Small Business Development – It’s Time To Dream!

As I have written in the past, if you build your business around your core values you will attract like-minded people in the form of customers, business partners, and employees.

This month we have the opportunity to reflect on the core values of one Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered for so many incredible and positive things, but it is his, “I have a dream!” speech that we think of most.

His speech is the culmination of one man’s wonderful example of understanding what you believe, working towards that end, and attracting like-minded people to support you in your quest to serve the greater good.

There is another lesson here for us to reflect on. Martin Luther King’s life’s work was from the perspective of service, not of sales. In other words, everything he said, thought and accomplished was to “serve” the people he was meant to serve.

His life was not about personal gain (how can I sell more, earn more, grow more, etc.), but rather how much more can I help others (customers, employees, stakeholders, community) live better lives. His “I have a Dream” speech talks about his vision of the future where everyone is better served – not just African-Americans.

To facilitate the transition to wealth, one must stop chasing sales, and customers, but look for more opportunities to serve the people you are meant to serve. Martin Luther King reminded us that our gifts are not for us. the gifts we have are to serve the greater good. In the same light, your business is not for you. It is for the greater good of the people you are meant to serve. You are the conduit that moves your idea into reality for the people you serve, and going forward for the people they serve and ultimately for the greater good of all.

I urge you to spend some time considering the people you are meant to serve, and stop thinking of ways to sell them more, but rather ways to serve them more. If you focus on the many ways you can contribute to their greater good, you will never have to worry about “selling” them more.

Do you have a dream? What is the dream you have for your business? More importantly, what is the dream you have for the people you are meant to serve? (hint: pretend there are no limits to what you can do – because there aren’t.)

Business Process Consulting – Business Development and Risk Management

Succession planning is a critical linchpin in building the bench strength of a business into a positive long-term future, as well as a key element of business risk management. Most of the business literature on this particular subject focuses on succession planning as an exiting strategy. This focus is a strategic blunder.

The emphasis on succession planning as an activity to be considered and implemented toward the end of the business life cycle is wrong-headed. Such emphasis represents a short-sighted perspective, characterized by a significant lack of strategic thought and intent. It is particularly surprising, given the current demographic changes and trends in the market.

Some of these key trends that need to be considered from a corporate team building and strategic perspective, in analysing both the internal and external environment include:

  • an aging population
  • labor and skills shortages
  • the emergence of Generations ‘X’ and ‘MTV’ into management roles, and
  • an increasing number of women assuming management and leadership roles in business.

Business owners and managers need to be open to employing people who are better than they are and different to them. This willingness becomes a crucial attribute in underpinning productive succession planning. Effective business owners and managers regard such planning as an opportunity for ongoing growth and development for themselves and their businesses.

Thinking about succession at the recruitment stage is therefore critical for the ongoing success of the business, as its principals and managers move toward leaving their company for whatever reason.

Successful business owners and effective managers are committed to bringing the next generation of leaders on from the very outset. To that end, the three critical strategic decisions that must be made are to:

  1. recruit learners
  2. create a developmental culture, and
  3. inculcate leadership as a function that delivers results.

One – Recruit Learners

Aligning succession planning in business begins when people are first recruited into the company.

In the employment of new people, demonstrable technical skills or experience, managing with and through others, and verbal and numerical reasoning capabilities are all-important elements to be considered.

But by far, the most critical factor to consider is that the people being recruited into your business must be avid learners and open to ongoing learning and development. No other single attribute will prove as meaningful in their prospects for long term success.

Two – Create a Developmental Culture

The developmental culture that we want to create in our business environment is underpinned and informed by the people at the top. The people at the top, therefore, must themselves be lifelong learners. Furthermore, they must embody the desired development culture of the value based business by being open to new ideas, by listening intently and by incorporating different ways of looking at things into the business environment.

They must model the development that they want to encourage in the people around them.

One of the risks in creating this type of business environment is the loss of good people to other businesses. It happens. People do get “poached,” and they do move on. On the other hand, when engaging in the risk management of adopting this approach, one must ask the following question:

“What would happen if we did not develop our people, and they decide to stay?”

In the end, a developmental culture in a business attracts talent like a magnet, since prospective employees see the business as one that offers more than merely a paycheck. On balance, this capacity to attract good people should more than offset any risk of losing them.

Three – View Leadership as a Function that Delivers Results

Succession planning is reinforced throughout the value based business by the pragmatic philosophy that leadership is taking responsibility for getting things done, not a position that is held.

Organizations are much flatter than in the past, which means that the hierarchy is now created by the alignment of the Mission, Vision and Values of the business, as well as by its strategic business objectives.

Leadership is a function. Leadership is the ability to see a gap between what is and what should be and the willingness to take responsibility for closing it. Leadership can also be the ability to create a gap between what is and what should be, where such a gap is necessary to propel the business forward, and, then, taking responsibility for closing it.

By defining it this way, leadership becomes an activity that can be learned, demonstrated and taught, at any and all levels of your business.

Grow Your Memoir Business – Develop, Up-Sell and Cross-Sell Products

If you wish to up-sell and cross-sell to your repeat-customers (and you should since these are profit centers for any company), here is a marketing strategy to follow:

1. Develop writing or memoir products that can be up-sold or cross-sold. Start by looking at your current products and them add to them. And intro workshop needs to be followed by an intermediate one and then by an advanced one. If you are co-authoring, an example of up-selling might be to bundle two memoir projects for less than the cost of two separate projects. Up-selling might also include doing the book production. Cross-selling might include a workshop or coaching on how the clients might do the work themselves.

Most customers are unlikely to buy the same product again. If you want repeat customers, you must develop a line of distinctly progressing products (books, workshops, services) they can buy. If you have no additional products for the progressive mastery of writing, you have no up-buying or cross-buying opportunities. Some one who has taken the Intro workshop will not enroll in it again. They will however up-buy to the Intermediate workshop or cross-buy coaching. A client who bought a product listed above is likely to up-buy or cross-buy the following one.

2. In the next year or two, set a schedule for yourself for developing products. Always opt for the one net in the line of mastery. Do not develop an advanced workshop before you have an intermediate one. Then promote these offerings in your brochure, on your website, in your presentations–everywhere.

3. Distinguish between your products (clearly place them in a sequence of mastery) and let your marketing tell your clients repeatedly and consistently why up-buying or cross-buying is to their advantage.

When your company has a large number of sequenced and complementary products, you will have many repeat customers over the years. Your buying analyses will show customers reappearing everywhere. That is great! If you offer quality products and make your customers aware of them, of course, people will want to up- and cross-buy.

Good luck in growing our writing-based and memoir company.

3 Of the Best Offline Business Development Strategies

There are multitudes of marketing strategies, both online and offline.

However, the very best and most effective strategies, which you have the most control over, are those that target your ideal clients directly.

Think of these two scenarios:

Scenario 1: You purchase a list of 1,000 contacts that meet your criteria of an ideal client profile. Think about marketing to that list of 1,000 names.

Scenario 2: Be really specific in who you would like as a client, and do the research and draw up a list of five or ten companies and the names of the appropriate people inside them you would like to work with.
Think about marketing to those ten people – to Jane, and Mark, and Jeff, and Sally and…

Doesn’t having a very clear picture of who you are marketing to make you hone in on what your messages need to be? Why would those people want or need to work with you? Why is your solution the right one for them? Why would they choose you over other businesses?

Visualising the people you want to market to, versus a nameless ‘list’ will definitely improve your chances of success. If you use all or some of these strategies, you will be able to market to your selected five or ten people directly and personally.

The concept of directly marketing to your ideal client applies equally for B2C marketing, but the execution and scale will obviously vary. This example focuses more on B2B marketing.

Strategy 1: Referrals – But Not a ‘System’

There are many ways to do this as a ‘system’, but my personal preference is to ask for referrals and introductions from clients who love you.

Turning referrals into a ‘system’ has an air of entitlement, and I don’t think that contributes to good business practice. I know that when people hand me a deck of cards (yes, a deck… could be their business cards or cards with a special introductory offer) and ask me to give them out to people, it usually bothers me. On the one hand, I feel a sense of obligation, simply because I’ve been asked, and on the other hand, I feel that the relationship has been ‘violated’ in some way because I now have an onus of obligation by receiving the cards!!

I don’t need cards to refer people to new business opportunities. I do it all the time. A personal referral is far more compelling than handing someone a card with a special offer – I think.

If you ask clients and connectors who love you, if they could refer you to someone who has a business or challenges ‘just like theirs’, you have a far greater chance of being introduced to a really great contact who could become a prospect.

By turning a personal form of marketing into a ‘system’ with expectations and an onus of obligation on others, in my opinion, is not the way to do it.

Done the right way, with the right people, this is a great strategy to connect directly and personally with the right people.

Strategy 2: Outreach to Specific Targets

As outlined above in scenarios one and two, an outreach program is likely to have more impact when you have more control over who your target market is. If you think in terms of specific contacts, you can then start thinking about how you reach out to those individuals in those companies to introduce yourself and your business. You can see them in their office; you can develop a sense of what they would respond to and what sort of communication would have the most impact.

When you draw up your list of ten, let’s say, be clear about the industry or niche they are in, the size of the business, their challenges, and think about the real fears and frustrations of the people you want to target.

When you have that information, you can start to craft your message:

  • what do you need to say to get their attention
  • what do you want them to know about you
  • what do you want them to do?

You have complete control over who you contact and how you reach them. Learn as much about them as you can before you prepare your marketing campaign.

There are many ways to implement an outreach program, including the next strategy. Typically, it includes mail (email or direct mail pieces via postal mail), phone, in person follow up, special offers, invitations and calls to action (you want your prospects to do something once you’ve contacted them).

My final piece of advice on this strategy is this: what would work for you? What have people done in the past to get past the gatekeeper and get to you (in a good way, not in a way that has a negative impact on you)? Use this as a screening test for your program strategy, before you send out the first piece of your outreach program.

Strategy 3: Host Your Own Events

When you host, you have control over the guests, the format, the selling and marketing around it. That’s what makes this such a great strategy.

Reasons for an event:

  • a celebration of something
  • a launch of something (product, service, alliance, new business unit, book, etc)
  • calendar events: end of financial year, Spring Racing Carnival (for those in Melbourne), Grand Final Eve (for those now in all states of Australia), Christmas, etc.
  • Entertainment – speaker, entertainer, music etc
  • Social – good food, good wine, good group of people, music, fun

Keys to remember:

  • The purpose is to make new contacts and likely prospects
  • Ask your guests to invite a friend or colleague who may be interested in knowing your company or other guests (if you ask the right clients and connectors to do this, they’ll bring the right kinds of guests for you to meet. You don’t want someone to bring the junior from their office – because that doesn’t achieve your goals as host).
  • The goal is to create a great experience for your known guests, as well as your new guests, and send the right messages to the people you are trying to get to know and turn into prospects
  • Do it well – don’t skimp, make it a quality event, and again do the ‘test’ – ask yourself if you’d have fun if you were a guest.

Offline strategies are always required as part of your overall marketing program.