Sketched for Success: A Blueprint to Constructing A Strong Company

“You can’t wait until the weight is applied to design the construct. You design the construct to bear the weight” – TD Jakes
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Have you built your business to withstand the growth that you hope to achieve?
Today, you are a solopreneur i.e. a one (wo)man show servicing a small area, but within the next five years you want to go global. What steps are you going to take to get from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow?
There are several factors you’ll have to consider as you structure your company so that you can transition from one phase to the next.
1. Structure:
 
Jargon and Fractions
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I don’t know about you but legal jargon makes my head hurt and in third grade—when we started fractions—is when I realized, math is not my thing. However, these things are virtually unavoidable in business. There are just some things you have to know and do. This part isn’t the sexiest part of constructing a lasting business but no one complains when the checks start rolling in because they are in place.

 
Legalities: Is your business registered/licensed to do what you do?
Fiscal responsibility and planning: How are you financing your business? Is it sustainable?  Do you have a contingency plan?
PANIC NOT! If you have begun to read this section and are thinking ” Legalities? Fiscal Planning? I’m gonna fail! I’m gonna fail! I don’t have any of those things in place.”
STOP! It’s not too late. Get informed and begin your planning today. Your business is a living, breathing entity and it’s never too late to make a change. There are tons of online resources. Start with SBA.gov, maybe invest in a financial management system like Quickbooks, Outright, or have an informational session with financial consultant.

DON’T GO OUT & DO EVERYTHING TODAY! Take baby steps; you are building your business for the long haul so taking it one thing at time—making small incremental changes to your operations—as you grow is completely acceptable and in many ways preferable.

Team Work Makes the Dream Work
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I don’t know about you, but I’m a twinmeaning I had to share everything when I was growing up.  So now, I tend to be a bit less apt to share. I don’t like sharing my ideas and getting all fuzzy in front of the fireplace listening to other people’s. However, as a business owner, I understand that my business can’t just be built around my own genius. First off because I think every idea I have is “AMAZEBALLS” and want to implement them all. Secondly, I don’t know everything and have realized that other people’s contributions might add a great deal to the mix. Last, but not least, if I am the center of my company’s universethe nerve center, brain, and  ultimate idea haven from which all greatness flowsif anything should happen to me, my company would die with me (not built to last)! So since i plan on having kids one day and want to leave something for them, me and my ego have acquiesced to the idea of team building. Won’t you join me?!
Building an operational system that is NOT completely dependent upon or centered around  you and your skills is paramount to your success.  An atmosphere of like-minded, but divergent talents that you can consult, train and eventually hire is the best possible solution to help your business grow from a small force to a force to be reckoned with.
Employ talented interns that can grow with your company. You can train them to meet your specific needs and as soon as you can afford to pay them, put them in a position to take some of the responsibility off of your plate.
-AND/OR-
Hire consultants on a project-to-project basis until you can hire someone to fill those absolutely essential positions in your company. These  jobs will become apparent as you grow because you will see which tasks demand the most attention and just how beneficial they are to your operation.
 
P.S. Don’t feel obligated to build a HUGE team. What you need is an effective team and that can only be defined by you and your company’s needs. Exactly how many people do you need for optimal efficiency and outstanding production?
 
2. BASE BUILDING
 
Okay, so now you’ve got your business all registered, your taxes straight and your accountant or management system in play. You’ve got a hot-to-trot dream team making all your ideas come to fruition and your product is dare I say, “AMAZEBALLS!” Now what? Whose buying it? That’s what! 
 
Cultivating Relationships:
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Build a NETWORK of stakeholders through messaging, marketing,  media (both traditional and social), and public relations.
Network is a buzzword in this social media driven society, but what does it actually mean? It is both a noun and a verb.
Who are your network? Friends, family, potential customers, partners, community members, and the press; these are what you call potential stakeholders.
How do you network? Position yourself to meet people who are running similar businesses ( you can find people through online forums as well as your local chamber of commerce), you also want to identify your target audience and begin building relationships with potential consumers you can do this by hosting meet-ups, product demonstrations, etc. and attending them as well.
Messaging:
Now that you have a network, you have to speak to them.  Everyone wants to feel special and it’s your job to make them feel that way.
 
Every different type of stakeholder in your network will require their own message. The nuances of how to craft messages in your marketing and promotion to each sector can be difficult, but is absolutely necessary for your success.
 
MegaphoneMarketing & Promotion Strategy: 
You’ve identified your players and how you want to sweet talk them. Now you need to figure out when to talk them and how to tie it into a thought-out and consistent calendar of business promotion.
 
Strategy is the key word here. You can’t decide on Dec 24th that you want to do a Christmas promotion.
Make a promotion calendar. Give yourself at least two to three months lead time for planning and executing a promotion (especially a holiday promotion). At the beginning of the year, try to identify possible promotional opportunities for the first six months of the year. Well, really, from March through let’s say June or July (because January and February should have been planned before the end of the last year).
Your promotions don’t have to be huge price slashing ordeals, either. You can offer smaller discounts for a longer time period or institute a rewards program for clients or customers. Play with different types of promotions until you find what works for your business. Refrain from annoying the hell out of your consumer with obnoxious or unnecessary emails. if you email about one specific promotion twice, leave it at that. NOBODY likes a pest.
This is a topic, I can go on and on about but then this post would be a novel and it’s already at short story level. So if you aren’t quite sure how to identify your stakeholders, network and how to build sustainable relationships with them, stay tuned. MAM Squared LLC will be opening registration for our new Webinar series “Brown Bag & Biz Tips,” in just a few weeks. Among the topics it will tackle are “Support is A Verb” aimed at identifying your network and stakeholders and what to expect from them; ” Wooing & Winning: Telling your Story to Grow Your Business” all about crafting your message; and an ” An Artpreneur’s Guide to Pigging Out: using your talent to make a profit”. 
 
For now, happy sketching!!!
IMG_9853Melissa A. Matthews is author of the e-book, An Artpreneur’s Guide to Pigging Out and co-owner of MAM Squared LLC.

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