|Why did you start your business? Usually, we hear the following:
“I could do this way better than the last Boss that I had.”
“I received a payout, and thought that it was time I went out on my own.”, and the famous: “I’ve always wanted to do it.”
If you didn’t get into a market segment for reasons such as goods requirement in that region, or competition, or even a better raw material source, you can still concentrate on how you can make your business succeed from this point on by creating practices that more seasoned companies have done. Here’s Seven tips on how you can start succeeding:
Businesses fail to reach their full potential.
Any reason you can think of is usually a symptom of a bigger problem, and two of those are usually more organic than you can see. Either business owners are unclear about their goals (or have lost sight of their original goals as to what they want to get out of their business) OR business owners don’t really know what’s going on in their business.
Not knowing what’s going on in the business is extremely common and relates to knowing your KPI’s (key performance indicators) For instance, how many people do you have to connect with to get the right percentage to walk through your door and how many have to purchase and how many who purchase have to become loyal clients and/or referrers of others to your business? Start with last year, find out how close you are, and what steps do you have to take to get it right this year.
Know where you are
What are you doing right, right now, and what do you need to strengthen in order to get our first tip correct? Find out how long it will take to get there, and what it will cost. If you don’t know, get help – and factor that cost into your calculations.
Where are you going?
Many small business owners run a daily management routine on habit, rather than on a clearly defined journey toward a goal. Even if you are entrepreneurial, you must have something to head for in the medium and long term that is about your businesses’ success, not your rose colored view of the future. Break down the big picture into manageable chunks so you can see how far you have come, and what you have to do to reach your next steps.
How much do you earn?
You have to know how much it takes for the business to pay its bills, pay lifestyle wages and generate profits to grow the company. You need a predictive budget/cash flow model to see how much it takes to expand, and that includes owner’s salaries.
if you don’t plan to create profit for growth, how is your growth going to be funded? If you don’t pay yourself the right amount now, how will you know what you pay yourself in the future. Just taking ‘what’s left’ is not a plan.
Now that you know where you are, where you are going, and have decided your income, you have to get customers buying your products or services. But WHO are these people and WHERE are we going to find them? That is marketing, but now you know these two crucial facts about your future customers, you know what message will get to them, and that is the basis of your future. What are you doing right now for these customers, what do you need to work on to make their experiences with you better, and what will make hem return, or tell others?
Manage for success
While you are looking at these ‘big picture’ questions and challenges, you cannot be expected to run everything, perfect a customer relationship model for your staff, and be the corporate fireman. You need to get out of the everyday, and either delegate or hire someone that does these tasks for you.
These are two distinct jobs, and you shouldn’t be dropping complex calculations of future growth to go unblock the toilets. You need a head of daily operations, no matter the size of your company. That person reports to you, but on an organized daily meeting basis. Give yourself the time to plan the future.
Get a coach
A coach/mentor is outside of the day-to-day activity and can provide a cool outsider’s point of view about what needs to be done and/or can bring to the table ideas and concepts outside the your awareness or current level of experience.
Choose the right one: Remember, they are there to help YOU rather than sell you a coaching system designed to make them money. So ask questions about their specific expertise in your business, ask for names of other businesses in your industry area they have helped so you can reference check them, check their availability in relation to responding to problems or issues you may encounter, and lastly, determine what is and what is not included in their fee structures.
Give yourself the permission to speak candidly to someone about your business, and receive critical advice. They aren’t a friend, they are a professional, but they can become your company’s best friend.
Good Luck transforming your business for the next level of success.
|Met your article writing goals for the year? Congratulations! How did you do it? Probably, by getting into a routine that you could handle easily no matter the circumstances you were in on any given day. But what if you haven’t reached those goals? Here’s a quick ‘cheat sheet’ on how to get into that frame of mind.
First, these steps are meant for those in a time crunch or for those who have a fast approaching deadline. It’s always recommended that you develop a structured plan that helps you achieve your goals so you aren’t scrambling at the end to meet your goal.
Next, use these steps to prioritize your tasks to make time for writing, budget your time effectively, and you will reach your target before you know it!
1. Identify Your Priorities – What tasks hold the greatest value (biggest ROI)? Make a list of everything you do in a given day and rank it starting with 1 as your highest priority. Delegate anything that is low priority. If delegation isn’t possible, let it go (deep breath) to make room for tasks that hold the greatest value to you.
2. Break it Down – Break down your tasks into actionable steps. For example, instead of “send tweet,” you might be break it down to “brainstorm tweet ideas,” “write tweets,” and “schedule/post tweet.” A more specific writing example would include “brainstorm article topics,” “outline article,” “draft article,” “edit article,” and “submit article.”
3. Increase Efficiency – Eliminate the following: Time sinks or activities that take up huge chunks of your time with little to no value.
Self-induced or outside distractions that make you lose your focus
Multi-tasking or not giving one task your full attention at any given time
4. Create a Plan – In the amount of time you have before your deadline, calculate how long it will take to perform a given task and schedule it at least a day in advance. To ‘amp up’ your writing efforts, take a day to write (or two or three – whatever you can). Clear your schedule and dedicate every resource you have to reaching your writing goal on that day.
5. Execute – Spring into action with every fiber of your being! Give every article an extra 10% of quality and originality to increase your ROI and exercise those article writing muscles.
Start now! Make your plan and get everyone (friends, family, and peers) on board. Don’t end with a whimper simply because you didn’t make your goal. Be a success!
|Consumers have lots of choice for their buying needs, and you have lots of competition. So, how do you ensue that they look at your shopping experience, when compared to theirs? That’s a basic question, with a really simple answer.
Find a way to differentiate your business, one that matters to somebody, so that you do not have to compete on price. What is the single-minded point of difference that some narrowly defined ideal client cannot live without? The secret to marketing success is as simple as that. But by finding it, and exploiting it, your business would be in the elite, because your competition isn’t doing it. Why?Because to be unique, you have to actually be different and that scares the heck out of most business owners. Be very clear about this, though, your customers and prospects want you to be different, they require you to be different. To succeed in business you have only one job, and that is to find a way to show that you are completely different in a way that your market wants and values, exploit that difference in every word that you compose and watch your profits soar. It’s painful and a lot of extra work to do, sometimes, but you will be many steps ahead of the competition if you can do it.
Identify your ideal Client
You know you have an ideal client in mind when you can ponder how great life would be if you have a dozen or so more just like them. What makes them perfect for you? Have you done business with one, lately?
Create a list of six to eight of your current ideal clients and commit to sitting down with face to face or over the phone for about fifteen minutes, or you are going to devise a questionnaire and have them complete it and return it to you. As either of these methods are a conversation of sorts, the same questions should be included:
Why did you hire us/buy from us in the first place? Just because you think you know, you may not. You can collect surprising insights, here.
What’s one thing we do that you love the most? You need specifics, here. Drill down from their first answers.
What’s one thing we do that others don’t? Don’t be embarrassed to ask this – no-one else is, so it’s a refreshing change for the answerer. Even if the answer’s as plain as ‘you are close’, you collect extra knowledge.
If you were to refer us what would you say? Look for three adjectives, here. It will help you tally up the most important points when spread over several answers.
Can you tell me about three other companies that you love? Even if these other companies are in your field, you will get another view of your business from the outside. You also learn more about your competition.
If you were conducting an online search for this service, how would you search for it?: You are looking for their search terms in order to further define how a successful search would find you.
Remember that you’re not looking for scientific data, you’re looking more for themes and stories that offer clues to what really does make your firm unique. In most cases you will need to use follow-up statements such as – “Okay, we provide great service, that’s awesome, but tell me a story about a time we did.”
Work with themes that matter
From your interviews you should have some rich themes to work with. Don’t underestimate the power of simple things. Quite often your clients value the little things you do that are special. Resist the temptation to dismiss them as unimportant enough to use as your core point of difference.
List all of the answers, find out who said the most often repeated themes, and drive home a marketing campaign aimed at these clients.
This is your VP – Your Value Proposal to an entire business segment.
|It’s a worthwhile exercise to ask yourself if your life has turned out the way you expected it to – especially in your entrepreneurial life. If you ask yourself “How is my Business really doing?”, then how do you measure it? Turnover, Service, Employee number, growth, competition, money, your life-style? Nowadays we are expected to look at all of these as parts of the same equation. So, let’s start with an easier way to ask the question. Here are three choices, which one does your business most closely resemble?
Has your Business failed spectacularly?
Is your business a runaway success?
Is your business an ‘everyday’ business?
You probably answered the third choice, and you have a business in The Everyday Box. However, because you recognize that fact, there are very simple ways for you to change it.
The Everyday Box is what your business gets caught in when you are ploughing forward, simply paying the bills. If you answered either of the first two, you may be in a better position. To have flamed out as a business owner, you have striven to get too far, too fast. You have made some choices that weren’t right at that time, or with those customers and prospects, or your staff couldn’t follow through for you.
If your business has – eventually – taken off, you have probably done the same things as the failure mentioned above, and they have worked. Chances are you have been through failure before, and it has resulted in a success this time. Of course, the answers aren’t simply to do with timing, but it could be something equally as glaring, or a combination of other simpler components that, when put together, made the choice. However, the education that you had been through before, made you do something a little different, or at a different time, or with a different purchaser profile, and, when put together, worked.
If you are ‘in between’ these two states, you are in the Everyday Box – and you may not know it. You are making excuses based on outside influences: The economy, the weather, the entrenched competition. You qualify your decisions as doing what you need to do to pay the bills, keep the staff happy, and keep everything ‘ticking over’ until this current negative situation clears up, miraculously. Of course the chances are that it will be replaced by another negative situation. As your business lurches toward the failure you are scared is going to happen, you become immobile, and continue on as if this is ‘business as usual’. If it is, you are really in trouble. So, how do you get out of it?
The first step, as with any difficult decision is to recognize that you are in the Everyday Box, and what you need to do to get out of it. That is remarkably easy: Go back to the reason why you started this thing in the first place, and what you were going to do to make it a success. Take a critical look at your entire chain, from prospecting to returning customers, and figure out how they differed from what you thought they were going to be. How do you change either them, their habits, your goods and services, or your marketing. Look at your staff. Are they in it for the long haul? They have to be entrepreneurial, too. Are they? Tell them what you are going to do, what changes are going to come up, how long it’s going to take. Will they follow you? Chances are, they will. Trim the dead wood, move forward, set yourself a goal and hit it. In other words, change.
One of two things will happen…and you know what they are. On the way to that place though, your business will change. Everyone will be more energized: Employees, contractors, suppliers and prospects will see how energized everyone has become. Everyone will be focused on the new goal, and you will be enjoying life once again.
You will pick up renewed interest from old contacts, and some new ones, too. Your drive to make this thing a runaway success is not only infectious – it is required. The way to get out of the Everyday Box is exactly the way to move your business toward success: Your enthusiasm. If you fail, you will have learned more about how to make it work next time. Your gutsy moves will mean more investment money next time, because nothing breeds enthusiasm in others like your own enthusiasm.
No business should be ‘just good enough’, it should be an unqualified success…or it should die trying. In either case, you will have gotten out of the Everyday Box.
Yes, I know – put the coffee on. Or something like that. Now…concentrate.
The first thing I do is post my ‘morning thought’. This is the one that I have picked up from the latest trends across my social media platforms: In the business world in general this means LinkedIn for headlines, I glance through Twitter and, for fun (Fun is important in the Business World), check on Google+. I have started using Hootsuite, now, so I can post my thought across all of these platforms with one post. There, now I have just ‘touched’ over 200,000 people. I hope that it was a good post!!
Posting this way shows that I’m a real person that thinks of other things outside of my business model. This means that when I do post about my company it is at least tolerated by everyone, and may well mean some interest in my business page. In turn this means more clicks and higher ranking for my website, putting it closer to the number one position in ‘Search’, where people actively looking for my services will find me easier.
My second job is to write a blog, and post it on a couple of sites that are in my business niche. Of course, I include a link to my site within that post so that more people can find me if they are interested. Now, I like to be left alone when I’m writing like this, but you may find it better to break and look after other tasks while you are doing this. It all depends on the type of person that you are. By tying myself to these daily rituals, I find that after 60 – 90 minutes, I have done more advertising for my brand than most businesses have done in a week.
I even get to the office early to ensure that I’m left alone and can concentrate on this. Strangely, I have received more cold calls concerning my services at work since I have started working this way, and interest is growing. I have even come up with a questionnaire that I can e-mail to prospects that – when returned – gives me a clearer picture of what these prospects are looking for. All from some creative writing first thing in the morning! By 10.00a.m. I am ready to get on with the rest of my day.
OK, this isn’t for everyone, I know. So if you feel that this is a stretch for your writing skills (By the way, I had no idea where this post was going when I opened up my Blog file. This is simply, I find, a case of paying attention to what is going on around you.), do 4 things to your Facebook profile. It takes you a couple of minutes, gets you into the habit of writing something, and may whet your appetite for more.
Check out Facebook insights, and Twitter Analytics. These features allows you to track the results of your page, as well as the results of every post you make. Use Insights to learn what type of posts people enjoy, comment on, and engage in, and how their reception changes over time.
You have spent thirty minutes on Social Media, and have engaged with people that know you, as well as people that may become prospects. You have also had some fun. OK, time for coffee!
|A reply to a recent post online stated a major business problem that we sometimes overlook: “All of these detailed plans are very good, but how do I start out? What is my first step in marketing a small business?”
While we specialize in opening the online world to small businesses, how to actually start one week before opening your doors is an overlooked Marketing exercise that we sometimes overlook.
Firstly, do you know your audience? I am amazed by the amount of store-front businesses opening in my small town every time that I walk along its streets. How come I didn’t know about this opening, or this store? Your opening is a massive event, because you are introducing shoppers to a whole new experience, a completely different array of stuff that they may need. A sign in the front window saying: “We are new!” isn’t enough. How do people find out that you are about to open? The answer here is a choice: You will spend money on marketing, or you will spend a lot of time outside of your businesses’ opening making sure that your future audience knows that you are opening. Don’t rely on them to find you as part of a regular shopping trip…make sure they are there to see you, to spend time, to make a decision to buy. You have to get to them to let them know that you are holding an event for them.
Do you know who your audience is? Is it primarily female, or Boomers? Is it for people of a certain salary group, or for people that belong to a community other than your geographical one? Do you have a business plan in mind that states what lines you have now, how you are going to expand, and what you are going to use to continually create interest in your business within your chosen communities? Are you seasonal, and know how you are going to entice people into your business in 3 months, 6 months, a year? OK, now put those facts together in a list: I am selling this to these people. Now go and find them. Are they online or off? Are they local, or will they have to travel somehow to get to you. Where can you find them? Of course, a website is the perfect way to share what you are trying to say, to tell the story, show prospects where you are, who you are and how to get to you. You can think of possible objections to them visiting you, and deal with those ahead of time. But this is only good if your Ideal Customer is actually online to see them. How about these ideas, while you are adding to, or designing, your website:
Flyers are a good way to get business for a local service and we have all seen others who have had success with this. Leaving them up with your phone number on the bottom and then cut into slices so people can grab one and then placing them around at local coffee shops etc.
Physical networking definitely helps you to get seen by local government, merchant associations, and regular everyday customers. Local print advertising could be expensive, but if your local paper has a reader profile that matches your ideal customer, you can get a deal to advertise over a 6 or 8 month period that satisfies your ongoing advertising needs, and the costs would be more gentle. Of course having your web details on your advertising, allows prospects to see you ‘at a glance’, then investigate you more at their own pace.
Once you have a plan, a customer profile, and an ongoing investment (in money or time.) outline, you will be better placed to succeed than others, whose ego is the only thing they rely on for success.