This is the tenth post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The tenth Priority is about Managing the marketing. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.
The second rule of Seth Godin is to make sure lots of people know about your great product or service.
It may seem obvious. No matter how great your products, your people, your systems, your visions and your plans are, if nobody knows how great they, there will be no business.
Many business owners will go out of their way to build a great product, but forget the second Rule. (BTW, the inverse is also true, more about the two different types of entrepreneurs here)
But both rules are equally important.
A business owner who wants to build a great business must learn that in business:
Marketing is everything, and everything is marketing.
A great business owner asks himself about the marketing dimension of every aspect of the business. Marketing is as much about the way the business goes about collecting its debts, or about the way people answer the telephones, or about its product warranty, as it is about the Facebook advertising campaign it’s running.
In fact, it can be said, that any activity in the business that does not have a marketing dimension to it, is a waste and should be stopped immediately. (more about the basics of marketing here)
When you learn to ask yourself about the marketing aspect to every decision you make, every system you develop and every action you take, every day, your business will flourish… I promise you.
Now that you’ve finished Ten Priorities, find out more about yourself and take “The Entrepreneur Type Survey”
This is the ninth post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The ninth Priority is about your Managing the quality of your Products or Services. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.
One of the most insightful modern business gurus I know, Seth Godin, said it really well:
“To do well in business you only have to do two things:
Deliver a great Product or Service
Make sure lots of people know about it”
As usual Seth Godin nails it, and the last two Priorities are about those two simple rules of Seth’s.
Because the problem is, they’re a lot easier said than done.
To have any hope of following Seth Godin’s 2 Rules, you have to have gone a long way to covering Priorities #1 through #8 first.
It’s really hard to be uncompromising about the quality of the thing you sell, in the face of the day to day challenges of business. The temptation to let a less than perfect widget go out the door, because a customer is screaming at you, can be hard to resist.
But resist it you must.
If you give the customer his widget and it turns out to be not quite right, the customer won’t be happy and tell his friends that the widgets you sell aren’t always quite right.
Come what may, your business must deliver what it promises. You don’t have to build Rolls Royce motor vehicles, but if your company name happens to actually be Rolls Royce, you better not build any Hyundais.
Not until you’ve mastered the arts of:
Looking after yourself
Giving yourself the time to think
Ensuring that business is Fun
Asking for help
Having your people do great work
Will you be the kind of business owner who can build a business that delivers what it promises, all day, every day… I promise you
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.
This is the seventh post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The seventh Priority is about Managing the Money. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.
I’ve said before (in priority #3), that a business must make profit, or it’s a hobby.
But in Priority #7 we’re not talking about profit, we’re talking about financial management.
Most business owners outsource the bookkeeping and accounting functions of their business. That’s great, but there are two problems with that:
Business owners often misunderstand what accounting is.
Reporting arrangements are often inadequate
The misunderstanding is that business owners generally don’t appreciate that there are two different types of accounting:
Financial management accounting
Compliance accounting is simply about how much tax the business must pay. What matters about that, is that it is done properly and timely. But compliance accounting is only the tip of the iceberg.
The most interesting part of the iceberg
The rest of the iceberg, the most interesting part of the iceberg is Financial Management accounting. Accounting that answers questions such as: “Last month, what percentage of our income went to wages?” Or, “In the last six months, which have been our 10 most profitable products?”
And that leads to the second of the problems I mentioned before:
You must get regular reports that give you the answers to the financial management questions that matter to you. And those reports must arrive promptly. I tell my clients to insist that the financial management reports about last month arrive on their desk no later than the fifth day of the new month.
When you sit down with your accountant and bookkeeper and explore with them the financial management questions you need answers to, to build a great business, and insist they give you those answers, every month, your business and your life will never be the same again… I promise you
This is the sixth post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The sixth Priority is about not doing it all on your own. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.
Do you have a little voice on your shoulder, that whispers in your ear?
Most of us do.
And a lot of what the little voice whispers in our ears is not very nice, is it?
The basic message from the little voice, is that we suck.
We’re not good enough. We’re not cutting it as parents, as lovers, as friends and especially we’re not cutting it as business owners.
And for most business owners that little voice goes from whispering to yelling, the moment we even consider committing the heinous crime of asking for help.
Asking for support in business, is almost guaranteed to get the little voice on our shoulder extremely excited.
Deep down we all believe that being a great business owner, an inspiration to our staff and customers alike, means we must do it all ourselves. We seem to think that business success is only meaningful if we’ve done it all alone.
Hogwash… Utter nonsense.
It takes a village to build a great business. One of my most successful and oldest clients has built a whole team of specialist advisers, coaches and mentors around him. (more about getting external help here)
I guarantee that no matter which inspiring business role model you interview, they’ll all tell you their success is due partly to the support of one or more mentors, coaches or advisers.
No-one can do it all alone.
You need other people to:
Hold you accountable to your plans and goals.
Brainstorm with you and be a sounding board.
Support you when you stumble.
Give you honest opinions, advice and feedback.
There are many ways to get outside support. You can join a business support group, get a business coach, or mentor, start your own advisory board, or all of the above. But whatever you do, dropkick your little voice…Forget trying to do it all on your own… You can’t … I promise you.
More about the various forms of business support, guidance and advice that are available to small business owners here
What’s the most important question to ask yourself every day?
This is the fifth post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The fifth Priority is about Planning. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.
Nothing of value was ever achieved by humans without a plan.
This is a fact
A business without a plan achieves everything in it
Yet planning is guessing, right? Nobody can know what tomorrow is actually going to look like, all we can do is guess.
That’s planning: We’re at point A, and we want to get to point B by date X. There are many routes to point B, so knowing what we know about today and given what we expect the world to look like tomorrow, what do we guess is the best route to get to point B by X?
Tomorrow the world changes
But tomorrow the world is a different place. Tomorrow it might snow along the route we’d planned to take to point B, and we must change the route.
That’s the secret about planning: Planning is something we must do again every day. When realities change, we must change our plans right along with them. (more about Planning here).
The most effective leaders have already thought about the possibility of snow along the chosen route, long before the snow actually appears, and they’ve already worked out how to change the route to point B in that eventuality.
Business owners who build great businesses, constantly ask themselves:
They ask themselves: “We’ve got a plan, based on certain assumptions… But… What if… any one of those assumptions turns out to be wrong, what do we do instead?”
When you learn to ask, “What if?”, all the time, you’ll respond quickly and appropriately to the changing realities and keep your business moving forward… I promise you
What’s the most important skill of a business owner?
This is the fourth post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The fourth Priority is about learning to say No. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.
What do you think is the most important skill for business owners to master?
You’re probably thinking, financial management, or delegating, or sales or something like that.
Important skills, obviously, but the answer I’m looking for is this:
Knowing how and when to say NO, clearly and respectfully.
As I’ve talked about in the introduction to the Ten Priorities, the life of a business owner is one where there is never enough time in a day. And so, you have to decide, every day, what to say NO to and what to say Yes to.
Saying NO is hard, much harder than saying YES, but it’s a skill you can learn and get good at. (more about saying No here)
The Big Question of Small Business
Learning to say NO starts with becoming absolutely clear on the Big Question of Small Business:
Why does your business exist, what’s it on this earth for and Why would anybody care?
If you struggle to answer that question, clearly, in LESS than 20 words, there’s a good chance your business will get stuck.
Here’s a few beautiful examples of answers to that question:
From Disney: Create Happiness
From BMW: Create the Ultimate Joy of Driving
From an electrician, I worked with: You’re in Safe Hands
From a Retail fitout company, I worked with: More Bang, Less buck
From an Architect, I worked with: Architecture that Inspires.
Answer the Big Question of Small Business with complete clarity, and you won’t get stuck in your business… I promise you
This is the second post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The second Priority is about Doing Nothing. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.
Time management, time to think
The other question I sometimes ask my clients is: What do you think is the best use of your time?
And of course, people generally walk into that little trap just as blissfully unaware as the trap I set in Priority #1.
People will mention delegating, sales, customer service, marketing, planning, leadership, quality control, systems, financial management, coaching staff, you name it. Every function in the business has at some time been offered as the answer to my question.
The answers is : No – Thing
But the most important use of your time is: No – Thing… The most valuable thing you can do with your time as a business owner is to put your feet up on the desk and do nothing for an hour. No phone, no email, no interruptions… and THINK.
There is the work of the business, and then there’s the work of the business owner. The work of the business can often be delegated or outsourced. But the work of the business owner can only ever be done by you. And thinking, reflecting, day-dreaming even, is the ultimate work of the business owner. (More about doing nothing here)
When you make the conscious decision to get rid of all other distractions for a while, your brain will blossom, you’ll start to think more clearly, you’ll be creative and resourceful again and you’ll suddenly see opportunities and solutions you never saw before.
Go to a café, go for a walk, go and sit on a bench in a park… and do … nothing … It will transform your business… I promise you
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?
This is the first post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The first Priority is about You, the business owner. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.
As seen on Kochie’s Business Builders on Channel 7, on 1 October:
I sometimes like asking my clients what they think is the most valuable asset of their business?
Most people I ask that question of will mention, their customers, their staff, investments, equipment, IP, etc.
Of course, it’s a trick question, because the answer is, it’s You.
All other assets, as valuable as they might be, you can buy, borrow, hire or steal more of. But you, your time, your health and your brain cells are absolutely limited.
The first responsibility of any business owner is to look after the assets of the business and to maximise the return the business gets from those assets. And so, the most important job of a responsible business owner is to look after him- or herself.
Breakfast sitting down
Responsible business owners prioritise themselves.
They ensure they get enough sleep and rest. They ensure their brain gets time to relax, so it can function optimally. They ensure they have breakfast sitting down, most days. They get some form of regular exercise and they look after their own mental health and wellbeing.
You won’t always be successful at prioritising yourself, some days things just get out of hand, but regularly, maybe at the start of every day, stop for a moment and plan some space for yourself in the day.
If you take the responsibility of looking after your most valuable asset seriously, you will start to build a Great Small Business that Stands the Test of Time, and your Life will never be the same either… I promise you
This is the first is a series of 12 posts on Change (with a capital “C”) and laying the foundations for building a Great Business that Stands the Test of Time. The following 11 weeks will see one post each week. Please also read last week’s post about Entrepreneurial Types, here.
The very strongest foundation for a great business
To become the very strongest foundation for your business, I believe you must learn to focus on 10 Priorities. They are:
Asking for Help
Over the next 10 posts I’m going to explain each of the priorities in more detail. The 10 posts are quite short (about 200 to 250 words each) and practical. I hope you’ll take the simple messages of each one to heart and experiment with them in your own life as a business owner. You can do a simple search and read all of the Priority posts at once, by clicking on the category: “Ten Priorities” in the category box in the right hand column.
The life of the harried business owner
First, let me sketch a picture of the life of a typical small business owner for you (BTW, I’d love to hear if you recognise yourself in any part of the picture):
You’re the first one in the door in the morning and the last one out at night. You run around from crisis to crisis, extinguishing brush fires all day long. You feel guilty that you don’t do the stuff you know you ought to do to develop the business. Your staff don’t seem able to tie their own shoe laces without your supervision. Customers expect you, not your staff, to be the one who personally does all their work for them, yourself. You actually made more money before you started employing all those people anyway. And finally, you have to do your admin and catch up on your email after the kids have gone to bed.
Sucked into a sea of mud
Recognise any of that picture at all? Even if you only recognise 25% of that picture, you’re most likely on first name terms with overwhelm. Overwhelm is no fun anyway, but worse is that human brains in overwhelm are ineffective, they focus on the wrong things and make the wrong decisions and that leads to more stress and overwhelm and the whole thing becomes a vicious cycle. Overwhelm affects your health and well-being and that of your families and besides, your business gets sucked into a sea of mud as well.
That’s the general state of things for many small business owners in my experience and some of the reasons many small businesses never develop to their potential.
The power of saying No
Hence I’ve written The 10 Priorities. Accompanying the 10 Priorities are also a series of videos as as seen on Kochie’s Business Builders on national TV, Channel 7 in Australia, the first video can be seen here and others will follow as they are broadcast. I have also created a survey tool to help you find your own Entrepreneurial Type, you can complete the survey here and you will receive a report with your Type and an explanation of the Types and your strengths and challenges as an Eentrepreneur, by email in 24 to 48 hrs emailed to you.
If you make it your absolute commitment to focus on The 10 Priorities in the coming year, you will create a foundation on which you truly can build a Great Business that Stands the Test of Time, and your life will never be the same either… I promise you.