Q: My dream of starting my own business is finally becoming a reality, but I'm still not sure I'm going to be a success. What do I need besides my enthusiasm for my business to make it?
A: Many people work very hard to launch their own small business. They take business courses, network with leaders in their community and do whatever it takes to turn their dream into a reality. Then they are faced with something they might not have thought about when they were planning their business: How do you move from passion to profit?
In other words, as an entrepreneur, how do you bottle the excitement and enthusiasm you have for your business and create a plan that will lead you down a path to profitability? If you are like most people, the transition will be a real wake-up call, and you may suddenly find yourself in panic mode, struggling to meet payroll and cover expenses. But instead of panicking, start planning. Planning will be the key to your success. Without a plan in place, you are sure to fail. As a rule, most entrepreneurs hate to plan and instead rely on the "shoot from the hip" management style.
To go from passion to profit, follow these simple techniques, strategies and tips for managing your business successfully:
1. Set goals.
Keep a written record of what it is you are trying to accomplish. This may seem obvious, but I am constantly amazed at how many entrepreneurs do not take the time to do this, often believing that their company is too "early stage" or "unproven" to do this. No company or business concept is too young to establish goals, measure success and hold workers accountable for progress on the path to profitability.
2. Communicate those goals.
Some business owners set goals, but then fail to share that knowledge with others in the organization, employees, consultants and key business partners. Some entrepreneurs are very good at communicating their passion about the business concept and mission, but then fail to communicate their specific business goals associated with revenue and profitability. It takes effort, but it is essential to focus on communicating goals in order to make them meaningful and create a shared sense of purpose.
3. Have strategies to meet those goals.
While it is good to write down your goals and share them with your team, you will still need a strategy to meet them. Smart business owners will brainstorm with as many knowledgeable people as possible in order to find creative ways to meet their goals. They will motivate employees by outlining the goals and strategies with collective buy-in. They will do this on a monthly or quarterly basis to ensure it's possible to hold individuals accountable for executing on the strategies to achieve the goals.
4. Recognize when goals change.
Sometimes your business goals will change, and you must be prepared to respond. At one company I am familiar with, senior management holds mid-quarter review sessions to realign goals based on the latest feedback from clients, business partners and employees. The quarterly goals are adjusted to reflect reality and keep employees motivated and chasing the prize. Whether it's because of the economy, a client's preferences or other circumstances, don't let change be your downfall. If you must change your goals, start now and you'll be back on the right track. Stop procrastinating and start managing like a winner-you'll be surprised at the results.
Moving from passion to profit is one of the hardest transitions most entrepreneurs must make. It sometimes happens gradually as a matter of necessity. It sometimes happens quickly as a result of planning or luck. And, of course, it sometimes never happens. You can accelerate your progress on the path to profitability by following some of the rules outlined above.
Asheesh Advani is CEO of Covestor, an online marketplace for investors. He founded CircleLending, which was acquired by Virgin.