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Factors that help a business develop (ii)

Monitoring and feedback

A favourite accountancy saying is you can only improve what you measure.

You’ve written a business plan, you’ve got a to do list and you’ve even started doing things.

You really should keep track of how effective and efficient you’re being. Namely, are you doing the right things and are you doing them in the best way. You can put together your own monitoring system but if you find it daunting, use an accountant to help you.

It’s not rocket science. The sort of thing we’re talking about is if you do a mailing, track the response rate; if you have a website, track the number of visitors.

Once you’ve analysed the feedback make sure you act on it. If something isn’t working, change it or stop it.

It’s simple stuff but I guarantee you it will get lost in the day to day craziness and you will need to remind yourself to do it.

Develop a support network

Lynda Gratton recommends developing a support network with three types of people. Firstly, like minded people who can help you build your career or business; secondly, a big ideas crowd who are different to you in age or mindset but who inspire you and thirdly, a close community of friends and family around you to develop your confidence.

In this video, Lynda Gratton talks about the support network of three types of people and the importance this has in our evolving concept of work.

I really love this as a new take on networking. The three groups of people to develop are tangible and this helps to demystify business network development. This is an essential part of your business plan and to do list. It’s part of what I call “going through the motions”; while you’re busy ticking off tangible tasks on your to do list, like:

    • Develop links with other business start ups
    • Find useful groups to join on LinkedIn
    • Tell my friends about the business plan and get their help

your business is developing without you having to force progress.

Marketing and obtaining customers

It depends on what sort of business you’re in as to what sort of marketing will work best for you. However, for business to business, networking has to be one of the cheapest and most effective ways of marketing.

You can do it anywhere anytime. Someone once told me to go nowhere without my business cards; don’t even take a bath without your business card. Possibly a bit extreme but the sentiment should be heeded. You are your business and you need to be ready to represent it at all times.

Have your pitch ready to go wherever you are.

Possibly the hardest area for any business is obtaining new and desirable customers. New customers are needed by all businesses; even if a business has a sound customer base, new customers are needed as over time customers will leave and a business shouldn’t become too reliant on a narrow customer base. Desirable customers are those customers that you want to be doing business with; ie customers who are willing to pay for your goods and services and pay on time. Initially you will feel desperate for any customers but your business needs the right type of customers otherwise you will spend all your time looking after customers that aren’t going to make you a profit.

Choosing the right method of marketing is about defining your budget and identifying the most suitable method of advertising for your chosen customer base.

Keeping customers

Anecdotally it costs five times as much to find a new customer as it does to retain a customer. Assuming you have desirable customers, you will want to keep them. In order to keep your customers you should be treating them all as if they are your number one client.

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