Business development is, by definition, undefined. According to Jennifer Fremont-Smith, it is the process of uncovering the “unknown unknowns” that can help to grow a company. The key is to focus on specific metrics that define growth for your business, and then seek out the partnerships, people, and products that increase those metrics.
This is the eighth post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The eighth Priority is about Managing your People. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.
Great businesses employ great people that deliver great work.
Business owners who want to build great businesses must get good at managing people. There is no way around that.
But for many business owners, people are a source of great stress and anxiety. They spend their days hoping things will go ok, and practice the ancient art of:
Management by keeping your fingers crossed
And that’s because they Abdicate, instead of Delegate to their employees.
Abdicating is giving someone a job and hoping they’ll somehow get it done right.
Most people feel good when they have an opportunity to do good work. Human beings (and employees are in fact human beings, I promise you) get a lot of satisfaction from doing good work, but the problem is, they often don’t know what constitutes good work. They’ve not been given clear outcomes, and they’re given conflicting priorities and feedback. And so, they flounder, they make it up themselves, they disengage, and the job does not get done right.
Delegating, on the other hand, is about discussing the job with the employee; explaining to them what the required outcomes of the job are; making it clear what good work looks like; asking for input and buy-in on the job; asking what the person needs to be able to deliver the required outcomes; agreeing on time frames and check-in points, and finally, agreeing on reporting and KPI’s for the work. (More about engaging your staff here)
When you learn how to delegate while keeping your fingers on the pulse as opposed to keeping them crossed, you will start to build a great business… I promise you.
Each of the 7 Big Questions has a dedicated page on this website, with links to many relevant resources both within my website as well as throughout the internet. Scroll down or click on the links above for a summary of each of the 7 Big Question with a link to that question’s full page.
Summary: To build aBeautiful Business and Life, we need growth. Seth Godin made a great statement some years ago on his blog. He said: To build a great business you only have to do two things: first you have to do great work or deliver a great product and second you have to make sure lots of people know about it. And that’s exactly how simple it is to build a Great Business that Stands the Test of time. But, as with so many things in life, it’s easier said than done.
Business growth is about research and product and systems and quality assurance and innovation and inventory management and people management and everything in between and then when you get that right, it’s about customers, and marketing and sales and social media and communications and PR and SEO and content marketing and advertising and design and branding and of course leadership and you might well argue that before all of that comes Visioning, Mission, Purpose, Goal setting and Strategic planning. In short Business growth touches all aspects of business. Read More Here…
Summary: To build a Beautiful Business and Life, we need to make profit. A business that doesn’t make profit and that doesn’t generate cash flow isn’t a business, it’s a hobby. Profit is not the Purpose of business, and nor is generating Cash the reason the business exists, but without profit and cash it is not possible for the business to deliver on it’s Purpose.
Business growth will have an impact on the flow of profit and money in the business, both positively and negatively, but many other aspects of business have an impact as well. There’s pricing, discounting, inventory management, costing, trade terms , collection policies and procedures, expense management, cost control and many other aspects of business will determine the profitability and sustainability of your business.
And on the other hand there is financial management. The management , reporting and analysing of the flow of profit and money through the business. Having your fingers on the pulse of all of the key indicators of the health of your business every day, week, month and year. Management of the numbers in other words. Read More Here…
How can I become less overwhelmed and feel happier every day?
Summary: To build a Beautiful Business and Life, we need to get unstuck. In my experience, business owners operate in a state of overwhelm many days of the week. They’re often first in the door in the morning, last out the door at night and have to catch up on their admin and email after dinner. They run around from crisis to crisis most days, extinguishing brush fires along the way.
Staff don’t seem able to tie their own shoe laces without input and supervision from the boss. Customers expect the business owner personally to solve all their problems, immediately, rather than the perfectly qualified and expensive staff that are employed by the business for that purpose.
As a result, the critical business development projects are constantly pushed back and the business gets stuck in the mud. The way out of this overwhelm is to learn to focus on three letters FUN. Fun in Business is the opposite of overwhelm. Developing a discipline on making Business Fun again works, because when business is fun it means everything is working. Read More Here…
How can I find the right support, advice and guidance?
Summary: To build a Beautiful Business and Life, we need support. One of the most consistent complaints I hear from business owners is that it’s all down to them. They feel alone and unsure of themselves. They need to have a sounding board. The people around them don’t get it. The staff are affected by the decisions the business owner needs to make, and so are their spouses and family.
Human beings work well with external accountability and advice. Independent external support is invaluable to any business owner who wants to build a Great Business that Stands the Test of Time. External support can take many forms: A mentor, a business or life coach, management consultant, a virtual board, an executive coaching group, a regular get together with a group of fellow business owner buddies or all of the above.
One thing is for sure: Don’t think you can do it on your own. But how do you go about finding the right support for you? Read More Here…
How can I find work-life-balance in my business and my life?
Summary: To build a Beautiful Business and Life, we need to create a balance between the demands of the business and those of the rest of our lives.
In the many years I’ve worked with business owners, I’ve come to believe that business owners are the most ‘guilt driven’ people on the planet, “worse than Catholics” I sometimes joke. Business owners generally go through life believing they are not up to the job in some way. They tell themselves (and me), that to compensate for their perceived failures, they’ve got to work harder than anyone else in their business or else how could they ever ask their people to put in the hard yards when required? (see also what I wrote above about overwhelm). But in the mean time they’re missing out on the important stuff in life. Their health and well-being suffers, as are their families.
For business owners to create a greater balance between work and life, the first step is to acknowledge that owning a business is never a 9-to-5 job, you probably won’t ever be able to close the door behind you on the way home entirely. The business is your baby, you’ve put your heart and soul into it and it’s part of who you are as a person.
Once you acknowledge that fact, the immediate next step is to recognise that your own time, your health and your general well-being are the most valuable and important assets of your business and as the business owner it is your prime responsibility to look after your assets. In other words, not looking after yourself and ensuring you are in a great physical and mental state means you are not taking your responsibilities as the owner of the business seriously. Once you’ve learnt to accept the realities of those two principles (contradictory as they might seem from time to time), you’re on the path to create the business and life you dream off. Read More Here…
How can I become a better business owner and leader?
Summary: To build a Beautiful Business and Life, we have to become better business owners. As I’ve said above in the “work – life – balance” summary, most business owners feel they’re not quite cutting it as entrepreneurs. Oftentimes, business owners start their business on the back of their profession, trade or skill they have learnt (plumber, architect, accountant, chef) and they feel confident in that particular skill. But when they start a business based on that profession, they suddenly realise that it takes a lot more than being a great plumber to build a great plumbing business.
Few business owners have studied to be a business owner, and even those who have attained an MBA or similar qualification, find that they’re not prepared for the realities of life as a small business owner. Suddenly everything is down to you, the big decisions about whether or not to bid for that contract, or hire that expensive employee, or sign the lease for the new office, as well as making sure the toilets are stocked with toilet paper and that there’s ink for the printer.
To top it off, your people look to you for having vision, having the answers and being the leader. It’s a frightening place to stand in the middle off, but there are three pieces of good news: (1) You got this far and you’re still breathing so you must be doing something right. (2) Your people actually want you to be the leader and they’re ready to forgive you just about any balls up you’re going to make along the way. (3) Leadership is something you can learn, practice and get better at. Read More Here…
Family business: How can we negotiate our roles as business and life partners better?
Summary: To build a Beautiful Family Business and Life, we need to get good, both at working with our spouses as well as living with them. As I’ve said above in the “better business owner” summary, many businesses are founded on the profession of the business owner. The plumber starts a plumbing business and the lawyer starts a law practice. A little way into the life of the business, the founder of the business, along with the spouse of the founder starts to appreciate that it takes more than being a great lawyer to build a great lawyer business and the business flounders.
Often, it is at this point that the spouse decides to enter the business as well, to sort out the chaos, in no small measure, to protect the interests of the family, and the family business is born. 70% of all businesses in Australia are family businesses and a large percentage of those can be classed as husband and wife family businesses.
In my experience there is wonderful opportunity in being in business with your spouse. It holds the possibility of providing for your family very well and there is a great opportunity to grow as a couple. But waking up beside your business partner in bed every morning also comes with a bunch of unique challenges. Read More Here…
No need to be confused, just follow these recommendations
We all get bombarded with the latest software and apps that supposedly will make our life easier.
There’s a new bookkeeping, productivity, marketing, CRM, workflow management, project management, event management, communication, note taking, SEO, inventory management, social media management, or doodling software application that promises to transform our lives as business owners every week.
It’s impossible to keep track and it’s impossible to know which of these amazing apps actually will improve our lives and which are simply going to make us pull out our hair.
I have been losing hair over small business IT and software in particular since the mid eighties, and you should see how little hair I have left.
We’re all beta-testers these days
To make the situation worse, 90% of the software we’re bombarded with isn’t actually finished yet. In these days of “Lean start ups” and venture capitalism, the pressure to get new software out into the market to start earning back some cash, is ever increasing. Where in the eighties and nineties, the big software developers would go through various versions of pre-release software, tested by engineers and selected enthusiast users in “Beta-test”mode, these days we’ve all become “Beta- testers”. Software that only barely holds together and hasn’t proved itself in real life yet, is let loose on us unsuspecting small business owners, leading to endless frustration.
So what I’m going to give you here is a bunch of my favorite software apps that have stood the test of time and that simply work. They may not always be the latest and the cutest, but they work (generally).
There will be a lot I’m missing and I have no doubt that many who read this will take issue with some of the ones I mention. I’d love to hear, and I won’t take it personal if you believe my list is not worth the screen it’s written on… Feel free to comment, below.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
First of all, I need to mention that I am not going to nominate a CRM tool, for the reason that CRM is such a minefield that I wouldn’t know which one to pick. There’s the big behemoths, like SalesForce and Sugar CRM and Microsft Dynamics, but they’re much too bigh for most small businesses and cost a fortune. The old sledgehammer to crack a nut syndrome. And on the next level down there are literally hundreds: Insightly, Nudge, Contactually and Zoho (I do have a soft spot for ZOHO, they’ve been around since the year dot and they’ve always had an innovative business model), just to name a couple, I wouldn’t know where to start… What you need to do is try a couple and ask for referrals from others who use a CRM…. Sorry that one is too hard.
Mailchimp is the gold standard, sure there’s Constant Contact and Awebber and a bunch of others, but Mailchimp just works beautifully, it does what you need it to do, easily, and it’s one of the few responsible and well managed small software companies out there. (the only gripe is that it gets quite expensive as soon as you get over 5000 subscribers, I find)
Yoast... Hands down, safe, good, solid, good value. What else can I say?
Popup forms on your website
Sumo. I’ve tried a number of them, and Sumo is just great, and really clever. I’ve seen nothing that comes close
Marketing Automation Systems (MAS)
If you’re not sure what MAS is, go and find out. But it’s like email marketing on steroids. I use Active Campaign and have done for a couple of years after testing and discarding (with great frustration and gnashing of teeth) various other ones. Active Campaign is significantly cheaper than competitors like InfusionSoft, Ontraport and Hubspot.. Active Campaign is easier to use, is pretty well just as good as those others for 90% of small businesses, and if you really must be able to do more than AC will allow you to do (in event management especially) than go to Hubspot… it’s the Gold Standard for small business systems (and it costs about 4 times as much as AC)
Bookkeeping and accounting
It’s a toss up to me between Xero and QuickBooks Online, there’s a case to be made for both of them and I wouldn’t know how to choose between them. QuickBooks Online does have the ability to do inventory management and track time for which Xero is not useful, and QuickBooks online accounting is about half the price of Xero, so that’s certainly worth looking into. Xero integrates with a lot of other software and I think it beats QuickBooks on that front at this stage of the game though. Both programs work really well and are all over the older style programs such as MYOB.
This is another area where it’s hard to keep up. I recommend two programs only, because I know they work and can be applied to many different businesses. One of them is Workflow Max, and the other is Acello . Acello is the pick for consultants and customer service management and Workflow MAx is the bees knees in my experience for Builders and such like, where the business creates estimates for material, labour and other costs and wants to be able to compare the actual cost of a project against the budgets for each of the components.
Service and mobile workforce management
GeoOp. If you have a workforce that spends it’s day on the road travelling from job to job, fixing washing machines or unblocking toilets, GeoOp is going to allow you to keep your finger on the pulse. Again, there are others but GeoOp is solid and reliable and it does what it promises.
In the old days we had Microsoft Project and that was it. These days you could find a hundred different options with looking too hard. Several of my clients use Asana It is quite brilliant, easy to use and it seems everyone just loves using it… very accessible.
Many people love Evernote, others swear by Trello, I am hooked on MSOneNote. It’s wonderful. There’s not much software of which I can truly says it has changed my life, but MSOneNote has. I have been able to become entirely paperless and significantly more efficient. And the best part of it MSOnenote is that it’s actually entirely free. It is part of the MSOffice 365 suite and that’s not free (but surprisingly god value to be honest) but you can use MSOneNote for free even if you don’t have a MSOffice 365 subscription. I use it on my computer, my laptop, my phone and tablet seamlessly. I tryuly think it’s one of the most useful things Microsoft has ever done for me. But if you really hate Microsoft, have a look at little known Google Keep…very cute too.
Social Media management
Buffer… No contest… super easy to use, effective and good value… I’m hooked on it.
What do you think?
I’d love to hear your thoughts about my omissions and errors of judgement.
The day I realised my business skills didn’t match my builder’s skills
In 1984 I came to Australia full of enthusiasm and confidence that I was going to set the world on fire. After a few detours I started a building company, renovating houses in the inner city. I did well, as a builder. There are not a lot of streets in the innercity suburbs of Sydney where I haven’t had something to do with at least one house in the street. My building skills were up there with any builder in Sydney.
My business skills however?
For the first years, the businesses operated on the edge of disaster nearly all the time. Perennially short of cash, paperwork piling up, behind on the quoting… I was overwhelmed, and the business (or I) wasn’t going to survive for the long term.
My wife at the time, (we divorced 20 years later, but that’s an entirely unrelated development) was concerned. She could see what was going on and she worried that I and the business were going to go under unless something changed. So she suggested that she join the business and take control of the back office, the systs and procedures, financial management and HR, allowing me to focus on the stuff I was good at.
And she did… Long story short, we became a family business and things turned around and 20 years later we sold the business to my junior partner, allowing us the room to move on in other directions.
Mum and Pop against the world
Turning the business into a ‘husband and wife’ operation was the best thing that happened to me as a business owner. Until that time, I’d felt alone, unsure of myself, overwhelmed and frustrated, and although I wouldn’t have admitted it out loud at that time, the business was definitely not in a good place. From the moment my wife became involved, fully, I had someone to share my challenges with, to brainstorm with, to plan and strategise with. And I was able to let go of business functions that were not my strong suits (read: that I was hopeless at).
In family businesses, it is often the case that one of the partners starts the business on the basis of his or her profession or trade and then at some later stage the spouse joins the business to take control of some of the functions of the business that the founder of the business has trouble with.
As a business coach I specialise in working with such husband wife business partnerships, because although being in business with your spouse can be enormously rewarding and many great businesses have been built on the back of a marriage, there is also another side of the coin.
The other side of the coin looks quiet different.
Waking up beside your business partner every morning comes with it’s own set of unique challenges. Here are just some of them:
It can be incredibly difficult to learn to ‘leave work at work’, if you’re waking up besides your business partner every morning.
Sometimes the spouse who joined the business (my wife in my story above) can feel like they’ve sacrificed their career for that of the partner. Resentment is one of the most destructive emotions in any kind of relationship.
Sometimes the admin partner has joined out of necessity rather than from skill, training or experience in this field.
Relationship dynamics can get in the way of business partnership dynamics.
If the business fails it can wreck the marriage as well.
I’ve written an article on my blog recently about some ofthose challenges, here. And there is a great article on the Smart Company blog about a bunch of business couples who have been successfulhere.
My wife and I experienced many of the challenges listed above as well. I’m happy to say that we managed our way through them. I think we both felt it was the honesty of our communication about the challenges that made the difference, along with the fact that we accepted the challenges as real and important, right from the beginning. We also engaged invaluable external help at various stages in our journey.
The Beyoncé and Jay-Z Family Business Survey
So how are the pros and cons of family business balancing out in your circumstances?
I have created a special survey that may help you and your spouse initiate a series of powerful conversations about the state of your business and home relationships. Inspired by the power-couple of the music business, the survey is called the Beyoncé and Jay-Z Family Business Survey.You can access it on my website here. It consists of only 12 questions and should take you more than a few minutes to complete.
The most effective way to use the survey is for both you and your spouse to complete the 12 question survey separately and then to sit down, compare and discuss the results with each other. In your discussion, practice curiosity: “I see you scored question 3 quiet low, a lot lower than I scored it. I’d love to hear how come you gave that score there”. The conversations that follow will start to change your business and your life… I promise you.
Family Business Australia is a great organisation that supports family businesses in Australia. Have a look attheir website, here. There is a special Family Business resources page on my website here, and there is a page about how I help husband and wife family business owners make business fun again here
There is a famous story that tells of an old retired engineer who is called back to the factory where he used to work to fix a machine. After having a look around the machine he pulls a small hammer from his back pocket, crawls around the back of the machine, gives it a wack and the machine works again. Management asks the engineer what he wants to be paid and the engineer suggests he wants $50,000. As you might imagine this was a little more than management had in mind to pay the old engineer and hence they ask for an itemisation of the amount. The engineer immediately sends back two lines of itemisation:
Cost of hammer: $10.00
Knowing where to strike with the hammer: $49,990.00
I was reminded of this story when reading Lucinda Lions on Smallville. recently. The topic of Lucinda’s article is what’s often referred to as the “Value Based Pricing Model”. The idea being that we shouldn’t charge for the time we give to our clients, rather the value we provide.
For example: An accountant who saves a client $10K in tax, and does so in an hour’s work. How much should that accountant charge for the work? Her normal hourly rate of $250 or maybe 10% of the tax savings? (This is one of the two considerations in setting prices, the other is about risk, more about risk here)
I am a business coach and rather than charging an hourly rate for the sessions I have with my clients, I charge a fixed monthly fee. If you were to divide that monthly fee by the number of actual coaching hours I do, my hourly rate would seem steep. Some potential clients have indeed done that sum in their head and decided that my rate is too rich for them.
At the same time, I know that very often the work I do with my clients results in a turnaround in their business worth many times what they pay me. Looking at the “Value Based Pricing Model” in other words, I really don’t charge anywhere near enough for my coaching and I have tried to increase my fees for a little while now.
Our knots around pricing
Let me explain why I believe we get ourselves in knots around pricing.
I often find myself discussing fees and pricing with my clients. When discussing fees, I usually start by telling my clients that I think they are not charging enough for their product or service. I also tell them that I know that me telling them so is not going to change anything, because unless they become deeply convinced that they are worth more than what they currently charge, they simply won’t be able to sell it successfully.
Take my own example. As I said, rationally I know that what I charge is not enough. So, my rational brain has convinced itself that I should up my fees. But my emotional brain, my unconscious isn’t there yet, not really. The little voice on my shoulder is saying stuff like: “Really!… You want to charge more than the average city lawyer charges… You’ve got a bad case of “upyourselfness” happening there buster”.
The refrains in my head
As long as those kinds of refrains run around inside my head, I won’t be able to sell myself at a rate beyond what I’m charging now. I’ll get there … I get a step closer every year, and I will make the next step when my whole being is convinced, not just my rational brain.
It’s like the plumber I worked with. Let’s call him Brad. Brad is using a pricing book with flat fee prices for a whole bunch of regular recurring jobs at people’s homes:
Replace a tap washer: $75
Blocked toilet: $237
Install a hose tap in an existing copper cold water service line: $315
It’s a great system, it is simple to use, it is transparent for customers and it gives Brad the opportunity to get beyond making an hourly rate.
There is also an item in the price book called “The Soapy Water Test”. It’s how plumbers find gas leaks. The process involves a plant sprayer and some soapy water, and spraying the soapy water on a copper pipe. Where there is a gas leak, the soapy water starts bubbling. “Bob’s your Uncle”.
Cost of equipment: negligible.
Time: no more than it takes to fill up the plant sprayer.
Benefit to the client: potentially limitless compared with a gas explosion.
With a straight face
So how much should a plumber reasonably charge for that neat trick? The Price book, the one provided for him by his association, suggests to charge $163 for a soapy water test. And at some level that makes sense, it’s a small price to pay against the potential cost of a gas explosion, right?
Of course, except that Brad has never yet charged the soapy water test to any of his clients, because he just can’t do so with a straight face. And I acknowledge him for it. You see, if a plumber was going to charge me $163 for a soapy water test, I’d never ever use him again, because I would feel utterly ripped off.
So what should we do with the “Value Based Pricing Model”?
It’s simple really… trust your gut. My gut tells me I can’t increase my prices yet, Brad’s gut tells him he can’t charge for the Soapy Water Test, the accountant feels uncomfortable in her gut to charge more than $750, and maybe your gut tells you you can’t increase your prices yet either. But keep checking in with your gut, because one day it will feel right and then you should jump on it immediately.
As with so many things in life: If it feels right… it is right.
I have collected a bunch of great resources and information for family business and husband and wife business owners. If you come across any particularly good E-books, articles, infographics, videos or links yourself or better yet if you have created any yourself, please let me know so I can add them here.
Do you and business partner wake up in the same bed every day?
I specialise in working with husband and wife family business partners to help them discover and build their own Beautiful Business and Life and then build it. Typically, businesses such as these are built on the profession of one of the couple. Husband and wife family businesses like these make up the majority of small business partnerships in Australia. Often (but not always of course) it is the husband’s trade or profession that lies at the foundation of the business, and he runs the operations of the business (the work of the business), while the wife runs the marketing, finances, the HR issues, and the admin.
“Roland helped us get clear on our roles and responsibilities in the business and find a realistic balance between work and home life again… Business is Fun again”
Mark and Linda
A husband and wife family business partnership such as this can be highly satisfactory and profitable and what’s more, it can allow the couple to grow and develop together. But there are also a bunch of unique challenges to developing a small family business and having it become a Beautiful Business that Stands the Test of Time. More about the unique mental health and personal wellbeing challenges of running a family business on this page. If you’re ready start to discover and build your own Beautiful Business and Life, click here now to book in a Discovery Session with me as part of my Five Steps to Discovery Process.
Complete the Bey and Jay Family Business Survey
Take the Beyoncé and Jay-Z Family Business Survey, to find out how you rate against the world’s most famous married business partners. Complete the questionnaire here. It will take you no more than a few minutes to complete and you will receive a 2 page report with your score, showing where you sit on the Bey and Jay Family Business Scale. Ideally you and your spouse should both complete the survey independently and then compare results.
We love being life- as well as business partners, we’ve learned to communicate at a completely different level with each other and we both love standing in the centre of our lives having this great sense of control.
Anh and James
Here is a cool info graphic about how to make a success of being in business with your spouse on the Business Families Foundation website
What you can expect when working with me:
This is how I’ll help you build a Beautiful Family Business that supports your family rather than fights with it:
Develop absolute clarity about your roles and responsibilities in the business, allowing both of you to relax knowing that the important stuff is handled every day and every week.
Implement better bookkeeping, workflow management and project management systems. Your fingers on the pulse of all the key indicators of the health of your business, as opposed to keeping your fingers crossed.
Develop absolute clarity abut the Purpose of your business; the reason your business exists and why anybody else would care about that. Know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.
Build relationships with the right people. Referral marketing is the most powerful way to build your business.
Develop marketing strategies that mean you get to build your business with the right type of clients. Clients walk in the door, wanting to do business with you.
Develop and implement Quality Improvement systems that allow you let your staff get on with things confident the work will be consistent. Make your business run like a Swiss clock.
Develop and implement better hiring systems so you can be sure you get the right people on the bus
Create a balance between work and home that is practical and flexible; Learn how to ‘leave work at work’ when it needs to be left there.
“One of the reasons we decided to go out on our own was to increase not just flexibility but we wanted freedom of choice … to be the masters of our destiny and that is definitely one of the benefits of running a husband and wife business.”
Kylie and Jake
Complete the Bey and Jay Family Business Survey
Don’t forget, take the Beyoncé and Jay-Z Family Business Survey, to find out how you rate against the world’s most famous married business partners. Complete the questionnaire here and you’ll receive a 2 page report usually in hours.. It will take you no more than a few minutes to complete. Ideally you and your spouse should both complete the survey independently and then compare results.
It’s fun thing to do and it will lead to some great conversations between the two of you… I promise you
Just Five Steps to Discovery
If you recognise some of the challenges of being in business with your spouse, above and you’d like to explore how I can help you overcome some of those everyday struggles and start to make the most of the exciting opportunities as a couple in business, click here to book in a free Discovery session as part of my Five Steps to Discovery Process.
Read here about Five Steps to Discovery Process, to help you discover and build your own Beautiful Business and Life.
Further reading and resources
More about the various forms of business support, guidance and advice that are available to small business owners here
This is a guest post about micro influence marketing by Philip Piletic, more about Phillip at the end of this article
Why you (and I) may be more influential than the Kardashians
Hiring actors and actresses, singers and dancers, and everyone in-between is nothing new to the world of marketing. Since the advent of modern day marketing, advertisers have long seen the potential in using human billboards as a way to peddle their merchandise. Though times and technology have changed, using influencers as a method for pushing brands has not.
In an article published by Forbes, Tim Ward, a successful entrepreneur, and author, wrote that the influence trend is not showing signs of slowing down anytime soon – we are just getting started, as a matter of fact. So what has changed since the good old days when cigarette brand Kodas began introducing baseball cards of famous players with their pack of smokes.
Generally, consumers are becoming far savvier than they used to be. Most people of adult age (and most likely a few teenagers) are beginning to understand how they are being influenced by ad placements in cinema and other entertainment venues. Similar holds true with Instagram and other social media spaces – people can tell when someone is being paid to promote a product.Thus, they are becoming more skeptical of these ploys to buy into brands. This has given birth to the increased use of micro-influencers.
What is a micro-influencer?
There seems to be a general set of specifications that win someone the title of “micro-influencer.” Turns out that the number of followers an influencer has seriously affected their power of influence over the masses writes Yuyu Chen of DIGIDAY. Those with 1,000 followers or less seem to have the highest rate of likes at eight percent. At the top of the scale, those who boast 1 million to 10 million followers only receive 1.7 percent likes. Nevertheless, that is a huge number: 17,000 people influenced.
The article goes on to explain that when Sarah Ware, co-founder, and CEO of Markerly, joined with Jenner and Kardashian sisters on Instagram in order to market a weight loss tea brand, they were able to win hundreds of conversions. Yet, when she analyzed and compared what Jenner and Kardashian were able to do versus about 40 micro-influencers, the dietary tea brand was able to convert a far larger number.
Note: For those who want to read the negative press the Kardashians and other stars received over this “detox-tea” sponsorship, read this article. It’s kind of funny.
If you read the article in the link you will find that using famous people to “influence” your brand can have dangerous consequences (and this can be true for both sides). Though the Kardashians have a huge social media following, that following doesn’t mean anything. The Kardashians have been known throughout their history to be controversial at the very least. Therefore, using such high-profile and sometimes risque endorsements for a brand could be a bad strategy.
Micro-influencer or celebrity influencer?
Social media ad platform Gnack has strictly defined micro-influencers as those people who have 10,000 followers or less. Anything more than that is pointless. They love to use people whose following is primarily made up of friends and family and a small group of fans. These influencers are usually more down to earth and genuine when they present a product that they endorse.
In an interview with DIGIDAY, Chico Tirado stated, “More than 55 percent of our agency partners have incorporated ‘micro-influencers’ as a part of their [current] strategy,”
“We’ve seen some ‘micro-influencers’ on certain campaigns get up to 25 percent engagement,” Tirado continues.
In March of 2016, following the Google and other search engine models, Instagram has moved to using an algorithm to control content quality. This means what used to work by some influencers won’t work so well now. Social media and search engines make their money from people using their services. These companies know that if their venues become playgrounds for spam and nonsense marketing strategies, they will soon find themselves in hot water. This has made it more important than ever for companies to show integrity when choosing a marketing strategy and who they choose to market them. But I guess that’s the purpose, isn’t it?
So what is the verdict?
The statistics are plain as day: if you want people to respect your brand, it is better, in the long run, to build up a network of micro-influencers that have a following of fewer than 10,000 people. The more grassroots these followers are the better.
Guest article by Philip Piletic: Philip’s primary focus is a fusion of technology, small business and marketing. Freelancer and writer, in love with startups, traveling and helping others get their ideas off the ground. Unwinds with a glass of scotch and some indie rock on vinyl. You can read more of Phllip’s work on his Linkedin profile here: https://au.linkedin.com/in/philippiletic
Cold calling is definitely on the nose these days. Most business development gurus will tell you that in 2017 we shouldn’t practice the art of the cold call, ever again. We must focus on attraction marketing and adding value and building relationships instead.
And that’s all very well and there’s nothing wrong with the idea that we should offer solutions and take the trouble to get to know our customers and they us, all well and good. But cold calling as a practice is far from dead. It still remains a highly effective method of developing your business.
Just the other day, I did some cold calling myself, with a great result. I connected with two prospects, made each of them an offer and one of whom took up my offer.
Not bad for half an hour’s work spent identifying two prospects and another 15 minutes writing two short emails.
And it’s certainly not the first time I’ve used this process.
The reach of LinkedIn
In this case I used LinkedIn to start the process. LinkedIn allows us to search for a narrow category of people in our direct or indirect connections and then allows us to send those people a personal email.
By being strategic about the people I approach and the emails I write them, I often have great success opening a business opportunity. My LinkedIn connections will usually read the email I have sent them and more often than not respond in a positive manner.
There’s one crucial bit of information I haven’t told you yet though.
What I’ve neglected to tell you so far is that these “cold calls”, these approaches I make are not actually positioned for myself. The cold calls I make, are on behalf of friends of mine.
Helping a friend
This is how it happened two weeks ago: Kim is a friend of mine and we are both members of a group of business owners who meet every week for the purpose of referring business to each other. We have made a commitment to helping each other and so I sat down with Kim the other day and I asked how I could best help her grow her business.
Kim runs a bookkeeping business and she told me she wants to be introduced to CEO’s of not-for-profit organisations that are based around membership, with a head office in Sydney.
I went to my LinkedIn database and found 5 people who looked like they just might be the kind of people Kim wanted to talk to. She confirmed that two of them, John and Michael were indeed perfect. I then wrote a succinct personal email to John and Michael and asked if I could connect them with my good friend Kim. I explained Kim’s reasons for wanting to be introduced and assured them I believed Kim to be a perfect fit.
Both John and Michael responded to the emails within a few hours. John declined the introduction but thanked me for the email and confirmed that he felt completely comfortable with being approached like this on LinkedIn and Michael said yes, here is my number and direct email, and happy to have a coffee with Kim.
Kim has since had a meeting with Michael, submitted a proposal for ongoing bookkeeping work for Michael’s organisation and everyone is happy.
Cold calling isn’t dead… far from it. Don’t believe everything you’re told. Instead, figure out how you can use cold calling in conjunction with new marketing strategies. Michael needed a good bookkeeper, Kim needed a good client. I wanted to help Kim and Kim’s going to help me next.
As your favourite small business coach, I am supposed to tell you how to start the new year off with a bang. We’re already a few weeks into 2017, but in Australia the year never starts properly until after the Australia Day weekend of 26 January (also known as the Invasion Day weekend,) so I have a bit more time to give you my top 5 things to do in your business in 2017.
Obvious? Maybe, but let me tell you: the answer to that question will have nothing to do with money. (Money is never the Point, it’s a by-product at best). Neither will the answer be a variant on “We deliver a Great product with Great customer service for a Great price” (because everyone else does that too), and nor is the answer: “Because I need to pay the mortgage” (Your customers do not care about your need to pay the mortgage, they really don’t, sadly)
Nobody, but you can tell you what the answer is, but once you answer it in one short powerful statement, in a way that sends a shiver down your spine, 2017 will be a great year.
No human endeavour has ever amounted to anything without a plan. At the same time however it can be said that all plans are out of date the moment they’re created. Planning is guessing, but that doesn’t mean we might as well stop planning. On the contrary, the secret is to always be planning. Planning is a verb that must continuously be carried out. Plan every week, every month and every year. Ideally on one page, no more.
If you are focused on planning with regularly, I guarantee you that 2017 will be the most exciting year you’ve experienced in your small business.
Finger on the Pulse:
In 2017, make it your focus to start to measure the important functions of your business. What gets measured, gets managed is the old saying and that wisdom holds true as much in 2017 as it did a hundred years ago. Think about the 10 or 15 key indicators of the health of your business and how you might get a weekly and monthly single measurement of those to look at. Obviously, a few of those numbers will come directly out of your bookkeeping program, such as your bank balance and gross and net profit and your revenue figures. But there are a bunch of other numbers that will give you powerful insight into how your business is going, as well.
One tip though: You as the entrepreneur should not be involved in obtaining these numbers yourself. You should delegate getting the numbers to others and ensure that those key numbers land on your desk every Friday afternoon for the week just past. Delegating the reporting on the numbers to others in your business is a really important part of the process.
Systems, systems, systems:
I suppose it goes without saying, but systemisation is the secret of any entrepreneur. It’s all about predictability. I’m not suggesting that every small business must go through a process of McDonaldisation, far from it, but we shouldn’t ignore the lessons from McDonalds either. When you send one of your plumbers out to do a job, you want to feel confident that he’ll do the job smoothly, safely and profitably and that he leaves a satisfied customer behind. And when someone in your business answers the phone, you don’t want to have to hold your breath hoping they’ll not annoy the person on the other end of the line because of bad phone manners.
Systemisation is about the opposite of “Managing by keeping your fingers crossed”. Systemisation can be about small things such as answering the telephone with a simple little script as well as big things like a complete safety management systems. Only you can decide the balance between the cost of developing and implementing a system and the cost of not having one. Some things will always have to come down to common sense, but not all of them.
So is Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest and YouTube and Yelp and TripAdvisor and LinkedIn and Google and a whole bunch of others that haven’t even really been though about yet. They will become more and more important and you simply must get on board with them if you still want to have a business a few years from now. People ask their Facebook friends for recommendations to plumbers, restaurants, holiday accommodation and accountants and then they expect to click straight to a Facebook page of that business and see reviews and opening hours and star ratings.
You may still be getting the bulk of your business outside of social media, but if you are, I bet it’s already getting harder and in 5 years I guarantee you’ll be left behind eking out a living in the margin.
20 years ago you effectively couldn’t run a business without an ad in the Yellow pages… These days the same goes for social media, whether you like it or not.
It’s very easy to get caught up in your business, especially when you are working hard to make it work. Learn to have more fun in your business with my start-of-the-year freebie– The 10 Truths for Making Business Fun. Because you created your business to live life on your terms – so do it!