Running your own business can be very rewarding; it can also be hard work. The market place for coaches, consultants and trainers is particularly crowded, with more people deciding to set up their own companies all the time. If you’ve been made redundant, become frustrated with the long hours and expensive commute that leaves you no time for your family, or you just want to be your own boss, you might be one of these people. You’re not alone. Almost 500,000 new businesses are formed in the UK every year, so you need to develop the strength to keep going, no matter what. The lure of working shorter hours can all too soon turn into long hours just to keep afloat. The desire to have no one else to answer to means you actually have to cope with having no one else to talk to and no one to turn to for advice and support.
If your business is just you, you need to develop an even higher level of resilience and persistence, as you take responsibility for the entire business. You need to get really clear on your strengths, because they will keep you going and keep your business ahead of your competitors. You need to find your X Factor.
Many years ago one of my clients wrote an issue of her newsletter about the importance finding your X Factor. She advised that one of the best ways to discover it is by asking other people. “So what is my X Factor?” I asked her. Her reply surprised me. “It’s your drive and focus.” It surprised me because I’d not associated myself with those words before.
What is drive? Drive is what gets me out of bed in the morning. It’s a desire to do something and get somewhere. You could also call it self-motivation. It’s a vital ingredient required for running your own business, because unless you have an investor pushing you to grow your business and pay back their investment, you’ll need to rely on your own drive. Unless you have a mortgage to pay, children or animals to feed, or holidays to take, you won’t have the drive you need to really go places. A few years ago, the term ‘lifestyle business’ was coined. Some people love admitting to running a lifestyle business – one that earns them enough to live their lifestyle, a company that is just them and will probably just close when they retire or decide to move on. Appletree is a lifestyle business and that’s what drives me to continue to run a successful business. Other people take offence at being branded this way. They have a different drive, to do more with their businesses, such as building a global presence or creating a business that can be sold.
There is no right or wrong way – you just need a strong enough drive to keep you getting out of bed every morning.
What about focus? Without focus you lose your way in your life and your business. It’s about having clear goals and targets to aim for. In 2006 when I first saw my new home, Appletree Cottage, it became my goal; I focused on it for the twelve months it took before we could move in and start working in the office in the garden. Then I lost my way for a while, as I didn’t have another clear goal to aim for. Things changed when my new focus became reaching ten years of business. The way was lost again in 2010 when I put too much focus onto one project and took my eye off the main business. Now my focus is very clear. I have monthly and annual targets for sales, profit and weeks of holiday. Breaking the large, long term goals down into medium and short term ones gives me a really clear focus in the business, from one month to the next. The results speak for themselves as we hit each target.
So what’s your X Factor? What core strengths do you have, that will help you succeed in your business? It might be just one main strength, or it may be a combination of a number of them. To find out what it is, ask the people who know you. Then write down your X Factor. Put it on the wall by your desk so that you can see it every day and remind yourself what it is that makes you and your business great. Your X Factor is what will keep you going when times get tough. It’s what will help you to build a great business. And it will help you to promote your business and stand out from the crowded market place.
If you can’t find your X Factor or you don’t know how to use it in your marketing, let me know and I’ll see what I can do to help. Call me on 01635 578500 or click here to email me.