The Australian Small Business Blog

Monday, December 18, 2006

Diary of a New Business- 5. The Critical Success Factors

In the last chapter we reality checked the business model I wanted to use. This was an online, one to many coaching model. But for it to work, I needed to identify the critical success factors, the areas that required special attention, whether I had the skill in them or not. Particularly if I didn’t have the skill!

The first factor I identified, was that this business would live or die on Marketing, particularly eMarketing. The concept was that most clients would be drawn to the business through online marketing.

But there are two fundamental steps in eMarketing. The first is traffic generation. The second step was the conversion of traffic to sales. Now with my existing business, this was done with a particular style of website which would result in a call to action, with the clients requesting a consultation.

But in the new business, I could not afford to give away consultations, as the investment for clients had been drastically reduced. The major difference between the businesses, was that while for private coaching, the sale was made offline, for the new business, the sale had to be made online. This was a major difference in the business models and would require a totally different approach.

If you visit both and you will see a totally different marketing approach.

But I did not want to rely on online marketing alone. It was also important to establish offline marketing as well to promote the business through other channels. This ultimately created opportunities I had not even conceived of at this stage.

The next step was to recognise that the level of sophistication of the technology for the online coaching site was an order of magnitude greater than the private coaching site. While there are many bells and whistles on the Empower site, it was basically a lead generator site. Once people became clients, they did not need to reference the site again. The new website was also to be a service delivery vehicle, requiring a certain level of automation to reduce the costs.

But even the marketing component of the new site required greater sophistication, as it had to manage and convert a higher volume of traffic in order to generate the level of sales to give a return on the investment in time and money.

So technology was also a critical success factor.

If I was successful in attracting clients only to lose them in a month or two, the business would not be a success. Therefore, the retention strategy was also a critical success factor. This came in two components, ongoing marketing strategies, and the quality of the service content.

And finally, as the costs were to be slashed, the business processes had to be as efficient as possible and I needed to be able to leverage my time. There had to be the right mixture of personal attention, and seamless support.

There were, of course, many other components to be considered, but these were the Critical Success Factors. The ones, that if I did not get right, would result in business failure. So I had to develop a plan to address each of these, before I could get started.

What are the Critical Success Factors for Your Business? Do you have a plan to address them?

If you want to ask questions or make a comment on Critical Success factors, please post a comment below.

The next article in this Diary of a New Business will be: Getting the Marketing 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.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Public Speaking Myths Debunked

There are some myths about public speaking that need debunking. Here are some of the and the truths:

One myth is that speaking in public is innate. In other words, some people can do it; others can’t.

The truth is that almost anyone can become an excellent public speaker if they know what to do and how to do it. Research has shown that it is 80% skill and 20% “gift of the gab”. The natural leaders and extroverts are given many more opportunities to speak up. They often volunteer to “say a few words”. Hence, they get more practice and become more confident and competent. The reluctant speaker can be taught how to learn tricks and methods. The 5Ps (prior practice prevents poor performance) helps as does many other tips.

A second myth is that you do not need to look at your audience. You can look above them or just scan the room in a vague sort of way.

The truth is that you must look at your audience. How else can you tell that they are responding to you? And this is the way to connect with them, which is exactly what a good speech does! When you are showing visual aids, you must still look at your audience and not the slide or power point. (You can quickly scan the monitor to make sure which slide is up) otherwise you may not know how long to leave a visual up there.

A third myth is related to the second one: imagine your audience naked!

What an off putting idea! Seriously, would you really like to strip middle aged men and women naked as you talk? You would probably burst out laughing! Besides, it will take your mind off what you are saying. Keeping your mind on what you are saying, stops you going blank and focuses you on your topic, which is what you should be thinking about 100% of the time!

Another myth is that it is okay to read a speech.

No, it is not! You can have the whole thing written out if you need to. However, you are better off with dot point notes and clear sequence ready. You need to learn the first bit off by heart and especially the last bit. Use “ready, aim fire” to say your speech. That means you look down when you need to, to see what is next. Look up (aim) and then “fire” the words at a particular person or people.

The last one that is also wrong is that a speech is like an essay.

No, it’s not! A speech has some common elements: Introduction, body, conclusion. Metaphors work well in both and language is important. However, in an essay, you need

Judith Field is the director of Direct Speech.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Branding Lesson 6 – How to Package your Brand : Are You Reflecting the Right Image?

Branding is your identity in the marketplace, is yours saying what it should? Your organisation image is all about the appearance of your packaging. What is your organisation image saying to the marketplace?

It's important to realize that packaging always either has a negative or positive influence on the purchaser. A negative impression can detour a potential customer, just as a positive reaction can influence a customer to buy. A time to pay special attention to your packaging is when you are in the launch of a "new" brand. If you've already built a strong brand that others recognize often people may not pay as close attention to the packaging.

How can you package your brand so that it is an integral part of your business and represents a strong identity? Keep in mind that I am not speaking of packaging has only a box that contains a product, but as a vehicle that reflects your organisation's brand and image.

Packaging can be judged and represented by the following common business tools:

  • business cards and stationery
  • Banners and digital printing
  • website
  • answering system
  • email address

What image are you putting across with these business tools that you use everyday? What are they saying about your organisation? Take a few moments and lets look at each one of these.

What are your business cards and stationery saying? Are they saying we are strong, we are confident, and we can succeed in helping you? Or does it reflect an image that says we are flimsy, our dynamics are minimal, and we will try but we cannot guarantee continuity?

What does your web site say about your organisation? Does it reflect professionalism, clarity, and show them that you respect and care about them? Or does your web site confuse viewers, project an untrustworthy image of your organisation and ultimately drive potential customers away?

What does your answering system and call return policy say about your organisation? Does it say we are here to help, eager for you business and will do what it takes? Or is it putting across the message that you are too busy to cater to new clientele, don't care about their needs, or wish they would just go away?

What does your email address say about your organisation? Does it suggest your role in the organisation, is it easy to remember, and does it something about you and your business? Or does it project a meaningless or generic emptiness? If you are using the email address for your business's time to change!!!!!

As you can see all these things speak volumes about your image and they either strengthen or weaken your brand. Your image is all in the packaging. Would potential clients take a second look or is your message getting lost? If you thought these things were not worth the investment or didn't matter, you were wrong. Clients and customers will make assessments of your organisation based on these things and while not always conscious, that customer appraisal says much about your business, your attitude and your priorities.

Australia Top ten Brands (As determined by Interbrand) $ Billions (2005)

1. Telstra $9.3
2. Commonwealth Bank $4
3. Westpac $3.6
4. ANZ $2.9
5. Woolworths $2.5
6. National Australia Bank $2.4
7. Billabong $1.1
8. St George $ 1.0
9. Macquarie Bank $0.83
10. Qantas $0.82

What number are you? What is your brand value??

"The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own." - Benjamin Disraeli, - British Prime Minister

Richard Gill is the Director of The Banner Lady.

The Australian Small Business Blog

Saturday, December 02, 2006

How to deal with nerves in public speaking

As business owners we are often have to speak publically to Promote our Business. But when most people get up to speak, they are scared, even the ones who don’t appear to be nervous. Fear of public speaking is the number one fear in the United States! 97% of the population would rather be dead than speak. So, here are some tips to really shift the nerves.

Firstly, do plenty of practice. Remember the 5 Ps: Prior Practice Prevents Poor Performance. You do not need to practice in front of a mirror. However, you do need to see yourself up in front of the actual or imagined audience.

You should précis your points down to point form and have them on a small piece of paper. If you do need to have the whole thing written out, place it on the lectern and only look at it when you need to IN SILENCE.

Practice the voice changes and the gestures as well, in your head, if not in fact.

When you do speak on the real occasion, go to the toilet before you speak and drink a glass of water to keep the voice lubricated. Focus on what you are saying the whole time. As soon as you become “self conscious” you will start to be distracted and then you could become nervous, wondering what they are thinking of you. All your energy needs to be on what you are communicating out, not what you imagine they are thinking about you!
(I know that’s easier said than done.)

If you really believe what you are saying and speak with a mix of logic and emotion, connecting with the audience, even cracking an occasional joke, they will love it.

Lastly, breathe deeply to calm your nerves. It allows your voice to come up and you will have more pauses when you give yourself permission to breathe deeply. (Don’t over do the deep breathing or you could hyperventilate)

So, remember, nerves are normal. Harness them. Connect with your audience and practice, frequently.

Judith Field is the director of Direct Speech and provides education and training in public speaking.


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