“Why isn’t our business taking off?”

You’ve got a great offering for the market. You’ve already been paid as a consultant or contractor, and you know your service is valuable.

You have a team of people who you can call on. They’re not employees, so you’re not desperate, but if you needed to, you could ramp up quickly.

So, what are you doing wrong? Why isn’t your business taking off?

There may just be a silver bullet

Just joking. Well, only half-joking.

Because you have the team ready (although they’re taking a wait-and-see approach). You have your offering, your process for delivery, and you even have enough collateral, such as case studies, testimonials, and a simple and clear sales process.

So, what’s missing? Is there a silver bullet? In fact, there is.

What’s needed for lift off

Let’s take that plane analogy a little further.

You have enough financial runway or a pretty easy fallback plan if those sales you’ve been hoping for don’t come through just yet. So, you can relax.

You also have your team, thanks to years in the industry, and some pretty smart collaboration and networking. You clearly build trust. So, your plane is ready for flight.

There are three more things you need (and I’ll bet you’re well on the way to two of them).

You need a direction

You’re not going on a joy flight. Your business is not a hobby. And it’s not an airplane show you’re putting on, either. You’re headed to a destination, and you have a plan.

That means you need to communicate that clearly: who you work with, where you can take them and why they would want to go there.

In business terms, that means that you can see the vision for your clients even more clearly than they do. How effectively do you communicate that?

Are you saying you’re a taxi driver, ready to take them wherever they want to go?

You need fuel

But as well as a plan, you need the fuel to get that plane off the runway and into the air. That’s pretty scary, because it means you have to build all the processes and pricing and packages you need so that you won’t have to turn back mid-flight.

In fact, you have to be so committed to arriving at the destination that you will have enough fuel to make it impossible, or at least very difficult, for you to turn back. You know that big planes have to shed fuel if they need to land straight after take off. That’s how committed they are to not turning back.

How have you invested in yourself, in your flight? Are you spending too much time, taxi-ing on the runway, because you’re scared to take off?

You need clients

Ah yes! The missing element. The silver bullet! You’re not running a charity. You’re not running a non-profit. You’re not taking on friends and strangers who want a free flight or a bartering with colleagues in the hope that enough passengers will take you seriously enough to buy a ticket and get on board.

This is a gap I have seen in many, many business. They run their business like it’s a joy-ride business. That’s alright as you’re building up your knowledge, but when you’re ready to fly, you need to work out who your (paying!) passengers are, where they are now, where they want to head, and why.

Why should they trust you to deliver an amazing experience, flying them over the mountains and seas?

Flying Business class

If your plane (your business) has lots of power, but no direction, you’re creating a risk for the market. Power without direction spells danger.

And if you have direction without power, it may be time to shed some of that luggage of those low-paying (or no-paying) customers, and ask them to get off the flight, so that your real paying customers can come on board.

Your business depends on clients. Your clients need to know that you are competent, professional. That you have systems in place to take them where they want to go, and get them there safely.

Direction, power and passengers

To run a business, you don’t have to have everything in place. But you do have to have enough to get your passengers confident that they’re better off stepping onto your plane than someone else’s (or—more likely—staying where they are).

Do you have the vision, the plan? Do you know the direction to head?

Do you have enough power to fuel your flight? That will be processes, systems, the little things which help passengers know that you’re the one to fly with.

And do you have the right kind of passengers (clients)?

Which one of these is missing in your business? What should you work on first?