I once went on a speed dating evening (meet thirty people, have two minutes chatting to each and decide if you want to meet them again) and asked everyone I met, “What do you want to get out of your life?”
The shocking thing was that hardly anybody had the first idea what they wanted out of their lives. This isn’t a self-help blog, (except for self help via more customers for your business) but if you don’t know what you want out of your life, how are you going to get it?
The same is true of your business. In my last blog post I said I would outline how to Grow your Business with some straightforward steps any business owner can take to get more customers, make more sales and earn bigger profits. But before you take any action, you need to know what you want to achieve. Do you actually want more sales, more customers and bigger profits, or are you running a lifestyle business where you do a few hours a day and then go and play tennis or golf every afternoon? Do you want to plan an “exit strategy” sell up and live in the sunshine? Or do you want to build up your business, employ more people, open new branches and become a business tycoon?
Whatever your aim, you need to make a definite decision about it, write it down and plan for how it can be achieved.
The first thing then is to decide what you want. This is a decision about your BIG AIM, your life objective, which you can use your business (or career in someone else’s business) to achieve. Be as specific as you can, so not just grow the business or make more profits, but how much and by when? What will be the financial measure and what is the deadline?
OK, so first define your objectives.
Second make a realistic plan. You don’t need one of those business plan templates created by banks for start up businesses to fill in with the right numbers in the right places to get a business bank account and £1000 overdraft. No I‘m talking about a real plan for how to achieve that specific objective. What would you need to earn in order to sell up? Or grow? Or get your two hours of tennis in per day?
Got the figure? Good, then work back from that and work out how many customers, spending how much money per year, per month, and per week you would need to reach the desired figure. If you decide on a five year plan, make smaller increments that you can measure and assess how you are doing as you go along.
This process is very straightforward, although it does take some time and effort, but people still don’t do it. More often than not they do things the other way round and ask themselves, “what could this business realistically turn-over in the next five years?”
Realistic? What does that mean? Cautious? Negative? Conservative? Sensible?
That won’t work. No, you must decide what you want and make a plan to achieve it, not the other way round.
Let’s face it running a business is not a cautious sensible thing to do. The cautious sensible thing to do is go and work for someone else and earn a steady wage. If you can do it for a huge bank or corporation and get a high salary and lots of bonuses, all the better – be sensible and don’t take a risk.
But you chose to start your own business and running a business is a risk.
Most new businesses fail, so it’s a big risk.
If you are going to take a big risk and put all your money on the spin of the roulette wheel then you had better bet high, work the system and get to know the croupier.
OK, so now you know the number you need to hit and how many customers spending how much money it will take to make it succeed.
The next job is to get those customers and that’s all about understanding your Value Proposition, and marketing your business to the right customers.
There is a lot of smoke and mirrors surrounding, PR, social media, sales and marketing: Dark arts such as SEO and PPC, strange terms like Inbound marketing and quality score, sales techniques like DIPEDA and AIDA and Social Media platforms like Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat. But it’s not all that difficult really.
I will give you a guided tour, showing you how to market your business, by yourself for very little financial outlay.
And that’s what I’ll be talking about in my next blog.