keep a steady grip on your personal balance.

Work out what makes you stronger – from both a professional performance and a personal wellbeing point of view.

The objective is to avoid overwhelm and not fall into any vicious spirals leading to you giving up on your goals.

Key takeaway: you can do it too, even during a pandemic.

Chat To Me.

If you are ready to see some changes in your career or business, let’s chat!

Business development

5 Powerful Questions That Will Propel Your Business Profits

Have you started your business and find yourself working longer hours for less money than your previous job? Are you feeling stuck in that pattern?

It could all be so different… if you wanted 

You may think that’s not all bad news because you finally have the freedom that you craved so much. And that’s understandable: most entrepreneurs I speak to have the same no. 1 need: freedom.

But consider this: what if you started a business and within a year it was making twice the salary of your former job, and, in addition to that, you were only working half the hours? How would that feel to you?

You would have time to visit your family, learn new skills, get in shape, make new plans, and have the money to fund them.

But is that possible? Of course, it is! Thousands of people are already doing that, and so can you..

Business self assessment visual

Boost your profits through self-assessments

If you want greater profits from your business, it’s important to perform regular and specific reviews of all aspects of your business, including both the big picture and the small details.

Many entrepreneurs underestimate the importance of evaluating their business’ performance directly.

In order to run a business successfully, it’s really important that you continuously make a pit stop in your journey to examine what you’ve done so far, and take a good look back before moving ahead.

You’ll want to know what’s working, what’s working the best, and how you can do more of that.

You’ll want to figure out what’s not working too, so you can determine why that doesn’t work or how you could improve or replace your process. If neither is possible, you quickly need to make some changes.

Here’s a strategic approach that seasoned business owners follow.

💡 When reviewing business strategies, most people come from the “What’s wrong and how can I fix it” perspective.

💡 Yet, here’s a better solution: start from “What’s right about this issue?”.

💡 Then, ask yourself this powerful question “How can I do better?

When you come from a positive perspective, your creativity for problem-solving is switched on and in alignment with the goals that you set from the start.

The power of this creativity could very well transform your business from a surviving business into a thriving one.

Let’s look at how, in more details.

hand holding lightbulb in front of questions

Ask these questions to review your business  

Going through these questions will lead you to gain the insights you need to continue to shape your business success:

1> What’s right about this issue/ situation/ strategy? 

Get clarity: carefully examine the task at hand, as a starting point.

2> What makes it right? 

Get specific: what is it about those things that makes it an effective process for this situation?

3> What would be ideal? 

Get creative: what would be the absolute ideal strategy/solution for this issue?

4> What’s missing that could bring about the ideal situation? 

Get resourceful: what do you need to find, create, add, or invent to reach this ideal?

5> What will it take to put in what’s missing, so you can bring about the ideal scenario?

Get busy: what is it going to take to make this issue/strategy/situation ideal?

Using the “What’s right?” perspective will, over time, change your own mindset for everything – not just your business, but your personal and family life, too.

Try it yourself and see how different your whole attitude becomes immediately.

In line with the same business optimisation approach, it’s best practice to sit down every 30 days and review the short-term status of the progress you made. The more detailed you are, the better insights you will capture!

Here are 5 specific questions to go through in your 30 Days Review:

1> What action did I take this month to support my business?
2> What action did I take this month to improve my effectiveness?
3> What action did I take this month to improve my efficiency?
4> What results have I created this month through my efforts?
5> How can I do better next month?

You will notice that after four or five times that you’ve gone through these self-assessment checkpoints, you will grow naturally good at “reading situations” in your business and troubleshooting them.

You see, the more decisions you make and the more actions you take, the more efficient you will become. And the more efficient you become, the better results you’ll create for your business.

This is a virtuous circle that will contribute to your business’ profitability. 

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Boost your profits through mentoring support

The reality is, at some point you will reach a stage where you need to confront your self-evaluation with the perspective of somebody else. This is even more compelling when you come across challenges that you don’t know how to overcome.

Albert Einstein once said, “It’s impossible to solve a problem with the same kind of thinking that created it.”. This is why seeking the advice of seasoned professionals is a key strategy in creating a profitable business.

In this scenario, there’s one key question you should ask yourself:

💡 “Who is best placed in helping me in my present business situation?”.

In the first instance, you may prefer to reach out to other entrepreneurs you know and ask their advice at no cost to you. You may even have a more experienced ex-colleague you used to look up to who may take you on board as their mentee now.

The best entrepreneurial minds seek out others who have ‘been there, done that.’

They want to find the person who made the path and ask him/ her how that happened:

  • How long did it take?
  • How much did it cost?
  • If he/she had to do it over again, what would they do differently?

Then, when they expect to gain deep, tailored, long-term and faster results, the very best entrepreneurs would instead hire a personal Business Coach and Mentor.

All successful business owners have had at least one Coach in their history of setting up one or multiple enterprises.

A Business Coach and Mentor can help you to make profitable decisions, take effective actions, streamline your thinking and, above all, advice you on the right solution to the specific barriers you encountered in your business.

It’s like having a business partner that you don’t have to split the profits with. Or having a high value employee without having to pay for taxes and medical benefits.

You may think that the investment level is high but when you do some forecasting, you’ll realise that it will save you more time and money than it costs.

💡 Key takeaway: questions find solutions and solutions can lead you to greater profits.

One of the best skills any entrepreneur can develop is the ability to ask great questions and then, listen to the answers.

In this article I highlighted how it’s very important to:

🎯 Ask the right questions to yourself.

🎯 Ask the right questions to the right (expert) person.

🎯 Ask the right questions from the early days of your business and then regularly.

Chat To Me.

If you are ready to see some changes in your career or business, let’s chat!