28/07/2011

By Bev James,

How Do You Know Whether You Should Do It! Or Ditch It?

I have built several businesses during periods of recession, including the Entrepreneurs’ Business Academy with investment dragon James Caan. I have also seen too many good business ideas go to waste while bad ideas take up valuable time and resources. My mission is to help other business owners to achieve their own dreams of success. I want more people to understand that we are in control of our own decisions and can choose to be successful if we wish.

Do It! or Ditch It thinking is a positive mindset for clear business decision-making, where everything is possible. It all depends on how far you want to go with your dreams and plans.

Decisions lead to action. Action propels us forward, brings about change, and delivers results. But success in the long term depends on the impact of the decisions that you make each and every day. The Do It! or Ditch It approach to decision-making is based on my experiences as a business mentor, leadership coach and a business owner.

We all know people who have good ideas that never seem to take off. Month after month they talk about their vision, but it always remains a tantalising mirage. Their dream is clouded by talk of 'should’, 'might’, ‘could’. There may be much planning but there is no action — and eventually the idea dies a slow death from indecision. To those who have crossed every i, dotted every t and know that the market is out there and that their figures work — I would say DO IT! You may find that the only thing getting in the way of success is fear of failure.

On the other hand there are those who leap into action without a plan in their heads. Their lack of preparation and blind optimism leads them to go where wiser business leaders may fear to head. Early success may be due to luck and enthusiasm rather than judgement. Too often those who leap first and think afterwards find that they made too many assumptions and hit early hurdles. To those with maverick tendencies, I would say DITCH IT! — for now — until you have a clear plan of action, know that the idea is financially viable, and are sure that there is a market for what you have to offer.

I have always had a tendency to get on and Do! rather than Ditch the things that I believe in — because I am a great believer that where there is a will there is a way to make it happen. But the bottom line of any business success is, exactly that — the bottom line. At the heart of any Do It! Or Ditch It decision, there are three core elements:

- A strong belief in your vision — that will keep you focused on your path

- Personal resilience — to see you through the tough times

- A commitment to transparent profitability. Staying focused realistically on the profitability of your business before you launch your idea, will help to prevent it from becoming another failure statistic.

Eight steps to taking action

Ask yourself the following questions:

- Step 1 WHAT’s the big idea?

Can you sum up in a single sentence what your vision is for the business? What is its Unique Selling Point? Until you have identified clearly what you have to offer, it will be very hard to make a sale.

-Step 2 WHY is your idea important to you?

What is your core motivation in setting up in business? Is it a desire to be wealthy? Is it material rewards? Is it to provide a lifestyle for your family? Is it the sheer joy of the task? It’s not enough to simply want to be your own boss. You also need the hunger and commitment to succeed.

- Step 3 WHERE are you heading?

Do you know where you are headed? What are your short-term and long-term goals? How big IS your vision? Have you done your market research? Do your customers or clients really need or want what you are offering? Going in to business without a plan is like setting sail without first charting your course. You will land somewhere — but you won’t have a clue where you are or how you got there — and nor will you be prepared for survival.

- Step 4 WHO do you need to help you deliver?

No business owner is an island — not even a sole trader. What skills do you have and what skills do you lack? Who do you need on your dream team — and who can help you to find them?

- Step 5 HOW will you achieve your goal?

What is your strategy for success? How will you find customers and make sales? Your marketing plan isn’t a work of fiction — it needs to contain well-researched facts.

- Step 6 HOW MUCH will it cost? Is it profitable?

Manage your cashflow as if your future survival depends upon it — because it does. Customer profile, costings, cash-flow projections, distribution costs, manufacturing costs, overheads all need to be factored in to your planning. Don’t make assumptions about anything to do with money.

- Step 7 WHEN will you see results?

Set targets and monitor them closely. Positive cashflow depends upon healthy sales. Until you have customers you don’t have a business.

- Step 8 DO IT! OR DITCH IT — Keep reviewing it

Neither a business nor the market place are static. Keep your eye on your goal and keep adjusting your business sails to ensure that you are still on course.

The Do It! or Ditch It path is not for everyone. It requires toughness, self-discipline and single-mindedness — but it is extremely rewarding. For those with the resilience and tenacity to turn their business dream into a commercial reality, developing a Do It! or Ditch It mindset will help you to make focused decisions, use time wisely and stay on track to get to where you want to be.

BEV JAMES is CEO of The Academy Group including the Entrepreneurs’ Business Academy and EBA for Coaches, joint ventures with James Caan; and The Coaching Academy — the world largest training school for coaches. She is a millionaires’ mentor, a serial entrepreneur and author of DO IT! or DITCH IT: Turn ideas into action and make decisions that count — 8 steps to business success, Virgin Books, published on 28 July 2011. Check out www.BevJames.com and sign up for the motivational ‘Daily Do Its’ and access FREE resources which support the book.

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