Every business, no matter where you are in your journey will need to get a handle on these 4 elements at some stage, in order to build and grow your business.
So much time is correctly spent on building who your audience is and what problem you solve, USP and a whole lot more - that unfortunately some time is taken away from actually running the business in a scalable way afterwards. As a Mentor I have been given the opportunity to work with some very varied businesses over the years, from one man bands to large corporations and each seem to struggle with these four remaining components.
Is it time you explored these areas in more detail and added them to your diary of things to do? Until I did - I pretty much stayed stationery in my business. In fairness I could still do so much more Sales than I do now, but I do find it easier to be found in search these days.
I'm sure like me you probably thought Business Development is basically brainstorming ideas to help make people pick you. However, it's so much more than that! It could also include:
The common thread among all business initiatives is a desire to make some sort of improvement that will ultimately benefit the company's bottom line. These initiatives could be
What I'm thinking would be appropriate here is creating strategic partnerships with businesses that share your audience and perhaps you both offer something useful to both markets.
Speaking, Sponsorship and Events
You may want to consider events that you can either partly or top line sponsor, your speaking and maybe running your own events as well. These are "seen" as more thought leadership and credible than simply just rocking up at an event as an attendee.
I would spend a full day or two a month doing Business Development (so book those in your diary for the next few months right now). It's something that needs to made time for or during those quiet moments, you'll wish you had done more.
I have personally struggled with "sales" especially "hard balling" a sale. I'm more the softly, softly type and now being in business for some years I have managed to massage several revenue streams into existence, so its become much easier for me. However, like many startups and scaleups I have had to push sales through numerous times over the years and I've been forced to do things that have made me uncomfortable, like direct messaging and calling people.
What is a sale?
plural noun: sales
Among many other skills (and an awful lot of adjectives) these two pretty much prop up a business owner / sales person in my opinion. When you're your own boss it can be quite the balancing act to be everything to everyone AND a savvy Sales Person as well.
Over the years I have worked out what works for me, as this is an area I am NOT strong at and it would be using a series of templated emails and direct messages that I have sent out to my clients. The more I write about "what's in it for them" and how simple it is to avail of my product or service and the value it offers - with confidence - and offer case studies, the easier it has become to sell.
What I have found that works for me to improve and build my confidence and self esteem is looking over my past testimonials every now and then to remind myself I am actually that good. I'm being completely serious. It's tough to keep up that bravado at all times.
Marketing will only work if you use several platforms at once to promote your business. Over time you come to understand what ones work for you better and you also learn to check out others and move you're marketing from one platform to investigate if things have changed.
I suppose due to the nature of my business name, I tend to have a plethora of businesses that approach me ONLY about Social Media but I maintain rather solidly that although it is free and somewhat easy to pick up, it should never be the only tool to use for your business. If you only used social media to promote your business I can guarantee failure.
For every business that will ever come across my website I cannot understate how important Market Research is. Now it doesn't have to be formal, Primary Market Research, even Secondary Research is a great start. Trialling social media platforms, podcasts or even roll up banners and stands need to be considered depending on your business and more importantly your customers.
Someone I respect told me once to "stop being a busy fool", many years ago I hasten to add! They were completely right of course. I was doing waaay too much on my own, when I could have paid for tools or employed a Virtual Assistant (VA) to help me.
In fact Sole Traders and small business owners really struggle to ask for help. With the wearing of so many "hats" - over time they shortcut important systems and the value you offer your customer in return can be end up being greatly reduced.
Even as a scaleup you get used to doing things yourself and can get a little, I suppose "precious" about your business. Convincing that business owner to give up some of their work to someone else can be hard initially. However, if you look at what you do on a weekly basis, how much of it is actually repetitive? Could you create a system or write down a way of doing it that could be handled by someone else?
The expression "time is money" is also very true. The time it takes you to do something that could be handled by someone else, that's repetitive and doesn't actually bring in the money - means you're taken away from doing something that could be more profitable.
So maybe it's time you consider both paid for Tools, Virtual Assistants or maybe even an intern? There will always be a time of induction, training or learning to do by you and whom ever you end up working with. It will be worth it though, especially if you look at your profit and loss sheet and balance it with any Marketing Budget you plan to set aside.
If it's time you wanted to get some order to your business or decide its time to scale it up, these tips will stand you in good stead. If you're struggling to see the wood for the trees, I am happy to provide assistance and offer consultation or training, simply contact me. Don't forget however, there are many systems in place that offers support, including the Citizens Advice Bureau, the Local Enterprise Office, the Enterprise Board and even your local Chamber of Commerce.