When is the last time you were honest with yourself and your business. No I'm not talking about what you tell everyone in your elevator speech or what you tell your co-workers: I'm talking about the truth. A lot of businesses that are in startup, or just past the phase of startup, don’t have a formal group of advisors to challenge them. Many founders are idealistic and dreamers by nature so its easy for them to slip into an ideal rather than a reality. While idealistic and optimistic thinking is necessary to grow a business. You also need to maintain that vision for growth with the reality of where you are today.
The fact remains, of the 28 million businesses in the United States, only 4 percent will surpass $1M in annual sales. Going from zero to $1M+ requires agility and unemotionally answering objective questions. Here at Banyan Creative we have had the chance to work with several companies who have overcome that $1M+ goal with no outside funding. These businesses share a common thread. A gritty owner who isn't afraid to roll up their sleeves. An undying commitment to the work. And they also know when to stop and change directions.
If you’ve been following us for the last couple of years in our own startup mode, you’ll noticed that we frequently talk about different marketing tactics. But we also dialogue about what we are learning from our own trials & errors and what we are learning from the companies that we partner with. One of the great disciplines, I notice with the truly great companies we work with is their leadership or their ownership often removes themselves from the office for several days each year or each quarter. During this time they ask themselves brutally honest questions about where their business is really at objectively. Many of them have even asked outside advisors, mentors or trusted board members to ask these questions of them. Lets be brutally honest: Its pretty hard to be objective when you are the only one making the decisions. It just is. Call it what it is.
Here’s a list of questions we have to ask ourselves from time to time:
Metrics, KPI's and financials are very important to review as well, but I find these questions don't get to the heart and the soul of the business. Why you are doing it and who you are doing it with?
Need some marketing reflection? We would love to help. You can find us in the office or out on the bike reflecting on what we need to improve on ourselves.... if we are brutally honest.
Sam Casey is the Chief Creative Officer and Managing Partner at Banyan Creative.