What do you need for business success?

Apart from competency in what your core business does, you also need access to skill sets in certain broad areas that will have an impact on your company’s ability to achieve its ultimate potential.

I’ve listed the most obvious ones below in no particular order with examples of subsets to think of in each:

  • Branding – creation of strong identity, positioning, differentiation, etc.
  • Research – understanding of market needs and ability to keep up with them and continue to fulfil them, etc.
  • Marketing – online, offline, targeting, attraction, what to communicate, how to communicate, etc.
  • Sales – the personal side of the business – prospecting from cold call through to conversion and CRM, customer retention and growth
  • Financials – bookkeeping/ accountancy products/ services, funding, management of cash flow
  • Legal – company/ employment/ tax law, etc.
  • IT/ telecomms – products and services provision that will adapt to provide what your company needs as it needs it, etc.
  • Management – and general administration, etc.

Most owners of small businesses either think that “branding” is only for big companies with big budgets or that it isn’t a skill: You just come up with company colours, a logo and a strap line. Job done – forget about it.

On the other hand, everyone recognises the importance of getting the “financials” right, particularly cash flow, which is cited as the most common reason for business failure.

Yet pause for a moment and just think through the possible implications of branding on the company financials and take a couple of theoretical (yet all too probably) scenarios:

Company A:
Good, clear brand that helps define the marketing strategy and targeting. Potential prospect attitude:
“Okay. I understand what they’re about, who they help, how they help them, how they’re different. I can see from their customers’ comments that they don’t just see them as a meal ticket. One more unsatisfactory issue with current suppliers and I’ll try them. In fact I think I’ll try them anyway. Provided they deliver as promised, it doesn’t actually matter that they’re a bit more expensive.”

Company B:
Branding virtually ignored. Try for universal appeal to anyone and everyone who might be in the market for their product/ service. Potential prospect attitude:
“Another company that wants to sell xyz. Might try them if current supplier(s) let me down or won’t deliver till we’ve paid for the last lot of stuff. In fact, I might just play them off anyway and see if we can get their prices down.”

We’re not going to insult anyone’s intelligence by asking whether you’d prefer your company to be perceived as A or B or which potential customer would be the preferred one to attract. But, obvious though it probably is, it’s worth pushing the point home that the stronger your brand the more of your ideal prospects you’re likely to attract and the less likely you’ll find yourself in the position where one or more customers can deliberately or unfortunately hold you to ransom on the cash flow front.

The good news is that this whole branding issue, whilst it may not be particularly easy to resolve, is very simple. And it needn’t cost megabucks either – it’s solidly within our theme of the moment – mainly just a lot of common sense and thought.

Oops! Went off on one then. But it’s a really important issue – one that was hijacked by and large by the so-called marketing gurus of around the 1990s who made us feel that we couldn’t possibly work out the brand thing for ourselves. We needed to fork out £thousands to them –
so most small businesses did nothing and it winds me up that the inertia continues to this day.

I’d just revisit your list that you’ve made and make any adjustments you think are necessary. We will think about how we can address problem issues that you’ve identified in any of the half a dozen areas that support your core business. But first we’ll look at some typical growing pains in our next blog!

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3 Responses to “What do you need for business success?”

  1. Hi Kevin

    Most people are amazed at just how much can be done better – and by themselves – with a little application and a huge dollop of common sense!

    Thanks

    Linda

  2. Kevin says:

    “The good news is that this whole branding issue, whilst it may not be particularly easy to resolve, is very simple. And it needn’t cost megabucks either”

    Linda you always speak such good sense, I feel small businesses got led down the garden path when it comes to branding, and you are right, it can be done better for less using common sense.

    Rgds

    Kevin

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