10 TOP TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS
Why is it that two businesses in the same industry can both differ so differently when it comes to being successful or not? Take two hairdressers. One is booked up weeks in advance whilst the other struggles to fill appointments. Why is this? It can quite simply be down to a few simple rules that can dictate the difference between success and failure. Follow these Top 10 tips to a successful business and make sure your business succeeds
Offer what people want to buy, not just what you want to sell.
Just because you love your product or service, doesn’t mean that your customer will. You may think that blue umbrellas are the best thing since sliced bread so, therefore there is a market to sell them, but others may not agree.
You need to listen to what your customer wants to buy and supply that. Don’t try to force sell them your own personal preferences.
Jumpstart the cash flow into your business
Cash is King and you want to get it coming into your business as quickly as possible. The early months of starting a business can be the most difficult when it comes to income so think of ways to get that cash flowing into the business asap.
Where possible, ask for deposits up front. If that is not possible, ask for cash on delivery to avoid long credit terms and late payers.
Find new ways to keep costs low
So many small businesses start up and overspend on things they really don’t need to. They think they need to go out and buy all the latest gadgetry and office equipment. Try leasing or buying second hand instead. Ask suppliers for a discount for an upfront payment.
Do you really need that swish office premises? Could you not create an office at home. I once saved a company £12,000 by helping him set up a home office in his garden rather than paying a premium rent for an office he used to meet clients only on odd occasions.
Overestimate expenses and underestimate income.
When you are planning your business and preparing your cash flow, after you have done the first draft, go back and double your expenses and half your income. How does it look now? Scary? Well, this may well be nearer to the truth in the early days than everything going to plan and the world being rosy.
Be prepared for the unexpected expenses and for the sales that never come to fruition. If you can prepare for this, you will be far more prepared if this worst-case scenario happens than if you rely on healthy sales and low costs which turn out to be further than the truth than you were expecting.
Focus on marketing and sales
You know all about your product and service and how wonderful it is, but your target market won’t until you make them aware of it. So get out there and tell them. And then ask them for the sale. Until you start getting sales, you are not running a business, you are running a hobby.
Too many startup businesses focus on getting all the detail perfect or their brand such as their logo, website, business cards etc when they should just be getting out there and going after the sales. Your perfect business logo can be finished at a later date. After all, when did you make a purchase just because of the perfect colour scheme on a business card? A name and number will do to start with.
Find ways to upsell
When you make a sale, is there a way to upsell to your customer and thereby increase your income? All the big businesses do it. When you go to get a burger and fries at your local drive-through I bet you are asked if you would like a large fries for just a small amount more. When you buy cards at your stationers, do they ask if you would like to buy a book of stamps?
So think how you can upsell to your customers. If you sell a service such as coaching can you charge a little extra for a written summary of your session? If you sell a product, offer an add-on product to enhance the original purchase. Do you make special occasion cakes? Offer a photograph of the cake with a gift card for the recipient to remember the occasion by. Get creative and see what you can come up.
Measure your marketing
In order to know if something is working properly, you have to test and measure it. The same goes for your marketing. Too often small businesses start up and run a marketing campaign and then just keep it running. They don’t actually stop to take time out to see if it is working or not.
Add codes to specific marketing campaigns and ask customers to quote this when getting in contact to receive a free gift. Make sure you look at the online analytics of any social media or web campaign. If you fail to do this, you could just be throwing hard earned money down the drain.
Learning more means earning more
You really can never stop learning. Keep your industry knowledge up to date to stay ahead, or at least in line with the competition. Learn new skills to help you get ahead in your business, whether how to close sales better or how to increase visitors to your website. There is so much learning material out there including the member’s club resources on this site so there really is no excuse not to keep improving your knowledge.
It is also widely acknowledged that all the most successful entrepreneurs spend at least 30 minutes per day listening to or reading motivational and inspirational books and audios. If you want to follow in their footsteps of success, try following this one habit of theirs.
Don’t discount, add value
Too many small businesses fall into the age-old trap of discounting their products or services to try to increase sales. You may make more sales initially but you will decrease your profits and as happened to a business I was called in to help, customers became all too aware of their constant sales and so stopped buying at the retail price altogether to just wait for the next sale to come around.
So rather than offering a discount, find something of a low cost to you but of value to the client that you can add to the sale to encourage customers to spend with you. It could be an extra 10 minutes for a head massage if you are a hairdresser. Or free gift wrapping with a product.
Get a coach
I have said many times in articles, that having an experienced mentor or coach when starting up can have a significant impact on how the business survives in the early months and even years. Having someone that you can use an objective sounding board for ideas and who can look at your business without the emotional ties, can be invaluable.
A professional coach, mentor or advisor should be able to help in the areas in which you are weaker and can help push you when you need it to stop you procrastinating and delaying your business success.
Now you have your Top 10 tips to a successful business, I wish you all the very best in starting up your business. Do come on over to the Facebook group to let me know how you are getting on.
P.S. If you would like personal coaching and coaching with me, hop over and take a look at my services, or hit reply and let me know.
How many excuses have you made this month?
Harsh words coming up ladies. Take a seat if you need to.
I have spoken with a number of ladies this month who haven’t completed tasks that have been set as part of their 1:1 coaching with me. This has left me somewhat surprised as I always check their commitment at each call and never leave them without them being confident they can do what I have suggested.
But this month, I have had clients tell me they are going to leave it to the universe to tell them when the right time is to move forward.
Well here’s some breaking news.
This is just a sad excuse for not getting out of your comfort zone and doing some work. The universe wants you to get off your arses and sort your problems out yourself!!
Too many of you are using the universe scenario to stay in your comfort zones and not do any real money-making activity. Yes, use visualisation (it works), work on your inner self (so important) but you must take physical action also.
The universe isn’t going to pay your bills and your comfort zone is going to get bloody well uncomfortable when you start to get final reminders through the post.
If you want success badly enough, you will find a way. If you don’t, you will find an excuse.
It’s up to you to take responsibility for yourself and your success.
I can hear the offence taken by many of you already and if you don’t like my straight talking, I’m not going to apologise. I don’t sugar coat things. I tell you how it is. Now it’s up to you.
How badly do you really want success?
Here’s an exercise for you to help you decide.
Take a seat, close your eyes and take the time to imagine the following scenarios:
12 months from now, you have shied away from fully promoting yourself. You have no bookings and no income. You are no further forward with your business than you are today.
Your friends and family ask you how your business is going. You feel sick to the stomach. You regret that you didn’t plan and block out time to work properly in your business. You regret you didn’t stay focused and just worked ad hoc over the last 12 months.
There is no money in the bank account and you know your partner is getting fed up of hearing the same story that next month you will have new clients. You know you won’t as you don’t really believe in yourself.
12 months from now you are sat looking at your bank balance. You have a regular income that covers all your bills and provides for all those extra luxuries in life that you enjoy.
You open your emails and see a number of testimonies from happy clients and who say they are recommending you to everyone they know. Oh, look!! Two new bookings have just popped up in your inbox!
Your partner asks you how your business is. You beam with pride and tell them you are treating them to a weekend away as you are doing so well.
Really sit and visualise both these scenarios. Which one do you want in 12 months? Number 2? Then focus on this. Bottle the feeling of scenario 2. Think this scenario through before you go to sleep at night and when you wake up every morning.
It’s your choice. If you want it badly enough, you will do what it takes. You will take action. You will plan. You will get focused. And you will do one thing every single day to take you closer to your goal. You WON’T give up.
If you don’t really want it, you will make excuses.
It’s all up to you!
On occasions, I come across businesses that have to cease trading due to not having the correct terms and conditions in place. They have hit a problem with their client or a service provider, and have run into hot water as terms weren’t agreed in advance.
It’s critical that you have terms and conditions set out with your client to protect yourself and your business. With two business I have seen close recently, if they had the correct terms and conditions set-out and signed between both parties up front, they would not have run into the trouble that they did.
As a bare minimum, your terms and conditions should include:
- What you are going to deliver
- The scope of the work with a clear definition of what products and services will be provided.
- Timelines for the work to be completed,
- Charges and payment terms
- What is the length of the contract
- What are your costs and payment terms
- Do you need payment up front? If part payment, when is remainder due? Late payment charges.
- How long does any quote stand for?
- Any additional charges that may occur
- Confidentiality agreement
- Any warranties and prevailing laws
- Limitations and exclusions of liability
- Cancellation terms
- What happens if either party is unhappy and/or wishes to cancel.
NEVER work on trust! This is a recipe for disaster. It may seem a lot to put together but I can guarantee you will wish you had taken the time and trouble to put these into place if you ever do run into trouble.
Without clear terms and conditions, confusion can occur with the client thinking they may be able to pay at the end of a service, but you need payment up front.
Terms and conditions also make you look far more professional. Personally, I would never enter into an agreement without specified terms and conditions from a supplier and quite a few businesses have lost my custom as they did not have these available.
If you need help setting yours out, SQL legal also have some pretty good templates but always check that they are suitable for your own business needs.
How dare a customer actually try to buy from you!!
Recently in an online group, a lady was complaining that she had contacted a number of small businesses and yet they hadn’t responded. I can totally sympathise with this lady as I regularly get the same treatment.
Whilst a few agreed with her, there were far more comments from those that owned small businesses and went on the attack.
“When I’m contacted people don’t bear in mind I work over 40 hours, I can’t be on my phone all the time”
“I have a family, and a home to look after, and they come first!
I don’t always have the information to hand, like when I’m on the school run or swimming lessons and usually I’m too busy getting tea ready to respond to messages when I get home.”
“I’m behind on our emails but that’s because I’m so busy”
“I’ve got too much work to do to reply straight away, … oh and I also have a life! I can’t stand the beck and call attitude of some customers.”
“I haven’t had a day off in weeks”
Do you feel like this?
Yes, we can all get frustrated by our clients at times but women with the attitude of these don’t deserve a business in my opinion.
After all, there are plenty of people out there desperate to have more customers contact them. These women are obviously irritated. How dare someone interrupt their life to try and place an order.
Running a home and a business whilst raising a family is difficult, but customers aren’t telepathic. They don’t know how busy you are and to be honest, why should they care. They have their money in their hand and they want to buy something.
If you’re too busy, they will just move on somewhere else, or perhaps not.
Perhaps if the customer was treated with a little common courtesy they may wait until you are less busy. A simple holding email letting them know when you will be able to respond firstly acknowledges their enquiry, and secondly sets their expectations for when they will be responded to in full.
If you are running around like a headless chicken with a ‘woe is me’ attitude, sort yourself out. Take a look at your business from a customer’s point of view. Get in the right mindset of a successful business owner and change your attitude. Streamline your business. Cut the crap and work on effective systems. Set expectations with customers through your website and autoresponders in busy periods.
Remember, the customer is in control of your business success, not you. He can fire you by simply taking his business elsewhere.
I can hear the keyboards tapping away already, so go on, use the comments box and let me know your thoughts.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
This is a quote in Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People that I’m currently reading.
When I read this, a memory immediately came to mind that happened about 20 years ago. It was when I was in a meeting which was getting rather heated. I was one of the vocal ones (surprise surprise!) and when one of the other people in the room was in the middle of arguing with me, I was eagerly leaning forward attempting to jump in with my response.
Suddenly, the chair of the group stopped us. She turned to us both and said “I want you to both stop and listen to each other rather than waiting for your turn to reply. And I mean really listen!”
This stopped us both in our tracks. Well, it certainly stopped me. I realised instantly that I hadn’t really listened to anything the other person was saying as I was so intent in listening for a gap in the conversation to jump into and take over.
I have never forgotten this moment and when I have a strong opinion on something and want to get my point across, I now have a totally different stance. I now sit back. And listen.
Because I may just hear a different perspective that I hadn’t considered before, and this may just change my viewpoint. And if not, I can honestly and calmly say when I get the chance that I have listened carefully to all views put forward and would now like to put forward my own. This commands much more respect than being the one who shouts the loudest.
If you really want to get your point across, take a tip from Stephen Covey. Seek first to understand and then to be understood. It makes a huge difference, I promise you.
If you want to read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People you can buy it here on Amazon.
How to stay motivated when you’re stuck in the day to day operations of your business.
You’re running your business, but you want to move it forward with your next big idea. You have a lightbulb moment and know exactly what you want to do and how to do it.
You are so busy working in your business as it is there is no time to do anything different. You end up feeling completely stuck which leads to feeling totally demotivated and losing the love.
Don’t despair. There is a way. But only if you want it badly enough.
Change your words.
When we find ourselves in a situation like this it’s all too easy to sit down and say “I can’t” and “I don’t have enough time”. This negative chatter eats away at us and gets us starting to believe it.
Change “I can’t” to “How can I?”
Change “I don’t have enough time” to “How can I free up more time?”
These simple changes put us back in a feeling of control and create a positive mindset which will help get us motivated to find a way forward.
Create a plan
Make sure you sit down and write out exactly what your new idea is and when you want it by. Create a plan and a timeline. Start with the end in mind and jot down what you need to do by when. If you want to take a course which will give you new skills in your business, when is the exam date? How many modules in the course? How much time will each module take? Map it all out.
Breaking it down into small chunks will allow you to see realistically how much time you are going to have to put into your new idea each month or week. It’s then up to you to find out how to free up this time to put ideas into action.
Manage your time
- Get out of bed one hour earlier each day to spend on your new idea
- Cut back on social media time which can literally waste hours each day
- Forfeit mind-numbingly mundane tv that you have gotten into the habit of watching
- Take an objective at your business. Are you working effectively or could something be streamlined? Are you doing something out of habit which really won’t have much impact if you stop doing it altogether?
- Do you spend hours cooking in the evenings? Find some quick and easy recipes that take just 30 minutes to prepare and cook. Get the family to do the clearing up after the meal.
If you want your new idea badly enough you will find a way. If you don’t, you will find an excuse. The choice is yours.