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Knowing Your Limits

Recently I had a customer ask if I wanted to partner with them on their website instead of paying my consulting fee. The website sells products that have tremendous potential. I had thought about it and remembered that I already have two professional commitments my IT consulting business and UnderstandITNow.com (UIN). My IT consulting business is how I make a living and UIN is an outlet for me to talk about business and IT consulting. I decided to pass on the offer which was a little disheartening because the earning potential was huge. This brings me to my point though. You need to clearly understand what you limitations are in business. You have to clearly outline the parameters of what your business does and does NOT do. In my case I provide Microsoft IT consulting services for small to medium size businesses. Taking on a non-billable project would take time away from my consulting business and UIN. Spreading yourself thin and not focusing on your primary objective is a formula for failure. To be successful in your business you can only focus on one business at a time. Having scattered business interests leads to scattered results. Knowing exactly who you are and what you do will keep you on the right pass for your business success. Here are some key questions you should ask yourself to help keep your business on track:

  1. Do you have a mission statement? If not create a one page mission statement that clearly defines your business offerings. This defines what your company is all about. The mission statement defines exactly how you will help your customers.
  2. Now that you know what your business offerings are can you define what your company is about in one sentence? You should be able to tell a potential customer exactly how you help your customers in one sentence. This gives you clarity about how your business provides value for your customers. For help learning how to develop a one sentence description of your company I recommend going to www.15SecondPitch.com.
  3. Can you define exactly how you help your customers? People do not want to hear about how great you are or how your office has ping pong tables in the conference room because you think outside the box. I have news for you. No one cares about that crap! They want to hear how you are going to help them and their organization. Provide straight talk solutions and you will have a successful business. I promise you if spend your time thinking how you can help others will be successful.
  4. Can you define the type of customer you want? This one topic took me multiple years to learn. If you know exactly the type of customer you want to work with you will not waste time and money on the customers that are not a good fit for you. I recommend clearly defining the type of client you want to work for. For example the type of industry, number of employees, number of locations, number of workstations, number of servers, type of servers and my favorite what type of attitude does the CEO have because this aspect alone sets the tone for the corporate culture and the type of people you will have to deal with. By clearly defining the type of customer you want to work with you will know immediately if you are wasting your time with a potential customer or not. Believe me this can save you a lot of headaches and money.
  5. What do you expect to get out of your business? If you are just after money you will probably fail. I find that the most successful businesses or people are the ones that find fulfillment helping others. For instance I find tremendous fulfillment talking about IT and helping my customers with their IT related issues. Money is a by-product of what I enjoy doing.

When you are an entrepreneur the idea flow can be like drinking water from a fire hydrant. Knowing exactly who you are and how you operate is key to keeping your business on the right path. By answering the questions above you will have laser focus for building your business. Remember scattered focus leads to scattered results. I hope you enjoyed this article. If you have any comments leave them in the box below. Thank you for taking the time to read this article.

Wishing you ultimate success in your business.

Tom