to listen to Kevin explaining this
A certain amount of self-doubt is absolutely normal in business. None of us have a crystal ball and get it right every time. Businesses and their markets are constantly evolving so we can’t even always rely on repeating things that have worked in the past. Having said that, if we approach things in a systematic way we can increase our chances of success – and this aims to help do just that. It is supported by a downloadable pdf presentation as well as a webinar – both of which are available on the BizSmart website.
So perhaps you’re wondering whether you’ve got the right business model?
Perhaps you’re worried you’re being a busy fool – running ever faster but never quite catching up?
Perhaps you are not sure if you have the right kind of customers?
There are a lot of things we might worry about in our businesses model, particularly in the early years – for example:
- Is my pricing right – am I charging too much or too little?
- Is my offer right?
- Have I got the right products or services?
- Who should I be selling to and how do I find them?
- When should I bill and what payment terms should I offer?
- How can I keep my customers happy and coming back for more?
- How can I scale up?
So where do we start?
Well we’ve already started to gain control by knowing what we stand for and why we are in business – see the ‘How to Regain Business Direction and Focus’ download – Core Values and Core Purpose.
If our Core Purpose is correct it should be what we are passionate about/ what drives us – the reason we get out of bed each morning!
What are you really good at?
The first step to regaining confidence that we are doing the right things is to place what you are really good at, at the core of your business. This may sound obvious but how many of us have gradually extended what we offer (led by our customers) to the point where we do lots of things – not all of which are what we would consider to be our core competence? It is a natural tendency to want to broaden our offer to compete with larger businesses – but smaller businesses cannot do everything and this dilutes what the business stands for. It may seem counterintuitive but we stand much more chance of success by doing a few things really well than by doing lots of things quite well!
So ask yourself – “Of all the things we do for our customers, what is it we do really well?”
This is about really challenging yourself and getting to what you can be the best at in your sector – or if not the best, one of the very best!
Most businesses that struggle have failed to identify what it is that makes them special. You might be able to make a living by being just another (good) graphic designer but are you going to create a thriving and growing business?
So what is it that you are/ can be really, really good at to the point where your potential customers will consider you to be special? (and please don’t say ‘customer service’!)
Is your offering scaleable?
Ideally this would be something that would be scaleable because this will allow you to grow with confidence. If you want to grow beyond what you can do in a day, then your business needs to be scaleable and not totally reliant on you – so check these three things against your key products or services to help you chose what you should focus on:
- Is it valuable/ do your customers perceive the value in your ‘offer’ or do they view it as a ‘commodity’? In other words, can they get what you are offering from lots of other places?
- Is it something that clients might come back to you for more of or that might lead to additional service or product sales? In other words, is there a repeatability to your offer or the likelihood of additional business rather than it being a one-off – or can you ‘create’ repeatability?
- Is it something that is teachable – that does not rely solely on your skills or experience? In other words, could you teach others in your business to do it. If the answer is “no”, then scaling your business beyond you is going to be very difficult if not impossible!
So your focus product(s) or service(s) should fit with what you are great at and should tick the boxes for scaleability. If you do have lots of offerings, list them out and try scoring them on the 3 scaleability questions to help you see where you should apply your focus.
Have coffee with a friend!
Now we should have identified a focus and perhaps are feeling the beginnings of a rekindled confidence – time for a booster shot:
You will almost certainly already have a good customer who has bought this service or product from you. The thing about good customers is that they are usually very willing to help – so go see them.
See if you can get some ‘coffee’ time and ask for their help!
A good open question might be along these lines:
“I am looking to grow and I’m thinking of focusing on this service with customers like you – -If you were in my shoes how would you go about it?”
At BizSmart we have seen some really great outcomes from businesses we have encouraged to try this. If you go prepared with a few questions to help address things that you are not sure of then you will be amazed at what you can uncover.
Avoid the ‘cash guzzle’
If this all checks out, the final confidence booster is people willing to pay for what you’re good at and pay according to terms that suit you? All too often we assume that we can’t invoice a customer until we have delivered the final service/ product (typically service companies struggle with this most).
Try to avoid the cash ‘guzzle’ – look for ways that you can charge upfront or at least bill in stages. Don’t bill at the end and offer long payment terms! If you do, the faster you grow the more cash you will need and the less money you will have in the bank even if your accountant says you are increasing your profits!
Think subscription or contract – can you get a regular repeat cycle pre-agreed? Most businesses can create a subscription type model. Spend some time thinking whether you could and what it might be – don’t dismiss it as not applicable to you because whatever business you are in I bet someone has developed a subscription model. There are many different types of subscription models from ongoing support/ maintenance, through VIP/ Premium, Peace of Mind and Network – but that’s a topic on it’s own!
Now we have a focus on a scaleable service or product that we know customers need – and that avoids the cash ‘guzzle’ – we should have much more confidence in our business model
All we need to do now is decide how big we want to be?! Good luck.
If you’d like help with this or have any questions – give me a shout!
BizSmart helps business owners of small and medium sized businesses to create value and scale their businesses through sound practical business support by providing- Insight, Clarity and business support with a real determination to help you succeed. You can access blogs like this and more besides through our free SmartRoom service here