What’s the difference between looking like a business and actually being a business?
If you’ve got a loyal online tribe and most of them bought your ebook, is that enough?
What if you’re an active coach who’s helped dozens of people, but hasn’t updated her Facebook group in six months? Can you say you’re legit?
It’s a tricky question.
Technically, if someone is being paid to do ANYTHING, they’re a professional. And in the virtual world, plenty of people will put up a website overnight and start selling services, programs, and products the next day. If they’re making money then, by definition, they are a business.
However, there’s a big difference between an entrepreneur who has built a solid, sustainable enterprise and someone who’s invested in a set of pretty business cards and a $5,000 website.
But don’t worry if you feel like you currently fall into that second category! (Or somewhere in between the two.) Building a real business takes time and effort, which means you can do it gradually and out-of-order if necessary.
Is your business established and stable, or still a work in progress? Here are 3 questions to ask yourself if you’re unsure:
Are you helping solve a customer problem?
Every business in existence solves problems.
- A company that manufactures ketchup solves the problem of bland food.
- A bank solves the problem of managing money.
- A veterinarian solves the problem of sick pets (and the fact that most folks have no idea how to treat them).
- Netflix solves the problem of boredom.
Customers will only sink money into something if it will help make their lives better.
Does your business do that?
What client problem are you solving? How are you addressing it? Are your methods effective, and do you have proof to back that up?
If not, you may need to do some soul searching. To be successful in whatever you do, you need to be helpful in some specific way to the clientele you want to serve.
If you don’t know how you’re helping them, you won’t be able to describe your services accurately, and THEY won’t be able to find and hire you!
Are you offering your clients something unique?
Now, to be clear, your business model, course formats, and offerings themselves don’t need to be 100% original. The more unique you can make them the better … but there are only so many ways to coach and teach people, so don’t worry if you’re using a format that you’ve seen others use.
The idea here is not to reinvent the wheel or build things from scratch that already exist. It’s to differentiate yourself from people offering similar things.
Does your approach set you apart?
- Are you focused on women entrepreneurs over age 40, and the challenges they face?
- Do you insist on “tough love” and seek clients who thrive under that kind of guidance?
Or maybe you bring a specific type of experience to the table.
- Did you launch a tech company on your own, which enables you to help entrepreneurs who need outside funding?
- Or did you come from a retail background that sets you up to help anyone hoping to run a brick-and-mortar business?
Do you have equal amounts of expertise and passion?
You can be really, really good at something but still hate doing it.
You can ALSO be incredibly passionate about something that you suck at doing!
To build a successful business that has true staying power, you need to offer your clients both expertise and passion. You need to do work that is in your zone of genius and also consistently excites and fulfills you.
This will translate into offering your clients both valuable, reliable, informed support and the enthusiasm to back it up. You’ll both help and motivate them, educate and catalyze them.
When you’re good at something but hate it, you can find workarounds. You can outsource some of the work or focus on the aspects that interest you most. But you’ll still hate it, even though you excel at it.
And when you love something but suck at doing it, you can simply spend more time learning! Build up your expertise, practice, hone your skills. But that may take many months or years.
The business that’s ideal for you right now consists of something you are amazing at doing and absolutely adore. Period.
It’s easy to create something that looks like a business. With enough followers and enough money, you can convince the world that you’re the real deal.
But it takes more than a facade and more than a fanbase. It even takes more than “hard work” to build a real, solid business. When you can answer these three questions with confidence, you’re there. Until then, keep going!