I have been advising small business owners on how to grow their businesses for a quarter of a century and in that time I have learned a few things.
I have learned what works and I have really learned what doesn’t!
Below are the 7 biggest things that I have learned when advising small business owners:
NUMBER 1 – I have learned that numbers are the key to success in most areas of life and this is certainly true in business and particularly in sales & marketing. I would say that not measuring your sales and marketing results is probably the biggest mistake made by small business owners.
NUMBER 2 – I have learned that there are 3 departments in every business in the world and they are – operations, finance, and marketing. Typically in SME’s the business owner is good at the operational side of the business. In other words, doing the work that the business does. And so a garage mechanic opens a garage. An HR person opens an HR company. A printer opens a printing business. A Solicitor opens his/her own legal practice and here lies the problem. These people believe that because they are good at doing the work of the business, they can run a business that does that work and nothing could be further from the truth. This is because they often know nothing about sales and marketing and even less about managing the money. Which is why approximately 80% of all businesses that start trading each year, cease trading within 5 years.
NUMBER 3 – I have learned that in 95% of the businesses that I have met – It’s not that they are doing the wrong marketing. It’s far more likely that they are doing the right marketing but in the wrong way. They behave like butterflies trying one form of marketing and then another. Never bothering to stick around long enough to ensure marketing success.
NUMBER 4 – I have learned that most business owners put a lot of effort into the wrong thing. To grow a business you need to put a lot of effort into lead generation and conversion. More often known as sales and marketing and yet I constantly come across a total lack of effort in terms of two things. Very little effort is put into training in sales and marketing, so business owners don’t know what to do or say. Then there is an even bigger lack of effort in terms of implementation. In fact, I would say that the No.1 reason that marketing fails is IT NEVER GETS DONE!
NUMBER 5 – I have learned that a lack of knowledge is costing business owners millions in lost sales. One of the biggest things I have learned is that most business owners have almost a total lack of knowledge of sales and marketing. They tell me things like – “I am on LinkedIn, but I don’t know how to use it”. Or, “I have heard of SEO, but I don’t understand it”. Or “I am responsible for sales, but I have never done any training in selling”.
NUMBER 6 – Most businesses have five to ten ways of marketing their business, such as a website, email marketing, referral, networking, PPC Advertising and the many even do the occasional exhibition. And that’s good – It pays to build a business on multiple streams of income. However, it does not pay to have five to ten ways of marketing that lose money, or at best, wash their face. Rather it is far better to focus on ‘THE ONE THING‘. In other words to review what you are doing. Decide what’s working best and has the most potential to leverage and focus on that one thing. Then when you’ve got that one thing working incredibly well, then focus on the next ‘one thing’.
NUMBER 7 – I have learned that to win a new client you have to get the prospect to know you, like you and trust you. To know, like and trust your company and to know, like and trust your products and services. One of the biggest mistakes I see businesses make is trying to sell too early in the relationship. They often try to sell to people that they don’t know and who don’t know them and that’s a BIG MISTAKE!
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