I gave a talk called Key Success Factors in Business to some budding entrepreneurs at Sussex University some time ago.
Really it’s called Some Things I’ve Noticed Which Really Work.
The students liked it, so I figured you might as well.
What you sell
To make your business go with a whoosh, you need to sell something which is truly remarkable.
This doesn’t mean that it always has to be something different, but it does have to be something which people will remark on, that people will be bothered enough to talk about it.
If you have something about your business which gives people a reason to be evangelical, half of your marketing work is already done for you.
The biggest marketing budget in the world can’t buy buzz – you need people to be excited about what you’re selling, so that they tell others for you.
Make something that people are prepared to pay money for; preferably something which people don’t really care how much it costs. Many people sell things which are the same as everything else on the market, so you end up competing on cost, and a small business can never compete on cost – the big boys will always win.
The money factor
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt (the hard way) over the years in business is:
Don’t run a business which is undercapitalised.
Not having enough money to run your business properly makes you unhappy, risk averse and reluctant to spend any money on marketing.
It can also lead to underpaying your staff, and yourself. All of these mean that you will have an underperforming business. If you need help in getting cash into your business, buy me a coffee and I’ll talk you through your options.
On the other hand, if you do have money, don’t waste a single penny of it either. You don’t need fancy lunches, big cars or advertising. Every penny needs to generate a return on investment, whether that’s staff wages or your marketing budget.
Commit yourself to learning
Commit yourself to learning everything you can about running a business.
Read all the time about the latest ways of marketing a business, watch what other people are doing, even in completely different businesses, and you’ll get lots of great ideas from being nosy.
And commit yourself to training and developing your staff. Teach them how to do things, by buying them books, sending them on courses and recommending blog posts. Teach staff how we do things around here, by setting a good example yourself and picking up on anything which isn’t done how you would like it done.
An old client of mine had a habit of coming in late each day, and of course the staff started coming in late as well. As soon as she started getting there 15 minutes before the staff were due to start, and having a word with the worst culprits, everyone was there on time, and productivity soared. And then they had time to have fun through the day.
Get yourself a good business advisor
Of course, I would say to get a good business advisor, wouldn’t I?!
But I do this work because I believe that it makes a difference, and I see that difference every day. If you don’t believe me, see what my clients say.
Make yourself redundant
Anyone who has read The E-Myth knows that this is Michael Gerber’s main message.
If you want to have a business which is scalable and sellable, you need to take yourself out of the picture at an early stage. And if you want to have a business where you’re not doing all of the work yourself, you need to make sure that the work is covered by other people.
Even if you’re just a tiny business, if you want to grow, you can’t do everything yourself. For one thing, you’re not going to be the best at everything so you need to concentrate on what you are good at. And if you spend all your time doing admin, or bookkeeping, or updating the blog, you’re not selling or producing, which are the money making activities. Outsource whatever you can, as soon as you can.