The Entrepreneur: The Entrepreneurial Mind-set... It's a state of mind!
As a slight departure from my usual 'sales expert' blogs, this month I thought I'd write something slightly different, something more holistic and with a more entrepreneurial focus.
Well, this is my advice to anyone who wants to build a business:
Have the ambition to change the industry or sector you operate in. A business set up because of a desire to change the status quo creates energy more powerful than you can imagine. The sense of purpose creates clarity and momentum. Be clear on your crusade.
Think big from day one. You need to have a massive dream and more importantly you must have the courage to believe you can achieve what you set out to accomplish. Make your intentions clear and write them down - courage and an ability to overcome fear will drive action and build momentum. I'd go so far as to say that writing down your goals, no matter how big, is fundamental to succeeding.
Develop a unique way of doing what you do. Make the delivery of your product or service stand out from the crowd; make clear unique aspects of your proposition. This delivers a memorable experience, one that others will acknowledge and communicate. Think - IP, brands and knowledge - these drive value.
Hang out with like-minded partners and build alliances with others who add value to your proposition. Collaboration is an essential ingredient to success; always work on a win-win basis.
Choose your advisers very carefully; trusted advisers are few and far between. Many of them are fee chasers and there are some real bandits out there who will promise you much, talk a good game but deliver little. Their primary objective is not you, it's feathering their own nest. If it doesn't feel right, it generally isn't right!
If you are the founder, build a strong personal profile, however as your company grows provide a platform for other key members of staff to develop their own brand. No-one can build a great business on their own - team is vital.
High profile customers provide a reference point for others to buy from you. Evidencing the impact you have delivered for existing clients will help to win more. Think referrals, case studies and endorsements. Think also about different types of media to get these messages out to as wide an audience as possible.
Have a voice in the marketplace and become a thought leader in your industry. Have a view, have a voice and let the world know what you are passionate about; this will resonate with those you need to influence.
Have a mentor or coach; someone who you respect. This is a person to whom you can pick up the phone to and ask "what do you think about?..." "Can I ask your advice on?..." They will give you an honest view (See note above about choosing your advisers very carefully!)
Use controlled experiments as a way of testing new ideas, products and services. If they fail, fail fast and move on, but do this in such a way that you don't empty the till.
Manage your business as a shopkeeper; keep a keen eye on the cash. Be clear on cash coming in and cash going out. Never, ever lose sight of cash. Profit does not equal cash!
Immerse yourself in the "Customer's World" - second-guess what they are looking for and if in doubt, ask them. Identify who your key customers are and why they are key customers. Develop a strategy for each to make sure you are maximising the relationship with them and developing a mutually conducive partnership. Apply the adage 'treat your key customers like family and your secondary customers like royalty'.
Apply the principles of Kaizen (continuous improvement) to your work. If you want to change something, be in the habit of making it a habit to improve. What can you do differently to get even better results? Challenge the principle of 'if it isn't broken, don't fix it.'
As ever, Happy Hunting!