Build a Better Business

I believe that it’s our urgent obligation (and precious opportunity) to learn more and make things better for those around us. What we’ve found, though, is that it’s the lifelong journey of connection that powers that learning. That surrounding ourselves with others on the same path is at least as useful as learning something new.

~ Seth Godin

Postcard from Barbara

Making Your Business Better

Postcard from Barbara

Although May was well underway when it occurred to me, I decided my theme for the month would be Making It Better. To my delight it’s turned out even better than I anticipated and I’ve decided to make it a basic life project. 

Several times a day, I stop what I’m doing and ask myself, “How can I make it better?” I have no pre-conceived notion of what it is. Often I’ll simply see some little thing that needs doing (like putting some item in its place). Other times I’ll get a thought about tackling a bigger project that would benefit from some rehabilitation.Whatever the answer, I treat it as my marching orders and take action. It’s amazing how quickly annoyances can be removed or better choices made.  

Feel free to borrow this and put it to work for yourself. I suspect you’ll amaze yourself at how your attitude changes as you begin making tiny improvements wherever you are. 

Of course, it’s wise to resist the impulse to tell others what they need to do to be better humans. 

This simple exercise works equally well for growing your business.  Here are a few other ideas. 

Making Your Business Better

Starting a Business is Step One, of course, but after that the assignment switches to Making It Better. Not only does Step Two last longer, it becomes and on-going challenge—and source of creative fun. Here are some idea starters for days when you feel stumped.

 ° Ask yourself these questions and listen for the answers. Those deceptively simple questions are:

    What can I make today?

    How can I make it better? (It being anything that is right in front of you.)

    How can I amaze myself today?

 ° Goals aren’t enough. As valuable as formal goal setting is to the process of  building a business, it’s not t he only tool for growing. A manifesto, a motto, and a mantra or two will add power to your goal achievements.

 A manifesto is  your personal statement of why you do what you do. Avoid corporate gobbledygook in writing yours.

  A motto and a mantra are similar, but not quite identical. One definition of a motto says, “A maxim adopted as a guide to one’s conduct.”

 A mantra, on the other hand, is also a short statement, but may be one that begins with “I am” and includes a reminder of the kind of person you are working to become.

All three of these word tools can strengthen focus and, even, simplify decision-making.

 ° Put the odds in your favor. According to the National Business Incubation Association, 80-90% of businesses are still operating after five years where the founder has received  entrepreneurial training and continues with a network group, as compared to a 10% success rate for those who do not receive training. 

Be a voluntary student as often as possible.

° Support other small businesses. In Melody Warnick’s wonderful book This is Where You Belong, she has a chapter called Shop Local where she shares her experiences getting to know entrepreneurs in her new hometown. She also makes a passionate case for supporting these determined and creative folks. 

There’s a bonus, of course, in getting to know others who are building a business: they can add to your own entrepreneurial mindset in all sorts of ways.

 ° Get fussy about your customers and clients. When we’re a new little business, teetering towards success, it may be prudent to take on any and all comers. (Our early customers can be fine teachers, by the way.)

As your business matures, your notion about who you can best serve—and who can be the most joyful for you to work with—may become clearer.

A written statement about your ideal customer can help you weed out the ones who are going to waste your time, be difficult or simply inappropriate. On the other hand, having clarity about  the folks you want to work with will help you find shortcuts to connecting with them.

 ° Amuse yourself with another list. As I was browsing through a journal of mine, I came across a list titled Things I Will (Probably) Never Do. Some of the items included wear a baseball cap, eat oysters, play the bagpipe and head a huge corporation.

I realize that there are some dangers in such a list, but they’re minor. While it’s also true that we sometimes surprise and delight ourselves by doing things we’d previously avoided, this list is designed as an exercise in fun. 

Certainly, you can also outgrow your notions about things you’d never do, just as you can outgrow things that you’ve always done.

 ° Test drive new ideas. Most of us would not dream of spending thousands of dollars for a car that we hadn’t taken for a spin. Our ideas deserve a test drive of their own.

However, the criteria should not be based solely on market response. I learned that lesson in the early days of building my seminar business when I had the willing cooperation of Open U, a fledgling adult ed program, who encouraged me to try out any and all ideas that I had.

Sometimes I discovered that a subject that seemed promising on paper wasn’t all that much fun in the classroom. Sometimes an idea I thought was a small one, turned into a surprising success.

Find your own way of creating a laboratory for running experiments on your ideas. 

Merely thinking about the pros and cons isn’t a reliable testing ground.

° Keep building your option bank. Evolution is your friend, after all, and even the core offerings of your business can be improved upon in ways large and small. Pay attention when such opportunities reveal themselves.

You can also get a broader perspective by subscribing to Winning Ways newsletter or listening to one of my teleclass recordings while walking your dog. 

Buon Viaggio,  

Barbara Winter

On occasion, I may receive a commission or compensation when you participate or purchase a product or service I recommend. That being said, I strive to always offer useful content and resources in each issue of Joyfully Jobless News. 

I have updated my privacy policy to address the new standards introduced by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). You can view that policy here.

Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

Joyfully Jobless

PO Box 800971
Valencia, CA 91380