“How does your business make money? Are you sure?”
This question always catches unsuspecting entrepreneurs off guard but also creates a great conversation that can lead to new ideas for solving problems and taking advantage of opportunities. Many businesses focus on the product or service that they offer to the marketplace and not necessarily the problem they are solving. Common logic says that if you are the best provider of a product or service in the market that your business should be the market leader. But is this true? What makes a great product or service? The secret to every great business is that it understands the problem it is solving not the product or service it is providing. You may think this is a nuanced difference but it really isn’t. In fact, two businesses offering the exact same product or service may have two different problems they are solving. The key to profitability is being able to understand the problem that your customers or clients are paying your business to solve.
“A business will make money in a down market and collect it in an up market”
Running a business isn’t easy. Every day there are challenges, opportunities, tasks and issues that all contribute to where a business finds itself at any given time. To help get through the daily grind an entrepreneur will use business coaches, consultants, webinars, training sessions and many other tools to ensure they are building their business properly. While these tools are very helpful there are certain principles that an entrepreneur can follow to guide their efforts each day. One of those principles is understanding what your business is fundamentally trying to do each day – is it learning how to make money or is it collecting money and reinvesting the results? This may seem like a strange concept but your ability to understand it can have a profound change in how you approach the daily grind of your business.
Many entrepreneurs and business owners dream of growing their business and generating massive amounts of profit but few actually achieve this. There are probably thousands of content pieces available to inspire, educate and provide instruction on how to successfully grow your business and yet many businesses fail, hit a peak or never really get traction. The few that do are success cases that prove it can be done but somehow seem to be just out of reach for the every day entrepreneur working away at their dream. Why is this? I believe its because what seems to be a simple question can’t be answered and isn’t even contemplated by many individuals running a business.
Growing a business means different things to different people. Some businesses grow unintentionally due to demand for their product or service while others grow intentionally a result of executing on a plan. In either case a business needs money to grow and its not always obvious where the money can be found. There is money available from numerous sources to help you grow your business but you have to understand where to find it and what the trade offs are.
There is no such thing as easy money right? Are you sure? There are really only two ways to grow your revenue: cut costs or sell more. There is a limit to how much more revenue your business can earn by cutting costs whereas selling more is limitless. If you only had time to do one thing in your business it should be focusing on how to sell more. There is no easy way to do that then by figuring out how to sell more to existing clients either directly or indirectly. The more systematic you can make this the more profitable your business will be and ultimately your business will be worth more.
So how do you sell more to existing clients or customers?
Do you know what your business owns and owes? Do you know what your business makes and spends? More importantly – do you know what the equity is in your business or what it might be worth? It’s typical for an entrepreneur or for someone running a business to say “yes I know what we make and spend” but unlikely that they know what they own/owe and what the equity in their business is or what the value might be. Small and medium sized businesses can be so focused on surviving that they often don’t take time to see if the needle is moving in the right direction with respect to the equity or value of their business. This is unfortunate because one of the very reason businesses are started is to build value and one day be able to cash in or have that value recognized.
So where is the best place to start if you can relate to this?
“…the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.”
Running a business comes with an never ending series of trade offs and there are times when critical decisions need to be made that seem to have greater trade offs than what you may be accustom to. This can be particularly agonizing when a decision involves needing expertise that you may not have access to – like financing. When given an opportunity to profit from a decision that involves needing to find capital, often times entrepreneurs and business owners will either lean in and commit or miss the opportunity as a result of their lack of knowledge. Opportunity cost is a real concept that impacts many businesses but here are some things that might help you if you find yourself in a position where a gain to your business will involve being creative with how you find the capital to take advantage of it. Continue reading “What is opportunity cost?”→