Every business needs a solid foundation to build on. It’s the groundwork that holds the rest of the business up, through both growth and tough times. And it’s what you need to fall back on if you need to tear it down, remodel and rebuild.
Sadly, no one really teaches you how to build a foundation for your business when you get started. Sure, you know that you need an email address, packages or services, a way to invoice clients and a way to deliver your work. But what about all the other components that go into running a successful business (whether it’s online or offline)?
You need to know where your business is going and what it stands for, as well as how you’re going to get there. You need to build a business foundation.
What is a business foundation?
The foundation of your business is what supports all the other parts of your business. It’s what you stand for as an organization and where you’re going–today and in the future.
Your foundation also helps you determine how you’re going to get to where you want to be. What does it look like inside your business and what constitutes success for you and your clients?
When you have a strong foundation in your business, running your business is just easier. The guiding principles and systems you developed serve as your success plan so it’s easier to outsource and scale. Which means it’s easier to grow and reach your goals.
What are the components of a business foundation?
Like the foundation of a house, your business foundation can include many components. They’re the groundwork for everything else that you do. Take your time and develop them with care and they’ll serve you well for years to come.
Mission, Vision, Values
One of the most important pieces of your foundation is your mission, vision and values, and I recommend developing this first (and revisiting it often). It’s truly what sets the tone for your business and everything you do in it.
Your mission tells you, your team and your audience what your business is and what it does. Your values state what your business stands for. Your vision is your guide to where you want to go in the future. Share your mission and vision with your audience and talk about them often; they’re one of the things that will set you apart from others.
Once your mission, vision and values are firmly in place, you need to have strategic objectives to guide your time working ON your business. What do you need to focus on right now to make the biggest impact and to reach your vision?
Here’s the thing with strategic objectives though: They’re going to change, and that’s okay. Every stage in your business means you need to focus on different things. When you’re just starting out, you need to focus on making money–your business growth and financials. As you start to grow, you may want to scale so you can make more money without working yourself to death. At some point, visibility will be your primary objective so you can get eyes on your business and your message.
Strategic objectives give you direction in the here-and-now so you know what to do to grow and streamline when you’re not working IN your business.
Key Performance Indicators
How will you measure success (or progress) in your business? Key performance indicators (KPIs) are the numbers you want to look at regularly to make sure you’re achieving your vision. Things like sales revenue, conversion rates, email open rates, social media subscribers and followers, customer service response times, etc. are just a few of the things you can track.
Not every business needs the same KPIs though, so customize your own dashboard to meet your needs. And keep in mind that some metrics, like social media following and email subscribers, are often vanity metrics that don’t always matter. Decide what does matter to achieve your vision and track those numbers.
Businesses are complex creatures, so there are other pieces that you need to build on top of your foundation, including your team growth strategy, offers, marketing, visibility, communications channels and customer experience. While these are all mainstays in a business, they’re a bit more fluid because they’ll shift as your business grows and develops. Think of these as the plumbing and electrical work–not as permanent as the foundation, but vital pieces of your organization (unless you want to live in the 1800s).
What parts of your business foundation should you develop first?
Hands-down, the first thing you need to address when developing your business foundation is your mission, vision and values. Without those firmly in place, you won’t know why you’re building your business and no one will know what you stand for.
Use this free resource to help you get started, then revisit your mission, vision and values at least twice a year to ensure you’re not only on track but that you haven’t shifted where you’re going
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