The following passage is from a book called "Make Your Small Business Thrive" by Kevin Gilbert.
"Thinking is free, so do it more often. It is amazing the amount of people who do things without knowing the reason why. Remove yourself from the hurley burley of day to day life, even for an hour, and think. Too many people pre judge whether something is going to work or not, particularly if they have tried it before and it wasn’t successful. Don’t fall into this trap.Try things and if they don’t work, try something else. The next “big thing” may be something small. After all, little developments can make a big difference and they are a lot less scary to embark on. So try a lot of little things. Don’t overcomplicate what you do or how you explain it to people. Keep it simple but not simplistic. If something didn’t work then try again. The circumstances may well have changed. Very few “overnight successes” get it right first time."
So next time you don't want to try something because it may not have worked before, even if it is as small as re-implementing a new system that did not take off in your business at first, stop and think again. There is always a way to re-vamp old ideas. There are not too many things in life for free, but thinking happens to be one of them.
Small Fish Business Coaching Sydney
We would all like customers to just come to us - but this is just not the reality of the world. Business operators need to be out and about “walking the talk”, building a referral engine either through networking or raving fans (i.e. happy customers).
How much time do you spend educating the people who refer to you about what type of clients you want and nurturing these relationships?
Everyone loves word of mouth advertising and for many in an established business this is where the majority of new customers come from.
So how do you make it happen?
Identify a team of people to promote your business – BNI groups were established on this principle. This team should be made up of loyal customers, suppliers and others that you network with or who have a circle of influence.
Invite these people to actively help you by offering them something e.g. a discount off your services for the other business to provide to their customers as a thank you, or by giving them referrals in return.
The most effective way to earn referrals is to exceed expectations. In order to do this you must first truly understand what your customers or network group expect and manage this effectively.
Ask for the referral – let your customers know that you will be asking for referrals .
Acknowledge the person who provided the referral. Let them know that the referral has contacted you and thank them. Once you have met the referral let the referrer know what is going on and if the referral becomes a customer be the first to let the referrer know. Make sure they feel appreciated for sending people your way.
Contact and nurture your relationships with referrers. Let them know of any new or different things that you are doing and try to reciprocate their generosity in referring.
Referrals are a privilege, not a right. You don’t automatically deserve referrals, you have to earn them.
It feels a bit strange to write a story about another business, one which has many flaws and frustrations (bureaucracy, anyone?) and to be telling you all how helpful it's been for our business.
It has, though and this despite its flaws.
BNI is a global franchise, thousands of chapters and millions of dollars of referrals passed. I sound like a brochure, already, don't I. Anyway, if you get business because people decide to trust you (who doesn't?) then networking with other businesses might be a good idea. BNI is not the only way to network by any means but it does work and it's working for Small Fish. So consider this a personal testimonial from me, for business networking generally and for BNI in particular.
I've been in the Byron Bay BNI group since it started, about 18 months ago. I've had four customers from it (I would generally work with a small number of high-value customers) and I am in discussions with another two. This is a significant contributor to my personal revenues. In our group, we have 16 business coaches and 8 BNI members, all of whom have been in their chapters for a shorter time than I. BNI has contributed more than 20% of our total customers in less than 2 years.
This makes it a significant contributor to our group revenues, too. Word of mouth, or referrals business is something you get if you do a good job - people tell their friends about you and, slowly, your business grows. BNI and being active about networking and asking for referrals accelerates the process of people getting to know you and how you operate, so they can decide whether they want to refer people to you. You meet every week with the primary purpose of doing precisely this - thinking about finding referrals for the members of your group who you've decided are good enough to work with your friends.
I don't want to sound like a salesman for BNI, because I'm not one, but I do honestly think that if you're in business and you want to grow it, joining a referrals group like BNI is worth considering.
Other, similar groups exist and some of my colleagues are as enthusiastic about theirs as I am about BNI. They include Schmooze in Canberra, Business Chicks and Swap.
Why don't you let us know about your business group (only if you are enthusiastic about, of course)
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay
I'd like to share another article with you that I wrote for our local newspaper, The Echo, a few weeks ago.
"I thought I'd tell a true story about how business coaching can help a real business owner change his business. The subject of the story is Jeff Banks, of Banks Consultancy, in Sydney. I've been coaching him for three and a half years now.
We met in 2007, thinking we'd talk about referring business to each other - Jeff is an accountant and has small business customers; my coaching customers are small business owners. As we sat and ordered coffee, Jeff said "I don't want to talk about that, my wife says I need a business coach." It went from there.
Jeff was frustrated in his business. He had a busy accountancy practice with $350,000 of turnover and more than 300 clients. But, profit was only $60,000 (Jeff's personal income), the business had $300,000 in aged debt and almost $80,000 of the revenue was trade - that is money you can't spend on important stuff like mortgages and petrol. Jeff was feeling the pressure, working very hard and wanted out.
The vision Jeff and Robyn (his wife) came up with for the business was "Sell for $750,000 in Dec '09 - and escape up the coast.
We worked hard on the discipline of chasing debtors (and still do); we increased Jeff's prices (to squeals and protest from Jeff but none from his customers); we started Jeff actively marketing (not something he felt comforahle with, I can tell you); we worked on Jeff - on stopping him from being such a pushover for some people, on his confidence in his (very strong) abilities in accounting (and gutter technology, as he he puts it), on his time management and prioritisation.
Within a year, profit was up to $100,000, Jeff was less stressed. We recieved and they rejected an offer to buy the practice (because they were enjoying it again). As of June 2011, revenue was $860,000, profit $300,000, Jeff is confident, engaged and a business leader in his local community.
Sometimes he likes to credit me with this but I think we know that 90% of it was down to him. The coach is just the catalyst.
Have fun in your business. And call Jon for a free coaching session on 02 6680 8036."
After 3 weeks of late nights watching the tremendous efforts of our Aussie, Cadel Evans, in winning the 2011 Tour de France (and the first from our country), I am sure I am not the only one who looks forward to an early night’s sleep after it all ends…the 2 am endings take their toll!
So given the amazing ride of ups and downs and demonstration of true grit, why am I writing about this in our blog?
A few themes have come from Cadel’s ride. He clearly had a plan, he had a great team around him and he never lost sight of his vision- to WIN!
So as we celebrate and reflect, ask yourself if you truly have a vision for your business and where you want it to be at any given point in time, be it 1 year, 3 or 5 years…if not, why not write it down today and spend some time to develop the vision (of course a Business Coach can help).
Once you have a vision established, develop a plan as to how you will get there. This is the classic ‘future back’ activity of looking at what you need to do to achieve the vision.
Is it a Marketing plan, a plan to evaluate and align your people, or is it a sales strategy? It may be a number of these or more!
Finally, don’t forget the power of your team. Just as Cadel Evans had his fellow BMC team mates to help in times of adversity, be it mechanical fixes, driving the chase or keeping him motivated, they were clearly aligned to the overall vision (to win) and the plan (how to do it stage by stage). Do you have your team clearly aligned and aware of your plan and vision? They are the ones who can help you get there, you cannot do it all by yourself. The first thing Evans mentioned, after his yellow jersey on Stage 20, was to say how his team gave 99.9% to 100% effort the entire race, and he couldn’t have done it without them. Can you say the same about your vision and plan and your team? It isn’t a challenging one to do, once your plan is set. Have a strategy sharing session and let your team know how they are a critical part of the end result, then give the recognition, motivation and celebration for the small wins.
As a fellow proud Aussie this weekend, have a look at Cadel’s efforts and see if you can take some of the lessons from it for your business, and maybe you can win your own personal Tour de France in 2012 and beyond.
Good luck and congratulations to Cadel Evans!
Now it’s time for some sleep.
Small Fish Business Coaching Canberra