I was having a conversation this week with another entrepreneur and we were discussing the process of starting and building a business and all of the various stages one goes through along the path towards building a sustainable enterprise.
Starting and building a successful business is very much like starting a religion.
1. Start-up phase
It takes a little capital but mostly a prophet with a vision and lots of evangelizing in the beginning in order to spread the word, get some feedback and determine if you are on the right path before you invest too much time and money.
2. Early Adopters
You need a few brave early adopters to go first before the masses follow so finding these special “buyers” is critical in the early days to get some traction and create some positive momentum. Once you have some early adopters it will be easier for others to follow.
3. Refining the offering
Let’s face it, there will be pivots and lots of zigs and zags before the offering is ready for mass consumption. The early adopters and true believers will help smooth out the wrinkles and refine the offering for the scaling phase.
4. Scaling the business
In order to grow and become a profitable and sustainable enterprise you will need to build a team, create an infrastructure, figure out a revenue model and then get to work bringing in customers by way of efficient processes.
Once you get going and start to deliver value and develop a following…your clients will start selling for you. Now it’s time to leverage all of that hard work and get testimonials and referrals.
6. Client retention
Once you have clients you need to make them happy so you can keep them. This means helping your clients find value from your service. You will need to listen and provide steady innovation and change as needed so you don’t lose your followers to other institutions.
Well, whaddayaknow? I never thought I would use religion as a framework for business but the parallels are curiously similar.