I love sitting around a burning fire. It doesn’t matter if it’s a winter fire at a cabin, a summer campfire, or the random backyard fire pit, but fires equal fun and relaxation.
The art of building a fire was something I learned in my youth, but I’ve noticed that many people don’t have this skill. They just haphazardly throw logs, tinder, and kindling in a pile; toss in a match and expect it to turn into a roaring blaze.
However, sometimes I do the same thing with my business. I randomly throw ideas at it and don’t build the proper base for those ideas to catch fire and as such, my ideas might result in a quick burst of something, but nothing that will sustain my business – let alone allow it to grow.
Gathering the proper materials
To get our business burning we need to start off by making sure that we’ve gathered the right components.
It doesn’t take much to get a wildfire started. When it’s dry, matches are not the only things that can act as a spark and start a fire. Lawnmowers, cigarette butts, lightening, or teenage boys can all provide the spark necessary to start a fire. The same is true for our businesses. I think of sparks as all of those ideas that you have stashed in your head, your notebook, and/or your Evernote folder that could result in a product or service for your business. But, ideas are like sparks, they only provide a brief flash of fire, they are not enough on their own to sustain our businesses.
But, ideas are like sparks, they only provide a brief flash of fire.
Tinder is that material that keeps our spark going just long enough to allow our kindling to catch fire. When we are building a fire we often use things like newspaper, dried grass, or even dryer lint as tinder. For our businesses, the things that we do to vet and refine our ideas function as tinder. This could be market research, sourcing and pricing potential materials, asking existing or potential customers/clients what their needs are, or doing a beta test. The tinder lays the groundwork to assure that our spark will continue to build into something bigger.
For our businesses, the things that we do to vet and refine our ideas function as tinder.
Once the kindling catches, our fire is starting to be sustainable. This stage is where our fire starts generating heat (or in the case of our businesses, starts generating income). I see the kindling as our entry-level products or services, the first introduction that a client/customer has with our businesses. These products and services allow our businesses to start generating income, so that we can focus on gathering the logs that will sustain our businesses.
I see the kindling as our entry-level products or services.
You could have a fire with only kindling, but it would take a lot of work. What you want to do is to get that kindling going, so that you can add logs. Logs are those products and services that allow us concentrate on something other than product/service development. They are our higher-end goods and services that sustain our business (and keep our bank accounts happy). Logs are the types of goods and services that we need to have a sustainable business.
Logs are those products and services that allow us concentrate on something other than product/service development.
Building and tending the fire
Once those components are gathered, the next step is putting them together properly. We can’t just throw them all into a pile and expect the fire to take off. We need to stack them so that each component builds on the previous one. The same is true for our businesses; maybe we take one of our entry-level offerings and envision the complementary offerings that the same client would be attracted to. For example, maybe your entry-level product is a simple thin rose gold ring. A complementary offering might be a heavier weight rose gold ring with a stone, or a set of stacking rose goal rings. If you are a service provider, your entry-level service could be an hour long “pick your brain” session, with your complementary offerings being the types of problems your clients regularly uncover during these sessions.
We can’t just throw them all into a pile and expect the fire to take off. We need to stack them so that each component builds on the previous one.
Once we’ve stacked them properly and our fire is burning, our business journey doesn’t end. We need to tend to the fire by adding kindling and logs periodically. This is the process where we evaluate if our offerings make sense and is meeting our client’s needs. For example, if our jeweler frequently gets asked if she sells her stacking rings as a set, maybe this makes sense to add as an offering. Or maybe she opts to offer earrings that go well with her rings as an additional entry-level product.
Are you missing any components to get your business burning? What can you do to fix the missing links?