“It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.”
~ David Allan Coe
You can’t build and grow a business on shaky foundations. What I’ve found as a Business Coach is that people often come to me wanting strategies and tactics for getting paying clients, yet often they can’t even tell me clearly what problem they solve for people, who exactly they solve it for or how they solve it. Nor do they have a body of work (content) or any audience (i.e. people to sell to) to speak of.
Having a profitable business under these conditions is unlikely at best. Given this fact, over the last year or so my work has begun to really focus in on supporting people to get 5 foundational pieces in place so that a sustainable level of income generation can be reached. In this piece, I walk you through what those 5 pieces are.
1. A Well-defined Niche
You’ve undoubtedly heard that niche is something you need to figure out if you are to attract your ideal clients to your business and you’ve also probably heard a slew of different definitions of what niche is.
In a nutshell, your niche is: the problem you solve + the people you solve it for.
And here is something that might surprise you, having clarity on the problem you solve is far more important than knowing who exactly you solve it for. I see so many people getting bogged down in client avatar exercises and figuring out demographics, when knowing what problem you solve is actually far more important.
To give you some examples of problems a business might solve:
As a Business Coach, the problem my clients struggle with is a lack of solid foundations meaning that the growth strategies they attempt to implement fail.
A Life Coach might have clients who have a problem with people pleasing and boundary setting which is holding them back from achieving their goals in life.
A Massage Therapist might have clients who have a problem with specific aches and pains that come from sitting at a desk/driving all day.
Knowing the problem you solve (and being able to clearly articulate it) is vital because, when push comes to shove, people will only choose to spend money on your business if they believe you can solve a problem or meet a need they have.
2. Audience Research
The problem with niche is that most people attempt to nail down their niche without doing any research and instead struggle for months (if not years) trying to figure out what problem they solve. I’ve seen too many business owners choosing their niche, then spending thousands of dollars branding their businesses around this niche only to find after a few months that they don’t enjoy working on this problem or with these people.
In the early stages of business, research is essential, as you seek to figure out the problem you help people with, it’s crucial that you are communicating and in conversation with people who are struggling with that problem. That way your understanding of the problem is such that you are able to articulate and address it using the very language your ideal clients use and understand.
In addition, the more you know about what people need help with, the better placed you are to know if it’s work you really want to do.
Read this post for more on how to conduct audience research.
3. A Clear Message
I’m surprised by how little I hear people talking about this one and how unclear the information I do see around it is. The clarity of your message lies in your ability to clearly articulate the problem you help people with and how you help them solve it. It consists of your unique point of view or business perspective and your methodology.
Tad Hargrave has a useful definition of point of view:
“Point of view is you explaining what you do and why you do it the way you do it. It’s you explaining what your approach is and why you think it will work.”
Your methodology is your how. It’s your unique model for solving the problem your clients have. It’s within your methodology that you might share a framework or journey that you take your clients through. It’s what makes you unique, it’s what separates you from others in your field.
Your methodology is your system, your process, the step-by-step journey you take your clients on to take them from problem to solution. It’s the unique combination of tools you use to help your clients to make progress. It’s your diagnosis of the problem and your suggested cure.
Your message, point of view and methodology evolve over time and comes from your experience of working with people on the problem you help them with.
4. An Activated Network
Activating your network, or outreach as I call it, is another foundation that I see many people overlook. Outreach is basically another way of saying connecting or relationship building. When we come to learn that people buy from people they know, like and trust, we begin to appreciate just how important outreach and connection is.
All too often, I see business owners spending countless hours in front of their computer screens working on figuring out their niche, building a fancy website or creating the perfect brand, without talking to anyone. Neither making meaningful connections nor building relationships. Although the world of business has changed dramatically with the rise of the internet and social media, personal and meaningful 1:1 connections are as crucial to business success today as they ever were.
We’re often taught online that the perfect copy, some slick images and a brand to die for is enough to bring our ideal clients flocking to our doors but the truth is nothing brings about sales faster than reaching out to the kind of people we’d love to work with and making genuine and meaningful connections, rooted in integrity and service.
5. A Content Strategy
Last but not least I want to talk to you about content. Content is, in my opinion, the glue that holds all of the above together. If not with your content, how else do you communicate your niche, the results of your research, your message and find the very people worth reaching out to?
Content is, contrary to popular belief, far more important to your business image than fancy design, slick copywriting and stunning imagery. For conscious business owners in particular and the people they serve, substance over style is very much the domain of quality and consistent content.
Not only is content the perfect way to share your message and demonstrate your expertise but it’s also the best way to grow your audience. With so many benefits, it’s easy to see why having a solid content strategy in place is a must if you want to see your business grow.
So there you have it, 5 foundations you don’t want to overlook in your business. Which of these is your business lacking? Let me know in the comments. I’ll be happy to share with you my best tips and resources.
We cover these foundations in depth in my year-long Conscious Business Mastermind. To apply for next year’s program, starting in January head here.