Archive for November, 2011

Let’s Build A Successful Business!

In our last post we went into where you are in comparison with where you want to be, the gap between, the various justifications given and some empowering questions.

Next we’re going to look at your answers to those questions and see how we can:

  • Build them into great stories that will resonate with your potential customers
  • Get those stories out to where your potential customers work, rest and/ or play!

But first we’re going have a quick look at where you fit into the business scene.

Small Business Statistics


The diagram above represents the the percentage breakdown of businesses in the UK as at Spring 2003 (figures from the DTI). The picture hasn’t altered hugely since then. Updated figures (November 2011) from the FSB show (among other things) that:

  • There are 4.5 million small businesses in the UK
  • SMEs account for 99 per cent of of all enterprise int he UK, 58.8 per cent of private sector employment and 48.8 per cent of private sector turnover
  • SMEs employed an estimated 13.8 million people and had an estimated combined annual turnover of £1,500 billion
  • Businesses with employees account for a quarter of all enterprises – a fall of 29,000 since 2010
  • The number of sole proprietorships increased by 87,000 in 2010 and the number of companies, 6,000

As an aside, I can sort of understand why “Medium” sized businesses were lumped in with “Small” but I cannot for the life of me work out why “Micro” and “Sole Traders” – the biggest combined group by far (should they ever decide to band together and create their own union, watch out!) – should all be under the SME nomenclature, but I guess that’s just one of life’s little mysteries… I’m guessing that sole traders and micros are included in the figure of 4.5 million for small businesses above…

So, since businesses with employees account for only a quarter of all enterprises now in UK PLC 2011 (and, if you look at the pie chart, what’s the betting that 95% of them are micros with under 10 employees?) together with the remaining Sole Traders three quarters we see who must be contributing hugely to the effort of keeping the economy afloat! And I’m sure the same applies to all ‘free’ countries across the globe.

Looked at that way, it’s not just ourselves we owe to be successful, is it? So let’s get to it!

Do You Have a Marketable Niche?

As you’re reading this to yourself you’re either going to be thinking “nitch” (west of the Pond) or “neesh” (east); doesn’t matter which because, either way what we’re looking at here is the market sector that you’ve carved out as your very own!

And it’s important to realise and acknowledge that you’re probably not the first in it, won’t be the last, but you’re the only one to bring what you bring to it and your customers – and it’s something that’s valuable to them.

Another point to bear in mind is that the niche you choose/ have chosen may not be the one you end up in – again, it doesn’t matter – don’t let inertia and indecision sink you – (once you’ve answered your Empowering Questions to your satisfaction) just get on and take action! Because, answering your Empowering Questions should also have provided answers in the affirmative to the following three questions:

  1. Can you justify and carve out your very own differential within this niche?
  2. Is it lucrative?
  3. Does it have potential to grow?

Then we can move on to ideas and examples of what action to be taking, always with the idea of gaining and increasing profitable business…

Win, Keep and Grow Profitable Business

Okay, if there’s you on your own or you plus a handful in your company, the odds of one of you being ace at sales and marketing are, realistically likely to be quite small, yet we want to build a fan-and-customer base as quickly as possible, don’t we? So let’s start with just three ideas – I’m sure you’ll come up with loads more.

Go networking – How?

  • Face-to-face
  • Phone
  • Skype
  • Online

Go networking – Where?

Where your target audience hangs out and while there are likely to be in the frame of mind where they’re open to business ideas and opportunities.

If you don’t know where and when that is, you need to do your research and find out…

Speaking, anyone?

I know, people’s fear of public speaking has been well documented, but think about it for a minute:

If you’ve been a member of any kind of business network you’ll have been through the, at times, excruciating spotlight being on you when you delivered your elevator pitch. I honestly believe that I defy any kind of public speaking to be worse than that!

Career advisors in my day were cr*p and I doubt they’re much better now. Why not think about speaking to groups of school youngsters for 5 or 10 minutes at a time about your business, who it helps, why you started it, how you’re growing it, how it’s evolving, the type of people you envision being involved in it… Sure, kids can ask some tough questions but they’re usually sincere, cut through the BS and can really make us think and recover our own enthusiasm :-)

If you turn out to be any good at this, people will probably soon start finding you, which could lead to…

Leading Trusted Authority Interviews

I’d say: Take this activity seriously but not yourself! It’s useful to have at least a Top Line Agenda in advance purely to ensure that your slot ‘flows’ and you can get your main points in as well as those of the interviewer. Bearing in mind the only time interviewers are likely to be actively looking to trip you up is if you’re in a highly political limelight for your subject – I think we can cast that one aside… for now, anyway 😉

What else?

“How long’s a piece of string?” comes to mind. We haven’t touched on Blogging, Emailing, Telemarketing, Teleseminars and Webinars to name just a few… What have you used to good effect? What do you fancy learning more about?

Linda Mattacks - Small Business Training

PS: Coming soon: Pricing and charging
PPS: I’m not doing “sign up to be on my mailing list” for the moment – I’m doing “Call me” instead 😉


How Much Do You Really Want A Successful Business?

… and what are you doing to make it happen?

I’ve come across more than usual of these Think Big audios, interviews and seminars recently and, though there has been the usual crop of navel gazing, verging on the woo-woo, of Why are you here? What are the X number of things that define Your Big Life, what Breakthrough do you want Right Now? and so on, there were also some really good observations on ways we might be holding back and un- or subconsciously sabotaging our business growth efforts.

And the good thing about that is, once we’re aware of what they are and dispassionately identify whether they apply to us, we can do something about them… If you’re anything like me, you might want to ask someone you trust to ‘give it to you straight’ if you’re not sure about any of your answers 😉

The Gap

This is the space between you are and where you want the business to be. Since we know that no business can stand still, it has to progress or go backwards until it eventually meets its demise, let’s say there’s at least some room for improvement and bring on any hints, tips and practices that would help! Let’s remember that, even in good times there are many reasons why you may lose custom through no fault of your own. In bad times they’re likely to be magnified:

  • A project you’ve geared up resources to work on progresses so far then gets indefinitely halted
  • A contract that you’ve had for several years suddenly isn’t renewed
  • Customer company/individual moves away
  • Customer company merges or is taken over
  • Customer company/individual moves to a competitor with a superior/cheaper/more suitable product, service or solution
  • Customer company/individual needs change and there is no longer a requirement for your product or service
  • Customer company closes down or customer individual dies

We’re going to look at a range of external reasons and internal reasons that are allegedly responsible for lack of growth and some possible behaviours that are contributing to the status quo. Get ready for some self honesty and accountability.

External Justification

  • The economy’s the pits
  • People aren’t buying…
  • There’s too many offering the same thing, too much competition
  • I/ we can’t hold my/ our prices, people are going for the cheapest…
  • People don’t do what they say they will
  • I/ we can’t compete on the same playing field as the rest – they’re bigger/ more established/ have more money/ backing

Internal Justification

  • I can’t do everything that needs to be done – there just aren’t enough hours in the day
  • I’m not a salesman/ woman
  • I’m/ we’re okay once I’m/ we’re in front of somebody – it’s getting in front of enough potential profitable customers that’s the problem
  • I don’t know how to….
  • It’s not my responsibility
  • How can I think and act Big with all this – whole countries in trouble, let alone companies folding and people being made redundant – going all around?
  • What if I do… and mess up? People will think I’m stupid

Well, that’s just a few of each – I’m sure you could add to the lists, but we’re getting the picture. So now let’s add into the mix some unhelpful behaviours that might be supporting stagnation at best and rapid demise at worst… :-(

Unhelpful Behaviours

Key ones are to:

  • Be caught in hesitation, inertia and a kind of passive sabotage of procrastination OR
  • Hide amongst displacement activities – all of which achieve busyness but not positive outcomes OR
  • Undertake tons of panicky activities underscored by neediness that repels potential business

Then there can be ‘supporting’ tendencies:

  • Sense of continuous overwhelm
  • Need to micro manage everything and everyone
  • Let self and others down
  • Blame others

Anything else we want to get out on the table while we’re at it? In my opinion there really isn’t any mileage in hiding all this from ourselves and pretending everything’s just grand. Because that way all the garbage is still there and ignoring isn’t going to fix anything anytime soon.

Facing it on the other hand enables us to ask and get answers to some very empowering questions.

Empowering Questions

  1. Why do you do what you do to earn/ make a living?
  2. Have you created a job for yourself where you’re the boss or a business to grow and either hand down to your offspring or sell?
  3. How does your business serve and contribute to the life you want to lead?
  4. How is that different from its ideal contribution?
  5. Just how important is it to you that you/ your business reach your full potential?
  6. Who directly benefits from what you/ your business does?
  7. What impact does that make on their lives/ business?
  8. What impact does you/ your business doing what you do have on the wider scene?

The above are, I’d say, essential questions that any business person should be clear on the answers to Question 6 if s/he’s serious about succeeding. But having said that, when times get tough it’s easy to lose sight of why you ever bothered to get into this! :(-

But once you’ve gone back to basics and re-clarified your focus where necessary – hint: involve your best clients/ customers to help you if you’re struggling with the question 😉 – then we can look at

  • Your ideal target audience
  • The best offers you can and should be making to them
  • The way you present those offers

Linda Mattacks - Small Business Training

PS I’ve included above some practical activities from courses I’ve created specifically for small businesses – in this instance they’re from the Gold course for sole traders and owners of micro businesses.
PPS If you like what you see here the 15 minute FREE Skype or phone consultation still holds to see if we’re good to work together. Why not have a chat? :-)


Selling: Men, Women, Emotions, Logic and Persuasion or is that Manipulation?

I admit upfront that this contains a bit of a rant but stick with it and you’ll see where we’re headed… 😉

Yesterday

I went to a women’s event in London, primarily in my role as an Ambassador for Birds on the Blog. What fascinated me and what I thoroughly enjoyed was both hearing from very successful speakers – and the trials and tribulations they’d been through along the way – and still faced to some degree, and speaking with them and other attending businesswomen, starting to make new friends.

The only duff part of the entire day, in my opinion, was the one bit, one of the master classes, that was run by a bloke. He used to run comedy workshops then went into the corporate arena running workshops on stand up presentation skills for employees. I really don’t think he was used to presenting to audiences that included women who are responsible for running companies that turn over £several million a year! The content was basic, not new, and fairly lightweight and I wasn’t the only one in that class who felt we’d been patronised and that the presenter had totally misjudged his offering for us. :-(

Today

I found an email with a link to a download from a website that promised:

FREE BOOK: How Influence Masters Get Exactly What They Want In Business, Relationships And Life And How You Can Too, Guaranteed

Written, allegedly, by a Million-Dollar Copywriter And Influence Master whose name I’d only come across in my email box to date. Well, I thought I’d see what this guy had to offer – pourquoi non? as our French amis would say, and here’s my take on it for you 😉

The book in a nutshell

It’s 47 pages mostly of waffle, psychobabble, and manipulation à la snake oil salesman. Some of what he advocates should have gone out with the ark and I honestly wonder whether he’s tried it on a 21st century prospect… he kind of gives this away when he says that he’s been a salesman most of his life and that “most of the selling that I did was in the fitness industry”. That emboldment of the ‘did‘ is mine.

However, hidden in amongst all this are a few nuggets and bloopers that, if you haven’t considered in any great depth before might be worth your while pondering on – knowing which are potentially good news for you and which to stay well clear of.

I’ve only highlighted a few here. You can phone me [+ 44 (0) 20 7209 1284 or + 44 (0) 7879 28 367] or email me [desk (at) smallbusinesstraining (dot) co (dot) uk] for the link to get your own copy of the .pdf

“Emotion v. Logic”

Cutting through all the verbiage, what he’s basically saying here is that buying decisions are driven by emotion reinforced with logic. This is absolutely true and any sales person worth his or her salt knows it – there’s nothing new here. What’s a little more interesting is that a lot of this is going on subconsciously. The examples chummy gives are about as subtle as a brick and I won’t insult your intelligence by repeating them here but, in essence it’s a valid point and, no matter how logical your buyer-of-the-moment might like to think s/he is, this is still going on under the surface (a bit like an iceberg).

“Third Party Evidence is a must”

‘A must’ is a bit heavy handed and not so easy to apply if you’re just starting out but it’s certainly very powerful. Referring to experts and quoting statistics will work reasonably well until you can include your own satisfied clients/ customers, anything that basically says “Look, don’t just take my word for it…” and helps the potential buyer to feel comfortable, that s/he’s in good company are all good. BTW: If someone says they’ll give you a testimonial/ reference but “You write it” – Don’t! Even if you have to wait for it, it’ll be worth it – your wording won’t sound like them to anyone who knows them and you’ll never dream of some of the lovely things they’ll say about you!

“Obligation/ Reciprocity”

Our man lists this little gem under “Triggers of Mind Control” and quotes Dr Robert Cialdini’s research into what makes people think and act in certain ways to justify his use of it in selling: Give the potential client something for nothing then they’ll feel they have to buy.

I’m not kidding. This is really what he says. I call it unethical garbage that deserves to blow up in the face of whoever’s dumb enough to use it. Or maybe I’m not being clear enough…

So let’s salvage this one: A freebie as a goodwill gesture plain and simple is fine. As an example of your expertise for your potential buyer to try, why not? Just as long as you don’t employ it to create a feeling of obligation. Give me strength!

“Scarcity: The less available something becomes the more people want it”

This one can be a bit of a double edged sword. For a start, ‘the more people want it’ is only going to be true if it (whatever ‘it’ is) was desirable in the first place. Secondly, I honestly believe that buyers are far more sophisticated nowadays and a far more aware of potentially created ‘scarcity’:

“In all my years of being in the Internet marketing business and writing sales copy, the scarcity trigger is one of the most important tools that I have used to get the customer to take action.”

Oh boy, I guess that shows our author in his true colours… :-(

What’s the link between yesterday’s event and today’s email?

To me it’s that the kind of in-your-face thinking/ approach that these two guys demonstrated is passé and no longer works.

I’m not saying that all males are like that or that all male thinking needs to be thrown out of the window, just that now might be a good time for all of, women and men, to incorporate more of our feminine side in out business activities.
What are your thoughts?


+44 (0)20 7209 1284

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