Over 50 and Starting a Business? The Secrets to Success – Part 2

bigstock-Business-Plan-Speedometer-7369054-1Part One can be viewed here.

In the first part of this series, I explained how the bucket loads of experience you already have gives you a great advantage when starting a new business.

I left you with some homework, which was to think deeply about the niche you want to be involved in, and to give yourself permission to achieve an ambition.

This week we have reached the planning stage. We are going to start with something from a very dedicated entrepreneur named Michael Gerber.

You may have heard of him, but if not I suggest you get hold of a copy of one of his books: The E-myth Revisited.

Are You An Entrepreneur?

Here's a tip that came directly from Michael during an impromptu session at John Carlton's ‘Action Seminar' a couple of years ago: “If you do nothing else, read the introductory quotes for each chapter”.

If you don't fancy ploughing through the entire book, do that as a minimum.

Michael has been dedicated to the idea of helping small businesses even longer than I have. He has a great and simple way of helping people understand a basic requirement that, if completed correctly, can make all the difference to your eventual success.

Introducing ‘The Four Dimensions'

This is the idea that entrepreneurs (replace that word with business owner if you prefer) have four dimensions to their personalities. They are:

  1. Dreamers
  2. Thinkers
  3. Storytellers
  4. Leaders

It all starts with a dream. Not a daydream, but a real purpose. The thinker then visualises that purpose into something solid.

The storyteller is able to put it into context and – finally – the leader ensures it actually happens.

Are You Working ‘ON' the Business or ‘IN' It?

This is the well-worn concept of working ‘on' the business instead of ‘in' it. I know that this will be cliché to many, but I ask this question now because the answer you give will undoubtedly be important to your new business's success.

I have heard many people say you may as well just get a job if you only intend to work ‘in' the business – I disagree.

If that's what you love, why not go for it? Just be aware that someone, somewhere will have to work ‘on' it for you.

Pick someone you completely trust (obviously!) but make sure you retain control of the business. If that is too much to ask, keep the business small. You will need to consider whether you have larger ambitions at some point, however.

What's the Big Idea?

So, on to planning.

You will need three things:

  1. A Mission Statement
  2. A Plan and Schedule
  3. Working Procedures

The mission statement is not a single statement! It consists of a statement for every single part of your mission.

One for:

  • The business
  • Your customers
  • Your product or service
  • Your staff
  • Yourself!

Every part of your business needs to work together, but they will all have different objectives.

As examples, your mission may be to work less, earn more and take more holidays (that may not be a strong enough mission by the way!).

The mission for your business may be to spread its message globally, change the world, and make a profit. The mission for your product may be to make it the best it can be.

Using your dream as inspiration, you need to think carefully about the direction you want everything to head in.

Then you need to plan how you are going to get there. You can do this by writing a plan and scheduling it.

Are You SMART Enough?

The simplest way to do that is to work backwards. The key lies is setting the goal you want to achieve. Once this is done, you can work backwards to create a roadmap to success.

If you go too far ahead you may not be able to see the path back, so now is the time to be SMART.

There are many variations of the SMART acronym, but I prefer the following:

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Achievable
  4. Results based
  5. Time related

Use a spreadsheet to write down and prioritise your SMART's. That way you can easily re-organise them if necessary. You will almost certainly find many things happening in parallel.

That is perfectly fine. Use start and expected finish times on your sheet to help you stay on track. Prioritise them by the finish time.

As you compile this, you will come across tasks that may not have an end (‘prospecting' for example). You have two choices:

  1. Set a finish date and then set another task to start it up again
  2. Include a reference within a task to a ‘Working Procedure'

Work Those Procedures

Working Procedures are ‘how to' guides on the exact steps needed to compete your tasks – from finding prospects through to how phones should be answered.

Many of these will only be needed if you have staff members, but the simple act of writing them down will get you thinking more deeply about your business and your customers. This means it is a good exercise either way, and it will make training people much easier if you ever do decide to expand in the future.

I use a spreadsheet to organise my working procedures. This consists of a title, description, who wrote it (if you have staff) and a reference or link to the relevant document. I use separate documents for each procedure.

I also use Google Docs for all of this stuff.

That way I can access them and share them with relevant people from anywhere – did I mention the service is also free? You simply need to sign up for a Gmail account to gain access.

Next Time…

OK, we're making excellent progress: We have our niche, we have our plan.

In the next part, we'll dig deeper into prospecting for customers. Spades at the ready!

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