Thinking of launching a business or product? You’d be surprised how many vital steps get missed by the dreamers and schemers. Think about it: love is blind. When you’re really attached to an idea, maybe even in love with it, there are things you overlook. Unfortunately, these can be pretty big things. So, save yourself time, hassle, and frustration, and do these six things before you invest a ton of time and effort.
- Make sure there’s a market. You may be in love with your idea, but if there’s no market for it, it may be better left in your idea journal. Do some quick market research, ask around, do a Google search for similar products and businesses, and see if people want or need what you have to offer. Doing this upfront can save you a ton of time and money and keep you from investing your resources in something that’s not going to do well.
- Come up with a list of names. The name of your business or product is so important and will set the tone and give a first impression of your business. Choose wisely! We’re in the age of information overload. If your potential customer or consumer can’t glance at the name or see it in passing and know something about what the company or product is or what it does, they’re not going to go out of their way to investigate further. Your name should be easy to understand, convey something relevant, and pique the curiosity. If your name is something completely irrelevant or non-descriptive, even if you think it’s cute or catchy, it’s probably not going to be memorable or effective.
- Google the names you’ve come up with. There are few ‘creative’ and ‘unique’ business names in the home services industry. Whatever your industry, make sure you Google the name ideas you have before falling in love. If you’ve slapped your first name in front of the words “chimney services,” “plumbing services,” etc., you’d better be sure there isn’t a business in your area with a similar business name or you’ll have a whole host of nightmares once your business is launched.
- Check the availability of the domain name. Even if you’re not 100% sure which name you want to go with yet, go to godaddy.com and check the availability of the domain names for each of your ideas. If they’re available, buy them right then and there. If they’re not, scratch the names off your list unless you’re willing to pay top dollar to buy them from someone. Most available domain names cost around $12, and even if you’ve only whittled down your list to five and can’t make up your mind, the cost to buy all five domain names will be a lot less than the cost of wasted hours because you didn’t check the availability of the domain name before you fell in love and started branding.
- Check the availability of the social handles. Almost as important as the availability of the domain name for your new business or product is the availability of the social handles. Go to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. and make sure the handles for your new business or product idea are available. The last thing you want is to have inconsistency across your social platforms or some impossible to remember or figure out handle, all because you didn’t check to see if the one you wanted was taken on each of the major social platforms.
- Talk with others in your trusted circle. Remember our earlier conclusion: love is blind. When you’re in love with a product or business idea, you may miss things, important things — that’s why it’s a good idea to involve others early and get their input. Different people in different age groups with different perspectives who are less attached to the idea than you are may see things you don’t or think of things you overlook in the excitement. If you bring trusted people in early in the game, it will only save you time and frustration. After all, two heads (or three or four) are better than one.
The year is coming to an end, and it’s time to reflect. It’s time to ask yourself: Do I want next year to be different or do I want more of the same? Do I want to grow or stay at this level? Is there something I’d like to work on that could make me a better leader? Are there classes or certifications that could make us a better company that offers better service? Is there a recurring issue in our company that we need to nip in the bud? Is it time to put systems in place?
Asking these questions and reflecting on the answers can bring enlightenment and awareness, but don’t stop at reflection — commit to the change you want to see. Don’t make a resolution — make a commitment. Don’t decide that you’ll try to do something, decide that you will do something.
We’ve heard the greatest minds say this, including our little green friend, Yoda: “Do or do not. There is no try.” But knowing this doesn’t stop us from pretending, does it? It doesn’t stop us from half-heartedly setting resolutions or goals, without any sincere or thoughtful plan for execution. We do it all the time. We say “I’m going to start eating better.” But do we clean out the fridge and make sure that the house is filled with healthy food options? Or do we keep the bag of Cheetos conveniently within reach and justify ordering pizza “before the coupons expire?” There’s a difference between committing to change and hoping for change.
Intention Vs. Determination: What’s The Difference?
Think of a time when you really wanted to do something; when you felt like you’d just die if you didn’t do it. Did you do it? Now think of all the New Year’s resolutions you’ve made and not kept over the years. There was a difference in your mindset and your level of commitment, wasn’t there? What was the difference? One was a determination, while the other was an intention.
Intention will get you through the easy times, but when things get hard, you need more than that. You need resolve. You need commitment. You need determination. Intention only gets you halfway there. With intention, if it’s easy you may do it; with determination, even if it’s not easy, you’ll do it, or at least give it everything you’ve got. And really, that’s what determines your success: whether you push through in the hard times.
So put some thought and purpose behind 2018. Think about the changes you’d like to make, the goals you’d like to reach, and the things you’d like to accomplish, but personally and professionally — but take it further. Plan how you’re going to get there and put safeguards in place to help you maintain determination and drive when the going gets tough.
Tips To Help You Succeed This Coming Year
Here are some tips as you head into 2018 with intention and commitment:
- Brainstorm and write out some actionable steps you can take to get you closer to your goal. Start small and detailed. Breaking a goal down into actionable steps can take time, but the thought and planning invested up front will pay off greatly over the long run. If you only give yourself big, vague steps, you’ll feel overwhelmed and a bit aimless and unsure of what to do next. Visit this list regularly.
- Tell friends and family about your plans and ask them to hold you accountable and provide encouragement and support. We all need encouragement and a little extra push from time to time, but if no one knows what you’re trying to achieve, no one will be there to provide that support and push when you need it. So, share your vision and your plan. Tell your employees, your family, your friends — someone you know you can count on to provide tough love and hold you to your word.
- Start and end your day with focus and intention. Whether you write it on your bathroom mirror or just take a moment to think about your goal when you first wake up, you need to make sure it’s front and center in your mind at the start and close of your day. Keeping your eyes on the prize will help you stay focused and driven, day in and day out.
- Do it for future you. It may seem kind of silly, but think of the future you when you don’t feel like working towards your goal. Think of, not just reaching your goal, but how that will feel and what it will mean for your life, your family, your employees, and your community. With that in mind, you’ll have an easier time seeing the hard work through.
- Celebrate milestones and successes along the way. Don’t just celebrate when you reach the big goal — celebrate all the little victories, too. Taking the time to reflect on the progress you’ve made and enjoy how far you’ve come will help prevent burnout and give you a real sense of accomplishment that you might otherwise lack. Even if you don’t reach your end goal in the time frame set, if you celebrate all the successes along the way, you’ll see how much closer your hard work is getting you to your goal and have the zeal to keep up the hard work.
Are you ready to get started? An old Chinese Proverb puts it this way: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” There’s no time like the present — get to work! Best wishes for a great year ahead. See you in 2018!
A healthy level of competition can be good for us. It can even be a business boost and make us better. But the opposite is true of obsessive “winner takes all” or enemy-based competition. This type of competition can actually distract us from our own business and our own customers, make us feel like there can only be one winner (all else are losers), and incite fear-based and scarcity thinking.
It’s this very notion that there’s not enough to go around and that our competitors are our enemies that can change our experience of running a business from an adventure where every challenge makes us better and improves our industry into a cutthroat exercise in greed.
How much time do you spend thinking about your competition? Do you view your competitors as enemies that you have to crush? Do you think the only way to get what you want is to take it from others? Do you believe you’re either THE winner or just another loser in business? Do you let market share determine how “successful” you are? Let’s take a minute to look at how and why this type of thinking can actually hinder your success.
Thinking in terms of crushing your competitors or getting more market share leads to decisions that have short-term value, as opposed to long-term value. If everything comes down to market share, you’ll be chasing goals that don’t actually improve your business or your industry. And although you may initially get fired up and focused with this type of mindset, you’ll eventually get burnt out and lose sight of what you really set out to do. Motivation that stems from a desire to make your business into the best business it can be is a lot stronger and longer-lasting than competitor-based or market share motivation, and it’s what’s going to take you through the tough times.
In the race with your competition, you’ll be inclined to believe that being first is all that matters. Well, it’s not! Sometimes, it’s actually beneficial to let someone else be the first to do something. You get to learn from their mistakes and work on improving a model, rather than reinventing the wheel. Think about it: Apple wasn’t the first company to build a computer. Virgin wasn’t the first company to launch a commercial airliner. Yet, these companies took something that had already been done and found a way to do it better. If they had been focused solely on crushing those in their market or gaining market share, they would have bought out all of their competitors and missed a great opportunity to improve their industries and experience true success.
If your focus is 100% on your competitors and defeating them, you’ll likely turn a blind eye to the things that could truly make or break your business, like internal communication. According to data collected from a 5-year study by Bain, 94% of business challenges are internal. Figuring out solutions to many of these challenges is vital to maintaining and sustaining a business – much more vital than crushing competitors. But how will you solve these problems if you’re so focused on “winning” and beating out your competitors that you never even identify them? You can’t.
So take some time to look at your business and your motivation. Ask yourself whether or not it’s time to change the way you view your competition. Ask yourself how you can improve your business and the way you serve your customers, simply by shifting your focus. Make 2017 the year that you focus on your business and how you can improve, instead of focusing on your competitors. And remember, there’s room for all of us at the table, so move over and stay focused on what’s on your plate!
If you read a lot of articles on entrepreneurship and leadership, you likely see this question all the time. The question that’s designed to make YOU question whether or not you have what it takes; whether or not you’re in the right business; whether or not you’re worthy of chasing down this dream of yours; whether or not your dream is even worth chasing down.
Do you wake up excited about your business?
If this question triggers your inner critic and self-doubt, you’re not alone. But I’d like to challenge all the “experts” who sit behind their laptops all day (when they’re not working on a new Medium post, biking local trails, or drinking craft beer); those who encourage the rest of us to mistakenly believe that if we aren’t 100% excited, 100% of the time, we’re doing the wrong thing or we’re the wrong ones to do it. Full disclosure: I’m not a traditional optimist.
The Reality Is…You’re Normal
Any realistic, transparent business owner will tell you that some days are the bees knees and they couldn’t imagine doing anything else. But they’ll also tell you that some days feel like nightmares that end with them lying in bed at night, eyes wide open, stomach in knots, with thoughts of calling it quits. That’s normal. No matter what you’re doing – whether you’re living your dream and doing exactly what you were made to do or not – you’re going to have good days and bad days. When a day, week, or month kicks your ass, it’s normal to wake up feeling less than thrilled about getting to work. This doesn’t mean you lack passion, talent, or grit (the hottest new word in entrepreneurship) – It just means you’re human and you’re in a rough patch.
Ask A Better Question
When you find yourself in the middle of a rough patch and read an article that asks “Do you wake up excited about your business?” it can be anything but inspiring and motivating.
Carter (one of our co-founders) is famous for saying it’s all about the questions we’re asking. Our questions frame our answers. What we really need in these tough times is a different question.
When you’re feeling discouraged, don’t ask yourself the question, “Do I wake up excited about my business?” You already know the answer is, “Not today.” And that’s ok. Instead, ask yourself, “What can I learn from where I sit right now? What is this part of my journey showing me?” Push it further. Ask yourself, “What needs to change and how can I change it?” And if you don’t know the answer to this, ask yourself, “Why aren’t I excited about my business when I wake up?”
When we ask different questions, we get different answers. And the biggest difference between the question we see plastered across entrepreneurship blogs and these questions above is that the latter encourage learning, growth, and change, while the former encourage stagnation, discouragement, and complacency – the killers of many businesses and business dreams.
So next time you feel like you’re ready to call it quits, don’t buy into the delusion that you’re somehow cut from a different cloth and not qualified or justified in your pursuit – instead, ask better questions and see what you can learn from the bad days and how you can turn it around.
Chances are, you’re not going back through and adding up the money you could be bringing in from service estimates that weren’t followed up on, but if you want a reality check, you should. Do you know how much earning potential your business is wasting by not following up after service estimates?
Think of a number…think bigger. We’ve heard successful businesses quote six digit figures in unfollowed up services. I don’t care who you are, that’s a lot of money. So what’s keeping you from following up? Is it the fear of bugging your customers by not taking their “No” as definitive? Well, unless they’ve straight up spelled that out for you, you’re making a mistake.
The truth is, there are myriad reasons why a customer may turn down a service, and you shouldn’t think of it as definitive. Here are just a few reasons a customer may initially say “No” to a service.
Timing isn’t right. We all want our homes to be as safe, efficient, and attractive as possible – but when it comes to home services, timing is everything. Perhaps your customer had family coming, a baby on the way, or a surgery planned when you provided the estimate for the work, and they simply couldn’t make time to have techs in their home. Life has so many variables, and when you’re providing a service that requires customers to open up their homes to the possibility of people coming in and out, or messes being made, you have to remember that timing is everything.
Does this mean that the service is unwanted? No. Follow up at a later date and you may find that the customer is ready to schedule. If you take their initial inaction as a sign that they aren’t interested in having the service performed, you won’t reach out to them when the timing is right.
Priorities aren’t favorable. As a homeowner, you want everything to be perfect NOW. But sometimes that’s not possible. Sometimes you have to prioritize the services you want done and the projects you want to take on so that perfecting your home is manageable.
Is it possible that when you provided the estimate for the service, your customer was getting estimates for other services as well? Is it possible they had an internal priority list and your service simply didn’t make it to the top? Reach out to them. If you don’t keep the service at the forefront of their mind, it may continue to fall below other home improvement priorities. You don’t have to be pushy – just reach out!
Finances aren’t right. Did you ever want something that you just couldn’t swing financially? Of course you have! We all have! Sometimes it’s the same for your customers. They know they need the service, they want the service, but they just can’t make it happen within their budget at the present. But finances change. Just because they can’t swing it today doesn’t mean they can’t swing it a few months from now. Recognize that finances play a big part in our choices and keep in touch with your customer. Everything may align with your next customer touch. But if you aren’t following up, you’ll never know.
The service was unplanned. Did an inspection reveal the need for some major repairs? There’s a good chance your customer wasn’t prepared for that news and just couldn’t manage it at the time. This is an example of when the service denial may have been a combination of timing, priorities, and finances. If the need for repairs came as a surprise, you have to allow your customer time to figure out when timing and finances may be favorable, and where on their list of priorities the service may lie. Give them a little space and then reach out.
Take Time To Follow Up – Who Knows What You’ll Learn
Are you following up on service estimates? Make it a regular part of each quarter. At the very least, you’ll get an idea of why your customers aren’t scheduling, which may even help you improve your business.
Looking for a seamless follow-up process that makes it easy and effortless for you to cash in on open estimates? Check out Closing Commander.