The Four-Key Framework for Launching Your Small Business
So, you have a business idea.
It's an amazing service or product that you've been thinking about, and you’ve finally decided that you want to share your offering with the world.
First of all, congratulations! Making the decision to break free of the mold and set out on your own is a brave choice. Done well, it’s also a rewarding choice.
Where to begin?
Maybe you've already done some research on how to get things started. Perhaps you're overwhelmed by the volume of resources out there and the many potential paths you can go down to get started.
The fact is, there’s A LOT out there. But when you narrow it down and really focus, you’ll find that there are four key areas where you’ll need to put in work now in order to get started.
And the best part? These four key areas have nothing to do with a 15 page business plan or growing your Instagram audience to 10,000+ followers.
Let’s get started.
Mindset. What does this mean to you?
It's an area that’s often overlooked when it comes to starting your own business, but it’s important.
Mindset officially refers to the established set of attitudes held by someone, or a mental attitude or inclination.
Mindset is how you interact with your thoughts and emotions, and how you allow these thoughts and emotions to either guide or block you in life.
Let's talk about thoughts.
We sometimes mistake the ideas, stories and messages that go through our heads as an accurate interpretation of our reality.
But this isn’t always the case.
Let's say that after a few weeks of deciding you're going to launch your business, you start experiencing thoughts of doubt. You start feeling as if you're not ready.
These thoughts start spinning like a broken record that you can't shut off.
You’ve allowed these thoughts to take control of your mind and you go down the path of visualizing all of your fears and all of the potential for failure.
Soon you start to feel the emotions of what you're imagining - all of the scenarios that make you feel scared, anxious, nervous, and small.
But ask yourself this. What do your current thoughts have to do with the reality of your business?
Your business doesn't even exist yet. And yet somehow, your brain has decided to have thoughts of failure. Instead of deciding to imagine all the possible scenarios of success, your brain has decided to focus on all the many ways things could potentially implode.
This is often our brain trying to protect us. Fear is a tool that our body and brain uses to keep us safe. If there's a mountain lion coming after you, the fear that you feel serves the purpose of getting you out of there fast so you can survive.
Interestingly, the fear we experience when we’re about to do something new that is completely physically safe, but makes us emotionally or socially vulnerable, can feel the same way.
We can override this fear, because we're not actually in danger. In fact, the scenarios that we are playing out in our heads aren't even real. They haven’t happened. They may never happen.
Think about that.
By focusing on all of the potential ways to fail with your new business, you are deciding to experience a negative reality along with the negative feelings that come with it, that aren’t even your current reality.
Some people like to think that this is preparing themselves for the worst. Or imagining the worst case scenario.
But really, it's putting yourself through pain and discomfort that is unnecessary and focusing on the wrong end of the spectrum of potential outcomes.
You are in control of many of your thoughts.
So look at your mindset and see where your thoughts are resting. Identify what you're spending the majority of your time thinking about. If you're focusing more on the many possible outcomes of failure in starting your own business, you need to pivot.
Remind yourself that you haven’t failed, and with the right strategy, action and commitment, you’re just as likely to succeed.
Focus on the positive potential outcomes and the thoughts that support productivity.
Focus your thoughts on what is in alignment with your goals, not those that detract from them.
Mindset is a big part of what I work through with my clients, even those that have an abundance of optimism and confidence in their business.
The truth is, we all experience some version of thoughts that are self-limiting, like imposter syndrome, fear of judgment, addiction to perfectionism and more.
By beginning to develop a healthy and motivated mindset as you start your business, you’re better setting yourself up for success before you even get a plan in place.
When I talk strategy, I'm not talking about a giant business plan that you need to spend three to six months on. When I talk strategy, I’m talking about an efficient, lean way to align on hyper specific goals you'll use to stay focused and on track.
For the purposes of this efficient, action-oriented framework, there are a few things you need to have when starting your business: financial goals, offering structure and pricing, operational and offering MVPs, and your One Big Goal.
While the below list is just an overview, you will learn exactly how to determine your goals, offerings, pricing and MVPs when you work with me in my one-on-one business launch coaching program.
What is your monthly income goal for your business?
Do you need money now to survive? Are you looking to transition over time into full-time self employment from an existing job? Or are you more impact driven, caring less about the money and more about making up your costs?
Having an energizing initial monthly income goal will help shape your offering, pricing, MVP and One Big Goal.
Next you’ll want to decide the shape or structure in which you’ll provide your offering.
For example, if your offering is consulting, will you work on a rolling hourly basis? A flat-fee project basis with a set start and end date? Or will you opt to go the retainer route and receive a set monthly fee each month, with a minimum 3-month commitment?
These are examples of different ways of structuring your offering or providing your consulting services. Whether it's a product or a service, you’ll want to take into consideration which of these best aligns with your income goals and the time that you have available.
When considering your pricing, do your market research. The most common issue I see on pricing is people undervaluing their work when they start out.
We tend to think that when we’re just getting started, this somehow means that we need to be cheaper than the other options. Or that we haven't yet earned the right to charge the full value of what we're providing. This simply isn’t the case.
When you're looking at competitors and people doing something similar to what you want to be doing in your business, make sure that your prices aren't substantially less than those that are successfully offering the same services.
Also weigh your own expertise, experience and the inherent value to your audience of what you're providing before aligning on a price.
MVP stands for minimum viable product, and it’s a concept you can easily apply to your business. What’s the simplest way to provide the value your business seeks to provide, both in terms of operations and offering?
There are many ways to align on your MVP. Just make sure you’re finding the simplest, easiest way to operate and provide your offering at first, without sacrificing the ultimate value to the consumer.
One Big Goal
Next, you’ll identify your One Big Goal.
I know what you're thinking, “I already have my financial goal. So what is this?”
Well, this is how you’ll achieve your financial monthly income goal in terms of your offerings.
So let's say, for example, that your income goal is $10,000 a month. You've decided to keep things very simple for yourself since you're already working a full time job and will be doing this on the side at first. So you’re going to focus on acquiring a lower volume of higher ticket offerings, in this case $5,000 three-month consulting packages.
This means that in order to reach your financial goal, your One Big Goal every month is to find two clients for your three-month package.
This will be your rolling client goal, so at any given time you’ll have six consulting clients. And your goal each month is to secure two to replace the two that completed their package that month.
Now that you have this simple, clear One Big Goal, it’s time to align on exactly how you’ll focus and prioritize your actions.
3) Action Roadmap
When you're starting a business, the list of ways that you could get started and the actions that you could focus on are virtually endless.
There is no right way to start a business and there's no one path to achieve your goals. Anyone who tells you otherwise is limiting you (and probably trying to sell you something).
The truth is there are many paths to success, and equally as many to failure. Spending your time on things that don’t support your goals is a common way to get caught in a cycle of feeling productive but without results.
Therefore, it’s very helpful when you first start out to spend your first three months being disciplined and dedicated to the action items that actually move the needle towards your One Big Goal.
This is how you're going to start generating income and get your business off the ground quickly, instead of staying stagnant in a planning mode that never ends.
The whole philosophy behind my business launch framework is taking action in parallel with planning. Then, as your business grows, your strategy evolves.
I offer a step-by-step exercise that produces a focused action roadmap in alignment with your One Big Goal.
We’ll create your action roadmap and I’ll hold you accountable to it when you work with me. You can book a free, no-strings-attached consult now to learn more.
There's a clear process to aligning on the highest impact goals. But if you’re doing it on your own, the punchline is this: focus, focus, focus.
Keep yourself completely aligned with what helps you achieve your One Big Goal (or with what is necessary for the MVP operations of your business or offering).
Everything else can be set aside for phase two: growth.
Commitment is arguably the most important of the four key steps to launch your business. Why, you ask?
Because you can have the very best business idea, a razor sharp mindset, and achievable goals outlined in a precise action roadmap, but if you're not acting on it all, you don't have a business, you have an idea.
Committing the time and making the space for yourself to take action is critical.
And in order to do this, you need to maintain motivation, practice great time management, and have the tools to keep yourself on track.
There are endless tools and resources out there that we can dive in to here. But for simplicity’s sake, let’s focus on three roles I'd recommend you incorporate into your business launch support system.
1) The Accountability Partner
This can be your actual partner, a friend, or a family member. It doesn't really matter who they are, as long as they're committed to helping hold you accountable.
Share your weekly action item list with them and ask them to check in with you every week.
It helps to have some level of accountability outside of yourself. When you start negotiating with yourself when it comes to productivity and how you spend your time, it can be easy to let the inner voice win when there are no consequences. The opinion and accountability of someone cheering you on helps keep you on track.
2) The Advisor
This doesn't have to be anything formal. It's essentially just reaching out to and forming a relationship with someone who fills a knowledge gap that you have.
Let’s say that you have a knowledge gap in marketing, finance or business structure. Find someone who is knowledgeable in this space and ask them to meet for a virtual coffee. See if they'd be interested in meeting up consistently, perhaps once a month.
You can even ask if there's a trade that you might be able to provide in terms of serving as an advisor to fill one of their knowledge gaps. Perhaps you have strong knowledge of something that they could use help with, too.
Setting up consistent advisor check-ins are very helpful and way more effective than endless Google searches to fill the void of your knowledge gap.
3) The Coach.
A coach is someone who reflects back to you your own thoughts, keeps you motivated and helps you stay on track.
They're there for you when you start doubting yourself. They cheer you on when no one else can. They celebrate and recognize your brightest moments of achievement.
Everyone can use a coach.
As a subject matter expert in business and marketing, and a business and life alignment coach, I offer this full business launch support system. Book a free consult today to learn more about how I can help you launch your business.
Mindset, strategy, action and commitment - these are the four key areas that I hope you’ll do some work on before you launch your business.
Remember, while each of them requires dedicated thought and decision making, none of them should be overly difficult.
In this framework, we value simplicity over complexity and action over endless planning.
With this framework, you can get started today. Not tomorrow, not in a month, not when you “feel ready” (hint: you’ll never feel 100% ready).
Get started on this four-key framework today. Let me know how it goes.
Better yet, book a free consult with me to really get started.
Geri Paige Butner is a business firestarter, coach and speaker. Current and aspiring business owners start and grow their businesses with The Business Firestarter framework, offered as a self-guided online course or a 12-week group coaching program. Gain access to valuable firestarters for business and life by joining our email list.