By Irina Ghazazyan
One of the great things about managing your not quite conventional business is that the digital tools that are the very means of communication are also the underpinning of your business success. In fact, the “five essential principles for growing your small business” according to Fast Company’s magazine are “brand, brand, brand” and “embrace technology.” Branding first and foremost entails narrowing your target audience and not “trying to be all things to all people”. It is vital to be able to foster your audience’s emotional attachment to your brand and to “inspire and influence your audience.”
Your entrepreneurial business or enterprise that is built on both branding and technology puts you much further ahead of the conventional businesses. This also means that traditional measures of success will not work for you, and as an entrepreneur who has started his own venture you need to find new and different ways to measure success.
The question here is where to start? The best way to determine the success of your venture is to have established measurable objectives for yourself. For a traditional business this entails a creation of the business plan which outlines the company’s long-term strategic goals and short-term objectives as well as metrics by which success will be measured. For a newly launched business the first year or two—or three, five or, really, any number of years should be assessed more frequently than for an established company. For an online business, just like a traditional brick-and-mortar business, it all comes down to return on investment (ROI). Ultimately, as an entrepreneur you want to make sure that your investments in both time and money generate more “revenue” or potential revenue— followers, subscribers or some other measures you find important. Your short-term objectives are to get more out of the transaction than you put into it. The timeframe for your ultimate goal of making money will depend on your values, strategies and tactics that you use for building your brand. And it is normal that you have started your business with an ultimate goal of making money, but you should accept two fact from the onset: the time frame is abstract, and unlike traditional businesses there is no typical business cycle.
Your strategic plan is your guide to become sustainable within a “limited” period of time. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will start making profit within one, two, three, five or whatever number of years, but it is needed so that you see how effective you have been in exhausting your resources and what else is needed to meet your strategic goals.
Savvy marketing will help you attract more subscribers, hits, page views or social media likes, but none of these measures will create revenue in and of itself. They are needed to measure your progress toward goals. They can help you to eventually achieve your goals, but they are not the ultimate goals of any venture. Be realistic and stay focused if you would like your business to be self-sustaining in three, five years…ever. Celebrate your milestones whatever they are – the number of visits per day or the number of subscribers, and measure your progress towards your stated goals. Make adjustment to your goals but stay on track. Remember, your most valuable asset is your personality and day-to-day performance, thus your honest self-evaluation and assessment of personal progress is a vital to your success.