How start a business from scratch

The global pandemic has devastated the world economy and at the time of writing this it is still unclear how much damage has been done as so much of the economy is drawing down on Government funding and stimulus programmes.
 
What is clear right now is that many jobs have been lost and many businesses will struggle to recover from the economic impact of lock-down.
 
If the jobs market is difficult more and more people will be looking to freelance and create micro-businesses to get by and there will be void where businesses haven’t survived the pandemic.
 
Mark Cuban famously said “Only Morons start a business with a loan” which is easy for him to say with his net worth standing at $4 billion. But debt isn’t always needed to start a business, in fact many businesses that exist today have either started with nothing or grown using other people’s money.
 
Let’s look at some key components of starting a business from scratch, these will be even more important if you need funding from family, friends, or crowdfunding.
 
Why do you want to start a business?
Starting a business from scratch will not be easy so before you start, you need to consider why you want to do this and what you are going to sell. The idea of making money can be quite appealing but for a number of years you may have to work harder than the money you earn, so it is important you are motivated and enjoy the work you do.
 
Lot’s of people start businesses for the appeal of the benefits, being your own boss, unlimited earning potential and having your own time. These all sound wonderful, but the early days can be a lot of work and pressure. You must really enjoy what you are doing and be prepared for 2-3 years of hard work before you will really feel the benefit.
 
What are you going to sell?
Before you start making business cards, forming a corporate structure, and building websites, you need to find your idea and prove it can make money. In the first couple of years your idea will morph and refine itself, but you need to do some research and testing to see if there is a big enough market for your product / service. Are people willing to pay for business for what you provide?
 
Why you and Why should they buy?
Understanding the reason why customers should want to buy from you and why they should use your product or service is critical to your start-up success. What makes you different from your competitors, how does your product help your customers? You need to differentiate yourself from your competitors. This means ensuring your product or service has powerful benefits to the customer. Can you list three or four benefits which save time, money or give an amazing experience for your customers?
 
If you can’t list benefits for your product or service which will compel customers to purchase, you will never have a successful business.
 
How will you sell it?
Obvious again, if you are hoping to be an Etsy, Amazon, or eBay mega-star you need to understand what you need to do to get to market. How much will it cost you to sell your product and how will you deliver the service? It would be great if all you needed to do is list your website or add your product to Amazon and it will fly off the shelves but there is a little bit more work involved. Do your research and you will know how to achieve success.
 
How will you gain repeat business?
If your product or service isn’t designed for repeat business, you’ll have to get lots of new customers all the time. That’s hard work. So how can you build repeat business into your business model. Refills, ranges, refreshers, or monthly updates, what can you add which allows customers to come back and buy again? Repeat customers are essential in building a business which can sustain itself. Having a plan for repeat business from the outset will save you a lot of stress and worry in the long run.
 
Starting a business is an incredible journey and you’ll remember fondly the funny stories, challenges, and milestones along the way. It may seem hard or an uphill struggle starting from scratch, but it will be a rewarding journey. I can’t emphasise enough the importance of refining your idea before you start, these tips above will help you reduce the time and money building your business.
 
The more you can refine your business before you start the quicker your business will gain traction, momentum and provide a better income for you.

Social Selling Best Practices

Social Selling has become the buzz word for business owners and sales professionals. Yet, when you look online there are so many people still adopting pushy, aggressive, or plain stupid strategies to sell their business’ products and services.
 
In my courses, I warn that the eagerness to sell must held in check. If you lose your mind you annoy people or look like your desperate. Nobody buys from a desperate salesperson.
So, what are some of the best practices for social selling? Here are some of my tips.
 
Give generously.
You need to focus on giving value to your target audience. Nobody will ever show interest if they think they are going to get a heavy pitch or pushy pitch. So, give value regularly. Value creates trust, rapport, and credibility, all of which are essentials for selling.
That doesn’t mean you don’t talk about your service, but your goal is to establish trust and build relationships, you can’t do that if you are just trying to get people to buy. You need to give value so that people know you can help them solve their challenges and problems.
 
People buy from people.
Social selling isn’t about informality or formality. It isn’t about having a more casual writing style either. It is about relationships. Pay attention to what your prospects are doing, engage with them and respond to questions and posts where you can add to the discussion. You want to be their go-to person and that means investing time in building those relationships.
I spent nearly 3 years building relationships with one prospect on LinkedIn. Earlier this year they came onboard as a client without any direct pitch or attempt to pitch them. I’m playing the relationship game at scale for the long term. It keeps my pipeline full and a regular stream of clients. Some people can convert in days and some years, relationships are the key to social selling.
 
Show up…regularly.
The nay-sayers say social selling does work. They say you need to be direct if people don’t buy, then move on. What a pile of crap that is. If you want to sell using social selling strategies, you must show up regularly. Fly-by night won’t work. You need to be consistently turning up to do the work needed to build the relationships, give value, and establish a reputation as a credible person with your prospects. With some prospects that may take weeks, days, or months.
When I am teaching people about social selling, I remind them that the strategy you start with will evolve and improve, so it is important to be consistent so you can see how you can improve and what works and what doesn’t. Most who fail at social selling are either not consistent or not learning from the efforts they make. So, show up and be consistent in your approach.
 
Don’t be a diva.
I’ve generated a lot of business through people who we irrelevant to me. They weren’t my target or didn’t have the right authority, yet, somehow those people helped me win business. Sometimes we can be so focused on our target client we dismiss others. Those we dismiss or ignore could be influencers with people that we want to talk to. There is a trend online these days to be a bit of a diva. It’s seen as cool to ‘call people out’ or be rude to people. I make it a policy not to do business with divas and many other people don’t think it is cool or smart to be rude or unpleasant to people
 
Be the master of intent
Like I shared earlier, social selling doesn’t mean you don’t talk about your products and services. One of the most powerful strategies you can deploy in your social selling is content that signals intent. When your posting online, sending an email or a writing as blog, you need to build intent signals into the copy. In other words, how does your post, email or blog help you understand who is interested in your product or service.
Does the subject line, title, or main point signal that those who respond are interested in what you are wanting to sell?
Here is an example, which one of these shows more intent…
 
“How to increase your e-commerce conversions by 20%”
or
“How to fix your falling e-commerce sales”
 
Lots of people would want to grow their e-commerce sales, but only those who are concerned about their falling sales or the current level of sales would show interest in the second article.
The overall content of that blog may well be the same, but the way the content is written can help you identify the need and intent to fix an issue.
 
Social Selling is one of the most straightforward ways to sell, in fact it is the most human way to sell.
 
When we lose focus, we forget we are selling to human beings, we forget the power of relationships and how influential they are in the sales process.
Social selling is simple, if you understand your product and want to help your customers, anyone can do it.

3 reasons I stopped giving a damn what people think.

For years I struggled with what other people thought of me, how I dressed, what I said and what I did were all subjected to the scrutiny of what I thought other people thought. Fast forward to today and I can see how I tortured myself emotionally and sabotaged my future.
I now have removed this from my life and these are my reasons why you should do the same…
 
YOU WILL NEVER PLEASE EVERYONE
Whatever you do, someone isn’t going to be happy. You cannot please everyone. So don’t try. Try to do what is right and do the best you can. Pleasing people leads to marrying the wrong person, choosing the wrong career path and generally being unhappy. Don’t hurt people but at the same time you have make your own way or in a few years time you will resent where you have ended up.
 
OPINIONS ARE SUBJECTIVE
We know this is true. We can be wrong and so can other people. All our opinions are subjective, it’s nearly impossible to have an impartial view, no matter how hard we try, we bring all our emotions and past experience into every decision we make.
When you care what people think you will compromise on your future and decisions (compromise can have its place but..) I would rather pursue something I believe in and fail than do something to keep people happy.
 
Lots of people have defied peoples opinions and won. Don’t ignore advice or opinions but reach a decision for yourself.
 
Sometimes you need to go against opinion to learn a valuable lesson to make you a better person. Sometimes you go against opinion and change the world.
 
Opinions can be loaded. Loaded with other peoples hopes, dreams and disappointments. Sure take advice but make your own decision.
 
YOU WILL NOT RUN FROM CONTROVERSY
Despite what we see standing out or being embroiled in difficult thinks, taking risks or going public with something can be controversial. As humans, we inherently seek approval and respect. When we end up in controversy we receive questions and criticism. We want to be accepted but we shouldn’t seek acceptance at any cost.
 
Look at all our notable people from history, the vast majority had to court controversy, go against ‘norms’ to do some incredible things.

22 Quotes that will get you through the day

We all need motivation to keep going. Especially on long days.
 
1. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
2. “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill
 
3. “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – John F. Kennedy
 
4. “In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins – not through strength, but through persistence.” – Buddha
 
5. “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank
 
6. “Any day above ground is a good one.” – Don Williams Jr.
 
7. “Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.” – Anonymous
 
8. “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss
 
9. “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” – Albert Einstein
 
10. “It is very important to generate a good attitude, a good heart, as much as possible. From this, happiness in both the short term and the long term for both yourself and others will come.” – Dalai Lama
 
11. “Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.” – Oscar Wilde
 
12. “Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.” – George S. Patton
 
13. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.” – Dr. Seuss
 
14. “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresea, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.
 
15. “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison
 
16. “Those who say it can not be done, should not interrupt those doing it.” Chinese Proverb
 
17. “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” – Theodore Roosevelt
 
18. “If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.” – Ray Kroc
 
19. “Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” – Jim Rohn
 
20. “People inspire you or they drain you – pick them wisely.” – Hans F. Hansen
 
21. “When you change your thoughts, you change your world.” – Norman Vincent Peale
 
22. “There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” – Denis Waitley

This one thought will change how you grow your business.

Have you ever committed a public faux pas? Tripped up on the street or said hello to a complete stranger thinking it was a colleague or friend?
 
Have you been in public with your zip down?
 
It’s totally embarrassing. Sometimes it is just our own embarrassment but it can also be added to if we know someone else, even a complete stranger, saw us make our slip up.
 
Why do we care if we embarrass ourselves in front of a complete stranger?
In our early years of education, we are taught a lot of things both academic and behavioural which have little value in adult life. It’s implicit in the education system to teach us to conform to the crowd. I have been taught things I have never needed, like working out angles on triangles and understanding how a frog works. In the classroom and in the playground we are taught conformity is the path to follow.
 
It’s wrong!
Despite what I was taught about grades and certificates, I have never needed my qualification certificates. Every job or role I have taken has been about the client or employers belief in my ability to do the job. I have never needed my certificates. I am sure you need them for certain professions but for me, they were never relevant.
For your goals, business or life some opinions are not important. Some people are not important. Conformity doesn’t work.
 
But here is my point….
 
In order to achieve my goals, I don’t need 7 billion people to know or understand me, I don’t even need 7 million people like me. I need a few thousand. I need a tiny percentage to love me.
 
If 97% of people never read this article that is OK with me. If 10% think it is crap, that is ok too. I am just looking for 3% to love it.
 
3% is all that matters.
 
97% of the industry, population, market may never know you exist. What is important is that the right 3% love you.
 
That’s it. 3%. Why not 1% or 2% or 5%.
 
For me, 3% embodies what I do. In marketing and sales, if you achieve a 3% response rate or 3 % conversion rate you are doing a good job.
 
If you are making generic widgets and your company is The Generic Widget Co. Why not become the leading widget company for the aviation industry…. oh and you still sell them to other industries too but you’re focused on selling widgets into aviation.
 
3% is about your Niche.
3% is about perfecting your style, format or process.
3% is about getting clear communication to the right people.
3% is building expertise in a specific area.
 
If 3% love you, you have a loyal client base, strong relationships and a thriving business.
If you’re a local retailer, if 3% of the population within 20 minutes of your store love you, you have a great business.
 
If you’re B2B and 3% of your target audience love you, you have hundreds, if not thousands of loyal customers.
 
So much of our thinking is dominated by the 97% but in reality, it should be all about loving back, delivering and connecting with the 3%.
 
When your 97% focused you have to play safe and messages become generic, you cannot showcase yourself in all your glory.
 
Some people will never know you and worse, no matter what you do some people will never like you either. You may even be lucky and find some people hate you. That is ok as long as 3% love you.
 
Politicians have to appeal to the 97%, their job is tough. They need a large portion of people to love them enough to vote for them to win. They also need to make sure don’t have too many people dislike them either. To get broad appeal you need to be broad and generalised.
To get the 3% you need to focus a very specific group of people with very specific things.
By focusing on your 3% you can become a trusted partner. 3% is where you can deliver the most value.
 
This is why we will pay more for a service that does the job exactly as we want and expect to pay less for something which is more generic.
 
From a cost point of view focusing on the majority is expensive. It’s also frustrating and unproductive. It makes you bland, uninteresting and generic. Nobody likes generic unless it’s cheap and easy.
 
Get specific. Find and focus on the 3% who will love you. 

Do you know what your success looks like?

I hate the word success. It conjures up images of celebrity coaches with glimmering white perfect teeth.

Immediately you think fast cars, luxury living and splashing the cash.

Yet, it is what we are all pursuing.

Success in life.

Success in business

I’ve met a number of millionaires and had the honour of meeting two billionaires in my life and I got pondering, what got them to where they are and if there are any commonalities.

Having spent some time over Christmas pondering what is the key to success, reading stories of people, reflecting on the people I have met who have achieved great things and watching a ton of YouTube videos from entrepreneurs, what is the key to success?

Success is a relative term. There are two definitions, the one which people define about a person and the one the person defines for themselves.

The success we should be pursuing is obviously the one which matters to us, not the one which matters to other people. Living to fulfill other peoples expectations is a hiding to nothing.

 

What is the key to success?

If you spend any length of time observing human beings you’ll notice, despite evidence, we still choose what we believe.

Despite knowing there are no quick fixes, we still try to find one. Despite knowing if something is too good to be true, is probably is, we still go for it.

We know there are no quick fixes, yet somewhere inside us, we hope, we believe there is a quick fix just for us. We don’t act on fact, we act on our own internal beliefs.

Do we believe we can achieve success?

Do we believe we can do what is needed to achieve it?

Despite knowing that success may take years, we still look for shortcuts.

I see this often in my world, amazing businesses with ambitious plans not following through on the plan and then changing to another one. Maybe they don’t believe it and so don’t commit to it.

People get really excited about how LinkedIn can help them grow their business but many unwilling to do what is necessary to make it work. Do they see other people winning at it, YES, why do they not do it, they don’t believe it will work for them.

These are self-limiting or business-limiting beliefs.

Without getting too metaphysical, there is something magical that seems to come together when people have clarity, focus and determination.

Many of the greatest human achievements have seemed impossible prior to it being accomplished. The vast majority of successful people we all read about refused to give up, despite setbacks, frustrations and naysayers.

Yet most of us, if things don’t come together in a short space of time, we give up and move onto something else.

I can remember overhearing a conversation many years ago, between a millionaire and his adviser. I won’t say names because, I don’t think I was supposed to overhear this.

“We determine our own destiny. If we lose it all, we will get it all back again”.

At the time, I dismissed it, but his statement stuck with me. The determination, confidence and clarity was what kept this conversation in my head for the last 19 years.

The marketing and agency world knows this all to well. They know that marketing is, in many businesses, not treated with the seriousness of perhaps finance or operations. Marketing, in many cases, is resigned to doing things which are low priority, yet the marketing team have the power to transform the fortunes of the business.

If you ask most people what marketing does in their company, they will tell you social media, graphics and the website. The real answer should be marketing is responsible for growing more customers and pipeline for the sales team.

 

What does success look like?

Do you know what you really want to achieve?

The number of people, including myself, who have had one idea of what success was and when you get there realise it wasn’t really what you wanted. You must know yourself and know your business, so you can truly map out what success looks like.

If you want to build a business empire, great, go for it, but you have to accept to build a billion-pound company, you will have to sacrifice a lot to get there.

On Instagram you see so many quotes about the billionaire life, with images of yachts, Bentley’s and tropical destinations. Yet, many people forget it may take 10 years of hard slog, fighting for survival and no holidays to get there.

I want the billionaire life, I want the yacht, I want the Bentley, but that isn’t the full picture. They are the perks of a totally different life.

You can’t map out your success based just on the perks. You need to understand the whole picture. You need to know, accept and live with the ups and downs of the success you are pursuing.

 

What do I need to stop doing to be successful?

Once you realise what you want to achieve, you must extract yourself from things which are contrary to your goal. Eliminate distractions so you can focus in on the key things you need to do and the milestones to reach the goal.

Old habits die hard. Don’t underestimate the influence that habits have on you.

My business for the last year or so has been in a season of transition.

We changed things dramatically, we changed our routine, business model and client base. This changed our business totally. Yet, often, I think in the old way. My work changed dramatically, so in comparison to the previous years, I don’t feel as busy enough.

Why? Am I working less hours? No.

I have been used to a work pattern which is different to one the one I operate now. Old habits die hard.

 

What do I need to keep doing?

There is a line between foolishness and wisdom which is knowing when to quit.

Quit too soon and you are a fool.

Don’t quit and you are a fool.

In 1519, Hernan Cortes, a Spanish conquistador, led the expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire. What is mainland Mexico was brought under Spanish rule.

When he landed on the shores, some say he burned the boats, other say he scuttled them. His reason was to ensure that his men would follow him and not turn back. If they stayed on the shore, they would perish, their only hope of victory was to push forward.

There is something to be said for burning the boats.

In the game of chicken, the person who blinks first loses. Life is very similar.

Most of the time our first thought is ‘what if this doesn’t work?’

I struggle to accept the notion that you can have a plan A and a plan B. The reason I say that is because if you pursue something you will inevitably reach a point where one of the plans reaches a point of no return. The point where ‘if we do this, plan B is gone’. At some point you lose the safety net. At that point, we have a choice, go all in on one plan or hedge our bets and compromise.

New habits take just as long to implement too. It can take 6-12 months of uphill struggle before a new habit becomes routine. To see something through you must have determination. You cannot quit at the first problem. You cannot give up when problems come your way.

Often when companies go through culture change, they underestimate the energy and drive it takes to implement the change. The gravity of old culture or habits is hard to escape.

A re-brand doesn’t change culture.

A new mission statement won’t change anything.

Creating a strong value proposition won’t transform sales.

Change starts with a decision but is completed when it is delivered.

The determination to break through barriers or habit, mindset and ‘the way it has always been’ take strength of character and willpower.

Life and business is fraught with issues and problems. Whatever you do you will have challenges. Don’t use the challenges as an excuse to turn and run. Plan B has challenges too. The status quo does have the advantage that you already know those problems.

Whether you look at Branson, Gates, Zuckerburg, Buffett or even Trump, you’ll see the same determination, clarity and focus in them all. Love them or hate them, they have achieved levels of success that we could all be envious of.

But when you scratch a little deeper, you see that they had to fight to establish something which wasn’t certain. They set their minds to achieve something which the majority didn’t expect or think possible.

What does it take to be successful luck or determination? My bet is on determination.