You may well have picked up – because I mentioned it more than once! – that I have a pet project I have been collaborating with Trevor Lever on.
What started out as a one book project soon became two books as we realised that we had enough material to split into two bite-sized, practical handbooks. These will be How to Have Fun Selling and How to Have Fun Marketing.
These first two books will be specifically aimed at accountants in practice but will later be combined into one book for any professional who struggles with sales and marketing.
The collaboration has been a perfect way of focussing on a specific group of people who need help. I know the target audience very well, whilst Trevor knows all about the material we are conveying.
As part of the information gathering stage we had two days of working together to make sure that I captured all his great stuff. Everything was recorded so that I could go back to the converstations when I came to write the two handbooks.
I was able to give Trevor insights into how accountants thought – which he sometimes found astonishing – so he was able to give specific guidance into processes and procedures to help unstick specific problems.
I have learned a terrific amount and, as Trevor has passed on his great teaching materials too, I have been able to confidently transfer some of what I learned into a half day workshop.
My husband Jeff has had ‘fun’ adapting Trevor’s cat images into some great pictures to add some colour to the books. After all you cannot create books called How to Have Fun … if they are not fun to read!
What I have learned (on top of Trevor’s sales and marketing insights) is that if we are able to find fellow professionals to collaborate with, we can enhance our own businesses and provide something different to our customers.
This has no downside and will often lead us into some really interesting areas of learning we had not considered before.
So be open to opportunities and see where they will lead!
Running your own business can be the biggest thrill you will achieve in your working life, or the most stressful and demoralising experience you can imagine. On some days it is both!
However, I have come to realise from my own experience, from talking to business owners, and from gurus such as Ron Baker, Peter Thompson and Steven Covey, that running a successful business is all about minding your Ps and Qs.
Given the stresses involved in running your own business it is vital you are passionate about your product or service. Let’s face it, it is much easier to engage with potential customers if you can show passion for what you do.
Once you know what you want to do, you need to have a robust plan. We business owners are often knowledgeable about our product or service but avoid those business areas we struggle with – often marketing, sales or finance. The process of creating a business plan forces us to review ALL the areas of our business which are crucial to our future success.
We need to present ourselves to the market. If, like me you run a service lead business, one of the best ways to do this is to network. People buy from people they trust so you need to be out there meeting, and getting to know, local business owners.
Consulting professionals to help in areas you are not expert in is wise. Very few of us are instinctive business people and there will be one or two areas we struggle with. Interesting it is often more cost effective to get an expert in to do an efficient job than to try and do it ourselves.
To me a key element of a quality service is communication – this means listening and responding to clients’ concerns. Even if you sell a product there is a service element to what you do and this will be your contact with your customer.
Effective communication will allow you to qualify a potential client’s needs and what they particularly value. Having established value it should be fairly easy to give them a price.
To close, your business will not be measured by the outside world on what it is but on what people perceive it to be. So keep your ear to the ground and ensure peoples’ perception matches your reality.