My Reflections: The Groundwork and Refined Thinking

Let’s take stock of what has been covered so far in my previous blogs in this series about my journey. So far the following has been defined:

STEP 1: My Dream Question

What if we could eliminate all avoidable small business failures globally?”

STEP 2: My Purpose

“Transforming the experience of small business owners who feel as though they are drowning in quick sand in relation to the numbers to that of feeling INVINCIBLE!”

STEP 3: My BIG Game

“To help at least 100,000 small businesses globally to improve their profit by at least 20% over a 12-month period by 2020”

STEP 4: My BIG Game Rules

  1. To have helped at least 100,000 small businesses globally improve their profit by at least 20% over 12 months by 2020
  2. To have contributed to raising the financial/profit awareness levels of 2.5M small businesses globally across the same timeframe.
  3. To have the collective profit improvement that our customers have achieved using our system result in the generation of an additional £10BN of profits/economic prosperity from a before and after perspective.
  4. To have provided in excess of £12M (approx. $20M) worth of funding through an associated ‘Profit Incubator’ social enterprise supporting the next generation of business success stories.
  5. To have 80% of our customers say they would recommend our platform to other small business owners.

I found deciding on the above hugely motivating, exciting and very inspiring but I was left thinking that it was all well and good having these massive ambitions but how on earth was I going to create a scalable solution to achieve it. I certainly didn’t have anything readily available as I largely worked with clients on a 1 to 1 basis at the time. There was no way on earth I could work with 100,000 business on a 1 to 1 basis within 5 years – it would not be humanly possible especially when I had already decided that building a people heavy business was not a route that interested me or I wanted to go down.

At this point, it was time to put my creative thinking hat on and start digging deep to brainstorm a potential solution that would allow me to replicate how I worked with clients currently on a 1 to 1 basis but using technology and software to replicate it in a scalable way to meet my stated objectives.

The process I went through here was as follows:

  1. Started with defining the problem further from the customers’ perspective

“If you’re a small business owner, you’ll know what it’s like. It takes all your energy to keep the business running. You’re constantly under pressure to keep things ticking over, keep your staff happy if you have them, and keep customers coming through the door.

You’ve got your eyes fixed on everyday operations, and that means you’re not always able to see the BIG PICTURE. Something’s holding your business back…  

You find yourself admitting that:

  • You don’t have enough time
  • You can’t deal with all the issues
  • You often run out of steam by the end of the day

And the result of that is… you lose sight of one of the MOST IMPORTANT ASPECTS of your business – THE NUMBERS!”

  1. Created an ideal target customer persona

Ideal target customers will have the following characteristics:

  • Micro business by definition
  • 0 – 9 employees
  • Existing business at least 1 year old – must have a base to improve from.
  • Owner managed.
  • Have an awareness of the importance of “numbers and finance” but not sure how to apply it.
  • £25,000 to £2,000,000 in Revenue
  • Personal development is important to them
  • Progressive by nature
  • Underperformance is affecting their lives in some emotional or tangible way – feeling the ‘pain’
  • The result would mean something becomes possible for them at a personal level – lifestyle, family, personal, other.
  • Love what they do and are good at what they do – recognise their limitations – open for help
  • Age 25 to 55
  • Online savvy
  • English speaking countries initially – US/UK/Australia – Parts of Europe
  • Registered with 1 or more SME focussed “support” websites/forums
  1. Looked at very carefully how I currently worked with clients and documented the key stages on the journey.

What I identified from this exercise was that there were 5 key stages a customer would go through over 12 months when working with me. They are as follows:

Stage 1 – Looking at where they are now which involves having an objective review of their business for its’ strengths and weaknesses across the key areas of Business Health, Brand & Marketing, Financial Awareness & Sales Efficiency. All areas are important so a balanced review needs to occur.

Stage 2 – Cleaning up any legacy mess and ensuring their bookkeeping/accounting records are fully complete and up to date. This is to ensure that the right foundations are in place for on-going reporting of numbers etc

Stage 3 – Creating a profit acceleration plan by month for the next 12 months

Stage 4 – Reporting on progress every month for the 12 months of the plan.

Stage 5 – Reviewing the outcome at the end of the 12 months for the results looking at what has worked and what hasn’t so that the learning can be taken on board in setting the new plan for the next 12 months

With all this information to hand, I set about brainstorming a solution that ticked all of the boxes I wanted to tick. I approached the next stage on the basis that as I wasn’t looking to do something that created a technological breakthrough, that anything I wanted functionality wise would be possible. I didn’t want to impose any perceived artificial limitations on myself at this stage of the journey.

So how do you currently work with your clients or customers? Have you taken the time to identify and document the various stages? Have you built up a rich persona of what your ideal customer looks like? These insights could be hugely valuable to you as you seek to grow your business in targeting your ideal customers.

Next Instalment To Come: My Reflections: Defining the Ultimate Solution

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