When Are You NO Longer a Start Up Business?
The startup phase of business can be thrilling, nerve-wracking, freeing and stressful; especially for those of us in service-based industries. But when are you no longer considered to be a start-up?
Most people classify a start-up by how long they have been in business. As a business coach, I am going to challenge that school of thought, to understand what I am talking about though – you have to understand the phases of business.
When I look at start-ups, I am looking for mastery. Mastery of niche, message, sales, packaging, team and most importantly, filling your business with clients consistently to produce a reliable and profitable cash flow. Here are a few key indicators:
- If you are still on the feast or famine roller coaster – you are still in the start-up phase of your business.
- If you are not making enough to pay yourself a consistent paycheck, you are still in the start-up phase of your business.
- If you are too busy serving your clients to go find new clients, you are still in the start-up phase of your business.
Mastery generates cash and sales and clients. How do you know that you have mastered the startup phase of your business? You are generating consistent income and clients on a month to month bases and you have systems in place to keep it that way.
If you are reading this, you probably still feel like you are in the start-up phase of your business. And you have 1 question in your mind. Why?
Why you haven’t moved past the ‘Start-up’ phase?
When you start your business, your first natural instinct is to be everything to everyone and go get some clients. As I imagine you already have figured out, that model doesn’t work that long. In fact, it attracts clients who don’t know what they want and don’t want to pay for whatever it is that you give them.
You can flounder in this area for a while, not truly understanding why it is so hard to find a client willing to pay for the good work that you do.
80% of the time, this is a NICHE problem.
I love this little diagram, because this is the essence of an ideal client – and it should be one of the basis of your niche.
Finding the people you love to work with, who know they have the problem you solve AND are willing to do something about it.
Now a niche can be defined in many ways. You can define it by the type of people you want to work with, you can define it by how you complete the work (notice I did not say to define it by the work you do) or the industry or mode of delivery.
The key is to get very specific with it. In fact, when I coach my entrepreneurs about niche, we use questionnaires and a few techniques that challenge you to get more specific than you’ve ever been pushed to do.
Why? Because instead of everyone or someone, we are trying to get to the ONE.
Let me give you an example of this in your my own home. I’ve got great boys, 12 & 10. They’ve always been raised to contribute in the house – but they are 12 & 10 year old boys. It’s not as if they just jump up and take out the trash. I have to ask them, carefully.
When I say, “Will someone take out the trash?” Do you know what happens? You guessed it, nothing.
In their minds, ‘someone’ meant ‘not me’.
If I get specific, “Christian, will you take out the trash?” I get a boy taking out the trash.
Simple example, but this is how the niche process works. As soon as the words, ‘everyone, someone, and anyone’ come out of your mouth; your client subconsciously thinks ‘not me’.
Once you have a good-enough niche, you can start this upward cycle of clients.
Each time you go around this cycle, guess what? Your niche becomes better and better defined. If you aren’t on this cycle yet – this is just another indicator that you have a niche problem.
A good niche defines everything else in your business, your messaging, your client attraction, your compelling offers…etc.
Fix this and you will have fixed many other problems you have in your business.
Come back next week and see the other reason you’re stuck in a start up phase.