Starting a business is just a series of trial and error and then learning from those errors. It is a repetition of the same behavior; act, make a mistake, react and learn from the experience. One of the biggest obstacles I have discovered in starting a new business is knowing what opportunities to accept and which ones to turn down. As a new business owner your first instinct is to jump at any opportunity that presents itself and especially any opportunity that is lucrative to you. Upon closer observation, I am beginning to learn that the key to branding your company is knowing what opportunities to turn down. The items that fill your portfolio will begin to define your company; your specialization, your experiences, your expertise, and your contacts.
As an event planner I had to seriously think about what my specialization would be and what Events by Kirk would be known for. Would I define the business as planning for associations, weddings, corporations, non profits, celebrity events? What services will I offer; decor, av, planning, consulting, marketing? What will I be known for; style, big names, fundraising, cutting edge events, education, budget friendly? Will I have a niche like only putting on green meetings? Now of course each industry is different, but the one thing that remains the same is that there are almost a infinite number of combinations of services and branding within each. In the honor of full disclosure, I will let you know I obsessed over this very thing for weeks before hearing the voice of reason. I was told two very important things that really put things into perspective for me “You cannot be all things to all people” and “Where do you see your company 10 years from now?”. Now while these both seem like common sense to think about when beginning your business, it allowed me to stop and think rationally about what my goals for the company are. I just wish someone had’ve said this to me before I posted 3,000 sticky notes on my wall serial killer style.
The advice I would give to my fellow entrepreneurs are as follows;
Make a vision statement
Making a vision statement in the very beginning will not only allow you to define exactly what your intentions are with the business but it will also serve as your guideline. Ask your self “Will this opportunity bring me closer to my vision?” and “How?”.
Ask yourself if this opportunity has benefits other than monetarily
I am not saying that getting paid isn’t important, but what will you get out of this opportunity besides a paycheck? Will it look great in your portfolio? Will it bring great contacts? Are you able to reach potential clients for future business?
Does this opportunity turn the profit you want
Of course making money is a large part of business, but will you be making what you are worth in this opportunity. I feel young entrepreneurs severely under cut their costs due to a mix of doubt, desperation and inexperience. Make sure the amount you are receiving is what you feel you are worth.
It will very definitely be a learning curve in finding what opportunities better suit you, but taking these steps will help to weed through the opportunities that do not align with your companies’ vision.