WHERE’S YOUR BUSINESS AT? The Three Stages of a Commercial Enterprise

Ask anyone to recommend you a business role model that you can emulate and you might get a range  of answers. From Richard Branson, Bernie Madoff, Bill Gates, Alan Sugar, Aliko Dangote or George Soros. They might even recommend you read books about the habits of the 100 richest people in the world.

The trouble is that you can’t run a small family firm the same way you run a Tesco or Walmart. In the first place the scale and the business models are completely different, but more importantly the path each has travelled  along their respective business journey will differ considerably.

Before we look at the various stages of a business journey it’s worth briefly examining how business models do actually differ and why they are so important to get right at the startup stage. 

I often use the example of someone wanting to get into the coffee business. At some point he has to decide if his customers will be other businesses (b2b) or will it be end users/consumers (b2c). He has to look at the various ways of reaching those customers, how he will sell to them and how (and when) he will get paid. Of course he has not yet even decided if he wants to grow the raw coffee, roast coffee beans, sell sacks of coffee, sell packets of coffee or perhaps sell cups of coffee.

All the above have to be taken into account when producing a business model as well factors to do with suppliers, competitors, technology, available personnel, personal expertise & experience, market trends, location and other demographic factors. This is why we have produced an interactive business model template as part of the Olympic Sprint Business Coaching startup programme.

You may infer from the above that the early startup stage is obviously the first phase of business. Our emphasis on the business model makes it evident that getting this stage right, particularly a robust and tested business model, is a solid basis for profitable and sustainable business success.

The second phase, Business Optimisation is where most Olympic Sprint Business Coaching clients tend to place themselves. This is a stage where you have been in business for a while and should definitely be making some money. However, you will have a clear idea that you certainly could be doing a lot  better .

It is also very important that every entrepreneur is absolutely clear exactly how a business profit is actually made. This may seem a strange thing to say but unfortunately some business owners realise too late that footfall, turnover and website views don’t always equate to sales and financial profit. Of course each enterprise is different but generally speaking once the product is established and available (even before in reality) you start by creating or identifying leads or potential clients. You make some sort of sales pitch to these potential client, passive or active. The result is either positive or negative, they buy and become a customer or they don’t. Your next challenge is to keep that customer coming back time and time again. Along with all that you have to continuously employ effective pricing strategies while also keeping costs down and increasing profit margins.

With the Olympic Sprint Business Coaching Business Optimisation programme we break this down into five key areas. We call this the five point programme for rapid business growth.

The areas are; 

  • Lead Generation Techniques;
  • The Sales Cycle;
  • Customer Service & Upselling;
  • Price Optimisation & Pricing Psychology;
  • Maximising Profit Margins.

Each of these is a full programme in its own right while together they form a major component of both our one day business training programmes and our 3-5 day Business Retreats.

In practice we end up recommending that around  30% of clients should go through our startup programme before the optimisation programme. This is because they need to have a robust and clear business model in place in order to deal with the often rapid increase in new leads, new sales and the money coming in that this programme so often generates. You begin to truly see that the main barrier to the business success  you’ve always wanted is often yourself.

So this brings us onto stage three which is Major Business Expansion or Divestment. It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs on the programme to move their annual profits from under ten thousand pounds or dollars a year to well over one hundred thousand.  However, by a major expansion we are talking  about multiplying that at least tenfold or selling for an mount you can happily retire on. This might mean replicating new branches, a public share offer,  licensing or franchising. Therefore, going back to the startup phase and a new business model. For others its about cashing in and perhaps retirement by selling the business for a healthy price. Such is the level of input and guidance needed at this level that with the Olympic Sprint Business Coaching programme we’ve limited ourselves to only ever having seven clients at any one time that we are working with at this level. We call them our Magnificent Seven and this where our great team of consultants, associates and partners really show their true worth.

Each phase of any business life requires a different emphasis, a different skill set, sometimes a different business model and certainly different aims and challenges. Getting things wrong wastes not just lots of time, but also money, energy and the priceless goodwill of friends, family and supporters.

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