Being your own boss, running your own business, and being responsible for your own success, is one of the most amazing things you can do. The satisfaction of knowing that you, and you alone, are responsible for the achievements of the day; that the money in the bank has come from your hard work, and your happy clients are happy as a result of your applied skills and knowledge, is immeasurable.
So how do you get from an idea to a fully-fledged business? How do you take those skills, that knowledge and experience and turn it all into cold, hard cash? How do you take that first step into the unknown and come out the other side with a top class product, compelling brand and clients who love you?
As a seven-business veteran, an experienced start-up coach specialising in business development, and best-selling author of How To Be Your Own Boss As A Single Mum, as well as regularly consulted on business matters by a wide range of companies and founders, I’m going to show you. I’ve worked with start-ups run by teenagers right through to those in their 70’s and in every industry you can imagine, from artists and musicians, to bookkeepers and writers, via hairdressers and carpenters. There’s no challenge I haven’t encountered either myself, or through my coaching, and I’ve been round the block more than a few times.
I've experienced heady highs, and I've experienced the lowest of lows. From owning fancy houses and fast cars, to facing bankruptcy due to failed ventures – I've been there and done it. But do you know what? I wouldn't change a thing. Ridiculously wealthy or totally broke, I love being my own boss; making my own decisions and designing my own future. The heartbreak has been worth it and, as we go through this series, you’ll see why my passion for start-ups is unrivaled. After all, knowing that the business you've created, whatever it may be, has helped and supported others, is humbling. And feels pretty good too.
Today, in the last of my four-part series, I’m going to talk about business development: how to build your business in an holistic way to achieve your revenue goals.
The first thing to say is that business development isn’t sales. It has strong elements of it, of course, as we’re looking at how to bring in money and clients but it’s also based on marketing, strategy, and operations. It’s the holistic view of your business, the view of your business in-the-round; what you want from it, and how you’re going to achieve your goals.
What is your USP?
In order to market your business effectively, you need to be entirely clear on your Unique Selling Point. What is it about your product or service that is different to everyone else? What is it about the way you deliver your offer, or work with clients, that’s different? What is that one, single thing that marks you out? Once you have identified it, and can write it down in less than 10 words (for clarity), you can market on it.
Who is your client?
Before you start thinking about making money, you need to think clients. What do they look like, think, feel? Where do they buy things? What publications do they read/buy? What sites do they browse? What social media do they use?
Once you know the answer to that question, you need to think about how clients relate to your product or service. If you already have some, consider whether they are really the clients that you want. Often when we start up we will work with anyone; doesn’t matter who they are, what they want and (sometimes) what they pay – we just want the work. That’s all very well but to move forwards and grow, we need to work with clients who will pay what we ask, give us work we like (in the main) or buy everything we sell, and not prove to be too tricky. This means that we need to identify our current client, ideal client, and dream client profiles. This will make it much easier to plan your business development activity.
What are the differences between your ideal client and your dream client? Often not much actually but it is the difference between a great business and a business that blows your mind, and brings in lots of cash. The more we love what we do, the more we work at it and the more we earn.
My Five High-Impact Tasks
Now you are clear on your USP, and know your client profile which means you can target them with precision, you can start planning your business development activity.
I always work in 5’s when it comes to bizdev; in fact, I love doing most things in 5’s. It’s a really powerful number. I do 5 things per day that will impact on my life (business, home, personal, social) and I recommend that businesses undertake 5 tasks per day to develop their revenue too. Here’s my 5 for success:
- Revisit your contacts and get back in touch. Whether that’s old clients, people you know from work, friends/family that might be able to help, intro’s from friends/family to new contacts, social media contacts, it’s all helpful.
- Identify some appropriate networking events, and get them diarised. Ideally, you should attend at least one physical network per week, more if online.
- Get socialising on social media. If you’re not active on all the relevant platforms for your business, then get cracking and make sure that interacting with other businesses and potential clients is a daily thing.
- If you don’t have a website, then you should. It’s a 24/7 shop window for clients, and a great revenue generator. Blogging on your site is critical; not only does it get your name out there and improve your visibility on search engines but it shows potential clients that your business is active, live, and lets them see more about you. I’ve lost count of the number of businesses I’ve seen whose last blog was a year ago. Doesn’t instill confidence in me as a consumer…
- Build your sales pipeline. Get finding people that you want to work with, and contact them. Add in anyone you meet on a business level; networking, social media, recommendations and intros; and then start contacting them. Ideally you should spend at least 1.5-2 hours per day building your pipeline, particularly when you start up.
Something else I suggest is to develop a newsletter. You can put a signup form on your website or social media pages really easily, and people can sign up through that. I always give a freebie away to entice them, so think about what you could offer in order to boost your lead generating activities. More leads, more clients!
Business development must become a part of your daily routine, no excuses. In fact, as much a part of your routine as checking your email or invoicing clients. If you want a healthy business, with lots of revenue from lots of clients, then you have to be out there finding them. They don’t just find you. My recommendation, always, is at least 1 hour per day. If you have a quiet day ahead, then try 4 or 5 hours. It’s the activity that, providing you’re clear on your USP, ideal clients and service offer, will always give you payback.
So we’ve reached the end of my whistle-stop tour of how to start a business. There’s lots to learn, lots to love and lots to experience about the process. It can be up and down, certainly full of challenges, but likely to be one of the most fulfilling things you ever do.
And I’d love to help!
I have developed the StartUP programme for women who want to work for themselves. It’s free, and you can enroll here. If you just want to know more about business, you can sign up here for my newsletter, and read my blogs on the site, which are full of helpful hints and tips. And if you’ve enjoyed this series, and want to know more about how to develop your business, then you must check out the Make More Money programme. It’s a 12 week programme, consisting of workbooks, videos, live Q&A sessions and a support group, as well as lifetime access to the programme, designed to help you get your business revenue up and running if you’re a start-up or firing on all cylinders again if your business is more established. The testimonials speak for themselves – it’s incredibly simple to follow, and really works!
I also coach business owners, so if that’s of interest drop me an email and we can get a free exploratory Skype session in the diary to chat more about what you need.
Wishing you the very best of luck with your business; I hope our paths cross again soon!