Market Your Business With Knowledge

I was quite disturbed to read about a well-known supposedly Marketing Guru whose company was fleecing people for money. It reminded me of when I started out in business and was so eager for information. I was buying into so many empty promises of what will catapult my business to the next level. Little did I know that there is hardly a miracle marketing technique anywhere?

1159730_yell YodesignerI learnt after a few hard knocks that if you do not work on your business putting the right foundation in place, no matter the marketing strategy you engage in, you will fall flat on your face. I strongly believe that businesses that succeed work through a step by step marketing strategy. This is not to say marketing strategies do not work, but you need to know your business and how people respond to what you offer. I dare say that not all businesses will grow via social media. For some it’s the interaction with their customers face to face that will grow their businesses.

The following tips are some of the things you should be aware of to help you choose the right marketing strategy for your business:

Core Values – Understand your core values and how it translates into your business. What is important to you? Is it financial gain, longevity in business, popularity, your integrity or customer satisfaction? When you understand what your core values are, it will be easy for you to project it through your business marketing materials and strategies.

What Do You Sell? – Strange as it might sound, there are many businesses that are not clear about their aim and objectives and what they offer. That was me in times past; I was trying to do so much without defined products or services. It is confusing to say the least to those you are targeting if you don’t have well defined products or services. Are you a party planner/caterer or are you a graphic designer/copywriter. Whether you offer two, three or five services, make it clear through your website, marketing materials and even your elevator pitch.

Who Are Your Customers? – Who are the people that will buy your products? Who are you targeting? Young, Old, Rich, Middle Class, Students, Women, Mothers, Men etc? When you started out, who were you going to sell to? Keep that in mind when you develop your marketing plan. Where can you find them, what do they read, what else do they buy that can compliment your products? Some businesses can only serve a local area except they expand their service offerings. Let’s say you run a salon, except people come to your store, you can’t get much patronage. But if you now offer hair products online, use YouTube tutorials etc, then you can increase your target market by a wide margin.

What Is Your Budget? I feel on my face with this one over and over again until I made some realisticand hard decisions. So many people will offer you services that promise to grow your business miraculously. You need to align every proposal with your business aims, objectives and budget. How much have you put aside for marketing this year? Having this information to hand will prevent you from being swayed by marketing gimmicks.

21411_cash_notes_3 andyculpinLook Beyond the Money – I have had some simple engagements that have opened so many doors to great relationships and business opportunities. Whilst some have not gone beyond the single task, event/meeting. You will know a good opportunity when you see one. Do not be guided by money alone but let the prospects of what is to come help you make informed decisions. Attend networking events to build relationships and not just to sell your products or services. Offer your target market free offers so they can learn to trust you and you can build relationships with them too.

The Time Factor – How much time can you dedicate to your marketing strategies?  Can you afford to spend two hours a week listening to an audio training on marketing strategies?  If you can’t, then it is futile to purchase a plan you can’t commit to.  I love what someone suggested on Facebook – find 30 minutes a day/week and dedicate that time to building your business through one marketing effort at a time.  The thought of a huge marketing plan can be overwhelming. If you can update your social media status once a week start with that and don’t beat yourself down if you falter. Just try a bit more next time and before you know it, it becomes second nature. Remember Consistency is the key to organic business growth.

I could go about my marketing mistakes and what I have learnt that actually works. Believe me when I say I have tried quite a few, and quite ashamed of my gullibility in some cases.  But hey you learn in business and grow.  Now it is not so easy to get my hard-earned cash through hocus-pocus marketing strategies.

Buyers Beware!  Before you commit to another fomular, make sure you maximise the opportunities that present themselves to you at no cost.

I’ll love to hear from you – If you have got some marketing stories or tips you will like to share, please comment below.

I wish you good success

Temi Koleowo

If you need help in developing your products or services or even develop a Sales Funnel, there is nothing a Brainstorming session can’t cure. Get in touch and let’s give your business a boost.

Persistence, Snowflakes and Starting a Business

I was fascinated as I watched the snow fall over the weekend.   I watched it fall way back from my window so I was unaware of the effect it had on the ground.  It was obvious that the snow was light – you know those flakes that you think will never settle.  I thought that the snow will probably clear out in a few hours so we can go out the next day.

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But how wrong was I! Due to the consistency of the snowflakes that kept on falling, it became quite obvious that it was going to be the traffic-stopping, school-closing kind of snow.  I was taken aback when I ventured out and surveyed what had happened. Alas, the whole place was covered in snow…it was breathtakingly beautiful and a snow fight with the kids was imminent.

My Business First Steps

You may wonder why I’m going on about the weather, isn’t this suppose to be a business blog. Well the snow reminded me of when I started out in business.   It was challenging to get any client initially and I was overjoyed if anyone even agreed to work with me for a small fee. Clients came in trickles, sometimes one or two in a few months interval.   I had to constantly remind myself that small steps lead to giant strides and I was learning a lot as I went along.  Today I can gladly say I now get a regular flow of clients every month.   It has taken hard work (even when I don’t feel like it) mixed with consistent and persistent actions to get this far and I am not even near where I want to be yet.

1411773_winter_landscape_with_trees_and_snow lewyzThe journey can be rough when you start out in business, but it doesn’t stay rough forever.   You develop new knowledge, skills and a better coping mechanism to deal with whatever comes your way.

But you will never grow if you do not start or if you keep starting and stopping every time you hit a roadblock.   

A few flakes of snow for a few minutes cannot make much difference, but a few flakes that continue to fall over time can have a snowball effect.

Find Your Starting Block

If you want your passion, idea, concept, community group or social enterprise to make a difference, you need to commit to being consistent and persistent.

Three very important steps to help you get over the first few hurdles of starting a business:

  1. Find your starting line – define your passion, aims and objective.
  2. Get on your marks – put things in place to prepare you for the journey and stay focused.
  3. Then GO!  Push forward in the right gear and with all that you’ve got and never look back. 

Starting and running your own passion-based business is a fulfilling and rewarding option. Whether you want to do it full-time or in addition to your current job or family life, you deserve the chance to give it a go.

I wish you good success.

Temi Koleowo.

Get in touch if you find the business start-up journey rather hazy.  I am passionate about helping people package their passion, ideas or concept into something fulfilling and enjoyable. www.businessfirststeps.co.uk – personalised and practical business start-up coaching, brainstorming, resources and support.

 

Rest in Time of Need

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Today I woke up really tired. I was tired and needed a break from work.  I thought to myself, I consciously took some time off before and after Christmas. Surely I do not need another break.  After some soul-searching I discovered that my tiredness was not physical, it was more mental. I needed a break from thinking business strategies, business opportunities and business growth. I just wanted to BE!!!

So luckily since I work from home, I decided to take a break. After all, one of the reasons why I am self-employed is so I can be flexible enough to do things my way. So my way today is to mute the phones, turn off the laptop and have some meditation time with God followed by a power nap. I felt so much better an hour or so later.

My action today reminded me that first, I must always recognise when I need a break.  Understandably if you don’t work your business, some things simply won’t work. But your business can’t work if you are unable to work.

Second, we need to put certain things in place so our businesses can still run if we need to take a break.  My task to you and I is to evaluate the dynamics of our businesses and how they work.  Can it survive without you or will it die when you can’t be there? This goes especially for service-based industry

This year I intend to work on making sure my business is not solely reliant on me being at a desk all day, every day (and night). So I better check my sales funnel again. Do you intend to do the same?

Got some business tricks up your sleeve? Drop me a line or comment below.

I wish that you prosper as your soul prospers.

Temi

Need help starting your business?   Visit Business First Steps for more information and support to get your show on the road.

A Business Start-up Poem

To start your own business is like a long test

Never the same scenario because people have their uniqueness

It always starts from an inkling idea then grows

Like a baby it needs incubation, everyone knows

Passion plays a really great part

and will help once your courage starts

You can never ever get too much information

It’s out there so do the necessary collation

Of course there’s those who can help you pass the test

Such as one called Business First Steps

by Lufem Black © 2012

BFS www.businessfirststeps.co.uk

Personalised and Practical Business Start-up Services

What I learnt as a Business Show Virgin

Business First Steps had avoided the limelight as long as it could.  I was a protective mother who thought her baby wasn’t ready for the real world – maybe a few playgroups i.e. small exhibitions.   The Prysm Guys found my URL via Google and gave me a call, they said my business will be good for the show and the show will be good for my business.

Business Show Olympia 2012

Business Show Olympia 2012

Well after much ado (two years actually) we said yes, an alliance was formed and the panic began.  Business First Steps had never exhibited at the Business Show before, what is expected?  What do we offer? How can we stand out?   As one of the late entries to the show, we were lucky to get a good stand near the entrance – helped a great deal.  So we decided to give The Business Show Olympia 2012 a go.

The Lessons Learnt

I am a firm believe that aims and objectives are very important for any step in life. I made a long list of what I wanted my business to achieve at the show and choose the two most important ones. Then I had to decide on how we will achieve these goals. We weren’t looking to sell our services but to create awareness of what we do.  I think we achieved that, judging from the feedback we are still getting now.

23945_10151392473335802_14502675_n[1]We were lucky to have some great visuals which became the focal point as the day went on.  A lot of people who came to our stand started using our strap line saying “please navigate me; I want to start a business”.  I have the founder of mumsclub – Jane Hopkins to thank for her tips; she knows how to set up a great stand; in addition to the graphic designer at We Create Media.

Get people who love people to help out at your stand.  Business First Steps is a small business but I was privileged to have two great guys at my stand engaging people all day.  They did an even better job than I ever could.

DSCF9034I learnt that you should showcase your best products or services and not all of them as people do get confused with too much going on.  Then be ready to answer questions all day.  I felt as if I had an internal record on repeat, I have never talked so much in my life.  It was an absolute thrill to be able to interact with so many people and talk about what we do.  We also gave out a lot of advice too, as you never know if you will see them again.  I hope they make good use of the information we shared.

Wear comfortable shoes. I saw a lot of ladies in heels on both days, initially I felt under-dressed in my flats but my back thanked me for it later.  It is a long day and you must be prepared to stand for a long time, we were so busy we didn’t have time for lunch on the first day.  I guess we were extremely thrilled too, that kept the adrenaline pumping and hunger at bay.

The exhibition hall was surprising warm too, considering the low temperature outside on both days. So we were able to dress up nicely with no fear of the weather outside.

On the first day I was so hungry and decided to have a few sweets but each time I turned around someone showed up.  So eating at your stand is a no-no especially if you have a busy stand.  A little bit of chocolate can boost your mood though, so I learnt to sneak off for a bite during the quiet moments.  Luckily, the cafe was just behind our stand so we could grab a bite pretty quick on day two.

I was privileged to hold one of the seminars, which was packed with people standing outside too. Some of the people who attended the seminar had circled the seminar as a ‘must attend’…good booster for us!!!  It was a great opportunity to speak to so many people about navigating their business first steps and also showcase what we do.

Selling might not work as much as sharing information and giving people the opportunity to keep in touch.  People were receptive to what we had to offer as long as we weren’t asking them to make a commitment and part with their money.  Quite a number of people have been in touch afterwards which made the exhibition worthwhile for us.

Now that Business First Steps is no longer a Business Show virgin, we feel confident that the next opportunity will be even better. The question is will we exhibit again at the business show? Oh Yes We Will!!

Will love to hear from you if you are a business show virgin or veteran.  Tips are always welcome.

Wishing you good success

Temi Koleowo

http://www.BusinessFirstSteps.co.uk

Personalised and Practical Business Start-up Coaching, Services, Resources and Support. Find us on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin

What is in Your Warehouse?

I had the glimpse of Asda’s depot recently. I was amazed at the number of activities that go on behind the scene, whilst we innocently shop for our daily needs.  There were boxes and crates everywhere, people unpacking, packing, moving, checking, listing, scanning, noting and buzzing.  There were just so many people involved in getting the stock from suppliers to shelves.

If deliveries were dumped all over the Asda depot floor without being checked in, left unpacked for days then delivered late to the shop floor.  The innocent people who come in to the store just to pick up a few groceries will probably not be able to do so.

Your Personal Warehouse Stacked to the Roofbigstock-Full-warehouse-with-forklifts--16555610As you may have noticed from my previous posts, everyday life always gets me thinking. What came to mind as I observed this depot was the bare truth that we are all custodians of personal warehouses.

The same delivery process is applicable to what is occupying the space in our personal warehouses.  Many of us have got huge skills, talents, gifts, experiences, services, products etc that should be accessible via the ‘shop floor’ so the numerous people who need what we have can gain access to them.  But for reasons best known to us, our depot is littered with unopened boxes that are yet to be shipped to the right location or arranged on the appropriate shelves.

I am also guilty of this syndrome.  I started analysing our exhibition at the recent business show, I was truly amazed at the number of people who need the services we provide.  Whether Business First Steps went to the show or not, it will have taken place. The only difference being many people may not be able to access BFS’ warehouse to pick up the services they need.

The same goes for those thinking of starting businesses, community groups, social enterprise or new career – what you have is the solution to someone’s problem or the answer to someone’s question. The question is, are your goods on the shelves where they can be accessed?   If you are already running a business, are you maximizing the products or services you offer?  Are you constantly restocking your shelves?

Who is Taking Stock of Your Stock?

Many of us are probably taking stock of what we have done over the past 10-11 months. I try as much as I can not to be swept away by the “what have you achieved this year” syndrome. It doesn’t matter to me if you set goals in April, June or November. The most important aspect is not the time you set the goals but the actions that follow the goals.

bigstock-Taking-inventory-19677038According to Wikipedia 2012 ‘Stock-taking or inventory checking is the physical verification of the quantities and condition of items held in an inventory or warehouse.

This may be done to provide an audit of existing stock valuation. It is also the source of stock discrepancy information. Stock-taking may be performed as an intensive annual check or may be done continuously by means of a cycle count.’

How often do you take stock of the resources delivered to your warehouse?  Are you using your knowledge, skills, talents and resources to add value to the lives of others and yourself?  Are you marketing the products in your warehouse to those who need it?

One of the key elements of stock taking is to understand your own strengths and weaknesses. What manpower have you got to move your stock? I am reluctantly letting go of tasks that slow me down. I now let someone else do them (and stack their own shelves) whilst I can concentrate on what matters most to me.

There are a lot of factors we need to consider when setting goals for ourselves – these include:

  • Personal and family circumstances
  • Your abilities and personality
  • Your mind-set and daily schedules
  • Available resources – including funds, knowledge, support etc.

If the task at hand is one of your pet hate why don’t you delegate it? Just imagine if Asda directors/managers decide to do the depot work themselves, rather than put people in place to move the products to the shop floor.  All those intricate details need to be taken care of and they choose to hire the manpower for it.

In one of my previous blogs I wrote about my new acronym ADO – Automate, Delegate and Outsource – this is helping me a great deal, I feel a lot lighter with less baggage. There are just so many tasks one person can get done at any given time. I have come to realise that there is no point feeling guilty about tasks you may never get done – I felt that way for a very long time. Be realistic and get help, however you can even if you have to trade by barter.  If you are thinking of starting or growing a business and you can’t navigate through the numerous steps, get help!  Do not make the mistake of convincing yourself that you will get it done and let another year come and go.

Stock taking is a necessity but the stock-taker has the power to make sure the floor is adequately stocked and meeting the needs of those who want to buy the goods.  So if you have to take stock as we approach the end of the year, do it with the mindset that you will get your goods to the ‘shop floor’ before they expire in the depot.

I wish you good success.

Temi Koleowo

http://www.businessfirststeps.co.uk

Practical and Personalised Business Start-up Coaching, Services and Support.

Is Honesty Still the Best Policy in Business?

I love the internet and the infinite possibilities it offers people like us who do business online.  But I also know there is a dark side to the internet world where the bad boys reside with their friends – malware, spam and others.  An innocent click can lead you down the wrong path, taking up your time and money to put things right.

As much as the internet is an infinite world where customers may never meet supplier, I think we need to remember the basic moral value called Honesty.  A lot of people are actually internet adverse because they have been burnt a few times. Who’s to blame them?  There will always be those businesses that use scrupulous means to get a few sales. I hope you will never be one of them.

Do you need quick sales? Are you going to join the bad boys or hold on to your integrity?

A lot of businesses online are in it for a quick buck. Customer relationships means nothing to them, if they sell to you once, they believe another naïve person is just a click away.

If you are starting out in business, do not build a business on promises you cannot deliver.  If you can only offer two of your services/product deliveries a month, start with that until you are able to manage your schedule better.  Do not book ten deliveries and end up disappointing nine.  It will be harder to win them back a second time around.

I believe it is better to have one customer over time with good referrals, rather than 100 customers who never come back.  That is what gives business longevity.  I delivered a seminar recently and promised to send the presentation notes to those that were interested. After I sent the notes out, I could not believe the responses. Most of them were just surprised that I delivered what I said I would since there was no exchange of money.

Consider this, even if you do not get to see your clients face to face, still maintain honesty in your dealings with them.  Deliver on your promises and if you can’t, communicate with them and let them know. They will appreciate you for it.

Being a small business is a challenge in the fast paced world of big businesses, franchises etc.  We can’t offer the huge discounts the major chain stores can, but we can offer added value products/services supported with excellent customer service.

You job is to ensure all your products and services have the honesty tag attached to them.

I wish you good success

Temi Koleowo.