Starting a business always seems a lot harder than it needs to be. Browsing the internet, it may seem as if you are 100 steps behind at all times but it doesn't have to be that way.
Having some focus for your life and your business will help you figure out what to spend your energy on, which tactics make the most sense in your business model and for your customers, and which opportunities to pass up or take on.
To help create that focus, you have to know what you are working towards and, to do that, there are some things you can think about before even registering your business.
To structure these thoughts, you can use a Business Model Canvas. I have always been a fan of the idea behind the Business Model Canvas, a one-page overview of your business model that you can hang on your office wall and look to for guidance & focus, but I believe it's incomplete. The most foundational element of all - your vision - was never a part of the original canvas so I have taken it upon myself to tweak it a bit.
Before officially registering your business, before taking on the very first client, before doing anything really in your business, you need to know why you do what you do.
The importance of your vision has been made clear by Simon Sinek in his most-watched TEDx Talk with 5,5 million views and counting,
Over the years, I have seen how much a solid vision can help and support you. When I started my first business, a wedding planning company, I tweaked and tweaked my vision but it always felt a little off, like I hadn't really internalised it. While I learned a lot when running that business, I would never get to a point where it all made sense and really clicked for me.
With Bliss & Gold, though, I feel as if my vision has always been buried deep in my soul. It's hard to put into words sometimes, hard to accept that some parts are also part of it because they make me feel more vulnerable, but the vision was internalised way before I even tried to write it down.
This proves to me that your vision is more than just a bunch of words on paper. It needs to be a feeling, powerful and strong, something that drives you when things get tough and something that guides your decisions.
However, having your vision stuck in your head alone is not enough either.
Your vision is the heart and soul of your company so it definitely needs to be in writing. Even when it's just you, having clarity on your vision and embracing every part of it will help you speak to your niched audience. And, when you start growing your team, your people will be a lot more motivated when they share your vision and internalise it. Plus, it will help you to choose the right people for your team because they need to believe in your vision too.
As a business owner, it's easy to feel pressured into quitting your day job and running your business fulltime. I always thought that not wanting to leave my day job was a sign of fear, because that's what the online business world told me it was.
As soon as I started embracing the fact that I loved both my job and my business, I started to see where they could align, and I stopped feeling bad about the progress and choices I was making. Bliss & Gold was founded to help other business owners who are still rocking a side hustle feel that same acceptance about their life and their choices. I embrace everyone who cannot give fulltime focus to their business, and who still want to feel good about the progress they are making, regardless of the circumstances that make it this way.
You are worthy of acceptance, you are not alone, and you definitely can be successful!
Here's the short-and-sweet version of it:
When struggling with a decision about a new project, a new client, whether or not to sell a new service, or even whether to respond to emails in odd hours, this Business Model Canvas can guide you. When you are clear on your vision, your niche and your partners, you can use the Business Model Canvas as a guide.
It’s not always easy to act only in accordance with your vision though. Sometimes you might land a crazy opportunity that does not 100% match your vision but then ask yourself the following question: will this action (1) have no (or a limited) impact on my reputation, (2) help me reach my niched audience on a larger scale, and (3) will my (future) audience understand the decision I make today? If you answer all three positively, it might be worth it to consider it after all.
This is your business, nothing is set in stone, so you get to make every call according to what feels best to you!
When you have your vision clearly defined, it’s a lot easier to figure out what the main goal should be of your business. You can figure it out by asking yourself one short question.
Success is different for everyone, and a successful business is something different even than having success. You are the only one who can define this for yourself.
Having your main goal clearly defined will help you to know exactly when you’ve reached it. The power of having a clear main goal, is that you can focus on when it is enough for you instead of continuously striving for more.
The most essential question, and one that's different for everyone, is what success means to you. It can be to have enough time off so you can spend more time with your family, to be running a 7-figure business, to get some money on the side while homseschooling your kids, ...
You get to decide what success means to you!
Sometimes, it’s hard to put into words though and you just feel it. Another way to look at this, is to think about your ideal life. What would a day in your ideal life look like? What would your business be like? Why do you feel successful when you think about this ideal life? What is the thing you are chasing that defines your life at that point as ideal?
To frame your main goal, think about the timeframe that you give yourself to reach this ideal life - or your version of success. Do you want to reach that point in 1 year, 5 years, 20 years? What feels like a solid amount of time for you to run a successful business?
You may think that, the loftier your goals, the more time you might want to give yourself. However, you may dream of owning a 7-figure business and want to get there in 2 years. Again, you get to decide what works for you!
Timing is very much linked to your definition of success. To me, for example, I always envisioned myself 5 to 10 years from now, working in my home office and rocking a service-based business while spending time with my kids and husband. I always thought that that was the life I was called to create.
But that's not my dream for Bliss & Gold right now. Bliss & Gold will be successful to me when I am able to combine it with my day job and I am able to focus on the right things in all areas of my life. It will be successful when I am helping entrepreneurs find a place where they feel like they belong and are valued. And it will be successful when I am not only helping entrepreneurs find focus when working with me, but also when looking at the free resources I have to offer.
That doesn't mean my future ideal life is gone. It just means that my definition of success has been refined for Bliss & Gold because I believe Bliss & Gold can reach that success in 2 years. And, when I reach it, I will think about the next milestone and go through this exercise again. Might be that the time will have come to start working on that 5- to 10-year version of my ideal life, especially if we would be thinking about kids at that point in time. For now, I love the ideal life I see for Bliss & Gold though and I will work every day to achieve it!
It may seem like knowing your vision and the main goal of your business would be enough. However, for a really solid base, thinking about your non-negotiables and core values can add to your focus even more.
Your non-negotiables are just that, the things you will never consider dropping in order to move forward.
Often, business owners are afraid of reaching their goals, of moving towards their ideal life because they are scared of the sacrifices this will ask of them. When you are clear on your non-negotiables though, you can always look to them for guidance.
One of my own fears as a business owner is losing my friends and family. So, one of my non-negotiables is that I never want to put my business before my friends and family. That doesn't mean that I won't work weekends sometimes, or spend a night on back-to-back calls with clients. It does mean, however, that when I choose to spend time with my friends and family, I leave my phone in my purse and I focus my attention on them. I don't check my emails or socials, I take my time for these meetings and never rush them or make them feel like I'm in a hurry, I actively listen to them and I am mindful of the joy I feel when I am with them. It also means scheduling back-to-back calls instead of having them spread throughout the week.
Another non-negotiable is acting ethically. While one of my favourite courses at Uni taught me that Business Ethics is contradictory in its very essence, I do strive to act ethically in my business. I don't have a bullshit CSR policy or anything like that, I just strive to treat my customers the way I want to be treated, I value transparency and openness in my communication, and I try to give back whenever I can.
Usually linked very closely to your non-negotiables are your core values. These are things you inherently believe and it can help to keep them central to your business.
You can choose words or write out actual phrases, whatever works best for you.
My core values are:
Let's say someone would ask me to hop on a podcast that promotes profit over people and has stories about business owners sacrificing everything for their business, including their loved ones. Not only would this impact my reputation, I wouldn't reach my audience and my own audience would never understand why I would believe I belonged on that podcast.
This goes back to the three questions you could ask yourself when not sure about taking a certain action. Remember, will this action (1) have no (or a limited) impact on my reputation, (2) help me reach my niched audience on a larger scale, and (3) will my (future) audience understand the decision I make today?
Your audience gets you because your vision, your main goal, your non-negotiables and your core values are aligned with each other and because they understand them. Knowing these elements can help you stay true to your core so people will start to trust you.
Remember though, nothing is set in stone. Your life, your needs, your wants, your wishes, your business, it can all change. Feel free to update your Business Model Canvas when you feel like you are losing that connection with your company. As long as you are not limiting your dreams and your imagination, you get to decide what your dream life looks like!