Imagine you are in the process of setting up your own business, the culmination of all that training, experience and investment but are not confident of knowing or being good at the best steps to success.
Or, imagine that you are running your dream business but the dream is a bit tarnished and you just are not quite getting where you intended to be.
So there you are mystified but imagine you knew all the answers to creating your success.
And imagine you knew all the questions to get to these answers.
Would it be fabulous would not it? Your problems would just dissolve and all your great challenges become fun. You’re doing all the work so how do you access the rewards?
Reality 1 – You know many more answers than you may believe that you do.
Reality 2 – You have access to all the answers you will ever need.
I spent many years in big company marketing. I gave that up and trained to be a business coach. When I qualified this mean starting a small business. The challenge I faced was growing a business was much more difficult than I imagined, nothing like being in a big company.
Let me explain
Businesses start for many different reasons: a lifelong dream, a perceived opportunity or reaching a required level of skill and experience. So you have the skill and the desire to succeed but often not a lot of knowledge and experience in marketing and business development. The ironic part for me was that I thought I was a marketer and I still found it challenging. This was because I wanted to focus on applying my new skills and knowledge to my new business. But the reality of a new business is that you have few customers and lots of time. This time has to be used for developing your business if you plan to succeed.
I searched around for a way to make this easier but kept finding programs that took me in a particular direction that was not mine or gave direction that I felt did not suit my business and the way I wanted my business to grow.
I want to share with you how I found a really good way to grow a business. I developed an interactive process that is based upon the coaching and mentoring principles of asking rather than telling. Seeking and developing rather than claims being made.
* For example you may be a trainer – the traditional approach says advertise. But, you have a small budget so a low cost alternative will be better. You are really good at making presentations. They often cost very little and can generate great response. So what do you do?
* You are a graphic designer and the competition is really strong – how do you get to stand out from all the other graphic designers?
* You are a niche retailer – You have tried all sorts of promotions and advertising but you are stuck; Business is not growing and you are short of ideas – how do you move forward?
My approach acknowledges You are the expert on your own business. You are not an expert on marketing and business development but if you use this interactive process that grows and evolves with you as you gain experience and knowledge you will be successful.
This interactive process works day by day, week by week to enable you to identify and focus on the activities that match you and your attributes and will provide your success.
So here goes:
1) Use a coaching and mentoring approach that acknowledges what you have and meets you and your business to your best route forward. To do this you ask yourself questions – What do I want my business to look like? What resources have I – time and money? What do my customers look like and where are they? What have I done so far? What have not I yet done? What is my dream and what are my goals? 6months, 12 months, 2 years etc. What is the image of my business – does it match me, does it tell my customers who I am, what I do and what they will get?
These are just a few questions but right them down and answer them. Then other questions will come out. So you are doing an audit of you and your business. It is different because you are part of the audit. At the end of the day you are a large part of your business.
2) Second I have developed SORD:
* Strengths – list in detail all the things you are good at, experienced in, knowledgable about
* Opportunities – list everyone and everything you know that can link you to opportunities
* Realities – how much money and time and training etc do you really have -you need to know, you can only do what you really can do.
* Development areas that are key to your future success. This is where you list and evaluate everything that may be necessary to learn or have or the nice to know that you can revisit in the future.
3) Analyze the key marketing and commercial skills and techniques that are key to the success of your business – not generic marketing. So you start with those you are most likely to succeed at not those you are told to use regardless of your level of skill and knowledge and confidence. You will need to look at what your competitors do, what other types of business do and what you are naturally good or bad at and what you already have knowledge and experience of.
4) Mix the marketing ingredients specifically appropriate to you and your business. You create a customized marketing plan. It is yours and it is unique to you. It is all the skills you focus on now. The things you know, can access and make sense for your business.
When I started my coaching business I worked from a tiny budget but I had a lot of time so I networked, I did presentations, I worked on public relations – articles for local papers and radio stations, I did flyers for places and events where I Knew my potential customers would go, I did an elevator speech BUT I did not sell me I only sold the benefits my clients would get. 99% of your customers are buying benefits for themselves. All your knowledge and skill and investment do not count.
The client asks ‘What’s in it for me?’ You sell if you answer that question well.
5) Action planning – real planning, real commitment and strict management and control of your activities. Action is everything in creating a business! Intentions do not do it, great ideas do not do it. Doing it does it! Keep doing the things that work, dump those do not
6) Review and improvement – what worked, what did not. What can be done better, what will be dumped. Constantly hone and improve your commercial activities so performance improvements and your results improve.
And you keep doing it until you fulfill your goals and dreams. And then, guess what – you do it more because success is good and fun.
This really does work; It has worked for me and for a lot of other people across a range of businesses. It is more subcontract than standard marketing programs. The key is that it looks in detail at you, what you can do and what you can not. It also looks at what you are most likely to be successful at and focuses on these areas. Building a successful business is hard work but it can be a simple process. So just to think about your approach and start to ask some questions of your own so you find the best answers for you.