Starting A Business
Are you considering starting your own business? Are you trading for between 1 and 3 years? On May 30th 2018, I will be speaking at the Grow Your SME Expo in the Royal Dublin Society. My speech will be about what I learned in year 1 of trading. I outline below my 8 top tips for starting a business.
Some people are introverted. Other people are extroverted. For networking events introverts need to raise their energy level. They may also need to increase the timbre of their voice. Extroverts need to control their energy, and allow the other person the opportunity to speak. Self awareness is important.
Why is networking important? Will Kintish answered this question in his book Business Networking – The Survival Guide. Firstly, networking is not about selling you or your company. Networking is about spotting possible opportunities. Secondly, networking builds relationships. People prefer to do business with people they like and trust. Finally, networking is a virtuous circle. If done right, meeting more people leads to more business opportunities.
All too often people rely on secondary research when starting a business. By secondary research, I mean academic or online research applicable to your business. There is no substitute for primary research. Have 121 meetings with business owners. Ask them what issues they have within their business you can help to resolve. This is where networking is important. You need to attend networking events to get introductions to business owners.
Are you a technophile or a technophobe? Firstly, I must admit I am a technophile. Secondly, I fall into the trap of talking about the features of products or services. Finally, I now realize it is more effective to talk about the benefits of products or services.
It is important in business to get to know people quickly, in particular their communication style. Paint pictures in peoples minds. Use adjectives. Avoid getting into too much detail. A colleague from the South Dublin Chamber says “I don’t need to know how a product or service works. I just want to know it works!!”
You have arranged a meeting with a potential client. Before you meet that person, they will review your company website, and LinkedIn profile.
At a minimum your website should look professional, and be mobile compatible. Your website should have a home page, an about us page, a services page, and a contact us page. Make sure your website has a current SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate. People will not provide you with their contact details otherwise.
I will discuss LinkedIn further in the referrals section of this blog.
Publishing a blog is an ideal way for any business owner to demonstrate their expertise. Before you publish a blog, you need to consider 4 factors. Firstly, who is your ideal customer? Secondly, do you have a customer persona? Describe your ideal client in granular detail. What is their favorite genre of music? What car do they drive? Where do they live? What professional qualification(s) do they have? Where do they go on holiday? What is their favorite food? Which sports do they follow or participate in? Where do they shop for their groceries? Which newspapers do they read? Print or digital copy? What social media platforms do they use?
Thirdly, do you have a schedule for writing and publishing your blog posts? 1 or 2 blogs per month is sufficient. Any more will give customers the impression you are overly busy working on your business. Finally, do you have a theme for your blog?
Testimonials build credibility. Firstly, ask your clients for testimonials. Secondly, include a link back to the customer website. Thirdly, include client testimonials on your LinkedIn profile. Fourthly, a testimonial should accurately reflect the work you completed for a customer. Finally, a testimonial should outline the value you bring to clients.
Referrals are a lifeline in any business. Andy Lopata asks in his book Recommended – How To Sell Through Networking And Referrals, what constitutes a good referral? In his opinion there are three steps to referral heaven. Firstly, the person referring you identifies someone who has a problem you may be able to solve. Secondly, the person referring you talks to your prospect. Thirdly, your prospect expects your call.
I believe LinkedIn is the single most important online network for generating referrals. How do you use LinkedIn to generate referrals? According to Andy Lopata, there are four steps on this journey.
Firstly, you must complete your LinkedIn profile. Have a professional looking profile photo. Have a clear message of what you do. Write an engaging profile summary. Include all relevant current and past positions. Outline your main achievement(s) in each position you held.
Secondly, build your network. It is important to build your LinkedIn network to generate referrals. Avoid connecting with people just to build numbers. Restrict your connections to people you know, like, and trust if you are looking for referrals.
Thirdly, ask for endorsements. Ideal endorsements should share the value you bring to the people you work with.
Finally, look for connections within and outside your LinkedIn network.
How good are you at planning your day or week ahead? Are you a time poor person? Do you constantly adjust your priorities?
If you want to run a successful business, you need to develop good time management skills. That means distinguishing between system 1 & 2 thinking. System 1 thinking is about every day decisions. Firstly it is unconscious. Secondly it is automatic. Thirdly it is error prone. Finally it is fast. Don’t fall into the trap of over indulging in system 1 thinking when starting a business.
Take the time to remind yourself of important goals. Have a growth hour to enhance existing skills and develop new skills. Be strategic. This is system 2 thinking. Firstly system 2 thinking is conscious. Secondly it is effortful. Thirdly it is reliable. Finally, it is slow.
Starting a business is not easy. It takes time and effort. Year 1 is all about putting in the foundations. Never be afraid to ask for help. Ask the right question of the right person. More often than not you will get good advice. If you would like to share your story about starting a business, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to hearing from you. See you on May 30th in the Royal Dublin Society!!