When I decided to start my own business back in 2013 I was so ready to get started and so overwhelmed with the thought of making a formal business plan that I just jumped in where I thought I wanted to be without setting up a foundation. While this is understandable, especially for mamas whose time is short, it left me with little ability to scale and no clear direction of what I needed to do to set my business up for success. The longer I spent in business the more I realized that while a formal business plan wasn’t necessary, a little bit of planning and a firm foundation were. Over the past years, I’ve identified five areas of a solid business foundation that need to be addressed in order for your business to not only survive but thrive.
The 5 Areas of a Solid Business Foundation Are:
- Legal and Financial
- Values and Mission
- Product or Service
Why do these areas matter?
Just like the house you live in requires a well defined and strong foundation, so does your business if you want to continue building and growing your business. While it’s possible to grow with a shaky foundation, it will take significantly more effort from you to keep everything upright than it will if you have a steady foundation on which to balance everything else. And as mamapreneurs we not only want to succeed but we want to do it as quickly as we can with as little extra effort as needed — after all, our strength and time reservoirs are tapped pretty dry to begin with!
One way our foundation can affect our progress is that a firm foundation gives us a clear direction. With a clearly identified foundation, you know the direction you are headed and can keep your focus there which allows you to advance as quickly as possible. By articulating who and how you are serving you can easily avoid “shiny object syndrome” and not get distracted by outside pursuits that you could do but that don’t align with your business objectives.
A strong foundation also allows you to bring in outside help which is the quickest and easiest way to increase the time being spent building your business. When you know the details of your business foundation it’s easier to get contractors, employees, and consultants up to speed on your business so that they too can help propel you forward. Delegating tasks that you don’t enjoy or don’t have time for is one of the simplest ways to improve your efficiency in your business. But you can’t tell someone else what your purpose is or what to do if you don’t know yourself!
Finally, having a clearly defined foundation means that all vital aspects of your business are easy to understand. When you understand your goals and purpose for your business your customers will be able to understand that with less effort as well which will naturally draw them to you. By solidifying these five areas in your business everything that you do will begin to appeal and draw in your ideal customer allowing your business to build upon itself.
How can you define your business foundation?
Solidifying the foundation of your business is ideally done before you get started but if you’re like me and skipped that part in your rush to get your business going already then it’s never too late to go back and define these areas. The best way that I’ve found to do this is to work through the five areas of your foundation purposefully. I’ve found that reviewing these areas in this order lets each area build upon the previous so that when you’ve clearly articulated each of these areas you are left with a foundation that can support the growth of your business.
Legal and Financial
Ideally, this area is set up once and then you don’t have to worry about it anymore. That is why you should address this area first. This piece is the bedrock of your business and essential to continued growth. Details that you should define in this area are your business entity, legal operation within your city and state such as licenses and taxes, and beginning a relationship with a trusted lawyer so that you are prepared in the future for any unexpected problems.
Values and Mission
Your values and mission will define your purpose and where your business is headed so it’s important to be clear about them. You’ll start by defining three to five values that you personally place importance on and want your business to exemplify also. And once your values are clear then you can create a mission for yourself or your customers that will be the guiding principle for every decision that you make as a businesswoman.
While you want to serve as many people as possible, without identifying your ideal client you will, in reality, end up serving no one. You should be clear about exactly who your ideal client is and the easiest way to do this is to create a fictitious person modeling your ideal client traits. Once your ideal client is defined then you’ll use this persona to filter every decision in your business by reflecting, “Would she be drawn to this?”
Product or Service
Once your client is defined then you can solidify what problem you are solving for her and how you are solving it. While some products are easy to find a problem that they solve (for instance accounting services) others may be difficult for you to articulate what problem they solve (like stationery). But if you can’t identify what problem you’re solving with your product or service then your client definitely won’t be able to identify it! And people don’t buy things that they don’t think they need.
Your communication is the most fluid of the foundational areas but the basics must be nailed down in order for you to change the particulars are the months and years go buy. While your methods of communication may change you need to be firm with how and what you are communicating with your customer. To do this you will need to know the guidelines that you’ll follow while communicating and what the best way to communicate with your ideal customer is.
Where do you go from here?
In order to review or create a firm foundation for your business, you should look at each of these five areas and make sure they are clear to you. By creating a business management binder or something similar you can keep all of the information that you define for these areas together and make it easy to reference them when needed. And if you want more details about these areas then you can join me for my next free masterclass on the topic by signing up below to receive notification when it is scheduled.