The main reason so many entrepreneurs under-achieve and fail is they lack discipline.
Being an entrepreneur has its great rewards. Yet a commonly cited figure is that 90% of new businesses fail.
This big word, DISCIPLINE, is what stops many from becoming truly successful.
It takes discipline to carefully study every aspect of a business before committing to it. It takes discipline to test assumptions rather than jumping to conclusions and hoping for the best.
Hope by itself is not a strategy.
So what are the seven positive DISCIPLINES that must be applied to succeed as an entrepreneur?
1. You need the discipline to identify your ideal customer.
What are the characteristics of the exact person who can and will buy your product or service in sufficient quantities and at a price you’ll need to charge in order to justify going into and staying in that business?
Your ideal customer is a smaller segment of your target market. You should have a good idea of who this is before launching your business. As the business develops and you put actual customer information into a robust CRM system, it will provide you with data about their desires and behavior. This knowledge will either confirm that you’re on the right track or inform adjustments to your profile of your ideal customer.
Smart marketing to the right people is a key to successful business development.
2. You need the discipline to develop a marketing plan. How will you generate a steady and predictable stream of new leads for your business?
What is it about your product or service that makes it superior and more valuable for a customer than any similar product and service being offered today? For effective marketing, you must be very clear about your competitive advantage and your USP – unique selling proposition.
What benefit do you offer your customers that no one else can? Services involve people and no two people are the same
3. You need the discipline to develop a complete sales system..
From the beginning to end of the cycle, how will you convert qualified leads into solid referring customers?
How will you engage the prospective customer both logically and emotionally?
Ideally a sales process is repeatable and measurable. Today’s CRM systems, such as bpm'online or Infor CRM, allow you to automate portions of the process and collect actionable data on the results each step of the way.
Customers want interactions that are both personal and efficient. When a CRM solution is customized to your processes and teams are trained to use it in a unified way, the customer experience sells them. Not only do they want to keep doing business with you; they also recommend you to others.
4. You need the discipline to be proactive rather than reactive. .
What business processes do you have in place to achieve goals, adjust early, and prevent problems rather than functioning in crisis mode? Can you see trends developing within your business?
You must intentionally pay attention. Otherwise, two things can happen. One, unpleasant surprises can sneak up on you. And two, you miss opportunities because you didn’t have time to prepare for them. Don’t let this be you.
5. You need the discipline to focus and refocus on the MOST important thing every hour of every day.
What time management processes will support your focus and keep you from getting side tracked on low or no value activities? Being busy with activities is NOT the same as focusing on results. Become results-oriented by defining your desired outcome. David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) is a great system that works.
Once you’ve clearly defined your focus, most CRM and BPM tools will help you manage tasks and projects, individually and as a team. You’ll also be able to set up automated processes to free you of some distractions.
6. You need the discipline to settle in for the long term
What do you envision five or ten years from now, in business and in life? A long-term perspective will lead to success.
For instance, business is built on relationships and these take time to progress from Know to Like to Trust.
It’s tough to remember years’ worth of interactions with customers, community connections, and business friendships, isn’t it? No, not tough – impossible. Give yourself a break – this is the original purpose of CRM. Why not use it fully to maintain 360-degree portraits of those people and your relationships with them?
7. You need the discipline to set aside dedicated time for yourself and enjoying your family.
Building your business takes a lot of time and energy. No way around that. But part of the freedom of being an entrepreneur is to integrate it into the life you want. Achieving that freedom takes discipline.
Using a mobile CRM helps by allowing you to be in touch while you’re out of the office. But we would be remiss if we didn’t tell you that it’s important sometimes to stash the device and focus on your own well being and the most important people in your life. That too takes discipline. But it’s worth it. True, sustainable success requires it.
Are you applying these seven Positive Disciplines on your road to entrepreneurial success? Which ones could you start today?
Entrepreneurs are our heroes. You have big goals to accomplish, and we want to see you reach them. Look back up at this post at some of the ways CRM can contribute to your quest. Then contact us to tell us your vision and explore your options. Use the button here or call us -- the office line is open.
What other disciplines have you found necessary for entrepreneurial success? We’d love to hear them.
We are grateful to the following people for their thought leadership about disciplines in the entrepreneurial life. Maybe an additional recommended discipline might be to read their writings: Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, David Allen, Doug Hall, Brian Clark & many others that have helped along the way.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in January 2011 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.