• Jenn Gillihan

Four Simple Steps To A Sustainable Small Business

"Help! I need more clients!"

"I love what I do but I'm not making enough money."

"How do I turn this side hustle into something that I can do for a living?"

Oh, how often I hear these sentiments from clients, friends, colleagues. If I had a magic pill that would solve this I'd make millions! For that matter, even if I could give you a one hit answer...most people would be willing to work super crazy hard at that answer...that one thing that would turn it all around.

Unfortunately, there is no magic pill but there IS a 4 part answer that encapsulates it all that is pretty easy to remember and put into action.

Visualize | Plan | Execute | Analyze

Were you looking for more brass tacks…we’ll get there…but hear me out. The real answer is, building a business isn’t easy. That’s it, period. You may be unbelievably passionate about your craft but if you don’t follow these four steps…IN THAT ORDER…it will take you twice as long with twice as much grief (if you’re lucky). So let’s break it down and then I’ll share the brass tacks.


What is it you want? What do you want your life to look like? How does your business fit into that?

Do you want to work 5 days a week or 5 days a month? How much income do you need to have the life you want? What do you want to do at work each day? Is it more important to you that you interact with your clients or that you get to do your craft?

For example, let’s say you’re a photographer. You love capturing amazing photographs but you don’t like chaos…probably shouldn’t be a wedding photographer! This is the step where you figure out what you want your life and your business to look like….you visualize the dream.


Think about it. Have you ever known a contractor to build a house without a design? Have you ever tried to put together Ikea furniture without reading the directions? Ugh! Can you start your business without a plan? Sure you can but Ikea won’t take it back when you get frustrated with it. You may or may not end up with the business you wanted. You may run out of resources while you’re trying to figure it out. If you have a plan you’re prepared for the road blocks and can navigate around the detours. You can even follow a few “squirrels” (aka shiny things) along the way and still end up where you want in the end.


This is where the rubber meets the road and subsequently where most of us fail. We start out with a fire in our belly and determination in our hearts but then things get tough. We start feeling the cards stacked against us and sooner or later the story we’ve created in our head of “I’ll never get it all done” or “I just don’t have enough money to invest in order to make this thing work” or “it just takes too much time away from my family”…the story takes over. We start listening to our voices of fear and self-doubt. We lose faith in our team or our partner to help us build the dream and we start blaming circumstances for our inability to make it all work.

This is where you have to find a new story, a new tribe, a renewed energy. Find what’s blocking you from executing and get to work. I always like to use the phrase…”It’s time to put your big girl pants on and get back out on the sales floor.” Different things work for different people but this is where having an accountability partner, a coach, a friend or a mentor can help you push through to that next level of accomplishment. It’s the stick-to-it-iveness that wins the game along with the brass tacks.

Brass Tacks – they are the pieces of marketing, sales, fulfillment and customer retention that make your business work. Having knowledge in each of these areas is important to guarantee your success and sustainability.

BUT…knowledge alone is not power.

APPLIED KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. That’s called execution.

Now hold tight…I’ll come back to the tacks but let me finish the four steps. Lastly you have to:


Why is analysis so important? How can you make good decisions about marketing if you don’t know where your clients are coming from? Better yet, if you don’t know how far you’ve come how can you possibly know when to pop a top and celebrate your success? On the not so fun side…think about your employees. If you aren’t tracking sales or productivity numbers, how do you know if you have that one employee that is really just draining your wallet and not producing results?

You have to know your KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) and take the time to review them on a regular basis. This allows you to know what’s working, what’s not and where changes need to be made to maximize your time, money and energy investments. If you do this on a regular basis this allows you to go back to the visualization step and see if how your business is currently operating fits with your initial vision. From there, you can adjust your vision for the new opportunities that have risen or redirect operations to be more in line with what you’re wanting. Analysis is what keeps you moving in the right direction year after year and makes your small business sustainable.

That's it...live out those 4 steps in your business and you're ahead of 90% of small business owners who don't take the time to manage the business side of their business!

Still want Brass Tacks? No problem! Rather than giving you an overwhelming laundry list of things to do for marketing, sales, fulfillment and customer retention and more...I want to break it down into bite size chunks. This will help move you through your planning phase in a way that doesn't make you feel like you're trying to eat an elephant. Click here to sign up for a free video training in each of the key areas of your business. No obligations, no daily email in your inbox...just great learning content that you can stop at any time.

I hope you have a fantastic day as you find your own path to Love Your Business & Love Your Life!

Your Friend In Growth & Giving,

Jennifer Gillihan

Traveler | Adventurer | Seeker Of Joy & Self Expression

Wife | Mother | Nana

Entrepreneur | Coach

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