After a marketing exercise we recently embarked on, it quickly dawned upon us that our solution stack seems to fit only a certain segment of the market. It was our assumption and passionate belief that the platform such as Office 365 would benefit any small business team which needs the features as a tool to increase efficiency, communication and keep document generation and storage in check.
Actually, therein lies the rub! A lot of small businesses work on keeping things just about working. If it ain’t broken, leave it be!
I can relate! However every business owner hopefully get’s to a stage where they realise that better use of their resources ie their people, will help to grow the business. That should be a continuous business goal, no? Now it actually does not matter as much, what tool you use to do this, it boils down to a cultural change and leadership for this to happen. This means that there should be active processes and procedures in place to get people talking to each other, helping out, contributing together as a team etc. Only when this culture is in place, do you then look around for the right tools to facilitate this.
To be sure, this cultural change is painful when you are used to sitting in your corner keeping your head down. Also as a business owner, getting out of the habit of constantly chasing your tail to concentrating on the business is not easy. Your organisation can only grow organically by encouraging people to work as a team – and you can only really do this leading by example. That’s a tall order for anyone not used to that as a daily way of life.
However nothing worth achieving comes easy as they say. Lesson learnt though – while getting our own house in order, screen our leads to customers who are in the space we have identified above. Full steam ahead!
When growing a business, time management really seems to be oxymoron. Countless business books tell you that you should concentrate on your business rather than working in your business. Well that seems to be a juggling act – with a healthy amount of prayer and lady luck (hopefully) showing up.
What’s helped me so far is taking a good hard look at what I need to change about myself to get where I want to go. Having well defined goals and checking up on them once in awhile has helped me stay on a crooked path, but a path nonetheless. Rome wasn’t built in a day they say. I so wish I could witness a cartoony version of this phenomenon to assuage my impatience….cue loony tunes.
In this time of learning and changing, I’ve grown to appreciate the basic tenet of marketing. No-one is going to care about the services you offer if someone is not talking about it to them or they have some means of knowing about it. Seems OBviasss neh?? For some reason in my previous business experience, this never quite clicked – like a typical techie(which I am at heart), just doing the work well and getting it done was the do-all and end-all for me. Do it well and they will come…. uh-huh.
Marketing is a strange beast for me at the moment. One the one hand, I know the services we offer are valuable, and on the other, getting prospective customers to see this is the challenge. Intellectually I know that if I was on the receiving end of a pitch, I would want person pitching to be confident about their services, be hungry and WANT my business, know their stuff and convince me that it is of benefit to me to procure their services. And how do you do this with a cold call? An advertisement? Even a presentation where you have limited time? Voodoo, I tell you!
I’m beginning to appreciate though that persistence and perseverance pays. 80/20 principle is a cruel lady, especially when she leans towards the 99/1 for me! However the 1 has had me work through the door of a prospective customer and having them say – ‘You are a God send! Here’s my cheque book!!’. After the 63rd cold call, an agreement on meeting for a presentation and some business procured. Progress is painful but it is being made!
However with every new potential, there is affirmation – this will have to do for now until that day the business won’t be able to handle the calls coming in….. keep the dreams alive!
I’m thinking about how I’d look at this first blog a few years from now when I’ve moved the company to a posh office space – the one with a staff gym, canteen and pet area. Some of the challenges we have is politely turning down business since everyone is knocking on our doors as we are the best at what we do – we own the space!
Yes I want to look back at this and say this is one of my starting points. Starting a business at my age(!) and in these economic times is…crazy, some would say. I wouldn’t want it any other way right now. Been through some ups and downs – the knocks have taught me that each day is a blessing. An important rule is to consistently improve, no matter how small and it will eventually add up. I know though, that it’s going to take some time to get to second base. Will get there!
So my declaration here is the following:
- Provide a service to customers which establishes long term trust in our abilities and expertise.
- Establish a reputation of being industry experts.
- Reflect quiet pride and confidence as a culture in this organisation.
Now to knuckle down and follow my plan to get to the next stage. I can see myself coming back to this post time and time again along the way – just to re-center and strengthen my resolve. For those on a similar path, these books have been invaluable in getting me to want to improve and change my perspective:
Highly recommended reading. Please do yourself a favor and take the time to look at this material.
I hope those of you reading this will also remember this first blog and remember how far we have come.
We are going to make a difference!