All About That Base

The Four Cornerstones of Building a Successful Business on Your Terms

Emma Bowdler | The Women's Accountant

Emma Bowdler

I’m a cheerleader for women and an accountant bursting with personality. 

Around here, we strive to be far more than your ordinary bean counters. We are business cheerleaders, mentors and strategists who are just as invested in seeing your business succeed as you are. And, over the years, we have learned a thing or four about what it takes to build and scale a successful business, on your terms — not ours, not theirs, and certainly not his.

In order to withstand the inevitable hurricanes, havoc and hair-raising moments that are just part and parcel of running a business, you need to have some strong foundations. But with so much to ‘do’ and so many things that need your attention every day, it can be hard to know which activities constitute building a solid foundation and which activities are just window dressing. 

The way we see it, there are four major foundations or ‘business cornerstones’ that underpin successful and scalable business. So, grab yourself a shovel and let’s get building…

Pillar One: Pricing Strategy

    Pricing makes or breaks businesses. Too high and you might not make any sales, too low and you might not make any profits. Shiiiiiiit. You need a pricing strategy.

    A pricing strategy is basically dragging the reasoning and strategic thinking behind why you price your goods or services the way you do out of your head and onto the page. It gives some method to the madness and helps you measure how well your pricing is actually working in helping you create a profitable business. 

    Articulating your pricing strategy also helps you make quicker and more value-aligned decisions on whether or not a project or client is ‘worth it’ or not without the whole kit and kaboodle crumbling down around you.

    The most important thing to remember is that: pricing is personal and having a ‘method to the madness’ is a critical pillar to business success.

    Pricing is not a one size fits all like that kaftan at your local H&M. Instead there are a bunch of possible Pricing Strategies you can choose and, if you’re having trouble deciding, we ran a recent Biz Booster Masterclass on Pricing Strategy because it’s easily one of our favourite things to talk about.

    Pillar One: Pricing Strategy | All About That Base — The Four Cornerstones Of Building A Successful Business On Your Terms

    Pillar Two: Marketing

      To riff on what country queen herself Dolly Parton said all those years ago, successful businesses know who they are and they do it on purpose, which brings us to the second pillar of building a successful business: marketing. 

      Taking the time to unpack what makes your business unique is the first step to getting your marketing rolling. This is known as your ‘unique value proposition’ or UVP (sometimes also called ‘unique selling proposition’ or USP). Once you have a clear idea of who you are and your position in the market, you’ll be ready to dive into the who, what, when, where, and how of getting your business noticed for all the right reasons.

      Authentically communicating with your audience means creating a marketing mix that reaches and engages people, that fosters trust and that exchanges value. And it’s not the kind of thing that happens overnight, but there are some simple marketing principles to have in your back pocket (or on your tool belt) when you’re building or trying to scale your business.

      And we know — when you’re busy wearing all the hats, popping on your marketing one can feel daunting. But taking the time to understand your brand, positioning it strategically and putting the effort into building a community around it (or outsourcing it to someone you trust), can unlock the key to long-term business success and sustainability.

      Pillar Two: Marketing | All About That Base — The Four Cornerstones Of Building A Successful Business On Your Terms

      Pillar Three: Systems and Automations

      The third and often overlooked pillar of building a successful business are systems and automations. Sure, it might not be as sexy as talking about pricing and marketing — but good systems make good businesses

      According to online business manager Sharon Black, “every facet of your business is part of a system or process that can be managed or improved by automation.” And there are plenty of benefits that come from spending the time to document, streamline and automate your business systems and processes such as the ability to scale more easily, provide a consistent brand experience, mitigate risk of things being ‘missed,’ and even helping you build your business into a more valuable and saleable asset. Plus, who wants to reinvent the wheel every time you launch a new product, onboard a new client or send an email to your mailing list? Notta us.

      Good systems create efficiency, reduce your expenses and increase your profit margins (which we’ll come to in a moment). And with better and better technology on the market every day, plus helpful resources all across the internet to help you avoid common pitfalls and mistakes, it’s never been easier to get your systems sorted.

      Often people are scared of automation because it’ll ‘cost people jobs’ and robots will take over the world. Anyone who’s seen Westworld or any of these Robot Uprising films and TV shows would be right to be a little wary. But did you know that one in every three new jobs since the 1930s can be attributed to automation? (Joanna Grimbley-Smith – Business Automation Expert, Lolly.co).

      Robots aside, some important systems to have in place in your business include ones that cover the money, the people, the relationships/clients or customers, the marketing and the IT.

      For example:

      • New Client or Team Member Onboarding Process
      • Product/Service Launch Plan
      • Bookkeeping and Accounting Systems (of course, we’d include that!)
      • Invoicing and Contracts
      • Social Media Content Calendar and Approval Processes
      • Lead Generation / Capture Process
        Pillar Three: Systems and Automations | All About That Base — The Four Cornerstones Of Building A Successful Business On Your Terms

        You can start by identifying each of your business activities and then breaking them down into step-by-step processes that are easy to replicate. You can also involve your team in identifying any gaps or risks of things ‘falling apart’ during each stage and come up with ways to prevent them from becoming a reality. Lastly, it’s critical to document, document, document and make a commitment to regular evaluation and improvement of your systems and processes. Much like a home, it takes a little maintenance to keep in tip top shape.

        Also, before you decide that systems and automations are not for you — if we had a dollar for every business owner who told us that they ‘can’t take a break because without them nothing would happen,’ then we could retire on a beach in the Bahamas and listen to their problems with a cocktail in hand. 

        Systems, processes and automations are key to making your business sustainable, saleable, less risky, and giving you that well-earned holiday!

          Pillar Four: Profit

          Without profit, the whole house comes tumbling down. Too often ‘profit’ is seen as a dirty word, almost as if women should be in business for the ‘love of it’ and any money we make is a bonus. We call a big fat bullsh*t on that. Without a profit, your business is effectively a hobby that costs you money and peace of mind.

          At The Women’s Accountant, we are profit-first evangelists. In fact, one of our business non-negotiables is: profit-first, always, and pay yourself a salary from day one.

          The ‘profit first’ method pioneered by Mike Michalowicz is a budgeting and behavioural system in which business owners take a percentage from each sale as profit for themselves first, before paying any other expenses.

          Pillar Four: Profit | All About That Base — The Four Cornerstones Of Building A Successful Business On Your Terms

          It essentially flips traditional profit formulas on their head by encouraging you to rethink spending habits and committing to paying yourself first, rather than just having what’s left over. 

          Traditional Profit Formula:
          Sales – Expenses = Profit

          Profit First Method:
          Sales – Profit = Expenses

          Having a ‘profit first’ mindset can help make your business more sustainable and on track with your goals, and it doesn’t mean that you can’t reinvest your profits back into the business to grow!

          Ready To Build The Successful And Scalable Business Of Your Dreams?

          We love supporting women in a whole bunch of industries and across the country to build a business on her terms.

          Get a taste of what it’s like to work with us with a $47 Business Strategy Session (the money is donated to our favourite women’s charity Protea Place), and get ready to get down and dirty building those strong business foundations!

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