All too often I hear comments like “I’m tired of putting out business fires on a regular basis. There must be a better way.”
Well, of course, there is, and we want to convert the energy that’s being spent on putting out fires to a more constructive use. Let’s talk about setting your business on fire – on purpose – by being smart. Set those fires yourself and plan in advance how you will leverage the energy that’s released.
If the energy is organized and has a mission or target, the chances of hitting the target (goal) will be a lot greater. (Consider a bullet in the cylinder, awaiting the trigger to release its energy). We want to get you and your business organized and focused so the energy you release will propel your business forward in the direction you choose.
Following are the steps that seem to work best if done sequentially, all with the specific purpose of setting your business on fire. Literally translated that means bringing in more revenue, more customers, more brand recognition.
1 – Get your foundation in place – Without a sound business structure, you won’t be prepared to handle the surge in activity when your business takes off. Start by being really clear about what value you bring to the marketplace and making sure you are clearly communicating it in a variety of ways that put you in contact with your target market. Set measurable, realistic goals and create a strategy and plan to achieve them.
2 – Focus on Sales – What’s the most important part of your business? Sales, of course. How much of your time are you spending on Revenue Generating Activities? I find I need to spend at least 50% of my time on staying in touch with my market and interacting with clients and potential clients. A specific sales plan with time-frames will keep you focused and allow you to assess the results of your actions.
3 – Commit to being responsible for and accountable for your business results. Set goals based on research and strategic decisions. Commit not only to yourself, but to a coach or a colleague. This adds fuel to your commitment. Communicate your goals and make sure your team and staff know their role and responsibility in achieving desired results. Get their commitment as well so everyone will be adding to the focused energy.
4 – Develop Strategic Alliances – You know you can’t build a business without help from others. Strategic alliances are how smart business people are leveraging their connections to reach beyond what can be done alone. I use my connections to add expertise beyond my own for the monthly Lunchtime Telephone Roundtable conference calls. This helps both of us reach new targeted connections where we can share our expertise. I also use marketing and technology alliances to open new networks. Every time you add an alliance you are expanding your network exponentially.
5 – Showcase Your Expertise – Every entrepreneur has expertise in something. The key is to identify and showcase yours. Your combination of training, experience, knowledge and resources makes you unique. Who cares about that expertise and how can you best share what you have to offer? Some people look for speaking opportunities in front of their target market; some who like to write will create articles, newsletters, books, CDs. Give freely of your knowledge; share your unique perspective, focus on helping others accomplish their goals. You will attract those who relate to what you say and do.
6 – Use the Web strategically – Most businesses today can benefit from using the web. This may or may not include a web site, but e-mail is definitely a prime means of communication for most businesses. It’s important to learn e-mail etiquette and to stay current on use of e-mail for marketing. Search Engine Optimization has become a key strategy for web sites. Changes happen so rapidly for anything that’s web related you’ll want to consult with a web marketing professional before undertaking any campaign.
7 – Support Yourself – You want to focus the majority of your time and energy doing what you do best in your business. That may mean product development, marketing and sales or overall management. Enlist the support of others whose expertise complements yours. Consider whether you’re better off doing that by adding to staff or through a strategic alliance. Sometimes bartering services can be a great way to get what you need and generate a client/customer at the same time. Keep adding to your team until you’ve covered all the gaps.
8. – Begin to act “as if” your goal (target) is already achieved – Thinking and acting “as if” magnetically pulls you to your goal. Success becomes easier when you’re operating in success mode. And success begets more success. Jill Ammon-Wexler’s article offers more on why acting “as if” is so powerful, http://successnet.org/articles/ammon-wexler-asif.htm
Focus, like a laser, can set your business on fire. Follow through with these steps and watch your business heat up.
SALES TIP: HANDLING PROSPECTS’ SILENCE
“What has struck me most is how many people still expect that a stranger will respond to an e-mail message, voice mail or even a good ol’ fashioned letter the first time. This may have been realistic in the past, but it isn’t anymore.
The thing to keep in mind is that silence is rarely about you. More often it means people are swamped. My best advice is: don’t let it be an obstacle. And don’t give up on the clients you really want to work with after just one measly try.”
Ilise Benum, Self-Promotion Expert
How to put Love in your brand
Find your most passionate customers and listen to them. They’ll tell you all you need to know about why your brand is a lovemark for them. They’ll write your advertising for you.
Put your brand through the love-respect axis. (An abbreviated version is available online at www.lovemarks.com.) Look at how it scores on mystery, sensuality, and intimacy. Make it operate on as many senses as possible.
Start telling stories. Quit talking about benefits and performance. Instead, show your brand as part of an experience, an adventure, a myth, or a dream.
Linda Tischler, http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/84/love.html