Running your own business can be stressful, complicated and overwhelming but it can also be exhilarating, rewarding and fulfilling. The key is to focus on the basics and build a strong foundation to grow your business from. If running your business seems too complicated, then you might just be looking at it the wrong way, so why not try keeping it simple?
The world is a complicated place and we can often get lost in the chaos. This is true for all of us, but it is especially true for small business owners. We often get so caught up in running our businesses we forget the basics; we overlook the obvious and we focus on the wrong things.
Who, What and How?
When I started my first business, I focused on three key areas, who I was a business, what I was selling and how people could buy it from me. Now you might think this over simplistic but look at most small business websites and you will find these elements are often nowhere to be found.
Who you are as a business?
You need to make sure your brand tells your story when people look at your website or your social media. Tell people why you do what you do, and it will help them to understand why you are the right fit for them. Your story is an important part of your marketing mix so make sure you are telling it right.
What do you sell?
If you are in business this means you are selling something. The issue is that people don't want to buy something. They want to buy a solution to their problems, and they want to feel that you know what that is. If you have a product-based business, then I am sure you get this. If you run a service-based business, you might be wondering if this even applies to you. Well I can tell you that it does. Whatever you are selling you need to look at productizing it.
People want to buy things that have a measurable impact so, for example, telling a business you can help their sales team be better won't cut it. Offering a series of 6 1-hour workshops what will help increase the conversion rate of their sales team by 100% over a 6-week period is an entirely different matter. If you can't articulate what you sell in a way that people can see it as product, then it is really hard for people to buy it from you.
How can I buy it from you?
If you are selling something you know what you need to sell it for to stay in business. If we were to sit down over a coffee and talk about our businesses, could you tell me what you sell and what it will cost me to use your services? If your website tells people about what you offer and what it costs, people will know this information without having to meet you. This means there are no surprises. Your customer won't look at you like you are a crazy person when you tell them what your services will cost because they knew that as soon as they looked at your website. They won't be surprised when you outline what you can do for them as it is the same as the services offered on your website and by clearly stating all of this it is clear how people can buy from you.
Many businesses feel a need to keep their prices secret in case competitors see what they are planning, or they don't want to disclose full details of what they do just in case a client wants something else. The key here is to remember that as a small business you don't do everything, you are a specialist. Be proud of what you do and shout it from the rooftops. You also know what your services are worth, so tell people. If you are only selling on price, you are not going to last long. Deliver a service you are proud of at a price you know is fair, it is that simple.
The Coffee Shop Methodology
Still not convinced? Next time you pop out for a coffee take a closer look at the café you choose. As a business it is surrounded by competitors, you probably passed one or two on your way there. A full list of what they sell, the main ingredients involved, and their prices are more than likely listed on a menu out the front or on a board behind the counter. Specials are promoted on blackboards and all of this can be seen by anyone, customer or competitor, as they walk past.
The reason that this approach is so good is that people know what they can order and how much it will cost before they sit down. This might mean some people walk past but pretty much anyone who sits down becomes a customer.
Imagine if everyone who sat down with you became a customer? If you get the basics right, there is no reason that this can't be the case. If we all focused on the basics a little more, the more complicated stuff wouldn't seem so scary.