The “What Do You Do” Question

Originally posted on David Cummings on Startups:

Over the years I’ve struggled with providing a consistent answer to the “what do you do” question that gets asked at social events. It’s not that I don’t know what I do (although some people question me on that), it’s more so how do I present it in a manner that’s both interesting and relevant.

For many years, I simply said that I was the co-founder of a software company. The most common response to that was the following question: do you work out of your house? Naturally, I’d answer that question and start thinking about how I answer the first question in a way that doesn’t lead to that second question. My new standard answer was the following: I’m the CEO of a software company with X number of employees in Buckhead. Providing more context in the response made for better conversations.

When “what do you do” question comes…

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Are You Charging What You Are Worth?

I know we can’t place a value on our lives – after all life is priceless, but we can place a value on our time and what we do with it.   If your best friend asks you to run an errand on their behalf and you have a job to complete, which one will you rather pay attention to?  Will you prefer to delegate the errand and pay attention to your work or run the errand for friendship’s sake?

The way we view and use our time is an indication of what we think our time is worth.  I’m privileged to work with a number of wonderful people via Business First Steps with great business ideas.  I noticed that some are sceptical to charge a reasonable price for their products and services, even though they put a lot of time and effort into it.

Business profit concept

The first thing you need to decide if you want to start a business is, are you are going to be a profit or non-profit making organisation?   A non-profit organisation means you inject proceeds from the business back into the business.

If you want to earn profit from your business then stop operating like a social enterprise or not-for-profit organisation.  If your business is not breaking even but you spend endless hours trying to meet customers’ demand, then you need to go back to the drawing board and revisit your operation, prices and business values.

Below are some questions to help you with your pricing strategy:

  • What are my business values?
  • What is the objective of my business, product or service?
  • What are my competitors charging?
  • What pricing strategy do I want to employ?
  • Do I want to undercut them, match them or charge much more and offer a better service?
  • How much time do I invest in each order?
  • What is the cost of sales?
  • What other variable costs do I have to take account of?
  • How much do I want to earn per hour?
  • What are my personal expenses and how much do I need each month?
  • How much can I earn from my business each month and still pay business expenses including taxes?
  • What are my monthly fixed costs?
  • What is my profit margin on each product/service?

The list is not exhaustive but you can use it as a starting point to develop your prices.  If your product is of low value, you must take into consideration that you need to sell more to make a profit.  If you are a sole trader do you have the capacity to produce the quantity required? Will you need more resources and more staff?  If you take on premises, can your business sustain the costs?

It can be quite tricky to price services, a lot of people tend to use the ‘pay per hour’ model i.e. they charge based on the number of hours it takes them to complete a job.  So if they charge £25 per hour and each job takes 4 hours to complete that means they charge £100 per job.  Watch out! If you charge £1000 for your service and you do not get a single client in 4 months, you need to revisit the plan.

These are part of the steps you need to take to run a viable business that brings you joy and credits your account with a monthly income too. Get your pricing and product offering right then you are on your way to enjoy the proceeds from a successful business.

I wish you good success

Temi Koleowo

Need help with your pricing strategy? Why not get the eBook ‘Pricing Your Service for Maximum Profit’ and checklist via our Resource page. At Business First Steps, we help you bring your business idea to life and support you through the early stages of your business journey.  Visit our website Business First Steps and find us on Facebook.

Kissing Frogs

“You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your handsome prince.” 

Some of us might be familiar with the story of the Frog Prince – the spoilt princess who befriended a frog which eventually turned into a handsome prince…lucky her.  Business can be like that sometimes, you nurture a seemingly insignificant idea, you tend it, nurture it and it eventually turns into your very own ‘beautiful prince or princess.’

Beautiful woman with frog prince

The Mucky Pond is Where to Start

Just consider the thoughts of going into the mucky waters to grab a slimy frog who eventually shares your pillow.  I bet most of us will not sleep a wink, whilst the little creature croaks away.  Your idea could be that slimy frog. You pick it up from a muddy pond and it looks a right state. You do not know what to make of it, but you are determined to get results.  So you clean it, look after it, find a baby sitter when required and think about it often.  Your first frog might even hop away when you aren’t looking and you are forced to visit the mucky pond again.

I meet a variety of people on a daily basis through my business with amazing gifts and talents. We all have mucky frogs (undeveloped talent) in our lives that needs a lot of kisses.  Some of us are quick to realise these gifts, whilst some take a while to grow into theirs.  Whatever stage you are at, I will advise you to take a close look at your slimy frog and pucker up.

Frogs Can Change

In the business world, the same thing happens – you will probably have to kiss a few frogs before it all comes together. For example – you start out in business wanting to sell cakes and you end up training would-be bakers.  What completes any business equation is the ability to start, the grace to be consistent and persistence to get results.  You do not know which one will turn into a frog – so don’t stop kissing.  You might have read my story – how I started my business with copywriting and now I work full time as a business consultant.  Boy, did I kiss some slimy frogs!!!  I still shudder when I think of some of the business mistakes I made. I could have given up (the thought happens often), but I am  determined to make Business First Steps and Business Startup 4 Girls work and haven’t stop kissing frogs since.

So when next you see a business idea covered in slim (hard work), do not disregard the idea, clean it up and see what comes out of it.  Do not stop kissing those frogs and you might even end up with tadpoles (more business) too.

I wish you good success

Temi Koleowo

I am a midwife who births business ideas and dreams through www.businessfirststeps.co.uk.  I can help you bring your idea to life if you are willing to work with me.  I will offer support throughout incubation and when the business contractions start.  I will be by your side cheering you on until you give birth to that dream. Then you can enjoy the accolade when you present your idea to the world.

Join me on Facebook – BusinessFirststeps and Twitter @Business1ststep

Free Promotion for your Business

When I started my business after I was made redundant, I was broke with very little capital to get anything done. One of the things I diligently sought after in those early days was free opportunities to promote my business. This month, I will like to share with you some of the ways I was able to promote my business without breaking the bank.

Article Writing

1156284_innovation raja4uThis was one of the first promotion techniques I learnt when I started my business. Well I cheated a bit as I started as a copywriter and article writing was one of the services I provided. You can use article writing to promote your expertise on a particular subject matter. Distribution of articles to many directories is free, so it might be worth your while to delve into the art of writing. You can write articles for newspapers, magazines and other publications related to your industry. If you can’t do it yourself, why not get someone else to write them for you. Find some tips on how to write good articles here

Blogging

blog-icon-200This is not only good for your business but also a great way to introduce your knowledge and expertise to the world. I recommend blogging to many of my clients who are not sure of where to start with their passion. Even though many profess that they can’t write, I’ve discovered that if you write about your passion it tends to flow naturally. You can always work on your writing style and everything else as you go along. Check out this free blogging course from one of the experts in that field.

Newsletters & Email Marketing

1159730_yell YodesignerI read it in someone’s newsletter recently that some potential customers need to see your message up to 27 times before they buy from you. There you have it, so don’t quit on potential customers after the first phone call or email.  It’s like starting a 5K race and quitting just before you reach the finish line. Your newsletter or email does not have to be huge but it has to be full of useful information that your target market will like to read. Business Next Step can help you with your newsletters  if you need some hand-holding. You can start with a quarterly, bi-monthly or monthly interval, just be consistent.

Collaboration

671413_handshake ngouldThey say “no man is an island.” That is also true in the business world. You need people as much as people need you, do not run your business in isolation. Collaborate with businesses that compliment what you do. If you sell flowers, why not collaborate with a venue decorator. Find a mutual way to reward each other for promoting your businesses. List other business services on your website or newsletter and let them do the same for you.

Social Media

social_media_icons_20Many people turn up their nose at social media for business. I have met some amazing clients and people through social media platforms. I have been invited to speak, run seminars and deliver workshops via social media. If you run a business and do not use social media to promote your business, then you are certainly not making use of the free resources you have at your disposal. All it will cost you is time and effort – but the rewards can be great.

There are other free and affordable ways you can promote your business. Get your thinking cap on and make a list of the techniques you are going to use in June and beyond. Start today, you can do this!!!

Connect with me via Facebook and Twitter and make sure you enjoy your business journey.

I wish you good success

Temi Koleowo

Business First Steps – tools that bring ideas to life.

Get Your Umbrella Out!!!

I love writing about my business journey as it reminds me of where and when I started.  When I consider my start-up route, I am also reminded of the need to ensure our mindsets are in the right gear to start and run successful businesses.

I shared this quote by Dolly Parton on my status update recently – “There is no rainbow without rain”.

That has now become my favourite quote. When we write our business plans, we expect most if not all conditions to be favourable. We expect sunshine every day and exclude ‘the element of risk’ which is an important factor in business engagement.  Well, you can’t be more risk-adverse than I used to be.  I carry an umbrella in my handbag 365 days a year just in case it might rain even when the temperature hits late 20s.

Well the truth is,  the road to business success is never a straightforward one – like the British weather actually. As I write this blog, I reflect on how the weather has been quite unpredictable over the past few weeks. I went into a shop recently when it was sunny and came out in need of cover from the rain. Can’t seem to know how to dress the kids for school, should we have jumpers, coats or just t-shirts? A business works the same way, you might not get sunshine every day, but when you do it is so beautiful and rewarding.

My advice to anyone starting or running a business is ‘be prepared for all kinds of weather.’  To avoid frustration and despair, know that business does not flow in a straight line. There will be dips and curves, ups and downs, summer and winter. Just be sure you have got a good and viable business idea in your hands.  The good news is, the more you put in, the more you’ll get out of it.   Be conversant with your business seasons, maximise the summer months and store away for winter. It’ll make it much easier to deal with successes and failures and get through every time.

So get your umbrella and wellies out and be ready to dance in the rain.  Don’t let adverse conditions deter you from enjoying your business journey.

I wish you good success.

Temi Koleowo

Business First Steps – tools that bring ideas to life.

Business And Your Beliefs

Do You Believe In What You  Have To Offer?

There are some things you need to believe in if you want to succeed in life and in business. The list is quite simple really as these are some of the things we take for granted all the time.

Believe in Yourself

“No one can cheat you out of ultimate success but yourself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

1158792_big_step_to_success_3 svilen001For a very long time I had very little belief in my abilities. I was always looking for someone else to validate whatever I do and when the validation didn’t come, despondence sets in. Somewhere along my journey I woke up to the reality of this Nigerian proverb “people will call whatever you display what you choose to call it”.

In the context of this blog it means people will call you/believe in whatever you choose to call yourself. That proverb struck a chord in me and I decided to step out of that limitation. Starting a business made me realise that I have to believe in myself before people believe in my abilities and my business.  I realised that as I aspire for more, something or someone will always try and point out my inadequacies. Believe that you have the ability to fight and win each and every one of those mind battles. Believe in your strengths, your experiences, your skills, your talent, your knowledge and your passion and take action without looking back.

Believe in Your Offerings

1133804_sign_success_and_failure cobrasoftWhether you offer a helping hand, beauty products, computer components, personalised clothing, friendship, counselling, other products or services – you must believe in what you have to offer. If a customer senses your unbelief – it will be very difficult to make a sale. Your branding, sales pitch, website, flyers, marketing channels must tell everyone that your product or service is worth their money.

Do not be apologetic about what you have to offer. If you feel your product or service is not up to the right standard – then make it attain the required standard. Do not offer it at bargain bottom prices or sell yourself cheap because you feel inadequate.  Fight the inadequacies by investing time and effort into perfecting your product or services. Charge what your time, products and services are worth. If they are good enough, your customers will buy them.

If you don’t believe in your product or service, is there any point in offering them? Its okay to charge a small fee if you are testing the market but do not let that be an excuse to sell sub-standard products or services perpetually. Raise your game so you can raise your prices and reputation as your business grows.

Believe in Your Success

1185569_collection_business_3 arte ramDo you believe you are entitled to success? Do you think your hard work should be rewarded? Success is a reward for hard work and it is what you should aim for and nothing less.  If you believe in the success of your concept, then you should put all your effort into making sure it excels.

“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” Peter Drucker

If you start a business, a hobby or even a career with a defeatist mentality, you should expect nothing to come out of it.  Without you believing in the success of your venture, failure is inevitable.  Success can be quite evasive and that is why a lot of people give up too soon. All you can do is put your hand to work and don’t look back – it will come to you if you do not give up. Keep pushing personal barriers and surpass your own goals until you reach that finish line.

Take Action: Grab a sheet of paper and write down your own personal belief system for success. First one on my list will be God as without Him I just can’t do this on my own, followed by the list above. Once you come up with your list, stick it on your wall so you are reminded of it every day.  Don’t falter and don’t let personal inadequacies rob you of your chance to succeed. Persevere until you successfully achieve your goals.

I wish you good success.

Temi Koleowo

Business First Steps – Tools and Support to help you set up and start a business

Photos courtesy of Arteran, Svilen001 and Cobras sxc.hu.