What makes your business unique?

People like doing business with people. Not anonymous brands or websites. That means they like doing business with you. You are what makes your business unique.

Yes, you may have a compelling proposition put together a little differently to how other people do things.

Yes, you may have excellent customer service – better than anyone else in your local market or niche.

But in reality that is your stamp on your business.

 

It’s why successful small or micro businesses sometimes struggle to grow. How do you keep that personal touch as you grow your team and your customers come in to contact with more and more of your staff?

It’s not about rigid controls and regimented processes. Good processes are essential but it’s also about learning the art of hiring the right staff. Staff with an ethos and attitude that matches your business style. Hire the right staff and give them the freedom to use their initiative and the “you” in your business will grow and develop. That is how the “you” in your business evolves into your business brand.

This is how the likes of Apple and Disney have developed incredibly strong brands – by allowing the “you” of their creators to grow with the business.

 

Spreading the word

Communicating what makes your business unique is the key to making your business successful. Your satisfied customers are the best people to do this. What they say about you is a thousand times more powerful than anything you say about yourself.

But you can’t just rely on word of mouth to grow your business. You have to leverage your testimonials and recommendations through all aspects of your marketing. Through your website, through printed media and through social media.

Social media is becoming ever more critical in this with ‘social proof’ being one of the first things potential customers look for. What are you saying about yourself on social media and, more importantly, what are other people saying about you?

Whilst platforms like Twitter and Facebook are great for getting the word out and getting you noticed, they don’t offer much to show the client what they will actually get. For that, most businesses drive people to their websites.

But most websites tend to be very product or service centric and not so much about the customer.

 

Turning social awareness into social proof

This is where LinkedIn comes in. Through your LinkedIn profile you, the business owner, can speak directly to your customers frustrations, pains or desires. You can explain how your business can solve their problems or deliver on the desires.

LinkedIn’s recommendations system means you can get genuine testimonials from your best clients, backing up what you say and delivering the social proof you need. By driving prospects either directly or indirectly to your LinkedIn profile you will turn social awareness into solid social proof and make it much easier to convert prospects into customers.

Social proof process

 

Leveraging your LinkedIn profile

Once you have that powerful personal profile you can leverage it to find, connect and engage with your ideal prospects through LinkedIn through a simple five stage process:

Customer targeting with LinkedIn

  1. Define your ideal prospect – the tighter the definition, the easier they will be to target.
  2. Use LinkedIn’s powerful search tool to find prospects on LinkedIn
  3. View your ideal prospects’ profiles and find a reason to connect
  4. They view your powerful profile and start to see the benefits you offer
  5. Follow up on connection by starting a dialogue – no selling allowed

Get the engagement process right and they will ask to work with or buy from you. LinkedIn makes the selling easy.

 

Build your own social proof

A well-crafted LinkedIn profile setting out how your clients benefit from your business provides a powerful platform of social proof that you can use to find, connect and engage with your ideal prospects. Book a free profile review now and get started right away. Just click on the link below.

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There is no Status Quo in business

There is no such thing as the status Quo in business. Your revenue/profits/costs will not continue at the same level if you continue to do what you have always done. You know:

  • The same old marketing
  • The same old prices
  • The same old competition
  • The same old… you get the picture don’t you?

Except that it probably isn’t the same old competition. Your competition has moved on. They’re looking for new ways to attract your customers. They’re under-cutting your prices, offering tempting bonuses and creating new products or services. And there could be new competitors too.

Your customers will have moved on to. They could be looking for something new, something different.

Even if you’ve kept you prices the same, your costs will have changed so your profits will have changed too.

It’s a bit like a tug of war – you trying to pull revenue and profits one way and your suppliers and the market pulling against you.

It feels like a huge battle just to stand still, just to achieve the status quo in business.

 

But I want to grow

But what if you want to grow your business, to really take it to the next level? The ‘same old, same old’ just isn’t going to hack it. To overcome that inertia you need to make a step change. You need to think different, think ‘outside the box’ (I normally hate clichés and business speak, but this one is on the money), because the same old marketing will bring the same old results – declining revenue and declining profits.

 

1-4-15-60-20

These are the five key numbers in any market, segment or area. So in your business, in your area:

  • 1% are super successful. They are the Richard Bransons or Apples for that business/area.
  • 4% are doing really well and aspiring to join the 1%.
  • 15% doing OK. There’s room for improvement, but they are winning more than they are losing.
  • 60% are getting by. They are the businesses I described above. The one’s struggling to achieve the status quo in business.
  • 20% are really struggling or even failing.

That means at least 80% of the business like you, in your area are GETTING IT WRONG! They are stagnating or declining. They are trying to maintain the status quo in business and it just isn’t working. Do yourself a a favour – don’t copy the 80%.

 

What can I do Allen?

If you look at your market you’ll realise that most of your competitors are doing the same sorts of things. Similar marketing, similar prices, similar offers, similar services. But the standout leaders – the 1%, 4% or 15% will be different. It may not be immediately obvious how they are different, but they will be different. They probably charge higher prices and you’ve never quite worked out how they get away with it. They achieve customer loyalty you can only dream of.

How do they do it? It boils down to two core things.

Positioning

The best businesses position themselves as just that – the best at what they do. Through a combination of innovative marketing, excellent service and being well, just different. Look at Apple. Their core markets are computers and phones – two very crowed markets. Yet Apple created the Mac and split the market into two. The Mac market that it owns and the PC market where every other company fights it out.

Likewise with smartphones. They created the iPhone – a market they own, and everyone else fights it out on android/Windows/Blackberry etc.

So how can you make your business the best at what it does in your area or segment? How can you position your business in the eyes of your market? The first part is about you and your business. What is your unique selling point – your USP?

Systems

To be the best in what you do it means you have to deliver to the highest standards day in, day out and in a way that is consistent with your business’ brand and image. That requires systems. Good systems allow you to run your business efficiently and with the knowledge that what is delivered will almost always be of the right quality. And on the odd occasion when something goes wrong, you’ll have your best system there ready to deal with the problem and wow the customer with how much trouble you have taken to put things right.

It’s these systems that are often hidden from what you see in successful businesses.  You will have seen the positioning, but it’s the systems that give the substance to that positioning.

 

How can a small business achieve all this?

Let’s tackle the two areas in reverse order. Putting in place great systems is neither hard nor expensive. The hard part is deciding what the system needs to do. In other words, what are the detailed elements of the product or service that you deliver. Once you have that you can create systems and processes to help you and your team deliver to the desired quality. It might be as simple as a set of paper based checklists. It could be barcoded stock and handheld barcode reader.

Whatever system you design needs to simple enough for you and your team to implement and work with consistently. It’s then down to training people how to use the system. Don’t forget to explain why the system is important and what it is trying to achieve. The more context you provide, the more accepted and adopted the system will become.

Getting your positioning right can be a little trickier. Many businesses try to position themselves by talking about themselves and their products:

  • We are the leading company in…..
  •  We have been serving this market for over 20 years….
  • Our range of products is second to none…..

And so on. But this is all about them and not about their customers. The latest ads for Microsoft Windows 10 and the related Surface Book and PCs have been all about what the end users can do with the products and not about the products themselves. Your positioning needs to be about what your business does for its customers. Show you understand their needs, their problems, their desires. Then show them how you can meet those needs, ease or remove that pain or satisfy that desire. That is great positioning.

 

How can you do all this on a small business budget?

Social media.

Social media has been the great leveller for businesses of all sizes. For little or no money you can position your business for what it does for its customers and get that message in front of those customers. And LinkedIn should be at the core of what you do on social media.

Whatever business you are in you, the business owner, should use LinkedIn to position yourself and your business. It is the first place anyone doing business with you is going to look to check you out. If they find a rubbish profile that looks like a stale cv you’ve already missed a trick.

Instead, you need a profile that screams the values of your business. One that is packed with value-added information that delivers useful information to the customer. One that has videos and articles about what you do for your customers. One that is packed with glowing recommendations from existing clients.

Whether you are business-to-business or business-to-consumer, a powerful LinkedIn profile is the number one way to position you and your business. Now you can use the appropriate social media channels to get in front of your target market and guide them to your profile to show them why they should do business with you.

If you are selling business-to-business then LinkedIn is almost certainly the best social media channel to find and get in front of your ideal customers. With over 450m profiles worldwide and over 20m in the UK along, your target market is on there. Their profiles are packed with the keywords you need to search for and find them and with the right non-salesy approach, you can develop strong business relationships that ensure they come to you to meet their business needs.

 

Get free advice on positioning your business with LinkedIn

If you would like to find out more about using LinkedIn to

  • position your business and
  • find and engage with your ideal prospects

book a free business review call with Allen today. Just click on the button below

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Marketing or Product 1st

What comes first, marketing or product? That was the subject of a passionate debate at one of my networking groups this week. I’ll keep the outcome back until the end of the post because I think the value is in how the debate went.

 

Google the answer

Whenever there is a question, lots of people immediate reach for a browser or app and pounce in the question to their favourite search engine. If you do that with product verses marketing you’ll get a lot of pro-marketing articles in your results.

That’s probably not too surprising as the exponents of marketing are pretty good at marketing what they do. The marketing 1st team obviously did the same as me as they quoted from many of the articles I read in their statements.

 

Product failure visibility

One of the arguments put forward by the marketing guys was that a lot of people have what they think is a good idea for a product but end up failing because there is no market for that product. They sp[end hours, days, weeks or even years perfecting something that nobody actually wants to buy. The marketeers argue that if you start with the marketing you find out if there is a market before you develop the product.

Dragons Den – the UK TV show where entrepreneurs pitch their products to get backing from investors was cited as the prime example. Most pitches get rejected ted because there isn’t a market.

Product failures are visible and, often painful for the inventor-entrepreneur.  But test marketing fails just as often, if not more often. But because the marketing gets lost in the mass of daily messages we face it is pretty near invisible.

Product failures being more visible than marketing failures does mean that the marketing first approach is therefore right.

 

The common ground

The biggest thing to come out of the debate was the amount of common ground between the two sides.

  • You must have a clear concept for your product as a minimum starting point.
  • Market research is a fundamental ‘must have’, whether that is part of product development or marketing, or both.
  • You need to have a clear target market – the idea that you could sell to everyone will only result in you selling to no-one if you don’t segment.
  • Marketing can sell a bad product if there is a valid market.
  • No amount of marketing will sell a brilliant product that doesn’t have a market.

 

The result

The hour long debate concluded with a vote by the audience. And the winner was…..

Product 1st

Probably by around a 60:40 split

 

The reality

The reality is that the most successful businesses have great products, great marketing and phenomenal customer service. And to get there the plan builds in all three from the outset. If you focus on one aspect to the exclusion of the others you are likely to fail. That’s how visible product failures and hidden marketing ones occur.

When I talk to clients about how to leverage their LinkedIn profiles to grow their businesses I ask them what benefits their clients will get from buying their product or service and who those ideal clients are. We focus not on what the product or service is, but what it gives to the client. Product first but closely followed by who the product is for and the problem it solves.

If you’d like to have a chat about how you LinkedIn profile can position your product to your ideal target clients click on the link below and book a free 15 minute profile review. It could just change your perspective.

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Don’t be fooled by LinkedIn’s ‘All Star’ profile rating

Does your LinkedIn profile have an ‘All Star’ profile rating? Did you add sections in to your profile to get your rating up to the ‘All Star’ profile level?

If you answered yes to either question then LinkedIn will be very happy because you are helping them satisfy their core revenue generating clients – the recruitment consultants. It will have where you are, what you do and what you’ve done in the past. All great if you are a recruitment consultant sifting through profiles looking for ideal candidates for the role you have to file.

But having an ‘All Star’ profile won’t necessarily help you in your business. In fact, it could lead to a stream of unwanted sales messages from over-zealous sales people mining LinkedIn for keywords to identify potential clients. They look for CEOs, MDs and Owners in certain lines of business that they consider ideal targets for their products or services. Don’t blame them even if it is annoying. Your inviting those messages because of your profile.

For LinkedIn to be useful to you in your business you need an ‘All Star’ Plus profile. Before we get in to what constitutes an  ‘All Star’ Plus profile, let me explain a little about LinkedIn’s profile strength assessment.

LinkedIn Profile Strength

There are 5 levels of profile strength and all are driven by how complete your profile is:

1. Beginner (<50%)

You get this status just for setting up your profile and completing some basic information including name, 1 job, location and 3 skills.

 

2. Intermediate (50%)

As for beginner plus a profile photo and a minimum of 3 connections.

 

3. Advanced (75%)

As for intermediate but you need to add details of your education, industry and a post code. You’ll need two previous job positions and a minimum of 50 connections.

 

4. Expert (90%)

As for advanced but the number of skills required increases to 5 and you need to have 3 recommendations.

 

5.All Star (100%)

As for Expert but you also need descriptions under your work experience, a completed Summary section and belong to some Groups.

 

The profile strength circle will always show a small gap at the top. That’s partly because there are a number of minor sections that no everyone can or will complete. So the profile is considered to be 100% when all the core sections are completed. Some people have suggested a gap is left to indicate thee is always room for improvement.

Completeness vs Quality

LinkedIn’s ‘All Star’ profile rating depends on you completing the key sections and having a minimum level of connections, skills and recommendations.  All of this can be achieved with a poor quality profile. Let me give you an example.

Your profile photo. To get an ‘All Star’ profile rating if you have a profile picture – any old profile picture. It doesn’t even have to be of you. When I assess someone’s profile I have 15 things I consider when assessing the quality of your photo. That may seem a little anal, but you only get one chance to make a first impression and your profile photo is a key part of that first online impression.

So you may have a ‘complete’ profile, but if the quality of the content is not up to scratch you won’t achieve my ‘All Star’ Plus profile rating.

An ‘All Star’ Plus profile

An ‘All Star’ Plus profile is a complete profile just as in the ‘All Star’ profile description, but this time it has high quality content that is targeted at, and valuable to, your target reader – your ideal prospects.

That means your profile is not about you, but about what you do for your clients. It’s about the benefits they get from working with you or buying your products, never about the products or the services themselves.

Your headline tells your prospects what you do for them, not who you are or your job title. (that also reduces the chances of sales people spamming you)

Your summary and current experience describes their pain, their challenges or their desires and how your business overcomes those challenges or meets those desires.

Your past experience, education and other sections are there and completed to open up connection possibilities.

 

The benefits

A top ‘All Star’ Plus profile requires a lot of thought, a certain amount of up-front effort and then regular updating. But when coupled with a targeted campaign to find, connect and engage with your ideal target prospects in the right way, it can lead to a stream of leads varying from warm to red-hot and all without so much as a hint of overt selling.

 

If you’d like a free 15 minute assessment of your  ‘All Star’ profile and some tips on what it would take to get to  ‘All Star’ Plus then book a call with me. Click on the link below, but hurry, the number of calls I’ll take are limited.

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How to get the most out of your LinkedIn profile

There are over 450m user profiles on LinkedIn, many of them small business owners.  The vast majority of those small business owners say they don’t get anything out of LinkedIn. But super-successful small business owners know how to leverage their LinkedIn profile to find, connect and engage with their ideal prospects.

 

It all starts with a powerful personal profile, because LinkedIn is a personal, professional networking site. I have set out below seven of the key areas of your personal profile to focus on:

 

1. Re-structure your LinkedIn profile to deliver value to the reader

You can move most LinkedIn profile sections to create a better presentation of youThere are a lot of sections within the LinkedIn profile, but only the first few are static. You need to re-order the others to gain maximum effect. Think about how you want your prospective readers and clients to see and interact with your profile. LinkedIn’s standard order is targeted at job seekers and is almost certainly not the right order for you as a business owner. Take a look at how I have structured my profile: www.linkedin.com/in/allenruddock

 

 

2. Your profile photo – create a great first impression

Create the right first impression with your LinkedIn profile pictureYou only get one chance to make a great first impression. What is going to make that impression better – a smiling professional head and shoulders shot with you looking onto the camera or the holiday snap of you in full ski-gear on the slopes at St Anton? I think you know the answer, but in case you have any doubts, don’t do what some people do and leave the LinkedIn profile photo blank.

 

 

3. Your headline – 120 characters of pure gold

Headlines matter - make sure yours speaks to what you do, not you job titleHeadlines are important – just ask any newspaper editor. They entice people to read more. But what about you profile headline? When you accept a connection request LinkedIn invariably streams a load of people you may know to the page. Scroll through and look at their headlines. Most will say CEO, Owner at…, MD of… or something very similar. Not very enticing! They are all missing a golden opportunity to tell a prospective client what they could do for that client. This is my headline:

 

★Helping Businesses Increase Sales by making Productive Online Connections ★ LinkedIn Coach & Trainer ★ Business Coach★

It says what I do for people. How does your headline stack up?

 

4. Be contactable – use your contact info like a business card

Don't hide you contact details on your LinkedIn profile - be contactableIs your business card blank apart from your name? Of course it isn’t. So why hide your contact details on LinkedIn. Things like your address and phone number are only visible to your 1st degree connections and those people who have sent you an InMail and you have accepted their request to share information.  Too many people hide their contact details on their LinkedIn profile, or don’t put them on there at all. It’s online networking so make it easy for potential clients to get in touch. One of my most read LinkedIn posts was on this subject. Click on “Don’t play hide & seek with your LinkedIn profile” to read the post.

 

5. Keep your summary succinct and client focussed

Make sure your summary covers the key points succinctlyMany people don’t even bother with a summary section. What a missed opportunity. This is the place to tell your prospects all about the benefits of working with or buying from you. It’s not about you, it’s about what you can do for your clients. Keep it punchy and relevant to the pain you’ll take away or the desire you’ll satisfy.

 

6. Add a company page

Company pages demonstrate you company's expertise, products and servicesA company page gives you the opportunity to showcase your business as a whole and any specific products or services that you want to highlight. You can get each employee to connect their LinkedIn profile to the page to help spread the word to a wider range of connections. Once again, focus on what’s in it for the customer. I hate to see “we”ing all over LinkedIn

 

7. Recommendations and endorsements – get them, and lots of them

Get Recommended for your skills and ex[pertiseWhat somebody else says about you is worth a thousand times more than anything you say about yourself. This is where LinkedIn comes in to its own. It is the only mainstream social media platform with a built in system for people to recommend you. They can’t be faked – the recommender has to do it. That is what makes recommendations specifically, and LinkedIn in general, such a powerful system. Make sure you use them in the right place in you LinkedIn profile to support your expertise. Don’t just leave them in the Recommendations section.

 

Endorsements aEndorsementsre much more widely used but are much less powerful. I get endorsements from connections I have never met or worked with. All they have to do is click to say they endorse you. I think endorsements are useful in a negative sense though. If someone says they are Google Adwords expert but nobody has endorsed them for it, you might question the validity of their claim. However, just because 99 people have endorsed them for it doesn’t mean they are any good. Recommendations are what’s really needed for the social proof.

 

These 7 points are really important but there are plenty of other areas to be considered. Why not download my 12-point LinkedIn profile refresh checklist. It’s a one-page tips sheet covering the above and more. Click the button below to get your copy.

Sing up and download your free 12-point LinkedIn Profile Refresh Checklist
12-point LinkedIn Profile Refresh Checklist

Click here to book a 15 minute LinkedIn profile review with AllenBut if you are serious about getting the most from your LinkedIn profile book a free 15 minute profile review with me. My diary is here. Just click the link and set up a call. Here’s the link again: https://calendly.com/allen-ruddock/15min-profile-review or click on the phone.

 

If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter

Consider this scenario:

You hear a speech from a Gold Medal winning Olympic rower. The speech is all about the approach he and his teammates in the men’s eight took to go from no-hopers to Gold Medal winners. An approach that examined every aspect of what they did – diet, training, even relaxation.

 

Do you think:

  1. that’s fascinating, thanks very much
  2. that’s ok but I don’t like rowing and it has nothing to do with my business

or

  1. that’s really interesting, how can I apply that philosophy in my business

 

Which option would you take? Super-successful businesses take option C. They have the mindset that looks for opportunity in every situation. They look to take other people’s experiences and apply them to their own business.

 

Thinking is important

How much time do you spend on your business? On average, business owners spend just two days a year working on their business. If you do the 90 minutes I talked about last week for just three days each week you’ll beat the annual average in your first month!

 

But how you spend that time is even more important. Even when we work on our businesses, we can all fall foul of being busy doing the wrong things, being busy without being really productive.

One hour of quality thinking is worth a month of hard work.

Why? Because that hour’s thinking shapes and drives what you do with that month of hard work.

Thinking alone is not enough. A well thought out plan is worthless unless it is implemented. Don’t over-plan or over-think – that just leads to procrastination and indecision.

That’s why I advocate doing your 90 minutes. Concentrated thinking married with focused execution.

 

Now having the right mindset isn’t about just one thing. It isn’t a case of doing one thing and you’ve cracked it. It’s about a whole raft of things.

  • It’s about how you think about yourself and your role
  • It’s about how you react to situations
  • It’s about who you hang around with

But most of all it’s about choice. You get to choose all the above and much more.

 

So mindset is about you and the choices you make. You have to mind about the choices you make. Because if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

 

How Successful Entrepreneurs Think is another key implementation plan in the Achieve 365 library. If you’d like to find out more about it let’s jump on a free 30 minute Skype call. Click on the link to my calendar below, select Implementation Plan introduction and book that call now: http://meetme.so/AllenRuddock

The 3 biggest challenges facing business owners

 

My first consulting business never really took off. I started it in 2003 with a former colleague and we were, frankly, naïve. We thought because we were good project and programme managers the work would come to us. A few phone calls. A bit of networking and hey presto, contracts would be signed.

 

The reality was so different. Some of out early discussions took over a year to come to fruition. Preferred suppliers lists got in the way. And when we did get some work, we were so focussed on delivery that we forgot about sowing the seeds for the next piece of work.  We suffered from the 3 biggest challenges that hold businesses back.

 

  1. Working in the business , not on the business
  2. Not dedicating some time on most days to getting and keeping clients
  3. Procrastination

 

Why are these the BIG three?

Let’s look at each one in turn, and then you’ll understand why I have picked out these challenges.

 

Working on the business, not in the business

Whatever your business, be it product based or services based, there is no business without a sale. No clients, no business.

Now, when you get a client, you want to make sure they get the best product or service you can deliver. So you focus your efforts on just that. Me and my first business partner did just that. And when the job was done, we were back to square one – without a current buying client.

We spent all our time working in the business delivering for the client and none looking for the next client. I started to realise this when I had a gap between clients and my partner was working on client site for his current client. I could never get any of his time to do stuff to develop the business.

 

Now a lot of people become business owners because they like doing what they do. They just want to do it for themselves rather than work for someone else’s company a give them all the profit.

But the reality is if you are constantly working in your business, doing the stuff that you like, but not growing it, not constantly finding new clients, hiring staff, putting in processes to make the business efficient and resilient, you will always go from feast to famine. You will always be trading your time for money. You will always be at the coal face.

 

Not dedicating time to getting and keeping customers

There’s always lots to do in running a business. Whatever line of business You are in you’ll want to keep abreast of the latest developments.

As project and programme management consultants my business partner and me needed to keep up to date with the latest tools and techniques. We had to get to know the latest software in case a client used it or might find it useful.

And then there’s the website to get up and running. There are brochures to write about all those new tools and techniques. And there’s the accounts to do.

The list goes on, but no mention of getting and keeping clients.

 

You see, we were busy. Very busy. But not with the right stuff. Without clients, all the other stuff was meaningless. Yet we didn’t dedicate any time on a daily basis to finding, getting and keeping clients. It’s the single most important task and we didn’t do enough of it. We certainly didn’t prioritise it.

 

Procrastination

When my first consulting business was struggling it wasn’t that I didn’t realise we were doing the wrong stuff or that we didn’t know we need to spend time getting clients. It was more that we didn’t really know how to go about things. We didn’t know what to focus on.

So we procrastinated. We kept busy. Very busy. But not in a revenue, or even lead generation, way. We found things to do to avoid the difficult stuuf. The hard conversations.

Classic procrastination.

 

And this is something I see an awful lot of with businesses I talk to. Procrastination is a bit like an addiction. To deal with it, you first have to admit to it and then seek help. For those that want help, I’m here for you.

 

How to tackle the BIG 3

Tackling the BIG 3 requires determination and effort. There’s no silver bullet, bio quick fix. You have to commit to doing things differently. After all, you’ll have heard me quote the old saying before:

If you always do what you always did,

You’ll always get what you always got.

A great way to do this is setting aside a specific amount of time each day to work on your business with a focus on getting and keeping clients.

 

90 minutes

Setting aside 90 minutes a day to build you business can have dramatic results. Nigel Botterill who owns and runs the Entrepreneurs Circle built 8 £1million + businesses using this discipline. He continues to use it today and almost every working day.

I follow this principle in building my businesses. When my business partner decided he’d had enough of our roller-coaster consulting business, we closed it down and I started again, on my own.

The first thing I decided was to learn about, and get better at, marketing. So I signed up for some courses, joined a mini-mastermind group and then joined the Entrepreneurs Circle, where I learned about Nigel’s 90 minutes philosophy.

 

So as I built my new consultancy, I would do my 90 minutes – split in to two 45 minute chunks corresponding to my training journeys into and out of London. In the mornings I’d craft blog posts, e-mail campaigns and product collateral. In the evenings I would engage my social media audience turning them from followers and connections in to leads and clients.

As a result I have had a near 100% utilisation rate in my new business with very little down time between client assignments. Often I have had training and SharePoint assignments running in parallel to consulting assignments. In fact I’ve often had to turn assignments away because I have had too many commitments.

 

In short, this stuff works!

achieve-365-logo

 

From the experiences Nigel and his team learned building those businesses they created the achieve 365 library – a series of Implementation Plans covering virtually every aspect of buildinag, growing and running a business. Each plan comprises a series of checklists, templates and how to videos taking you through the subject step by step.

 

One of the core Implementation Plans is Getting (Loads) More Stuff Done…. and it’s all about your 90 minutes. If you’d like to find out more about achieve 365 and the Implementation Plans and how I can help you keep yourself motivated and accountable, let’s get a free 30 minute Skype call set up. Click on the link to my calendar below, select the “Achieve 365 30 minute call” option and book that call now:

Allen’s calnder link

How to get stuff done in your business

Sport is a great analogy for business.

Anyone can take part in sport at one level or another. For example, you can just turn up at a track and run a race, or pop down the tennis club to play a set or two. But without any preparation don’t expect to get a call up to the Olympics squad or The Davis Cup Team. Getting to those events requires a great product (your talent), lots of planning and hard work.

 

Just like business.

Just as in sport, anyone can set up a business and sell products or services. There may be some regulatory or industry specific constraints (food safety, hygiene, health and safety laws etc.) but otherwise, you can pretty much go for it.

But if you want to be a business Olympian, if you want to win medals, you need to have a great product or service and then you have to plan for success and work hard to deliver it. You need to get stuff done!

 

Can you succeed?

Can any business succeed with the right planning and hard work? That depends on two things.

The first is your definition of success. If success means £1m turnover, staff and six figure profits, not all business can achieve that. Some business will only ever be part-time kitchen table ventures, but if that is what you want from your business and the expected level of profit is commensurate with that, then it is a success.

The second is having a minimum viable product aligned to your definition of success. Some products or services are just never going to make it commercially. If yours is one of them, accept it and move on rather than pouring good money and time down the drain.

 

Success through focus and application

But with the right product success can be achieved. Let’s use the sports analogy again. A few years back we were rubbish at cycling. Then the powers that be decided to do something about it. They started by breaking down the problem of winning. Everything from improving the bike, fitness regimes, diet, etc. we examined. Changes were made, tested and adjusted. Every little detail right down to even taking mattresses to improve sleep between Tour de France stages.

In a few short years we had our first Tour de France winner in Sir Bradley Wiggins and now a three times winner in Chris Froome. Besides that, we have serious medal expectations at every cycling event around the world.

You can apply the same approach to your business.

 

Is there a switch?

The UK’s cycling success didn’t happen overnight and nor will the changes in your business. There’s no magic switch that turns a business into an instant success. But a switch is required for success longer term. It’s a switch in the attitude of you, the business owner. A switch from an attitude that says it’s all someone else’s fault to accepting that it’s down to you. It’s a switch from a ‘can’t do’ or ‘can’t be bothered’ attitude to a ‘can do’ attitude. It’s a switch from seeing endless problems to looking for and finding solutions. From saying why you can’t to asking how you can. From procrastination to ‘let’s get stuff done’

 

Are you up for the challenge?

You’re reading this blog so  you already have the attitude to learn. But learning is only worthwhile if it translates in to action.  You have to implement what you learn. You have to implement the plans to make your business a success. That is the key to achieving your targets and goals.

 

Setting goals

The first step is setting goals for you and your business.  They might be financial. They might be about getting more free time. They might be about having fewer clients, but of the right type. Whatever they are, they need to be ambitious.  Break them down from the longer term goals into annual, quarterly, monthly and even weekly goals or targets. Read my blog from 7th July 2017 (http://www.arra-li.com/leadership/goal-setting-dont-aim-for-mediocrity/) about setting goals.

 

Planning

Next, you need to identify the key things that will enable you to achieve your goals and then create a plan to do them. Focus on the short term, most immediate goals. Then take incremental steps. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you don’t need to change everything in your business immediately. Have somethings that will deliver short term gains whilst you work on the longer term, potentially bigger changes.

 

The secret to success

Implementation – without it the rest is a waste of time. But don’t think that you have to do it all yourself. If you have a team of staff much of what needs to get done can be delegated, allowing you to focus on the critical stuff you are best at or on the stuff only you can do.

If you don’t have a team, get one. With Vas (virtual assistants) available by the hour in most aspects of business support it’s now much easier to get cost effective support for your business as you grow towards needing, and being able to afford, permanent staff. It’s all about empowerment – of your team and yourself.

 

What if I make mistakes

Mistakes are ok if you learn from them. Don’t get frightened by them. Ask any very successful entrepreneur what they would change on their journey and most would say they wished they had failed faster. Failure taught them the lessons to be successful. So give yourself permission to make mistakes.

 

Get stuff done

This is the first in a series of blog posts about implementing critical stuff in your business. Marketing stuff, process stuff, control stuff, management and leadership stuff. Each post will be about fixing something important in one aspect or another in your business. There will be tools to help along the way, holding your hand through each aspect of building your business. But for now, start thinking about those goals I talked about earlier. Here’s the link to the blog post again: http://www.arra-li.com/leadership/goal-setting-dont-aim-for-mediocrity/

Re-visit, re-write or even just create your goals and prepare for next week’s blog. Let’s get stuff done together.

The bad news about free…

 

I’ve been wondering if I should charge for my blog posts. Up to know they’ve been free for anyone to come and read them. But the bad news about ‘free’ is that people may not take you seriously.

 

I’ve paid so I want the value

When people pay for something, they expect – no demand – value for money. And they will consume because they have paid.

“I’ve paid £10 for this buffet, I’m gonna eat my £10’s worth”

The difference in attendance levels between people booking on a paid event verses a free event is huge. Eventbrite ran a test putting on the same webinar once as a free event, the second time charging $5. Attendance rates were 38% and 69% respectively. Almost double despite the content being the same.

 

The two key factors

There are two key factors in play here.

The first is the loss of money. If you pay for something but don’t then consume it, you’ve wasted or lost that money. In the Eventbrite situation the potential ‘loss’ of $5 induced 31% more people to attend. They didn’t want to ‘lose’ the $5.

31% still didn’t. Attend despite paying $5. The reason for that was probably the real cost of attending – the opportunity cost. I doubt anyone attending the webinar charges or values their time at $5 or even $10 per hour. So the real decision was between what value would be obtained from attending verses what else you could be doing with that time.

The second factor is perceived value. There are lots of free webinars. Most have a sales pitch at the end. Some are pretty much sales pitches throughout. So there is a perception that a free webinar may have one or two interesting nuggets before they pitch to you.

A lot of people will sign up with the intention of getting the nuggets but then not bother because something better came up. The content just wasn’t compelling enough.

But when you charge $5 you must be delivering something of value. That is what goes through the mind of the attendee. You can even pitch the webinar as delivering value. For example, you might say:

“We are going to be showing you 5 key strategies on the webinar. To make sure You can book a place we are charging $5 to put off the freebie hunters and tyre kickers”

You’re not a freebie hunter or tyre kicker, are you? So you’ll pay $5 and be 31% more likely to turn up.

 

Free giveaways

A similar situation occurs with the free stuff on your website. These are the lead magnets you offer to entice people to sign up to your list. A lot of people will sign up, download the content then do one of two things:

  1. Unsubscribe immediately.
  2. Save it to a folder somewhere never to be seen or read.

Few will actually read it or use it as you intended.

Much of this is driven by FOMO – fear of missing out. I must get that download in case there is something I should know about in there. The intentions are good, but the implementation is poor.

One way to counter this is to ensure you have a follow-up sequence to engage the people that download your free stuff. Ask them about – have they used it. Did they follow the advice? Did they implement? It’s a great way to identify those that are engaged rather than the information accumulators.

 

Is cheap or any better?

So free doesn’t work too well. How about cheap? As we saw with the webinar example, 31% who paid still failed to turn up. That occurs when people don’t understand the value of what you are offering. And if you price something too cheaply, there is a danger people will think there isn’t enough value in the product. If it’s so cheap it can’t really be worth anything.

 

Positioning

The way to overcome this is by positioning the product or service properly. That entails demonstrating the real, tangible benefits that the customer will receive. Testimonials and recommendations are crucial here. They add that third party endorsement which is a hundred times more powerful than anything you can say about your products.

Of course, you could always just put the price up. Now there’s a novel idea.

Tiny Noticeable Things

TNT – Tiny Noticeable Things

Have you noticed that when you experience good service it’s often the little things that you remember? The chocolate on the pillow, the bottle of water by the bed, fresh milk in a flask instead of those irritating little UHT pots. Little things that don’t cost a lot but make all the difference.

That’s not to say that a few little extras can compensate for poor quality or bad service. You must absolutely deliver fantastic products and services because that is what your clients expect from you. But to keep them coming back rather than trying somebody else’s products or services that might be just that little bit cheaper is where those Tiny Noticeable Things come in.

A friend had to get his Mercedes serviced. It was outside of the warranty period so he wasn’t bound to use Mercedes and he could probably have shaved a few pounds off the bill. But the Mercedes garage always greeted him by name, had the paperwork all ready for his arrival, provided a courtesy car or lift to the station, returned the car fully valeted and provided telephone updates throughout the day.Tiny Noticeable Things that made the whole experience much less painful when it was time to get the credit card out.

That whole experience started with the booking in. Will it be you bringing the car to the garage sir? That’s the booking clerk checking who the security guard at the gate would welcome when the car arrives. So when’s the security guard checks the registration number of the car approaching the gate he knows it’s almost certainly Mr Smith behind the wheel. And if it turns out not to be Mr Smith, there’s an opportunity to ask if Mr Smith is ok and whether they should still contact him with updates during the day.

It’s all about creating that first impression. I’ve heard it suggested you should rename your receptionist or whoever has the first contact with clients to the Director of First Impressions – it can make that much of a difference. How much nicer is it to be warmly welcomed as an expected and valued client than with a polite can I take your name and who are you seeing? The effort required – minimal. Effect – priceless.

When was the last time you looked at all those little details in your business? I’ll bet there are lots of Tiny Noticeable Things you could do to wow your clients. It may be a little thank you card for their recent order. Perhaps a little box of chocolates to go with the course materials you sent out. Any number of little differentiators that your competitors just can’t be bothered with.

Putting some TNT into your business could have explosive results. Let me know what ideas you come up with and which ones have the biggest impact. You’ll soon know because your clients will start telling you about them.