Author Archives: leeinroyston

Trade secrets – you don’t need a website

What they don’t tell you about starting a business

Not every business requires a website just as every high street retailer doesn’t have to have a shop front. It depends on the particular product / service you’re selling and how you expect your (potential) customers to find you.

Even if your competitors have a website it doesn’t mean you have to copy them. A PR expert (a specialist in communications) has been running her one-woman public relations company successfully for 16 years. She is only now considering a website, but she’s been doing fine without one! Don’t be a sheep when it comes to deciding which communications tools to use – find out what works best for you and your business.

For other Trade Secrets in this series, go to  https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/trade-secrets

 

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Trade secrets – it’s as important to repel people as attract them

What they don’t tell you about starting a business

When your time, money and other resources are limited (so all the time when you’re starting your business) you want to make useful contacts with potential supporters (including would-be customers) and to avoid time-wasters.

Small businesses that shy away from attracting new customers because they’re so busy with existing enquiries are usually spending a lot of their time dealing with people they can’t help. They need to find ways, through accurate publicity and automated/standardised responses, to filter out enquiries from the people they can’t help.

If you spend a lot of time handling enquiries from people who have got the wrong impression about your business, go back and re-write your publicity – it probably doesn’t describe what you do clearly enough.

https://blog.getresponse.com/repel-wrong-customers-attract-right-ones.html

For other Trade Secrets in this series, go to https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/trade-secrets

 

Trade secrets – your best ideas will come when you’re not trying

What they don’t tell you about starting a business

One sure way not to be creative and come up with good ideas is to try too hard. Your best ideas will rarely come sitting at your desk. Lightbulb moments are more likely when brushing your teeth, standing in the shower, lying in bed, having a quiet drink in the pub, or out on a run (in other words, when you least expect them!)

So the message is not to spend all your time doing the above, but rather to have means of recording the ideas as soon as possible after they come into your head.

Once recorded you can then afford to put them on one side and return to evaluate them when you have time to do so. This may be weeks later as long as you’ve recorded the essence of your (potentially brilliant) idea. The time lag can even help with the assessment process; in the cool light of day ideas are often viewed more objectively.

For other Trade Secrets in this series, go to https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/trade-secrets

Trade secrets – marketing is cheap and easy

What they don’t tell you about starting a business

Marketing professionals who sell their services to businesses have to convince others that marketing is difficult so they (the businesses) need to employ someone else to do it. Without belittling the art of the marketer, a lot of good marketing is common-sense communication demanding time rather than money.

At the start-up stage, when money is tight, doing your own marketing is probably the best use of your time. When the business is established and growing, that might be the time to think about employing the services of marketing specialists, but managing that discipline and remaining in control will still be important – to make sure the business goes in the direction you want.

After my day-long marketing training days I tell learners that if they do half of what they’ve learnt during the training day, they’ll probably be doing twice as much marketing as the average small business. They find this hard to believe, but many businesses often fail to even get the basics of marketing right (which may be why they remain ‘small’ businesses?) So maybe you do need to employ the professionals after all…

For other Trade Secrets in this series, go to  https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/trade-secrets

Trade secrets – social media isn’t free publicity

What they don’t tell you about starting a business

Social media is amazing – it has turned us all into publishers with an audience for our words that is potentially worldwide. It has considerably levelled the playing field for business start-ups of all sizes wanting to establish their online presence and, hopefully, to build a following of supporters and potential customers.

The ease of going online and getting out there may deceive users into thinking the whole process is easy and free of costs to the would-be business. Don’t be deceived – if you’re thinking like a business rather than a user of social media, you need to cost your time online and make sure it’s well spent.  You’ll need to invest some of your time to find out which social media communication channels do the job you want them to. You need to set marketing objectives and be able to measure the effectiveness of your online efforts to achieve them – and then focus your time accordingly.

On the cost side, also be aware of the damage you can do to your professional and personal reputation if you get your online presence wrong. It may be a cliché, but remember “A happy customer tells a friend; an unhappy one tells the world.” And, through social media, they’ll do it much, much faster!

For other Trade Secrets in this series, go to https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/trade-secrets/

Trade secrets – no competition means no market

What they don’t tell you about starting a business

“If you are genuinely ground-breaking there may be no competition, but if you think that then probably you’re either looking at product and not demand, or there is no demand.” Source unknown

When someone says they have a unique business idea, they probably haven’t done enough research. It’s very unlikely that a business idea has not been thought of by someone else, but that’s not a problem in itself.

New entrepreneurs often feel they have to be original to be successful – they take the marketing phrase ‘unique selling point’ literally. But a business set up in a competitive field – a coffee shop for example – at least knows there’s a market for the products on offer.

Coffee shop promotion by the biggest brands is also promotion for coffee retailers everywhere. This means the independents don’t need to establish demand and, while creating brand recognition and winning customers from the big players is harder, creating a better offer than other providers is the same for most start-ups.

How the independents are taking on the chain coffee shops  https://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2017/nov/14/move-over-starbucks-the-indie-coffee-shops-battling-it-out-on-the-high-street

For other Trade Secrets in this series, go to https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/trade-secrets

Trade secrets – innovation is overrated

What they don’t tell you about starting a business

In the search for things that are ‘new and exciting’ there’s pressure to do things differently. Being creative, cutting edge or, as they say these days, ‘disruptive’, is seen to be in itself a good thing. We talk about taking ourselves out of our proverbial comfort zones as being good for us – to stretch ourselves, take risks and learn from failure.

But in business, sometimes doing the same old thing, the tried-tested-and-trusted methods can be the right way to go. So long as you do it as a conscious plan rather than by default (because it’s easier than doing something that takes more effort).

There’s another a much-quoted saying “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got” Many people attribute this quote to Anthony Robbins and before him to Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, and even Mark Twain. Whoever said it, and however well-respected the originator, it doesn’t mean that change and innovation is necessarily good for business.

The trick is to know the difference between business development and growth, between viability and sustainability and knowing, in card-playing terms, whether to twist or stick.

For other Trade Secrets in this series, go to https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/trade-secrets