Clichés become clichés because they make sense, and are widely used, so they pass into the language. Unfortunately, common usage often makes them appear flippant, a throw-away line that means nothing.
That they take on that label does not make them any less valid, in fact, becoming a cliché is almost like getting an endorsement for wisdom.
Following are 8 that entrepreneurs embarking on an enterprise, whether it is the next Uber, starting a cleaning business in your local area, taking on a franchise or a multi-level selling ‘opportunity’, that you should consider.
Cliché 1. Know where, and who, you are.
Irrespective of the starting point, starting a business is a journey. If you are going to start a business, recognise that it will consume you if it is to be successful. It is not like being an employee, irrespective of results, at least for a while, you get paid to turn up.
Not so now.
Starting a business takes a heavy toll on not just your financial resources, but your resilience and personal relationships as well. Being prepared for the long hours, stress and uncertainty is a good start, you must know yourself well.
Cliché 2. Know where you want to go.
Many become tangled up in visions, missions, values, business purpose, their Why, and all the other ways that have become ‘popular’. All are valid, all have their place, but I ask my clients a simpler question; What does success look like? When you can answer that question, you have at least enough of an idea to start, but if the answer is purely financial, you need to do some more thinking.
Cliché 3. Have a plan.
There are lots of clichés about plans. Prominent amongst them are: ‘no plan ever survives first contact with the enemy‘, and ‘failing to plan, is planning to fail‘ and both are right. Point is that unless you have a plan, you have no chance of understanding and managing your progress towards the goal, which tactics worked, and which ones did not. All crucial pieces of information. There are many planning models, each with their own emphasis, and I always recommend that you use several in the thinking part of the planning process as a way to ensure that things do not get missed.
Cliché 4. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Planning is the easy part, the hard bit is to take action. Without action, nothing happens, nothing!
Taking the steps, getting outside your comfort zone is why you are going into business for yourself. Curiosity, an idea, recognition of a need you can fill, a problem you can solve, all are great reasons to go into business. All it takes is the first step, and it is always the hardest.
To add another cliché to the list: ‘hope is not a strategy’
Cliché 5. To succeed, you must have something others want.
Success in business is dependent on being able to deliver superior value to customers, at a cost that delivers you a margin. If you cannot deliver value, almost always the solution to a problem, which can be anything from a more efficient power station, to a better tasting tub of yoghurt, to on time delivery, or something no-one else can do, at a price the customer is happy to pay, you will not survive.
Tough but simple.
Cliché 6. People have to know you are there.
Even if you do have the next greatest thing, you cannot sell it without others who may need or benefit from your gizmo knowing about it. Marketing is essential. The process of gaining understanding how you will deliver value to whom, while making a profit on the way is make or break for every business, particularly a new one as generally you cannot afford to make mistakes. Selling skills are as important. Not only do you need to sell to your potential customers, but to the banks, your suppliers, and often even your partner. If you cannot sell, and do not want to learn how, do not go into business for yourself.
Cliché 7. Watch the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.
There are two aspects to this cliché. Cash is the lifeblood of every business, and you need to watch your cash the way a mother bear looks after her litter.
The first is to do a regular, I strongly recommend weekly, cash flow forecast. Make it a part of the way things are done in your business. At first it may seem strange, but it pays off, as you will always know your cash position, which will be a huge stress reliever. As a side benefit, trading while insolvent is illegal, and the simplest measure of solvency is can you pay your bills as they fall due.
The second is the behaviours you are setting out to build. Results come from the way things are done, as well as ensuring the right things are done, and if you want your staff to be as frugal with your money as you are, you have to build, that behaviour deliberately. A weekly cash flow forecast with the appropriate level of staff engagement and contribution is a very good way to start.
Cliché 8. Work on your business, not just in it.
The ability to see your business as others see it, customers, potential customers, and competitors, is essential to success. To have that external perspective, you must be able to extricate yourself from the day to day pressures of getting stuff done. It leads on to what could have been an addition the list, ‘do what is important, but not necessarily urgent’. Knowing what is important to the long term health and prosperity of the business is more about how others see you than it is about responding to those unimportant but seemingly urgent things that pop up every day.
So, remember, all that glitters is not gold, but good advice can be.