The 7 Habits of Highly Chilled Small Business owners
This is the second article in a monthly series on small business owners I have met or worked with over the years who developed beautiful successful businesses.
Stories of successful real business owners
In 35 years of doing business and working with some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, I’ve learned a very important lesson: Success in small business starts by building great habits. I call these practices the “7 Highly Chilled Habits” and I find they’re best illustrated with the stories of real business owners who I happen to have had the pleasure of coaching.
The articles are based on my E-book, The 7 Habits of Highly Chilled Small Business Owners. All of my books and other resources are available for free here
Highly Chilled Habit #2:
Develop a Deep Niche
In order to build a Highly Chilled business, you must develop a niche that’s an inch wide and a mile deep.
P.S. You can read up on #1 here.
Be Realistic, Like Andrew
In 2004, I was working with Andrew. At some stage, we were discussing the challenges he was having with selling one of his IT services. I asked him to consider if there was enough of a market for this specific offering. Andrew said, “Good question. I might sell the world’s best buggy whips, but the market for buggy whips just isn’t that buoyant anymore.”
Andrew had a great insight. He ended up ditching this particular service and focusing his energy on two other core services. His business never looked back.
However, in today’s world, with the ever-increasing globalisation of commerce and traffic, it may actually be possible to build a Highly Chilled small business selling the best buggy whips in the world.
Better Yet: Be Specific, Like Sebastiaan
I have a brother named Sebastiaan who is doing just that. He is building a Highly Chilled small business selling services that are so niche, so narrowly defined, that there are probably less than 10 businesses in the entire world that offer what he offers – and even fewer that are as good as he is. This is his website.
What’s more, there is only a tiny number of customers for his product in most countries of the world.
Mining Deep Narrow Holes
Sebastiaan has developed a niche that’s only a tenth of an inch wide, but its depth goes right through to the core of the earth. He has even built special little shovels, a tenth of an inch wide, to ensure his business doesn’t stray outside that niche.
Sebastiaan’s team have arguably become the best “buggy whip makers” on the planet, and because of that, their customers come to him from all corners of the world to have their super-specialised projects completed. These people know they have only one shot at getting it 100% right and Sebastiaan’s business simply offers the best chance at that shot.
Highly Chilled business owners know they have to stand out from the crowd, so they develop a clearly defined niche, mine it as deep as it goes and intentionally develop an iron habit, never to stray outside it.
Your Homework (The Chilled Kind)
Here’s a short exercise you could carry out to start the process of making this habit your own.
Ask yourself: What am I really, really good at? What am I SO good at that I can be the best in my world at doing that one specific thing?
Practice Highly Chilled habit #2: Consider focusing your offer to your customers on “that thing”.
Are you a small business owner in need of a chill pill? Explore Highly Chilled habit #3: Be on top of the numbers. Coming soon on this blog.
Education is the first step if you’re competing against the Do-It-Yourselver
In August last year everything suddenly came together for me. In a period of 6 weeks I signed up 7 new clients. I was very excited. Finally, after all the years of pushing and pulling, trying every approach under the sun to market myself to my target clients, it suddenly all fell into place. I even found myself starting to get concerned how I might handle things if the deluge continued.
But I needn’t have worried. Since then it’s gone back to drought. I’ve had virtually no serious inquiries in the 7 months or so since then.
And the thing is, I do do great work (my clients tell me so frequently and I have lots of glowing testimonials here for example) and increasingly, lots of people do know about me. And yet, after 12 years I continue to have these lengthy drought periods.
Honestly, It’s doing my head in every now and then.
I’m reminded, that sometimes, things aren’t quite as simple as those two time honoured rules imply. If you have a blocked toilet, or you want to go to a restaurant, or buy a fridge, a car or a home, those two rules apply without exception. All that the marketing and sales strategies of the plumbing company have to achieve, is that the client is convinced that this plumbing company will fix the blocked toilet quicker, better, cleaner, friendlier or cheaper than any of the other plumbing companies out there.
But there’s a third secret
But things get a little trickier if you are an architect who designs and manages renovations for home owners, or an HR consultant who helps small business owners manage staffing and recruitment, or a PR agent who helps small business owners gain publicity, or an SEO consultant who helps small business get found on Google, or a wedding planner who helps people have a great wedding. If you are a professional like that you have a third thing you must do.
Not only do lots of people have to know about you, you also have to convince your prospects that hiring a professional is much better than, doing it themselves, DIY. Your services cost money over and above the actual thing they want doing. Recruitment services for example can easily cost an additional 10% on top of the wage of the new employee. The PR agent might cost you $3000 per month or more. The architect might charge upwards of $25,000 on top of the build-cost of the project.
Your client is your competitor
You’re not competing with other professionals, rather the first competitor you have to face is the actual client. The client needs to be convinced that they really shouldn’t go DIY. They shouldn’t try and manage their own renovations, run their Facebook advertising campaigns, organise their own wedding, or find and hire a new employee.
I strike a similar issue with some of my potential clients. Most small business owners think they ought to be able to do it themselves. To go looking for help from someone like me, can be a significant investment and can feel like admitting that they’re not upto the job of being a business owner.
Nothing is further from the truth of course, my most successful clients have always been the ones who have no hesitation in asking for help, but it’s often a hurdle I have to overcome with small business owners.
The recent drought has reminded me, that the first marketing step for people like the architect, the PR agent, the wedding planner and myself, is to educate the clients.
The PR agent has to educate his clients that having a PR agent (not necessarily him personally) take charge of gaining publicity for the client is vastly more effective than DIY. The architect has to educate her clients that engaging an architect leads to much better renovations than DIY. The wedding planner has to educate her clients that the wedding is going to be so much more fun when a wedding planner is running the show than DIY. And I have to educate my clients about how a business coach can help transform your business, rather than DIY.
I’ve actually known about this issue for a long time, but forgot over the past few years. It’s time to focus on education again. In the next months I am going to create a bunch of case studies and stories in article and video form to help small business owners understand that engaging someone like me (not me specifically) can transform their business and their lives.
I suggest that you think about the question as well: Who is your greatest competitor? If it’s actually the clients themselves, you should change your marketing strategies to focus on education first… I promise you.
Your business needs a marketing strategy and a marketing plan to implement the strategy. But that’s you might call: “stating the bleedin obvious”, you knew that already but the problem is that you just don’t know where to start.
So let me help you.
First: Let me give you your marketing strategy:
Second: Here’s your marketing plan:
Get them to love you.
Done, there’s your marketing strategy and your marketing plan.
One of my favourite customers, let’s call him Eric has always done exactly that. Ever since I’ve known him and worked with him, he’s asked himself at every turn: “What else would my customers love”. Eric has stores, 8 of them by now, and these days, whenever he opens a new store, the neighbourhood comes and brings him flowers. That’s how happy people are to have one of his stores nearby. You might think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. Two months prior to the opening of his latest new store in a suburb of Sydney, whenever Eric was in the store supervising the fitout, people would wave him over, excitedly asking.
All Eric has to do as far as marketing is concerned is hang a sign on the door announcing the imminent opening and hundreds of people will turn up on the first day.
You may say: My customers are very happy too, but they don’t come busting down my door.
The big disconnect
I read a really interesting statistic the other day:
80% of business owners believe they offer superior customer service, and 8% of customers believe the same thing.
There’s an enormous disconnect between how good we think we are and how good our customers think we are.
Eric, actually offers superior service while his competition merely think they do. Eric’s customers are Raving Fans in the true sense of the word, while most of his competitors merely have satisfied customers. Satisfied customers are simply not the kind of people who do your marketing for you. They’re merely satisfied… until something else, cheaper, more convenient or simply different comes along. Raving Fans on the other hand will go out of their way to do business with you, they look forward to buying from you, they drag their friends and family to your door, defend your honour against the competition and proclaim at dinner parties how wonderful you are.
On a scale from 0 to 10 how likely is it that you’ll refer your friends and family to us?
If your customers answer anything less than 9 on that scale, they’re not Raving Fans and if they answer less than 7, they’re not even satisfied customers. (read more about the Net Promoter System here)
How would most of your customers answers the NPS question? Are your customers merely satisfied, or are they Raving Fans… Are they really?
I suggest you go and find out… it’s the most important marketing work you’ll ever do… I promise you.
I’ve never sold anything at any business networking event. Have you?
An introduction to BNAA and BNI and how to do business networking the way it’s meant to be done.
Doing the business card shuffle
I have been going to business networking meetings at Chambers of Commerce and gallery openings and industry specific events and conferences and seminars and dinner parties and everything in between for the past 11 years. I network with anyone from start ups and solo entrepreneurs, to owners of SME’s and everyone in between, some of my activities are really social networking, and I often refer to myself as a business networking trollop. As they say: “I’ll turn up at the opening of an envelope”. I can’t get enough of it, it seems, yet I don’t think I have ever sold anything at any event I have ever attended.
For the past 3 years I’ve been a member of something called BNAA (www.BNAA.net.au) in Tasmania and prior to that, for about 10 years, I was a member of a similar organisation called BNI in Sydney. You might have heard about BNI, which stands for Business Network International (There are many BNI groups around the world have a look at www.bni.com )
When you are a member of a BNI or BNAA group, you take networking to another level altogether, and we meet every week for breakfast at 6.30 am, week in week out, about 48 weeks of the year.
Why ever would I do such a thing?
Strange behaviour if I’ve never actually sold anything at a networking event, right? Maybe I and my weekly breakfast partners are we masochists? I suppose some of us might be, I wouldn’t like to speculate… But I’m certainly not. I get up week after week, rain hail or shine for one reason only, and that’s because it’s worth it.
I get up every week because it is the most effective form of local small business marketing i know. I meet with my fellow members for the purpose of referring qualified business opportunities to each other, real honest to goodness paying clients. I and most of the members of my BNAA group, rely for a significant percentage of our new business on the group. About 50% in my case. That’s worth getting out of bed for, don’t you think? Now I can hear you thinking: “Oh spare me, I’ve been to so many networking events and nothing ever comes of it. There is nothing more boring I can think of doing … watching paint dry is more fun… no one’s ever bought anything from me, networking, chamber of commerce gatherings, you name it, they’re all an enormous waste of time.”
Fair enough, I hear you, they usually are… That’s to say, if you go to a networking event with the aim of selling stuff, they will just about always be a complete waste of your time.
I heard someone give an address to a networking event some time ago and he said: “Hands up everyone who’s here to sell something?” and most people raised their hand. Then he asked: “Hands up everyone who is here to buy something?” This time no one raised their hand, demonstrating once and for all that going networking to sell stuff is a waste of time.
So why does my BNAA business group work for me and for most of the members of the group? The difference is a mindset. In BNI and in some other business networking organisations we support each other by focusing on one thing only, and that is: Word of mouth referrals.
What that means is this: We don’t set out to sell stuff to each other, because we know that mostly the others in the room don’t necessarily want to buy stuff. Instead we ask our fellow members to introduce us to their friends and clients and their network.
Here’s how that works: the other day I had a conversation with one of my fellow members who is an event manager. I don’t run events, none of my friends are about to get married and none of my clients are planning a conference, so on the face of it there was little I could do to assist her. But we spent some time getting clear about her perfect clients and then she and I went digging around in my existing networks. We found 4 people in Linkedin, as it happens, who met her criteria and I sent all 4 of them an email mentioning that I have a good friend who is an event strategist and would it be ok for me to introduce the two of them to each other. Within half an hour I had a reply from one of those contacts saying: Yes please we are just about to start looking for someone and it would be great to talk to your friend because we’ve had some terrible experiences with event managers in the past.
Just last week my friend signed a contract with this company for a small user conference to be held in a few months.
Sabre Tooth Tigers
Great outcome all round, it made me feel great to have made the introduction and I’m sure that my friend will do a great job for this client because she always does.
And that is the point of this whole article. The best, easiest, cheapest, most profitable new business you can get for your business comes from word of mouth referrals.
If I need a plumber, I am 10 times more likely to ring a friend and ask him for the name of his favorite plumber than to go to the local paper or search on Google for a plumber.
We are wired that way as human beings. It’s actually a leftover from prehistory, the days of the Sabre Tooth Tiger (I wrote about the principle in an article some years ago here) Of course there is a place for all kinds of marketing (and even advertising), but if you can get a referral from someone who trusts you, you are so much more likely to get the business and it costs you nothing.
As so often, Seth Godin said it best: “If you want to be successful in business you only have to do two things:
Do great work
Make sure lots of people know about it”
And that is how simple it is. Make sure you deliver a great product or service and then make sure that people know that they can trust you to do great work.
The quickest way for people to trust you is by having someone they trust tell them they can trust you. Focus on having others spread the word for you and you will indeed build a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come… I promise you.
Why You Have to Try Online Marketing No Matter How Small Your Business Is
Online marketing is where it’s at and I believe no business, micro, small, medium or large can afford to ignore it anymore.
I know that there are still lots of business owners who haven’t come to terms with it fully, but if you still want to be around in a few years you’d better be online and you’d better be engaged.
In 2015 I would be surprised if I still need to spend energy convincing business owners to have a website, but just having a website is not enough anymore.
I met a web developer the other day at a networking event and he sold websites to small businesses. He told me that: “We create websites for small business and a basic site starts at $750 including design and hosting for a year.” On my questioning he explained that the websites his company sold were mostly what is referred to as static sites. Static sites are essentially brochures put online and once they’re up, they’re actually not that easy to change, they’re designed to be static
I suppose you’d have to say that having a brochure up on the web is better than not having anything at all, but only just. Unless 100% of your new business comes from direct word of mouth (“My favorite aunt told me to give you a call to supply me this widget or do this thing for me, please deliver it to my door tomorrow, I don’t care about the cost or anything else, because i trust anything my favorite aunt tells me”), every business is dependent on being found online and most importantly starting and maintaining a relationship with current and future customers online. And if you want to be able to do that at all, a static website is not going to cut it.
There are a bunch of reasons for that… Here are just a few:
Your customers want to be able to put your business name into their Google maps and get driving directions to your business, directly from their phone
Your customers want to look at testimonials from other people who have engaged with your business
Your customers want to be able to compare your product or services with those of others, directly online
Your customers don’t use the yellow pages anymore
Your customers spend more and more time online on social media of various forms, and they want to interact with business in the places they spend time (BTW that’s why advertising on the walls of urinals in pubs can be so effective… talk to your customers where they hang out!)
The big search engines and social media organisations will not rate websites that are ‘static’ well at all, meaning you will not be found if all you have is a brochure website
Static/ brochure websites start to look dated and sleepy very quickly, you can always tell a brochure website, they’re usually boring.
So what does that mean for you?
It’s hard to be too prescriptive of course, a local carpet cleaning business has different needs than a PR firm in the city, or a restaurant or a manufacturing business that operates nationally or internationally.
But let me give you some of the principles of online engagement and marketing to think about.
Mobile is getting more and more important for everything. More than 50% of searches on Google are done via handheld devices now and that trend is set to continue strongly.
Video is getting more and more important.
People spend time on Social Media, not necessarily to buy stuff. Just like you don’t spend time in the pub to buy anything else besides drinks and food. Anyone who walks up to you in a pub when you are hanging out with your friends to sell you something is generally not welcome
Your customers want to trust you before they will buy from you. Focus on getting them to trust you, and the rest will follow
Your customers will look for you where they are, they will not go looking for you elsewhere if they can help it. So if your customer is on Facebook and he wants an electrician and he can find one directly on Facebook recommended by a friend, they won’t even bother going to Google and find you there.
Scary stuff right? But you know I’ve heard it said that there’s actually nothing new under the sun. In the old days we used to hang across the fence chatting to the neighbours and getting our recommendations and introductions that way, now we hang over the fence at Facebook and do exactly the same.
The analogy isn’t totally accurate because in the old days, your fence didn’t have any pay per click advertising stuck all over it, but it’s not that far off. It’s all about trust and being where the customers are.
And they’re online, all the time.
So you better be talking to them there… don’t you think?
PS: If it’s all too scary… drop me a line and I’ll connect you to the right people to help you get on top of this stuff… you probably shouldnt try and do it all yourself anyway
I picked up a great book the other day, more or less by accident: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Never heard of the author or the book but the title grabbed me when I saw it lying around somewhere… Some of my most inspiring reads have come to me completely randomly… try it out, I highly recommend random reading, as well as this particular book.You can always tell how much I enjoy a book by the number of folded pages. The one has many)
But it’s been a struggle getting through it, not because the book is boring but because I seem to give myself less and less time and space to just read, and especially to read anything longer than a couple of paragraphs.
I’ve started to become so used to reading short bites all over the place that anything longer than a couple of hundred words makes me impatient.
The Guardian online
I’ve noticed this same phenomenon in all the reading I do. I subscribe to the Guardian online and it’s got lots of wonderful writing in it … and sometimes the articles are long… really long and I find myself reading articles I enjoy except that I start to skim read them… just because I am impatient.
People say, that it is the negative effect of the Internet, Facebook and Twitter that is causing this phenomenon. It is thought that our focus on bits of text that are short to very short (140 characters in the case of Twitter) means that we losing our ability to focus on one thing for any length of time. We don’t pick up books anymore to read like we used to, because we are reading Facebook and Twitter. I do think that that is true, but I don’t think it’s the shortness of the Facebook messages rather the avalanche of messages, and news and information and material of interest that come to us constantly in overwhelming volumes.
Every day, the Guardian Online has more words, more articles and more information in it than the big Saturday papers like the Melbourne Age of even 10 years ago. I’m sure of it. It would take a whole day of solid reading just to read the normal daily edition and then only the stuff you find interesting. But at the same time I also have access to the Melbourne Age (as well as the SMH) and the Washington Post and the Frankfurter Allgemaine and Aljazeera. And that’s just the newspapers. There’s also the posts and articles in various groups on linkedin, your twitter feed and an ever-growing stream of blogs and online publications (I produce one of those myself and you’re reading it right now of course)
The more I read, the less I know
The Internet, the smartphone and Facebook haven’t killed reading; quite the opposite, I read much more now than I have ever read in my life. But a lot of it is shallow reading. I do still read books, but often I get to page 50 and I notice myself starting to skim read. I just don’t have anywhere near as much patience to read deeply as I used to. I want to move on to the next thing… what else is going on… what else do I need to know now.
Because if I don’t move on, I’m missing out. I’m constantly alerted to interesting blogs and interesting developments. The gurus in my field all write blogs (Seth Godin writes one every day) If I don’t read those I am falling behind; so quick, quick; read the opening paragraphs… scroll down the bottom and go on to the next article.
Here’s the thing though, we can’t read everything and we can’t be perfectly informed and besides world news and world developments are becoming so depressing that you’d do yourself an injury trying to stay up-to-date with it all. The danger of reading more and more, and shallower and shallower is that our knowledge and understanding becomes shallower as well… I know less about more. There are more and more things I know a tiny little bit about. I noticed myself quoting some wisdom the other day that came from a post on Facebook. Did I actually know what was going on? Do I have any understanding of what is going on in the middle east beyond what I see on Facebook and in the headlines in the Guardian (no time to read the whole article of course)
So here is my resolution: I am going to become much more selective. I am looking to find a very select group of people around the world who, I think, have something really special to say. I want to find a small bunch of people who will challenge my thinking and stretch my boundaries and who have something truly interesting to say and I will follow them and read them.
So here is my question to you: give me a name, a recommendation… who do you read, all the time, who makes you think, or gives you food for thought (Good food… not McDonalds) … If there was only one person in the world you could read regularly…who would that be? Now don’t give me a whole list of people… I only want to end up with a short list of 5 to 10 people maximum.
(Currently my candidates are: Oliver Burkeman at the Guardian, Brene Brown from Texas and Graham Long from the Wayside Chapel in Sydney).
Besides my limited bunch of gurus, I’m going to make time again, dedicated time, for uninterrupted book reading. As it is, most of the books of the world are going to remain unread by me, and that’s sad enough. Reading books whether online, in audio format or in actual honest to goodness book form, is and will always be the most effective and enjoyable way to really deepen your insight into a certain topic… Truly.
So I started my resolution this morning I got up at 6, lit a couple of candles, made myself a cup of tea and picked up the happiness project, a good solid two hours of it and I kept my phone at the other end of the room… It was great
So, please, send me your favourite guru or columnist or blogger, someone I absolutely must no longer live without.
What does it take to make a success of your small business… how can you avoid adding to those frightening statistics about failure rates of small business.
In this series of articles and associated webinars and workshops, by Roland Hanekroot you will learn the basic concepts and get the knowledge you need to become a successful ‘Business-Owner’, as opposed to a struggling ‘Business-Doer’.
The format of each episode in the “First Steps” series is to explain the basics of the topic and then in line with the principles of New Perspectives business development programs, to suggest some small simple “First Steps” you can take straight away to put the knowledge into action.
In the second of these articles we’ll look at Your Market and ask:
What, who and where is my market?
Most of us business owners find ourselves in a market by accident. Not many of us start from scratch in a new market. We’ve either taken an existing business over from a previous owner or we’ve started our business doing something that we happen to be particularly good at and hence we’ve already had a couple of clients and a market from day 1.
Consequently we roll along doing more of what we’ve always done. Our recipe for success is our belief in ourselves and a vague notion that we’ll be able to do it better than the other guys, somehow.
The things that don’t set us apart
This situation is equally applicable to someone with a carpentry business, as it is for a mortgage broker, a café or a fashion store. When asked what sets them apart, most business owners will say 3 things:
1) We give great customer service
2) For a great product
3) At a great price.
And I have no doubt that they do, believe that they do, or at least strive to.
There are two problems with these statements though:
1) The three statements are not special enough, they don’t offer enough value (Customers expect good service, good quality and good price from everyone… as a minimum)
2) And most importantly, all your competitors say exactly the same thing.
Who is the cheapest?
If you and your competitors make the same promise, the customer will make a decision on price because it is the easy factor to compare on.
In small business, there is nothing worse than being forced to compete on price, because there is always someone who is prepared to do it cheaper. You cannot build a long-term sustainable small business based around being the cheapest.
Find a tight niche
One of the most effective solutions to this problem is to find a tightly defined niche market that is either not serviced at all or is underserviced.
If you can find a niche market for your product or service that has few or no other business operating in, you can set out to own that niche and dominate it. Dominating a niche is a recipe for building a long-term sustainable business, like no other.
3 Niche questions
There are 3 questions you can ask to help you find such a niche:
1) Who does not currently use my product or service but might?
2) What are all the factors that we and all our competitors already compete on with each other?
3) On which factors are none of us competing?
I am going to work through a couple of examples to demonstrate how to go about finding a niche and stepping into it.
The carpet cleaners
Re question 1: ‘Who does not currently use my product or service, but might?’
Assume you own a carpet cleaning business and your town has heaps of carpet cleaners and they all offer more or less the same thing so that 75% of the inquiries you get from prospective new clients revolves around the question: How much do you charge per room? The question drives you mad, because you are only just making ends meet as it is and having to be the cheapest all the time just isn’t viable.
One day you decide something has to change and together with your wife you start to have a look through your database of clients and jobs from the last 3 years. You are not sure exactly what you are looking for yet, but you hope to find a specific category of client or job that is either more profitable than the rest, or more fun to do, or is easier, or all of the above.
After an exhaustive search over many evenings, your wife mentions that she’s come across a few big 21st birthday party cleanups and an idea starts to form.
21st birthday parties
You decide to create a special offering and expertise in preparation and cleanup before and after big parties. Especially 18ths and 21sts can be massive messy affairs and a lot of anxiety goes along with them. How about offering a package that includes preparing the carpets for a big party with a protective spray application and then coming back the day after the party to do a thorough clean to make the house smell like new again?
A special package like this is actually not offered by anyone in your city and addresses a great need.
John and Mary’s Party Cleaning is born… a unique product and offering at a price level that you can make good profits on and best of all, prospective customers cannot compare on price.
Your business and your life will never be the same again… I guarantee it.
Kelvin’s bike shop
Now lets have a look at the other “niche questions”. This is a story about a different set of circumstances as experienced by Kelvin who owns a bike shop.
This story relates to questions 2 and 3: What factors are you and your competitors already competing on and what factors are you not competing on:
Selling bicycles is not easy because there is a lot of competition from many different sources. There are other bike shops all around the city; there is the ever increasing number of ‘Big Box retailers’ such as Big W and Kmart and the internet is increasingly impacting traditional retail models as well.
Kelvins shop was still doing just ok but the trends were not looking good at all, and pressure on his margins was constant.
Just at this time Kelvin came across a quote from a bikeshop owner in America, Chris Zane: “The only difference between our competitors and ourselves is the service we provide”
The fish pond
Kelvin realised the obvious truth of this statement. There is effectively no difference between the bikes sold by Kelvin or any of his competitors or the pumps or the bike-shoes. Kelvin and his competitors were all fishing in the same pool trying catch exactly the same fish and the number of fish in that pond was diminishing. The only way forward was to create a new pond and attract enough of the fish away from the old pond to be able to enjoy the fishing again.
So Kelvin set about changing his approach to business completely. First Kelvin looked at all the factors he and his competitors fought over (price, range, convenience, friendly service, speed of delivery, connection with major sporting heroes etc)
Then Kelvin looked at what other factors there were that nobody competed on yet.
The insight that Kelvin had was that the greatest opportunity for his business, lay in creating long term customer loyalty through delivering truly extraordinary service, and absolute peace of mind.
Lifetime free stuff
For example, Kelvin implemented a life time free flat tire repair; Kelvin offered ‘no questions asked’ replacement guarantees for any bikes and products sold if you were dissatisfied with the product for whatever reason. Kelvin taught his staff that from now on the word NO was out of bounds and no request was to be rejected.
A couple of years later, Kelvin moved his store to a new location with three times as much space.
Kelvin created his own fishing pond and he was able to dominate it, year after year.
This is the topic we will be talking about at the March Small Business Masterminds ‘live’ workshop as well as the Masterminds online webinar, both on 10 April. If you would like to attend either the webinar or the workshop, go to http://smallbusinessmasterminds.com.au
Take the first steps:
As mentioned in the opening paragraphs of this article, I will suggest some “First Steps” actions you can take right away, that will get you started on implementing the topics and principles we discuss: The resources page is here: http://tiny.cc/marketlpage
Roland Hanekroot is a business coach who works with Small business owners to help them have more Fun in their businesses and build businesses that sustain them for years to come. Roland is also the author of “The Ten Truths books for Business owners” (more about the books here: http://thetentruths.com.au)
Every month Roland Hanekroot runs a business development workshop as well as a webinar called “The Small Business Masterminds” more information here and to register for the next webinar or workshop, follow this link: http://smallbusinessmasterminds.com.au/ The first time is free.
1001 Business Bedtime stories… Laura had a fashion label… Truth 2
Here follows another one of the “1001 Business Bedtime Stories”. Every one of the “1001 Business Bedtime Stories” come straight from the New Perspectives Small Business Bootcamp, stories of business and courage and they illustrate an aspect of one of Ten Truths. You might recognise some of them from your own experience. This story is about Truth num 2: “A Business without a plan achieves everything in it”…
Once upon a time… a long long time ago in a country not unlike Australia… Laura had a fashion label…
Laura had a little shop in Sydney and a fashion label and a small dedicated band of followers for her unique brand of office fashion for successful corporate women. Laura’s business was 4 years old and although it was gratifying to see the same customers come back season after season for her latest lines and to know how happy her customers usually were when they left her shop, Laura felt strongly that there was a wonderful opportunity for her to grow the business and bring her unique designs to a larger audience, but she just didn’t know where to start.
“Should I get involved in some social media, or maybe I need to take the plunge and open a shop in the cbd or should I look for a partner in Melbourne or knock on the door of Myer, and how will I finance an expansion, and can I continue to manufacture in Australia, and what if I am not good enough to manage more staff and various localities, and is the market in Perth the same as the market in Sydney, and what if Cue designs simply decides to knock off my designs, and if I grow will I lose the loyalty of my customers” etc etc etc
“There are so many what-ifs and so many different priorities to choose from, how do I know where to start?” was the constant refrain in Laura’s head.
Laura was stuck in a classic decision paralysis loop.
Working in The Bootcamp with me, Laura came to realise that the only way to cut through her dilemma’s was to face her lack of confidence of business planning head on and get to work with me to develop a thorough Business Plan, in a form that worked for her.
So she did… and it took a lot of courage… but Laura got under way and together with me she started creating a big mind-map in which she put all the dilemma’s and questions and start to work systematically to order them, prioritise them and answer them.
The mind-map evolved to a series of small one page documents for different aspects of the business and a time line with projections for different stages of the business development.
From there Laura simply started to work progressively through the plan, and every time another question or dilemma came up she could go to the plan and the mind-map, and find a place to house the question. This simple process of planning allowed her to be able to focus on the immediate step ahead without being afraid that she will forget something crucial.
Making this step to getting involved in an appropriate level of consistent planning is the one thing that started to shift Laura’s business into a new realm.
Now, 1.5 Years later, Laura has opened a second shop in Sydney. The planning process has helped her understand that her opportunities in the short to medium term are not in the CBD, nor in large scale production Off-shore, but in a series of small unique shops in specific inner city suburbs like Balmain and Mosman, followed by similar expansion in Melbourne and other major cities in Australia.
Laura is looking forward to the next 5 years of consistent controlled growth and building a loyal national following of her label.
And Laura and her business lived happily ever after… The End
Ask yourself… Where will you find the courage to make Profound things happen in your Business?
A 1001 Business Bedtime stories… John had a cornershop
Here follows another one of the “1001 Business Bedtime Stories” … Every story comes straight from the New Perspectives Small Business Bootcamp, stories of business and courage . You might recognise some of them from your own experience.
Once upon a time… a long long time ago in a country not unlike Australia… John owned a cornershop in the inner city…
Running a cornershop in the inner city is hard, there are corner shops everywhere and then there are the 7-Elevens and city express stores and even Woolworths and Coles get in on the act from time to time.
The hours are insane, profitability is minimal and the Competition is just crazy.
Tony often caught himself thinking: “How can I escape this trap of deadly competition with my neighbours, so we can all have a better life”
Working in The Bootcamp with me, tony came to realise that the only way to escape the competition trap was to make the competition irrelevant.
The way to make the competition irrelevant is by making yourself truly unique, by creating something that is completely different from everything else out there.
So he did… it took a lot of courage… But Tony decided to become “The Best Small Supermarket in Sydney”.
The day he made this decision, everything changed. Sydney has great corner-stores, handy convenience stores, big Coles and Woolworths, sexy delis and grocers, but there is only one “Best Small Supermarket in Sydney”.
2 Years later, Tony opened a second store and he is now looking for his third. Tony’s customers love him and love stores, profits are many times what they were 3 years ago and Tony is creating something really special in the Inner City of Sydney
Ask yourself… Where will you find the courage to make Profound things happen in your Bushiness?