The Australian Small Business Blog

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Diary of a New Business- 2. My Motivation





As a business coach, my mantra to my clients is that you must make your business to be able to run without you in order for you to have something to sell. In fact, the slogan for Empower Business Solutions is:

Multiplying Your Profits & Making Your Business Run without You.

I have helped a number of businesses do just that. But I always felt guilty when saying this, because my business was still totally dependent on me! How can I preach one thing but do another. But it was more than that. I desired my own business to run without me. I did not start up a business just to end up as a bitter and twisted sole trader. I always had a plan to make my business less dependent on myself. To create an asset that would give me a good income. One which would allow me to work less, not more.

The first step was to have an assistant. The actual step of finding someone who I could trust and depend on, was for me fairly strait forward. I now work with a lady whom I have known for a number of years and have grown to admire for her organisational skills. But the biggest step was making the commitment to bring someone into my business, to see behind the veil, warts and all!

But I did it, and have not regretted it for an instant. My struggle now is on a daily basis to take more off my plate and to transfer it to hers. But every time I sit in front of a client, I am constantly reminding myself I have to do more.

However, even if I was able to reduce my work to pure Brain Surgery, there was a limit to my growth. When I deliver my service, I spend my time directly with my clients. I spend hours per month with each of my clients. And there are only so many hours in the day I can sell. So I needed a way to change my business model.

The obvious ways are firstly to increase my prices, which I was able to do as I was getting a large amount of enquires from people who wanted my services. But at some point, there is price resistance, and you need to spend more effort on marketing. This is when you hit your marketing sweet spot. (Watch out for a future article on that.) You can also look at ways of reducing the hours you spend on each client, but in the end, this is just increasing your effective hourly rate and can compromise your service.

Both of these options were basically just a continuation of the same business model at higher rates. And it was not going to allow me to achieve my objective of making more money by working less. So my search began for different business models that would help me achieve that goal.

When you create a new business, you must have in your mind some motivator, which might at first be very vague. My motivator was to create a business that could run without me. But that motivator allows you to find a direction for your business and a reason to follow it. Once you have identified your direction your motivation will compel you to achieve your objective.

What is your primary motivator?

The next article in this Diary of a New Business will be: The Business Model.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club and is a Business Coach and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Diary of a New Business- 1. Introduction





Recently I launched a new business, the Australian Business Coaching Club. This is not my first business, but is certainly the most ambitious. Today I have decided to provide on this blog, the steps I took, and why I took them and to share some of the learnings that I have had from the experience. Over the coming months, I will provide some of the insights, the highs and the lows, of putting this business together and the outcomes of the business.

As an experienced business person, I spent a lot of time, thinking and planning this new business. And particularly as a business coach, I was very aware of each step I was making, and that others around me were also interested in what I was doing and how I was doing it. But I knew even though I was experienced, not everything was going to go to plan. It would be harder than I imagined, and take longer. But as I was expecting that, my mindset was always to continue.

While my idea for this business started to crystallise at the beginning of this year, there was a period before then when I was searching for a new way of doing business, a new business model. And in the next blog I will talk about the motivation for my change.

But why am I doing this? In part it is because when I write, I find things become much clearer in my mind. And I very much enjoy writing. And from the feedback I have had, others enjoy what I write as well. But at the beginning of this year, I had made a commitment to creating this blog, which was a major commitment in time for me. But I decided I would take a different approach from many other bloggers, and invite others to contribute.

The original motivation for the blog, if you haven’t figured it out already, was for marketing, not vanity purposes! And it has worked pretty well. But I wanted to take it into a new phase. I will still invite others to contribute to this blog, but I also want to make it a little more personal. I will still post great articles by the experts that are currently contributing, as I have had some great feedback on these articles, but by creating this diary, I will be offering something that will not be available anywhere else. I will also be encouraging the authors to provide a little more of themselves, and anecdotes from their business.

My intention is by creating this more personal focus by myself and my authors, it will give far more insight to those who are following this blog than just a “how to” guide you might get anywhere.

There is one further motivation I have. I want to make a public commitment for next year, as I did last year. Last year, I publicly committed (pre-blog) to creating a business coaching club, although at the time, the concept was rather hazy, but a public commitment is a marvellous motivation to action. (When you stand up in public and say you are going to do something, and then don’t, there is a loss of standing amongst those to whom you made the commitment.)

This is my commitment for 2007, stated publicly. I will publish a book. There, I have said it. So whenever I meet my friends and colleagues in the coming months, they will be asking, how’s the book going?

Its not my only commitment for 2007. I have some fantastic plans for the Australian Business Coaching Club which I will reveal at a later date as well as a number of other projects which will not require a public announcement to provide motivation! I guess the idea of the book has been in my mind really from the time I launched my first business a few years back, but I was not really ready for it at the time. But 2007 will be the time.

Over my years as a Business Coach, I have created a large body of writings, including some earlier articles on this blog. This diary will also provide further raw material for this book. Obviously this will be a way for me to leverage my knowledge which was just not possible until I had sufficient materials prepared to produce my first Opus. This will not be the first time I have been published- my articles are everywhere! But it will be my first book.

Please let me know what you think about my ideas, and thank you to everyone who has supported me, and in the context of this space, those who have supported The Australian Small Business Blog.

In the next article in this Diary of a New Business will be: My Motivation.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club and is a Business Coach and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Being Ready





I am all in favour of planning. In fact if you don’t plan your business, you are just relying on luck. And we all know how a strategy based on luck tends to work out. So planning is great. But you can overplan.

When you are preparing a new direction for your business, you will do some market research. Undertake some cost analysis. Prepare in detail new procedures. Which is, of course, very good. But at some point, you hit up against the law of diminishing returns. That last piece of optimisation and spit and polish can take as long as the rest of the planning put together. And for what benefit?

When you prepare a new strategy, you may try and plan for every eventuality. But there are some things that are just unknowable, and have to be based on an educated guess. As long as these factors are not showstoppers, you should not stop the show waiting for confirmation where none may be possible.

When you commence the launch, you will find from your first contact with the marketplace, that your customers are often not too interested in the details that you sweated over, and their interest is on other areas you thought were not so significant. You need to get this information quickly. And in many cases, this information will only be available post launch. So create a process where you obtain as much information from your customers as soon as you launch, or even have a pre-launch or pilot, then and have a plan to dot i’s and cross t’s very quickly thereafter.

When you delay a launch because you are not ready, there is a cost. The longer the delay, the higher the cost. So each day or week you delay, ask the question: will my customers value the improvements I am making? Can the incomplete pieces be an upgrade, a premium version, or a phase 2. And if you delay to long, the opportunity may disappear altogether.

Many delay and delay a launch because they feel that they are not ready. They are not sure they are making the right decision, and often look around to see what others are doing. But if what you are doing is new, this may be of little value. At some point, once you have covered all the bases you can cover, and have addressed the showstoppers, you just have to take the plunge.

Whenever you do something new, there will always be a risk. But if you have done your homework, being first can have huge rewards. Its not just about making the right decision. Its about taking a decision and doing everything you can to make it right.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club and is a Business Coach and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Branding Lesson 5 -- Discover and Overcome Your Brand Barriers

by Richard Gill

When creating your brand strategy for a product or service it is important to perform a careful analysis to determine principal barriers that you may come in contact with. These barriers are also known as market conditions that can keep your product or service from achieving success.
For example they could include the following:

  • Competition
  • Timing
  • Financing
  • Product Location
  • Demand or Lack of Demand

In order to be prepared to face these obstacles or barriers it is important to spend time doing a careful analysis of your product or service. This analysis will assist you not only in the development of your brand, but also in the positioning of your product or service.
A careful analysis will assist you in answering the following questions:

  • Do you have a niche market?
  • What problem does your product or service solve?
  • How should you determine the price of your product or service?
  • Who are your potential customers and where can you find them?
  • Who are your biggest competitors? What can you do better than them?
  • How should you advertise?
  • Where will you find your target market?
  • Will you use new media or traditional media?

Now that you have your questions where do you start your market analysis? Starting your research is actually easier than you think, but it will take time. You will need to dedicate hours to this research in order for it to be useful and effective.

Let's start by visiting some very popular Internet websites that you can use for your market research:Is there a great demand for your product or service? Find out by using Yahoo Search Marketing(http://searchmarketing.yahoo.com.au/en_AU/bridge.php?mkt=au).

By typing in key terms you can see how often your product or service is searched on the Internet.

Keep informed of competitors, current market conditions and trends in your vertical market by subscribing to trade publications, news alerts, and electronic newsletters. There are several directories available, but you can get started with those listed below:

Who makes up your target market? What are their statistics and economic position? Where are they located? You can find this information by viewing industry surveys and research documents. Get started using the following resources:

Use the resources and questions above to analyze your market and discover any brand barriers you may come up against. I have no doubt that you will find at least one or more barriers. When you've located that barrier develop a plan to overcome it and move it out of your way so that you can move forward towards success in marketing your business.

Conduct Your Informal Market Analysis

The following questions will help you assess your market analysis. Make your study as complete as possible. Use the Internet to conduct research. You can also read news stories, business news, magazines, and others that are related to your target market. This will help you to narrow down your target by interest, demographic, and common trends. So now ……

  • Who is your target audience?
  • Where is your target audience located?
  • What do they think about your current brand?
  • What would you like them to think about your brand?
  • How will you attract them to your products or services?
  • Who else is competing for their loyalty and devotion?
  • Are you targeting business or consumer sectors?

Write Your Target Market Description

Using the questions above write a target market description. Be as specific as you like. The more specific the better. NOW draft a statement on the type of relationship you would like to have with your clients.

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
- T. S. Eliot

Richard Gill is the director of The Banner Lady- Creating Simply Beautiful Banners

The Australian Small Business Blog

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Are You Reluctant to Speak?


Business owners often find the best ways of marketing themselves, is to talk to groups of people.

You will be less nervous and look and sound more confident if you:

  • Firstly, practice the 5ps: Prior practice prevents poor performance.

  • Have your points on a small card and only look at it IN SILENCE. Then look up and fire the point at people.

  • See yourself up in front of the audience.

  • Look at their eyes. It’s not as scary as you may think. And how else are you going to judge if they are listening and looking, unless you look at them.

  • Stand tall and put your head up. Leave your hands at your sides and only let them come up to gesture naturally.

  • Project your voice form your diaphragm and from the front of your mouth.

  • Vary your voice as much as possible.

  • Smile, unless the topic is very serious.

  • Finish with a strong message.

  • Sum up all points briefly at the end (they will have forgotten most of them!)

  • Don’t walk off till you have finished.

  • LASTLY, LOOK AS IF YOU ARE ENJOYING YOURSELF UP THERE.

Judith Field is the director of Direct Speech and provides advice on Public Speaking.

The Australian Small Business Blog

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Dr. Greg Chapman is also the author of
The 5 Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success

The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success

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