Better can mean easier. It can mean more money. It can mean reducing your hours. More staff. Fewer staff. Bigger offices. Smaller offices. No office. More customers. Bigger customers. Smaller customers. Fewer customers. Higher or lower prices. More effective marketing. Personality.
Better means changing your business so it’s how you want it to be.
I’ll help you – not advise you, or coach you, or consult you. Help you.
If you want to improve your marketing, business or other stuff you’re struggling with then we can work together
Understand what you want
The only thing you have to do is create a business that’s completely suited to the way you want to live your life. If you aren’t going to do that then you might as well go and get a job.
Do you want to work long hours for a few years and retire early? Do you want to work a three-day week, or a four-hour day? Would you prefer to have staff who run the business for you, or outsource to freelancers? Are offices and image important? Do you want to have meetings? Travel? Go to networking events, or avoid like the plague?
Everything is optional. You don’t have to use Twitter because someone says you do. You don’t have to go to networking events just because someone says it’s the best way to get contacts.
Understand what you want and then build everything else around it.
Understand what they want
What problems does your target market have? What worries them? How can you change their little world? How can you help? What is it about you and your company and your products or service that will make someone sit-up and take notice?
Collect contacts and communicate
Develop ways of finding new people to talk to. Then do it. Offer free advice, help, suggestions, interesting links, relevant news articles, blog posts, podcasts, emails, tips, tricks and anything else that they will find useful.
Create (or review) products and services
What are you currently selling? Is the price right? Is the offer right? Is the product right? The more you understand your target market – what meakes them tick, what problems they have – the more you can create offerings to help them. Think about something small you can sell to build trust, then work your way up. What’s the simplest, easiest thing someone could buy from you?
What do people react well to? What sells easily, and what doesn’t? Which emails generate clicks and responses, and which get ignored? Don’t obsess over statistics, but learn what’s important. For example: the number of visitors to your website isn’t a particularly useful, but the ratio of visitors:enquiries is useful when monitored over time. Learn. Adjust. Learn again.
Use and value people
I say ‘use’ in its non-sweatshop sense. Embrace the wealth of talent that exists on your doorstep, across the country and around the world. Use great people to do great things. Don’t play games. Don’t “keep them on their toes”. Pay fast. Treat them like royalty. Listen, discuss. Learn, teach. Follow, lead. Put that ego to one side and work with people who are better than you.
Make the most of what you have
A lot of the work is already done – or once it’s done it can be used multiple times. Every time you write a blog post, can you split it into Tweets or Facebook updates? When a customer asks you a question do you write it down along with your answer for an FAQ page, a buyer’s guide or some other free offering? Reduce the effort you have to put into your business to free up time to do other things.
Be flexible within strict boundaries
For many businesses a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. Not everything comes out of a packet or a box: learn when to be flexible but also when to draw the line. The idea that you should do anything and everything for every customer is a dangerous one. Create boundaries but be flexible and accommodating within them.
Bring things together
Introduce customers to one another, and to your suppliers. Help your staff become bigger, better, cleverer. You don’t have to make friends with all of your customers, but at least give them a chance. Create an organism that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Certainly one that’s greater than you.
Slow and steady
Look for short-term and long-term success but don’t be in a rush to achieve everything at once. It won’t work. Don’t jump on the latest bandwagon without thinking. Create and build systems that you control (e.g. website, email) and use systems beyond your long-term control (Facebook, Twitter, search engines) as ‘bonus projects’. Build relationships and profits will come: if you aim for profit and quick returns from everything you do then you’ll always be chasing your tail. Make people happy.
Spread yourself a little
Not too far: but don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If all your new clients come from referrals, or from search engines, or from one advert in one paper then you are risking an awful lot. If something changes you might lose your income. Spread yourself around a bit, but don’t go too far. Develop multiple systems for lead generation so you are protected if one fails.
Make your own maps
Don’t follow the well-trodden path by default. Look for alternatives. Just because everyone else in your industry does something in a certain way doesn’t mean you have to. Apply this to every part of your business: staff, systems, location, premises, marketing, prices and so on. Question everything.
Change is both inevitable and good. Embrace it. Instigate it. Adapt. Accept that things are going to change, don’t just bury your head in the sand: history is littered with failed companies who believed cars, computers, television, mobile phones and almost any other ‘new’ product wouldn’t catch on. They did catch on, the companies kept denying it and failed. Don’t be one of them.