All success starts in one place: Your mind "beginning with the end in mind" -- having a clear vision of what you want before you begin, just like a building follows a blueprint. Nine times out of ten, when I work with business owners who are struggling, it's because they have neglected to do this very important visioning work. That's why the first Essential Step you need to take is to create an Exit Strategy. You have to know where you're going if you ever hope to get there.
To assist in this process, first allow me to introduce you to a powerful framework for understanding the phases of business growth. It's called the Five Steps to Freedom, and it will give you a road map to building a true business asset -- a company that continues to progress and produce profits even without your day-to-day involvement.
Here they are...
1. CREATION. This is when you're beginning as an unknown in the marketplace, researching a viable niche or approach for your business, developing a working prototype of your business model, and launching the enterprise. This step is called "creation," but sometimes even established businesses haven't taken the time to put together a solid business model or research an exact market niche! If this describes you, one of the first things we'll do together is lay a sure foundation...because until you do, you'll be dramatically hindered in your ability to transform your business into a profit-producing asset.
2. DISORDER. This step is every bit as chaotic as it sounds! It's when you begin waging the often-bloody battle of becoming cash flow positive. You do it by investing heavily in sales and marketing and other high-impact growth strategies. Your goal is to create effective marketing systems and build enough brand awareness to capture as much market share as possible, as quickly as possible! Sadly, only a handful of businesses ever make it past this step -- and if you're struggling to find enough time to really work on your business, chances are you're stuck here. Still, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and if you can power through it, you'll soon find yourself in the next phase...
3. CONTROL. This is when you convert cash flow into profit by stabilising and organising your operations, measuring your well-chosen performance metrics, and fine-tuning and adjusting the business model. This step is all about systems: organizing the business in such a way that YOU aren't needed for every decision, every sale, every day-to-day interaction with staff and customers.
4. PROSPERITY. Your goal here is to solidify a position of dominance in your niche market by economising and optimising for efficiency. This will allow you to continue to invest in growth and repay debt. When you've reached this point, you can really start to enjoy the fruits of your labours!
5. FREEDOM. Your final act is to reproduce yourself and develop a strong core of leaders who will continue to grow the business through partnerships, joint ventures, and acquisitions. At this point, you will enjoy the luxury that comes from having free time...and free cash flow.
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