——>It was March of 2020<——
Trees were ripped from their roots as the gushing torrents roared.
Roofs toppled unto the road and mailboxes went flying like papers in the wind.
Yet this house stood. Debris from surrounding homes came close to burying it –
Yet, this house stood intact.
What type of foundation does your business have?
Is it one that fortifies it against the ongoing shifting current now and in the future?
You might have heard about businesses that thrive in and through the calm or storm do so because they are built on a foundation.
Not just any kind of foundation for the sake of having a foundation.
But one that is solid.
And you may wonder – “but what does a solid foundation have to do with it?”
Everything there is for your business’s long-term survival and success.
There are many meanings to the word foundation. But the one that best describes the focus of this post is: “Foundation is the basis or groundwork of anything” – Dictionary.com
So then, what is a solid foundation when it comes to your business?
A solid foundation is both the movable and unmovable groundwork your business is built on – (more on this later.)
Here’s an example: Fujifilm
Fujifilm, founded in 1934 had a 70%+ market share in Japan for several decades with producing film for traditional cameras.
Then in the 1980s, a shift began to take place – digital photography became a credible threat.
And demand for camera film plunged.
Fuji struggled. It weighed the pros and cons of the shifting and decided not to fight against the tide, but to embrace the change it brought.
Today, Fujifilm is still standing and its overall annual revenues are around 21.4 billion…Not bad for a company almost buried under the sea of irrelevance.
So, what do long-lasting successful businesses do in an ever-changing environment?
They allow the shifting to help them drill down and explore new forms of value.
And that drilling down calls for their having a solid foundation upon which these five pillars are built.
Which Builder Are You?
The story is told of two builders in the New Testament book of Matthew. One is said to have built his house on the sand and the other built his house on the rocks. So, when the rain came down as (cats and dogs) – The house built on the rock, though shaken, stood its ground and was not swept away; but the house built on sand was washed away in a twinkle of an eye.
Let’s imagine for a moment that the builder who built his house on the rocks had to dig deeper to lay the foundation for such a house to stand in the first place. He might have taken a long high look for what he had to deal with, maybe even facing the fact that the actual building would not be up within a week or a month, or even a year.
He might have been tempted to have his house completed quicker if he built on the sand because after all, he had seen some fabulous houses that were built on the sand. Why should he take the high road that would entail planning, strategizing, and setting a goal? He wondered.
Now, let’s take a look at the 5 Pillars
PILLAR 1: Vision
Let’s say you are an online entrepreneur…Do you have what it takes to build a profitable online business that generates sustainable cash flow leveraging your content and digital products? Can you see clearly where you are now and where you are heading? How do you see your business’s profitability for the next 5, 10, or 15 plus years from now?
1. Visioning is the process of creating a picture in your mind of what you want for your life in the now and the future – And having that picture framed or written down as a guide.
2. Visioning gives you clarity to take the steps that will help project your tomorrow while heading towards it today.
3. Visioning helps you plan, strategize and set goals for what your business is to achieve for you.
4. Visioning sets you up to always have your eyes on the end goal.
Create a Powerful Vision by framing your business’s end goal around your strength, what your market needs and want – and then your passion.
PILLAR 2: Marketing Plan
Marketing: The Catch-22 Word for The Online Entrepreneur
To do or not to do? This is the predicament faced by many online entrepreneurs trying to build and grow profitable online businesses when it comes to marketing.
But What is Marketing?
Marketing is moving your market to desire your products or services.
According to the American Marketing Association – “Marketing is a set of processes for creating and communicating and delivering value to customers, and managing customers’ relationships in a way that benefits the organization as stakeholders.”
And I like how Peter Drucker sums it up – “The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous.”
Have you seen or read what Apple did before the iPhone was literally held by any of its customers? Apple was intentional in building momentum around the iPhone even before it was seen or held by any consumer.
The late Steve Jobs, founder, and CEO (at that time) announced the iPhone at the Macworld Convention Center on January 9, 2007, receiving a lot of media attention. He told the audience the phone would come out later that year. There was a line of buyers from New York to Minnesota waiting overnight to purchase the iPhone on June 29, 2007.
The line did not go from New York to Minnesota. I only exaggerated to make a point.
“The belief that marketing and selling are the same is a common and mistaken view held by many business people.” – (Marketing Guru, Philip Kotler)
But Then, What Is Selling?
Selling, as defined by businessdictionary.com, “is the last step in the chain of commerce where a buyer exchanges cash for a seller’s good or service or the activity to bring this about.”
It All Starts With A Marketing Plan
Your marketing plan is the document that outlines the marketing strategy for your business and its products.
Now, why is a Marketing Plan critical in helping you overcome marginal results and overwhelm to build an online business that generates for you sustainable cash flow?
Because your business will rise or fall with it. And you will end up paying a high price for success that never comes. Bear in mind that your marketing plan must be aligned with your vision – One that incorporates your content and digital marketing strategy.
Since visioning is projecting your tomorrow and heading toward it today, ask yourself this question – “Will my marketing plan make it possible to achieve my end goal?
If your vision is to build an online business that creates sustainable cash flow while leveraging your content and digital products so you can achieve financial freedom and the life you dream of, then your marketing plan is one you cannot do without.
“Marketing plan is not a long-term plan, it’s a long-term direction.” – (Al Reis and Jack Trout)
Even if you had all the passion and determination in the world to build a business with sustainable cash flow, your business’s long-term profitability will stall and leave you with nothing to show for it, without your marketing plan.
Your marketing plan serves as a map to give you direction for where you’re starting, where you want to go, when you’re going to get there and how you will get there.
An Example of a Simple Marketing Plan
Marketing Plan – Write down the answers to these questions (as opposed to thinking about them and keeping them in your head).
1. Goals: What are your business’ one or two goals? What are your marketing goals that show how marketing will help you achieve your end goal?
2. Benchmarks and Measures: What are 2-6 concrete goals, measurable and specific steps you’ll take to achieve your marketing goals? How will your progress be measured?
3. Target Market Identification and Description: What are the top 3-5 audiences segment you need to engage to meet your benchmarks and goals? What are the behavior and preferences of those in your audiences? What are the ages, income, etc.?
4. Situation Analysis: What does the environment in which you’re working look like? Or how would it look like 5, 10, or 15 years from now?
5. Product/Service Analysis: What are the strengths and weaknesses of your product/service? Are there other competitors with similar products? How does your product/service compare?
6. Calls to Action: What do you need your target market to do specifically so you can achieve your end goal? Name and describe the specific steps your prospects need to take.
7. Strategies: What are the top 5 strategies you’ll employ to achieve your marketing goals?
8. Tactics: What specific steps will you take to bring these strategies to life? What are the channels you’ll use to engage your audience with your business?
9. Frame Your Core Message: Why should your market listen or pay attention to you? Why should they want your product or services? Are there any challenges to anticipate with your products or services?
10. Resources: What will it take to implement your plan (staff, outsourcing, money for advertising, Joint Venture Partners, etc.)?
Create a Marketing Plan that’s Relevant to you and your Target Market – And let it be one that’s continually set-in-motion to drive your marketing with specific outcomes for your clients and real results for you.
PILLAR 3: Money to Move Things Along in Your Business
While having money is essential to your creating a profitable business, most entrepreneurs that teach how-to steps on building and growing an online business leave out the part about what having money could do for your business’ profitability now and in the future. It appears to be the taboo of the times that no one wants to touch, but it seems to control every aspect of the process among business owners, clients, and prospects.
When I say, have money to move things along, I mean without money, no matter how grandiose your ideas are for building and growing a profitable online business; or starting a business, those ideas will remain stagnant and could just remain as ideas.
It’s not to suggest you have to have $50.00 or $50, 000,000.00 to move things. It simply means you cannot own a profitable online business without spending money.
“Money is not the only answer, but it makes a difference.” – Barack Obama
Why is it critical in having money to move things along in a business that generates multiple streams of income?
Because such a business could remain on life support without it.
For you, an entrepreneur to build a profitable business and make it one that generates cash flow over time, you must make ongoing marketing your number one priority; and without money to market consistently and continually, your owning a business that’s profitable will remain a wishful fantasy.
Why 82% of entrepreneurs close their doors due to lack of cash flow is the result-less marketing activities they are occupied with and as such, their businesses stay in the feast or famine cycle for the long haul without strategy of changing course.
Remember, marketing is moving the market to desire your products or services, and the process of moving your market to the place of a decision should be an ongoing intentional effort on your part.
Money will give you the leverage to combine your ideas with execution – thus enabling you to achieve your desired results.
“Money is important. Money does a lot of things. (One of the most important is to create choices.)” – Steve Jobs
You will notice this pillar, Having Money to Move Things Along in Your Business comes in right after the pillar, Marketing Plan. The marketing plan that you draw up should guide or direct you in terms of leveraging the money you have to get the marketing wheels turning and help you stay on the mind of your clients and prospects.
A word of caution: Don’t fall into the trap of using other people’s money to build and grow your business – Because you may find yourself deeper in debts to others than when you started.
I have been there – So take caution. And even if you borrow money to grow your business, be intentional to pay such money back before being satisfied with having a profitable business.
Dave Ramsey sums it up this way – “You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.”
Four Critical Steps to Take When Positioning Yourself Regarding Having Money to Move Things Along in Your Business
1. You will first look at how much you have on hand to help you create a business that generates multiple streams of income. An example, will you leverage your content to create online courses, teleclasses, and membership websites? How much do you have to cover for the creation of those products and to market such products? Will you outsource the creation of such products? How much will it cost to continually advertise, etc.?
2. Assess on a regular basis how your bottom line can be met and how it can continue on a sustainable path without running out of cash.
3. Bear in mind that money is not an end in itself, but the means to get what your end goal is in your business. So then, knowing the type of business you’re building online-
4. Plan on how much you’ll spend on marketing (advertising, promotions, and publicity); networking, joint venture partnering, product creation, your own ongoing training, your vacation, etc.
“Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.” —Ayn Rand
PILLAR 4: System
“For a business to thrive, 100% of all the systems must be functioning and accountable. For example, An airplane is a system of systems. If an airplane takes off and the fuel system fails, there often is a crash. The same things happen in business. It’s not the systems that you know about that cause the problems – it’s the systems you are not aware of that cause you to crash.” – Robert Kiyosaki, The Cashflow quadrant
What is a system?
But first – What is a Business Simple Definition?
Business Dictionary defines business this way: “An organization or economic system where goods or services are exchanged for another or for money.”
And I like what Rich Schefren of Strategic Profits puts it, “As an entrepreneur, you’re building something that has value in addition to what’s provided by your individual efforts. You create an entity that takes on a life of its own. A living, breathing, and growing organism that brings in money while you’re not there, allowing you to take vacations, go to your children’s school and sports activities, or spend time with your spouse. So, you can spend time working on tasks that make your business better, because you don’t have to work on the activities your business does (day-to-day), like working on your website, getting links, creating content, or developing products.”
Now having defined a business, let’s then look at what a system is-
“A system is any collection of things that interact together to produce some sort of behavior of the whole.” – (www.systemsandus.com)
If you want an online business that generates multiple streams of income, creating for you cash flow that’s lasting and sustainable, then design it as a system.
Why Design Your Business As A System?
Because your generating sustainable cash flow depends on it.
A system is the structure around which all the activities taking place in your business are interconnected and interdependent. And all of the essential parts are framed to produce the desired result of the whole (like an airplane as mentioned before, operates on systems) to achieve its landing which is the desired result of its passengers.
There would be chaos, lack of direction, disillusionment, overwhelm, and busy work but accomplishing nothing, without a system.
According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), only 20% of franchises fail within the first five years as compared to 80% of new businesses. Why the difference or disparity? Because most franchises are system-driven whilst most businesses are people-driven.
The Four Essential Processes of Your System
With such statistics as the one above, here are four processes that can become the bedrock for your business as a system.
Now, what do you do if you’re an entrepreneur longing to build a profitable online business? You have to see everything that you do as a process – that is part of a system. And your business as a system is made of these processes.
1. Management Process – This process documents the human actions including how each employee will interact with customers and fellow employees, dress code, etc.
2. Finance Process – This process entails receiving and making payments, payroll, taxes, accounting, and billing. The Finance Process can be summed up in these three areas: Financial Outlook Planning, Budgeting your Expenses and Revenues and Tracking and Reviewing Realities on the ground.
3. Marketing Process – Your marketing process is to position you to consistently engage, nurture relationships with your market and make sales necessary to keep your doors open. And not to only keep your doors open, but for you to own a profitable business that thrives because of ongoing cash flow from multiple streams of income.
4. Operation Process – This process entails satisfying your customers at great length. Get to know and build relationships with your customers. In so doing, you’ll be able to fulfill some of what your customers want and desire. Be always mindful to follow through with the commitments you make.
PILLAR 5: Your Ultimate Irresistible Offer
Your Offer is what makes your business or breaks your business.
What is an Irresistible Offer?
But first what it is not. An irresistible offer is not your website, USP, special offer, or a benefit. It is not even your product/s or your brand.
An Irresistible Offer is the core imperative of your business.
Your Offer becomes irresistible when it meets the deepest longings of your clients and potential clients.
As in the case of Dominos: “Pizza in 30 minutes or It’s Free.” Your business does not get off until you make the offer. Let’s look at Domino’s Pizza briefly-
Tom Monaghan purchased the first store in 1960, and by 2004, there were 7,000 Dominos Pizzerias and their gross in sales annually was $4,000,000,000. But this did not happen overnight. Domino’s Pizza experienced some challenges and was nearing bankruptcy. And then something happened! They came up with the “30 minutes or less . . . or it’s free.” This offer took them to the top of the pizza world. They became the number-one pizza delivery in the entire United States until 1993.
How about you? How to Craft Your Offer For Your Market?
Let’s say you leverage your content and created your Offer. And let’s say this Offer is to wealth building consultants-
And since we now live in the Outcome Era over Information Era, all your marketing messages should therefore show how your clients will get the outcome they so desire, as in the case of Domino’s “Get your pizza in 30 minutes or less…or it’s free.”
Want a successful long-lasting business?
Then your business five pillars, built on a solid foundation are the way to go.
This gives you the upper hand – helping you to remain standing in the midst of what you cannot control.
A solid foundation has at its core pliability for facing an ever-shifting business environment.
A solid foundation –
- Allows you to prepare for the worst during the calm and reimagine the future.
- Allows you to reinvent your business and explore new forms of value for your audience.
- Allows you to embrace change and see it as an opportunity – not a threat.
So, what other ways a solid foundation could help your business’s long-term survival and success?
About the Author: Maima Jones is the founder of www.prospectingemailsforbusinesses.com. She ghostwrites web content and prospecting emails for B2B companies, marketing directors, and small businesses. She also teaches and mentors startups of service-based businesses on leveraging their content for multiple streams of income. You can contact Maima here.