Plot Your Course: Avoid the Dragons on the Map to Success

You’ve done it – you’ve come up with The Next Big Thing and now you have to get it to the public. You could just take a run at it blindly following the masses to where you think you should be going because your best friend knew someone who had a friend who did it. Or you could make different choices when you start out and begin by listening to the advice of an expert.

Owning your own business can be complicated but extremely rewarding, especially when your business succeeds! However, before you can reach that success, you have to take the baby steps to start moving toward it. There are some key things that we strongly recommend that you keep in mind when you launch or are ready to scale, such as:

The first thing on which you should focus, and certainly one of the most important, is networking and building relationships with the professionals and colleagues that you need to support yourself and your business as you develop and scale. Think lawyers, accountants, financial advisors, insurance brokers, business planners, graphic designers, etc.(1) You need to make sure that you have found the right personalities and knowledge levels to fit with your needs before you kick off your launch.

Then it’s time to add to the plan by making sure that you lay out the goals and strategies for your finances. If you plan ahead of time, you set out your vision for your company for both the short- and long-term.(2) Typically, six months to one year is considered short-term and three-year, or five-year plans are considered long-term. Either way, you should be planning for a minimum of three years at a minimum. The hardest part of planning the financial aspects is staying neutral in your estimations. What you want to avoid is predicting a sharp, sudden growth trend that magically appears after the first year of operations (or two, etc.).

While you are having fun meeting people and making up numbers, you should also be looking at your overall business plan. It goes hand-in-hand with your financial plan; they’re complementary. Make sure that your mission is feasible and possible to achieve while still being inspirational for your and your team(3). Writing the business plan can also help you envision the future for your business. So ask yourself – where do you see your business in a year’s time? Will you still be in the office looking at a computer screen or will you have moved on to sunglasses and the beach? Hey, an exit strategy is important too and it is so very essential to begin with the end in mind.(4) It might be in the distant future, but you should still plan for how you want to wind up the business. After all, it could be that you have to hand it off and make choices between your loyal and faithful right-hand VP or your weird cousin that no one likes when it comes to the CEO title. Think about your goals and your intentions and create a plan to accomplish them.

Now you have a plan. You’ve got some goals, a future vision, and a possible exit strategy (or a few). That’s great! Next, it’s time to get your product (or service) gussied up and pretty for its big debut.(5) Trying to save money is a good idea, but not if you try to skip the branding step. Branding (colors, logos, fonts, imagery, word choices, etc.) is the very first impression the public has of your business. Branding will lead your business story long after you have left the room.(6) Your brand should tell your clients – and the world – what they can expect from you, why you’re different from any potential competitors, who you are and what you represent. Once you’ve nailed down your color scheme and logo, you’ll be ready to market your services (or products). Marketing, in brief, is informing the general public about your product, where to find it, why they would want it and how they can get it. Almost 2/3 of American adults currently use social media, so no doubt you can start there. Create posts, like other people’s posts, leave comments – interact with people online (be social) and make sure that the content you’re putting out there is valuable. Its an easy, costeffective way to market your business and reach your target audience.(7)

Back to those professionals and colleagues that I mentioned before; you might not think you need professionals and experts, but you do. Does your product or service access or collect information? If so, are you familiar with all PIPPA and GDPR regulations? Have you considered application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to your website – and what does this even mean? Do you have a physical location where people purchase your products or services? Do you have the right insurance coverages that you need? You cannot do everything yourself, so stay in your lane and work with professionals and experts that can help you ensure that you don’t get in over your head.(8)

One of those professionals could be a banker or venture capitalist, for example, and you never know when you will need them. When you first start out, the hardest thing to often do is find the money to put in to your business. Maybe you need seed money for equipment, vehicles, technology, marketing, or your reserves if your business is a bit riskier and you want ‘just in case’ capital for the future. Keep your debt to a minimum and make sure that your business plan contains your best, educated guess on your goals/objectives, your target market, getting customers to buy from you, how much money you think you will need, and when you feel revenue will start to come in (and how that will look). You should also model out as many possible scenarios as you can that show when your business will turn cash-positive.(9) This will help to show potential investors that you are serious and will give them some confidence in knowing when they might expect to be paid back.

Next step – now that your business is up and running, or if your company has gone through a recent growth, it’s time to assess and analyze your operations.(10) Why? Periodically, you will need to review how your company does what it does best and who is doing it. It allows you to identify inefficiencies and improve communication for the company and your clients. You can use comparisons against industry benchmarks and best practices to make sure that you have optimized your operations. There is so much more to do, but this is an excellent primer to get you started.

If you have questions on this article or would like to know more about what I can do to help you, please visit, email us at or call us at 1-866-724-0085 for more details. You can also take our free quiz at!

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Lauren Cohen is an internationally-acclaimed attorney who has built a system designed to help business owners achieve their goals. simply and strategically, through a vetted network of professionals. Lauren’s 3-Step ScaleUPCheckUP™ Success System (Assess/Diagnose/Deliver) assesses your business’s risk in the 7 most critical areas that, if ignored, could lead to disaster.

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