Guest blogger and trusted business associate, Bill Boyer is the President of Tidewater CEO, a consulting/coaching organization for small company CEO’s. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-233-2577.
Every day people are starting businesses or growing their existing businesses by moving into new markets. The record for the business start-ups is not encouraging. Eight out of ten will fail in the first year and 60% will be out of business in five years. There are similar statistics on moving into new markets, but not as dramatic. The most disturbing analysis indicates that the failures have less to do with the lack of cash than with attitude and behavior.
How can you avoid crashing your dreams and not realizing your expected financial success? By following these suggestions you should be able to realize your goals.
The first question you must answer is to know what value your company or new products will bring to your clients and/or customers. Answering the question WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) for your customer/client is critical. You must be able to verbalize in a short statement what your customer will get from buying your product/service. To be able to sell something you must fill a need or solve a problem. If you can quantify the answer, that is even better.
Before you open your business or move into new markets, you must have a plan and a commitment to working the plan for success. Often new business owners start up a business and take a “wait and see” attitude. Will customers come in? Will we make it? You must have a well developed plan, and you must act on that plan daily. You must also monitor your results: if you are not achieving the progress you expected, reevaluate and make modifications.
Have a cogent marketing strategy. Be sure you are presenting a consistent image of your company to the customer. If all of your marketing materials and your discussions are not giving a consistent message about your company, the customer will not be sure of the value of your product or service.
Develop your local strategic partners. By strengthening these relationships, they can help you with business opportunities and often some very good advice. Can they help with referrals or suggest other partners? You may want to consider developing an even closer relationship with one of these who can become your mentor or coach. Consider developing an advisory board.
Don’t ever forget that no matter what type of business you have, you are always selling.
Past experience with high-pressure salespeople may have given you a negative impression of sales efforts in the past. Instead, look at your sales efforts as a way to develop a relationship where you understand your potential client’s business and issues. The focus must be on opening a relationship, not just closing a sale. When your customer recognizes that you have his/her best interest as a priority, you have a major advantage.
Network, network, network. There are three proven ways to build recognition of yourself and your company: networking, public speaking, and referrals. Initially, networking must be your focus. Do you know how to network? Can you describe your business succinctly and at the same time create a desire in the individual you are talking with to find out more about your business? You must do this in a way that also communicates your interest in the person you are talking to: this is not all about you; it is a way to learn about your potential customer. With networking, you want to develop the opportunity to have a second meeting with the individual so you can find out more about his/her business.
This may sound contradictory to some of the prior statements, but you must take some time off and be away from the business. This has been proven by research and experience. When you take time off you will accomplish two things. You will be more refreshed and creative, and you will be more productive.
Follow your “gut’. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably is not. Intuition has been proven over and over to be a great guide to decision making. Be assertive. Show conviction that you have a great product or service when dealing with potential customers. Don’t just talk about it. Push for the business. Take action. Make the tough decisions. Don’t be trapped into spending so much time collecting information and being absolutely sure you have all the answers, that you miss the opportunity for timely action.
If you follow these precepts your business will grow and become more profitable. Remember you must work ON your business, not just IN the business.