The opinions expressed by the collaborators of Emprenderos are their own.
As a mother of five children, I spend a lot of time, a lot! — talk about lessons learned and how to apply them to improve our lives and ourselves. It’s the same with my business as it is with my family: What lessons have I learned that I’ve learned that I can pass on to other solopreneurs to try to make things a little easier for them?
With so many entrepreneurs venturing out on their own these days (and yet 50% of them failing within the first few years), business owners and leaders need to make the most of the highly strategic steps they can take to increase your chances of beating the odds.
Top 5 MVPs (Most Valuable Processes) to Promote Business Growth
I recently wrote about the five biggest mistakes I made in running a successful business. But now it’s time for the flip side: the five most positive and profitable lessons I learned along the way to ensure growth instead of stagnation. I call these lessons my “MVPs” (Most Valuable Processes) because they are all actionable steps that businesses of any size can adopt and implement early on in their business. Each is “little” in terms of cost outlay, but all offer maximum ROI in terms of smart and intelligent application of immediately available resources.
MVP #1: Network, Network, Network!
This was by far the most influential skill I had in growing my business. I didn’t begin to understand account statements, balance sheets, and tax codes, but I knew how to talk and connect with people. To make them feel heard. To make them feel important.
This translates to virtually any industry: start by building a circle of contacts around you (strength matters more than size here), then watch it feed and expand automatically as people tell others about your service and your experience. It is people who create businesses, not the other way around. So pick up the phone. Attend events. Join professional associations. Find a mentor. When you arm yourself with networking skills, half the battle is won.
Related: Effective networking requires mastering these 5 skills
MVP #2: Have an inspired idea and a clear vision.
If you don’t wake up every morning excited about your core idea (what you’re bringing to your market), why should anyone else? Be original and inventive. Narrow your focus. Clarify your vision. Create a menu of services or a product line that speaks for itself.
Do people read mission statements on websites anymore? Maybe not. But write one anyway, more for yourself, to serve as your North Star. Achieve really clear about what makes your business exceptional and what makes it the right choice. Only when you have locked in your intention and are motivated by it daily, will you be able to communicate it to others effectively. When they can see your vision, they can help you make it happen.
MVP no. 3: Find the right people with the right skills.
People are everywhere. Skills are everywhere. But focusing on the right people with the right skills at the right time? This is the difference between having a talented staff and having the exact type of talent that will best serve your clientele in achieving their ultimate goals.
Don’t underestimate the passion factor here either. When you find employees or contractors who are passionate about what you do, they are open to you teaching them the art of your trade. As your skills grow, so will your business. It’s a constant trade-off between effectively leading your people to achieve company goals while allowing them to shine in their own areas of expertise.
As in your relationship, don’t settle. Hold out as long as you can for the right person for the role you have to fill. It will save you tons of disappointment and aggravation in the end.
Related: 6 Steps to Hiring the Right People to Build Effective Teams
MVP #4: Focus on the goal, not the process.
We’ve all heard of not seeing the forest for the trees, of getting lost in the details. Weeds will always be there, waiting to get you, so one of the best gifts you can give yourself is a daily reminder to focus on the big picture—that vision you brought up as the guiding star of your business.
When it’s your own business, you’re in full control of your final destination. You are the captain of your own ship. There are probably endless and sometimes uncertain routes to get there, but if you keep your eyes fixed on the horizon that you have set as your ultimate goal, which sea lanes you find yourself in as you travel, there are quite a few . Pick the right product that you excel at and pick the right people to bring it to market and you’ll be on your way.
MVP no. 5: Clearly describe your scope of work.
Perhaps nothing will save you more time and energy than specifying exactly what you are expected to do and deliver to your clients, in writing. The commercial contract is the least fun, but it’s vital nonetheless.
If you can afford to consult a contract lawyer about the right wording and terms, it’s worth it. If not, write your own simplified and transparent document template in plain English that you can adjust accordingly for each client. Either way, you must protect both you and your client by ensuring the rights of both parties; For your part, the point is not to allow the parameters of a project to slowly erode to the point of bursting, and to make sure you get paid for your work.
Make no mistake: the range variation is all too real. And eventually it will burn you. Stay out of the fire by enacting a contract to keep you and your staff on task, on time and on budget.
Network work Clarifying your vision. Assemble the right equipment. Stay committed to your main goal. Avoid fluency of scope. None of them cost anything, but each one is an invaluable asset that will fill your business’s treasure chest… By your side, of course. Never forget that you are the true treasure of your own solo venture!