I recently had the privilege of sharing with a group of women at The Pink Experience, hosted by the Women’s Business Center in Delaware. What an honor!
There’s nothing more empowering than a big group of boss babes cheering each other on and sharing real life experiences. That was exactly how this event was…it fed my soul! I was able to speak on my own business experiences and encourage them through my story. Since you might not have been able to be there, I’m sharing it with you today!
I have been with the Women’s Business Center since it was just a community loan fund. I actually started my very first business with the loan I received from them. That sounds all fine and dandy, right?! Wrong… After only one short year in business, I was completely broke. So broke that my dad had to accompany me to co-sign for another loan! I had no idea how I had NO money because, let’s be honest, I was working my butt off! Then my dad said this to me:
“… you need to be working smarter, not harder…you can do more.”
His words rang in my head that night after we left the lawyer’s office for the co-signing. And then it occurred to me: I should be working ON the business rather than IN it! I began researching and everything pointed me right back to the numbers – costs, ROI, profits – and I was totally lost! I booked an appointment with my accountant ready to be enlightened. The thing is, I left his office more confused than when I got there. I was in tears, thinking, “what on earth have I done?”
I decided to take matters into my own hands. Thank goodness for Google and YouTube! Every single night I devoured information on the accounting foundations of a company. I took multiple online courses to help me understand it. Within three years, my husband and I paid off our $160,000 loans.
I wasn’t working every waking hour like a maniac, AND we were able to open a new location without a loan because my first location was doing so great! All because I understood my numbers rather than never looking at them. This lit a fire in my soul to help others have the success I’ve experienced by knowing what’s going on in the books of your business. That’s how my company, The Chic CFO, was born.
I shared with the ladies at The Pink Experience that you can indeed go from passion to profits in six weeks as you launch your new business.
Passion to Profits in Six Steps
1.If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail…
We’ve all heard this before, but it is SUPER important in business. You can’t start a company on a whim. There has to be a plan and a mission. Think back to why you started your company. I usually get lots of different answers when I ask this question. But if we were all to be brutally honest, we started our companies TO MAKE MONEY.
Yes, you probably have a passion for what you’re doing…I hope you do! But you can’t get so caught up on the mission that you completely neglect the numbers. Guess what: you can’t actually change the world without money, girl. Own that truth, it’s not a bad thing!
I also often get the excuse, “but I’m no good at math.” Just because something is not your strongest suit doesn’t mean that it’s not important. Think about it like getting the oil changed in your car. If you don’t know how to do it, you take it to someone who does because it’s vital to how well your car runs. Your business is the same way. Whether it’s marketing, numbers, operations, etc, if you aren’t talented in that area, outsource it!
Next in your planning phase is a good brainstorm session. What are you really good at? What motivates you? What are your assets? Your passions? After you’ve made a list of these things, you need to compare them with what the market needs. If what you’ve got to offer is fantastic, but nobody needs or wants it, it will be a flop. Just because it’s something you’re passionate about doesn’t mean that everyone is.
Passion won’t sustain a company.
If it’s not making money, it is a hobby rather than a business. The magic formula is to take your passion and strengths and mix them with what the market needs. There you have the foundation for your new company!
2. Identify your ICA
Your ICA is your ideal client avatar. This is that perfect person that is looking for your product or service. We’ve all been there before, meeting with a potential client, and no matter what we say or do, we can’t get them to commit. Other times, you’ve got a commitment from a client before you even finish the meeting.
That person is your ICA.
Determining who your ICA is will completely change your business for the better. Going after the clients that don’t meet that criteria is a big waste of time for you and for them. And we all know, nobody has time to waste time!
Once you’ve started narrowing down your ICA, you will need to start taking note of all the little details. You want to truly know them. Where do they hang out online? What content are they taking in? What makes you best equipped to serve them? What type of language resonates with them? Your research can be done with something as simple as an email asking a few questions as you begin to learn them and what makes them excited.
If you’re putting yourself out there with no commitments from potential clients, you may be putting it in the wrong space or using the wrong language. People only commit to buy from other people that they feel completely comfortable with. You have to know who “your person” is, what they need, and they best way to get it to them.
3. Determine if your Business will Support the Lifestyle you Want
This part is seriously a game changer for you, both personally and professionally. You must determine the financial goal of the company. If you have a certain income goal, but when we run the numbers on how to actually get you there, we find out we need 10 of you, that goal is going to need to be tweaked to fit a realistic plan (unless you know something about cloning that the rest of us don’t!)
Will your business support the lifestyle you want?
That’s why you started this company, right? Freedom.
So let’s say you want to make $100,000 a year, working 20 hours a week. In going through your budget, we determine you’re going to have to be able to make $96 an hour. Are there additional costs needed to provide that service or product? You need to know that you can get $96 an hour after additional costs.
If you don’t think your service or product is going to get you there, you need to reassess your business or your personal budget, because you’re not going to be able to achieve $100,000 at 20 hours per week. Without determining these numbers before you launch, you’re simply stabbing in the dark hoping for a good outcome. Let me tell you, you’re not going to get far without understanding your budget.
4. Create, Document, and Implement your Systems and Processes
If you don’t have a process in your business, you don’t have a business. There’s a huge difference between buying yourself a job and starting a company. A company is an entity that has systems and processes in place. This means that anyone, at any given time, can come in and run it. If someone can’t step in and take over for you or understand how to do certain things in your company, you need to get more specific on your processes.
A job dies with you, but a company goes on without you.
You can only build that when you have your processes and systems in place. And you have to be incredibly micro with this one. Let me give you an example based on my own business workflow.
When you log in to our management software (Trello, Asana, etc) and click on Monday 10:00 am, there will be an infographic document walking you through what my company does at that time. There will also be a video tutorial. Whether my assistant is better with reading things or watching them, I have both options available.
That’s how specific you have to get. Because the reality is, if you ever go to scale, you’re not going to be able to do that if everything that happens in your business is just in your head. This creates longevity and legacy for your company.
5. Focus on Branding
Yeah girl, I get it…this is the fun part! Many people put this first when building their business. And yes, it’s super fun to pick your color schemes, logo, build a website, and order business cards. BUT, you can’t properly do this in a way that sets you up for success without following steps 1-4 first.
Why? Because you want to be sure your brand will sell, speak to your ICA, meet your financial needs, and hold up in the systems and processes departments! Otherwise, you’re wasting your time and likely won’t generate much profit.
When I first launched The Chic CFO, I had a REALLY old laptop. But instead of rushing out to invest in a new computer, I worked with the laptop I had and built a teensy starter website purchased from GoDaddy for $99. It was a template, guys. Nothing fancy AT ALL. But you know what? That was the best because I needed to fine tune my voice and what I had to offer the world! I needed to do my research.
You don’t have to have the fanciest things starting out.
I knew another entrepreneur that launched nearly the same time I did who put $20,000 into her company. She did the fancy branding packages, schemes, and videos. At the end of my first year with my old laptop and ridiculous website, I had generated six figures. But at the end of her first year, she had only generated $10,000 and lost money on all the expensive branding.
6. Spread the Word
Remember that ICA we talked about earlier? Yep, she’s back! You took the time to gather all that information about your ICA. Now mix it with that kick-ass brand you just created that is entirely focused on your ICA, and you’re going to spread the word.
But you have to be smart about where you spread the word.
And you can only do that when you know everything about your ICA.
If your ICA is on Facebook, you need to be networking in groups, answering questions, and setting yourself up as an expert. Invest in Facebook ads! You can get incredibly detailed about who you want to reach there. Funnel interested people into your own Facebook groups where you can pour into them.
Share little tidbits of free information with them. They are more likely to buy what you have to offer wrapped up in one convenient package if you’ve proven yourself trustworthy and knowledgeable.
If LinkedIn is where she is, that’s where you need to build your marketing strategy. AND LinkedIn usually offers more organic leads, which means you don’t have to pay for them!
Lots of people love Instagram because they are drawn to the stories. Video is amazing right now, and an Insta story allows your audience to see behind the scenes of your life. It helps them realize that you’re just a real, normal person like they are…and they can have the success you’re enjoying!
And don’t forget Pinterest! Did you know Pinterest is the largest search engine in the world? That means that all those little bits of information you’re putting out into the world need to be on Pinterest, so that it drives your ICA to your website.
When you know your ICA and how they communicate, you will know what language will work with them. You will know how to communicate so that they trust you. This will be reflected all over your new brand, through copy, ads, and visuals.
This was an incredible opportunity, and I counted it an honor to be asked to share with the boss babes at The Pink Experience. Thanks for letting me share them with you too! With these six steps, you’ll be able to turn that passion project into real profits!