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.

1 comment :

Unknown said...

Hi Greg,

I couldn't agree with you more on the matter of establishing critical success factors especially in the online game.

As the game continues to change on a daily basis it can get quite difficult for most business owners (including myself) to stay ahead of the latest innovations.

However making these innovations profitable is where the real challenge occurs.

A lot of business owners establish a website in the hope that it will automatically get visitors and convert them to paying clients...

It just isn't so!

(I swear there should be a warning label on websites)

It takes time to establish a web presence and work out the ideal way to convert visitors to clients.

Many consumers these days take up to 9 points of contact before they purchase from a business, especially an online one as trust needs to be established.

By the sounds of it you have given it a lot of thought and wish you and your website success...

I look forward to reading the updates.


Ben Angel

P.S. By the way your blog is fantastic.


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