BOEs – Business Owners and Entrepreneurs –spend Stage 1 of the 7 Stages of Business Success working on a strategic plan that will set them up for profitable, continued growth. Once that strategic plan is in place, it’s time to move onto Stage 2. In this stage, the most crucial task is achieving excellence and getting the credentials that will instantly establish you as the smartest person in the room. It is excellence and expertise that will catapult BOEs through Stage 2: The Specialty Stage. While everyone agrees that sales are significant, the larger goal at this stage is to create credibility and industry leadership. Once that’s done, the desire for your products and services will balloon, and strong sales will follow. To grow into a 7- or 8-figure business, BOEs must create a company that customers and clients desperately want to work with. That’s why the goal in Stage 2 is to attract customers to you because they trust you, they want the best, and they know you are THE expert.
How to Become the Best in Your Field
To succeed in the long-term, you must be perceived as the smartest person in the room. That’s easy enough to say, but it’s a little harder to achieve. Start by deciding what you are the best at. That means you will need to narrow your field of expertise. Highly-paid doctors do this all the time. For example, eye doctors make a good enough living checking your vision and prescribing glasses or contacts. There are thousands of these doctors, and it’s unusual to say that one eye doctor is clearly better than all the rest. LASIK eye doctors are a bit rarer and can charge more. An eye doctor who specializes in retinal health is even less common and in more demand. Specialists in neuro-ophthalmology are top-level specialists and attract patients from a hundred miles away. As is typical in most fields, top doctors usually go through more training and have more difficult certifications to obtain. Your local optician can’t just “decide” to start doing LASIK or neurosurgery. Their training and certifications are important (which is why they prominently display their graduation certificates in their offices.) Training, expertise, certificates, and awards are essential in any industry. A plumber with a degree from a trade school, certificates of apprenticeship, who speaks at the National Hardware Show, and who shows up as an expert on the local news has high-level credibility and instant trust from potential customers. This guy is a celebrity! Of course, he gets top dollar to work on your plumbing, and his company is going to get a steady stream of new customers because that company is perceived as “the best.” Being a highly-training and highly-recognized expert is one way to achieve excellence, but going back to the medical example again, specialization is also helpful. Eye doctors will have a much harder time standing out as the best without specializing in a less common aspect of eye health. But that doesn’t mean they CAN’T stand out. Opticians can be the most upscale choice, with a desirable address, opulent offices, and very high-end eyewear choices. They could specialize in children’s eye health or seniors’ eye health. The idea is to be different, be specific, and be the very best at your specialization. When you become laser-focused on one part of the business and stop trying to serve every aspect of the industry, you can get much better in the process. Your business can become known for a specialty, which will draw customers from a broader region and allow you to charge more for your expertise.
Being the Best: The Checklist
In addition to offering a specialized product or service, as the owner, you must back up your skills with proof of expertise. Here are a few questions to ask yourself.
- What are the highest certifications, accreditations, or designations that you can receive?
- Should you get a college degree or advanced degrees such as a Master’s or Ph.D.?
- What professional organizations can you join? Can you become an officer for those organizations?
- Are there professional seminars you should be attending (or speaking at)?
- Can you become part of a trade group or networking group?
- What clubs are you a part of? Can you hold office in those organizations? The higher the office, the more credible your industry leadership becomes. Can you create relationships with your local newspaper, radio station, or TV station? Can you be their go-to source for information in your field?
- Do your company communications reflect your expertise? What does your webste look like? Are you portraying yourself and your company accurately on social media?
- Remember that some credentials are experiential. What have you done in your past that makes you an expert now? Did you overcome a significant obstacle? Have you spent time with the leaders in your field? Did you win a big account, climb a big mountain, lose weight, overcome illness, invent something, or outperform your peers?
The Owner is the Star in Stage 2
As an owner, you build a company based on your personal experience, expertise, and abilities. You are the best at what you do, and you’re making sure your products and services are also the best in your category in your market. In Stage 2, the owner is the star of the business. Being the best attracts customers. Your personal and professional excellence helps your fledgling company gain momentum and increase sales. When the owner is the best, they can get testimonials and recommendations for the company.
Beyond Stage 2
While we all do what we have to do to get our business going, some business owners and entrepreneurs don’t want to be the center of attention in the long term. For these BOEs, Stage 2 is just that–a stage. It is a necessary step in a bigger strategic plan. Step 2 must be mastered before moving on to Stage 3: the Synergy Stage. Want to find out more about the 7 Stages of Small Business Success? If you want personalized coaching from an industry leader, contact 7 Stages Advisors for personal assessments, coaching, and recommendations.