Here’s an example. Someone came to me frustrated that they are having trouble getting their small service business off the ground (meaning that they are able to make a few thousand dollars per month in revenue, but they can’t seem to grow from there).
I asked about sales conversions… “I’m not sure. Sometimes it seems like it goes really well and sometimes not at all.” Ok. variable one is that there isn’t a proven sales process performed by someone with a proven track record using that process.
I asked about lead generation. “Well, I’ve tried a bunch of different things once, but haven’t found a steady was of getting leads.” Variable number 2. The method of getting leads is not proven.
I asked about who their best customer is. “Well, someone who will pay!” Variable number 3. What is the specific description of someone who is your typical customer. “Oh, well that’s easy. They are wealthy travelers who have the problem of not being familiar with the cities they would like to travel to.” How many of these people have you met and interviewed? ”1 or 2.” Variable number 4. The ‘ideal customer’ here is utterly theoretical. It must be proven that there is a group of people that actually fit your description, want what you have, and are reachable by some predictable means.
I ask about what service they provide. Taking a page out of my book and reading it upside down, they say “What ever the customer wants.” Variable number 5.
What is your pricing model? Variable number 6. (Most people in this position have an unproven pricing model – based on what they would LIKE to have happen, not based on what has really worked for other businesses)
Have you been successful delivering this exact service for another company? “Umm..” Variable number 7. Unproven = unknown. Unknown = variable.
Have you run your own business successfully before?
“Well, yes. But I didn’t make a lot of money if that is what you mean.” Variable number 8.
I ask about the goals of this business “I want to make $500k per year…” Has a business like yours ever done that before? Variable number 9.
Can you solve the equation?
So far, I’m looking at balancing an equation that looks roughly like this:
(A(B+C) / D*(E-F)) / ((G*H / 100-I) = $500,000!
If you are unproven as a small business owner, try to reduce as many as the other variables as possible so that you can know where to start to “crack the code”.
There are no points for originality in business.
Money you make doing the same thing that other people do spends just as well as money you make trying something new. Replicate other people’s working businesses. If it’s not working, replicate it more closely and carefully.
If you want to innovate, pick ONE area and make everything else a constant. Like all aspects of pride and preference, innovation is earned as a right of the successful. Sometimes, a desire to be different is a desire to fail.
Otherwise no one – not even I – can help you figure out what to change, fix, or improve…