If you’re in business for yourself, or are thinking of starting your own business, you probably want to know how to run a successful business, right?
You might be even wondering what makes a business successful compared to all of those businesses that fail within the first few months or years of starting. (According to the Small Business Administration, over 50% of businesses don’t make it past their first five years!)
I want to make sure you’re part of the 50% that succeeds, so let’s discuss the five elements that you absolutely need to make sure that your business is successful.
I created this video for you in case you’d prefer to watch instead of read:
Element #1: The right systems
One of the most important keys to a successful business is having the right systems.
And that’s element #1.
Now, if you’re just starting out in your business, maybe this isn’t something you need to worry about today. But this is something you absolutely should be thinking about as soon as possible, because a true business is a system.
In other words, your business doesn’t depend on any one person to continue running. Besides, you didn’t start your business so you’d have to work on it 24/7 in order to make sales, right?
What are the core principles of your business?
To do this, you have to identify what the core pieces of your business are (and we’re going to talk about that) and document them, so that if you or someone on your team were to take a day off, or step away from the business, the business would still run without you.
I know that this can feel really overwhelming, so what I usually recommend is not necessarily to create a massive organizational chart with all your systems at once (although you’re probably going to do that at some point).
Start with listing out the top 5 most frequent things that you and your team members do in your business. They can be a list of common customer support questions, things you do frequently, like setting up and sending a newsletter, or maybe posting on one of your social media platforms.
This way, you can knock out the most common tasks first. Once you get some quick wins with your systems process setup, then you can move onto the long term process of documenting and systematizing everything.
In terms of what to use to document your processes, you can use Google Docs. Or, what we use in my business is a software called Process Street, because it allows you to run the processes as checklists, which helps us to eliminate a lot of error.
What systems should you use in your business?
Now, let’s talk a little bit about the main categories of systems that you need to have in your business. These also happen to be the other elements that are critical to running a successful business, so we’ll be talking about what these are throughout the rest of this tutorial. (Yes, I planned that 😉
I can’t take credit for how I’m going to break out the systems for you, because although I’ve been doing this in my business for quite a while, I didn’t realize how they were falling into certain categories until after I read Mike Michalowicz’s book Clockwork.
I highly recommend that you check that out the next time you’re looking for a good book on really streamlining your business.
Moving on to element number two, which will literally make or break your business…
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Element #2: Lead generation
The second element that we’re going to talk about, which is a critical system category, is your lead generation.
In other words, how are you attracting new potential clients to your business?
At this point in my business, we have many, many sources of traffic…
We run paid advertising through Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and more.
We also have partnerships with businesses who have audiences that are complementary to ours and help promote us.
In addition, we write articles for great publications that drive their audience to us. (Like this article I wrote for GrowthLab on how I crossed $1 million in sales in a year.)
Not only that, but we also have content on the blog (like this epic ultimate guide on coaching businesses) to help people find us via organic search as well.
Obviously though, I’ve been doing this for a while, and I did not start with all of this on day one.
Here’s how I did start…
From day one, I kept in mind what I just shared with you – that these were going to be systems as soon as possible.
So I thought, all right, I’m going to do a combination of the most powerful organic channels for my business first.
And I’m going to combine that with paid traffic, because that’s going to allow me to both connect with people organically as quickly as possible, while generating traffic as consistently as possible. This way, I’m starting to build an audience AND set that consistent foundation to really drive people to me in my business all the time.
For me, with my business, that number one social media platform was Facebook groups. Following a simple, daily marketing plan in Facebook groups, I was able to manually generate a lot of leads for my business and build solid relationships with future clients.
In fact, to this day I have an awesome Facebook group called Entrepreneurial Leaders. It’s free and it’s very fun and supportive, so you should definitely come and join us.
Aside from that, I ran traffic via Facebook Ads. We also tested and continue to test lots of different platforms, but Facebook is our #1 paid traffic source.
Once I had those two systems in place, I knew I had that consistent foundation of traffic and sales coming in, so that I wouldn’t have to be worried in my business about making money or driving leads today in order to keep the lights on, or having to be worrying about the feast and famine cycle that so many entrepreneurs go through.
That made a massive difference.
With that consistent income basis, I was able to go out there and slowly build up all of my other traffic sources over the years without worrying about revenue.
Build up your lead generation funnel the right way
That’s something that I recommend for the majority of my clients as well, so that you can have one traffic source that provides that consistency first, and then layer your other traffic sources on top of that.
If you try and do too many at once, you’ll get overwhelmed and burnt out and nothing good comes from that, which is why I recommend doing it this way.
A note of warning though — make sure you’re not “wasting” those leads by adding the next element as soon as possible to your business…
Now, what most people do at this point is that they sit back and say, “Great, now I know how to run a successful business.”
But not so fast. There’s a third element we need to look at.
Element #3: Sales Mechanism
The next element that you have to have is a sales mechanism. Something that automatically converts those leads that you’re now generating into customers.
Because you don’t want to have to just hope and pray for someone to find your sales page and buy from you, right? You have to have a system for doing that.
For us, my favorite way is through automated webinars. In fact, we drive almost all of our traffic through our free automated master classes.
You can check out an example on building your own coaching business and see exactly what that looks like for yourself.
Having these automated webinar systems allows us to automate our conversion process so that we’re making sales every single day without me having to be personally involved.
Once you’ve got that going, can you guess what’s next?
Element #4: Delivery
It’s delivery, because after you make the sale, you have to deliver on the product that you just sold.
At this point in my flagship Employee to Entrepreneur course, we are able to support our students in quite a few ways:
First, we have monthly group coaching calls with me personally. Second we’ve got a really active and supportive student alumni Facebook group community. And finally, I have a support squad of coaches that I’ve trained over the years to answer people’s questions.
As you can see, having all of these allows us to have any one person step away from the business for whatever reason (like a much-needed vacation!) and still have us be able to deliver an amazing customer service experience.
That’s what the delivery process looks like.
This is something that way too many new coaches, consultants, entrepreneur’s doing focus enough on or think about when they’re starting out, how to scale and systematize that delivery process.
But here’s the thing, when you’re in a service based business, you have to lead with that support, that delivery. You can’t grow the front of your business, the leads and the conversions and the sales, and then think, “Okay, I’ll figure out how to catch up in my delivery once I’ve made more sales.”
This is something where as soon as someone buys, they’re going to expect that service, and if it’s not good, you’re not going to continue making sales. That’s why this piece is so important to be thinking about from day one.
Finally, moving on to possibly the most important piece to the survival of your business…
Element #5: Money Collection
Now, the final element, which again a lot of newer coaches, consultants, and entrepreneurs don’t think about, is the money collection.
You are doing an awesome job attracting leads, you are making sales, you are delivering the best service and product possible, and… you need to get paid for it!
The ONE thing you have to set up right now
First, if you don’t have an automated order process, you need to set that up asap. For example, if you are doing coaching right now, you need to have an automated invoice that goes out for your payment plans so you don’t have to manually send them every month.
You should have a system that automatically charges your clients, so you’re not waiting for them to pay you every month when they feel like it.
The two systems I recommend for doing this are PayPal or Stripe.
What to do when someone defaults on their payments
Once you have that taken care of, you still have to realize that there are going to be people who need help updating their credit cards or billing information, or people who may default on their payments, so you have to go and collect those payments.
(This is all just part of being in business! It’s not about being desperate or mean, or bad, it’s just hey, you’re delivering an awesome product and you need to be paid for it.)
We have systems that automatically send out emails when someone’s monthly payment doesn’t go through. They’ll get a few emails, and then, if after a certain number of days they still haven’t updated their billing information, they’re going to get a call from someone on our team.
After that, they’re going to get one more call and if after that, after we’ve given them many, many chances to honor their payment and they still haven’t, ultimately we’ll send them to collections.
This is something I very firmly believe in, where you have to walk that fine line between offering the best service and taking care of your clients, but also taking care of you and your business too.
And those are the five critical systems you need if you want to know how to run a successful business.
It’s taken me many, many years and lots of mistakes and a lot of lost time and money to identify these, so hopefully this is going to save you a lot of wasted time and effort.
Which part of your business are you MOST excited to systematize right away so that you don’t have to be manually doing it anymore?
Let me know in the comments below!
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