Your Small Business Begins with You: How To Develop as an Entrepreneur
This is an excerpt from A Self-Funded Journey to Growing a 7-Figure Business. Download the full eBook here.
Here’s the straight-up truth: you won’t know everything immediately. As we learned, building a business takes trial and error—and a lot of it. Just like any new business idea, you have to try it out to see if it works.
Cultivating instincts and knowing what’s best for your business starts with building yourself up as an entrepreneur first. Give yourself permission to engage in activities that make you a better business owner such as self-care, networking, and continued learning. Remember, your own well-being is essential to your business’s well-being. This mindset will make you a more confident and thoughtful business owner.
Wherever you are in your entrepreneurial career, setting goals and holding yourself accountable is crucial. Make no mistake, it takes time to hone in on what truly works—and that’s different for everyone. We encourage you to incorporate what speaks to you along your own journey.
Here are some effective practices we’ve adopted over the years to reach our goals, become better business owners, and support the growth of our business.
1. Set Annual and Quarterly Goals
Set annual goals to guide your intention for the year. Consider your long-term goals and identify what you can reasonably achieve in 12 months. Your annual goals give you a target for sales, finances, business structure, growth, and anything else you hope to develop. Some business owners set a theme for the year depending on the stage of their business and establish priorities to help them stay in the right mindset all year long.
Every quarter, set three to five goals—or Rocks as we call them from the EOS system—that are based on achieving your annual goals. Choose goals that will either push your position or your company forward in a streamlined and efficient way. Use SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. We find this technique helps to avoid lofty, unrealistic goals or goals that languish with an undefined timeline.
After your Rocks are set, own them. Add steps to your calendar, planner, or to-do list. Use a system that keeps you motivated. Get your team to hold you accountable. Share Rock updates each week in the quarter to ensure you stay on track. You wouldn’t want to be the only one on your team who doesn’t complete their Rocks, would you? That’s part of why this system works!
Setting goals for your business provides a clear path and the motivation to reach a predetermined destination—your vision for your business. Without goals, your business is merely operating rather than achieving. Goals give your team a purpose. You will work hard because you know you’re working toward something great.
2. Hire a Business Coach or Find a Mentor
Early on in our business, we hired Diana Ennen, a talented and seasoned Virtual Assistant with deep experience in the space. She immediately gave us the best advice we didn’t know we needed: “Charge what you’re worth and raise your prices.”
That single piece of advice gave us confidence and helped us start on the right foot to grow as business owners. Business coaches and mentors provide an invaluable perspective whether it’s an outside viewpoint or experience different from your own. Since then, we’ve worked with a variety of mentors who have helped us identify potential pitfalls and exciting opportunities.
3. Attend Events that Align With Your Goals
To grow our business initially, we attended hundreds of small networking events. This strategy worked at first, allowing us to practice networking for our business and getting VaVa’s name out there little by little. As we grew, we discovered there were other networking opportunities with a broader scope that would make a larger impact. The smaller events simply weren’t aligned with our overall goals. So, we took a step back. We began intentionally choosing groups and events that made more sense for us as a growing business.
Here’s what we did: We more clearly defined our ideal client, reached out to a client who fits the bill, and asked where she spent time professionally. We believed we could build our ideal client base if we had that answer. She gave us several ideas and, as luck would have it, we ended up sponsoring a large conference that attracts our ideal market.
From two conferences we attended in 2018 and 2019 costing us less than $4,700, we generated more than $140,000 in revenue! It pays to specifically identify who you want to work with and find various avenues to reach them.
4. Seek Out Training to Expand Your Skills
More recently in our journey, we joined our local Entrepreneurs Organization chapter in Atlanta, which has been a phenomenal resource during our growth from 2019 to today. EO is a global organization of entrepreneurs that generates $1 million or more in revenue. It’s not a networking group, so members are free to explore and receive guidance on the ups and downs of business and leadership in order to really improve.
Some chapters—including ours in Atlanta—offer Accelerator Programs designed to help entrepreneurs reach the $1 million mark. This helped us develop as business leaders and learn how to push our company’s growth. The stage of your business determines eligibility; the program is built for businesses making at least $250,000 in yearly revenue. If you’re not ready yet, definitely keep the program in mind for when you reach their threshold.
Two years after joining the Accelerator Program, we were accepted into EO as a self-funded, seven-figure business! One of the most helpful features of the program is being placed into an Accountability Group that meets monthly and holds one another accountable for monthly SMART goals. Especially for solopreneurs, this approach simulates a relationship with a supportive business partner.
5. Leverage Your Time to Get the Most Done
When you’re running your own business, you may feel that everything is on your shoulders and that you need to solve problems—no matter how small—immediately. Without mindful prioritization or a disciplined schedule, days truly fly by! Eventually, you’ll realize you haven’t worked toward your big-picture goals in far too long. The counterproductive calculator is a tool that can help you understand how well you use your time. Fill it out to identify what daily or weekly tasks can be delegated to an assistant or another team member, allowing you to tackle the essential items that can grow your business.
The key to a successful schedule is finding a time management technique that compliments your work style. Consider these methods:
Aiming for a work/life balance is also essential for your business. If you don’t take the time to relax and engage in your personal life, you won’t have the energy you need to reach your business goals. You’ll lose your momentum and end up burnt out. When designing your schedule, make sure to incorporate time to unwind and nurture your personal relationships.
Time management helps, but burnout ends up impacting most entrepreneurs at one point or another. It’s a natural part of investing your all into your business. When this happens, seek support, give yourself time to rest, and then re-evaluate. Most importantly, give yourself the grace and understanding you deserve as a hardworking entrepreneur.
6. Lead Your Team By Example
You are your business. Not only are you the face of your business, but the way you work and interact with the marketplace defines the values of your organization. This becomes even more apparent as you start to build a team. Your work and leadership styles impact how your organization runs. Your team takes cues from you.
Purposefully define your company culture and values early on. Be creative with your values to align with what feels right for your business. Make sure they reflect your business today as well as the vision you have for your business in the future. Communicate them to your team to set expectations and ensure they know where your business is headed.
At VaVa Virtual, we hold monthly coffee chats and quarterly town hall meetings to strengthen our company culture. We connect with our team daily on Slack and offer professional development opportunities. We also frequently reference our mission and values to help build our vision. You can’t expect others to do the work if you won’t. Stay dedicated to your vision. Your team will follow suit.
Read more in our eBook!
Learn more about growing a 7-figure business in our eBook.
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