How to Find a New Business Agency

It is important to keep a good stream of customers and clients. It is very easy to get complacent when you have enough clients – but if one of those clients disappeared would your business feel the effect? Or worse would it crumble?? Working with a New Business Agency can help you win clients and grow your business. There is no denying that new business / lead generation can be time consuming, hard work and expensive but overall it can be worthwhile and cost effective.

Many Creative and Marketing Agencies work with New Business Agencies; it is an effective way to get your work in front of companies you want to work with. I wrote this article after to speaking to the Directors of Creative Agencies and other Business Development Managers. This article is for small Creative and Marketing Agencies new to new business and looking to work with a New Business Agency for the first time.

I think it fair to say in the world of new business you do get what you pay for. You can get a telesales person to call thousands of companies and pay a minimal fee, or you can choose an agency that approach new business intelligently. The second will be costly but can you afford not to?

New Business Agencies specialise in finding you clients in order to grow your business. Although agencies work in different ways, the long and short of it is that, they will phone companies on your behalf with the view of setting up a meeting between you and the potential client. Sounds simple enough, but the new business process is more than simply cold calling.

Before you jump in at the deep end there are a few factors to bear in mind when choosing a New Business Agency. They are all different and will all have diverse ideas about the way new business should be conducted. Here are a few questions to ask your new business agency before you work with them?

Question 1 -Results or Numbers?

If a New Business Agency promises to target 500 companies a week and guarantees you five meetings, be aware. This can be a potential time waster for some agencies. If a New Business Manager is pressured to get you in front of x amount of clients, they will. Whether the meeting is worthwhile or not, is not their problem they just have to reach their targets.

If the person handling your new business account is a really good sales person with a hard sales technique they may be able to force a potential client to have a meeting with you whether they have work, or you are suitable. These are good sales people, but they may not be producing qualified leads.

For example, if you are a design agency who specialises in content managed websites for small businesses, you do not want to end up at a meeting to rebrand Kellogs. Yes, this would be a fantastic opportunity, but in competition with top branding agencies do you stand a chance? If you only work for big brands similarly you may not want to show up to a meeting to discuss a £300 website.

A good New Business Manager should be keen and results driven but also able to evaluate a qualified lead. By giving too many targets you are ultimately pushing them into a corner to produce meetings. You do not want to attend any old meeting. A perfect meeting is a potential client who is looking for an agency for a particular project or looking to change their roster of agencies. A good meeting is also a simple credentials meeting with one of your wish list companies, who you plan to impress with solid ideas.

Rather than an agency driven by numbers, consider an agency driven by results. Unfortunately, but realistically, new business is not always about getting work now. It is about creating a pipeline and raising your profile. If your Account Handler has a good conversation with a Decision Maker about a suitable project which will be commissioned later that year, this is better than a credentials meeting. You can then keep in regular contact with the decision maker until that project comes up. By the time you have the meeting you will be talking about a particular project rather than running through a portfolio.

Look at the pipeline as much as the amount of meetings.

Question 2 – How Targeted is their New Business Approach?
Are you trying to reach as many companies as possible to offer your services to? For some businesses this may work but I doubt if this works for many. A New Business Agency which suggests a highly targeted approach will more than likely receive better results. For example a design agency looking to build up a client list does not want to target ‘any’ business with “we do design” it really is not going to stand out, and it simply becomes a game of chance.

A web design agency who mainly works with restaurants producing content managed websites could contact other restaurants with a similar offer. However, you don’t need to limit yourself to restaurants, always look to expand your market but do it with careful consideration. If you work with restaurants you could then aim at hotels, pubs, bars and clubs. Of course, you can always expand your market but showing a potential client experience in your field is going to be beneficial. (My next article will go further into this subject).

Look at the size of the business – if you have only ever worked with SMEs build this up gently don’t suddenly aim for Coke. Look at the location of businesses, do you have the time and money to travel from London to Glasgow for a meeting or do you need to stay local. A good New Business Agency will create a database tailored to your business capabilities. In order to tailor a database it is advisable to initially work with your New Business Agency, they should be able to give advice to you. But you need to know which direction you are heading with your business, and where you sit, and would like to sit in the market place.

Although this may sound as if I am stating the obvious, a few of the new business managers I spoke to told me stories of how their clients took little interest in the strategy and simply left to them to get meetings with no direction. These clients then refused to leave London to attend meetings and refused any project under £5000 (although they had never completed a project for this much money).

Question 3 – How do they find the Decision Maker?
When your New Business Agency is going to send your information to the company, how are they going to find the right person? There is plenty of information available on the internet these days on Marketing Directors of companies. Although it would be wonderful to gain a meeting with someone so high up in the company how likely is this?

The Marketing Director of Nike is not generally going to interview agencies for a microsite. In most cases it would be a waste of time and money trying to reach them on the phone to set up a meeting. Aim lower. Nike is a huge corporation and it will take patience and careful research to find the person in charge of commissioning microsites and it won’t be the Marketing Director.

Especially in recent years more and more new roles are appearing in companies, new media managers, advertising managers, mobile managers, interactive managers, account directors, creative directors – who are you looking to work with? Aim for less companies as research can be time consuming, but ensure your representative is talking to the right person. Letters simply addressed to the Marketing Director are hard to follow up with a phone call. Find out how and who your New Business Manager will be trying to contact.

Question 4 – Who else is the agency working with?

It is great to work with an agency that has skills in selling what you are offering, even better to get a New Business Manager with these exact skills. But if your New Business Manager is working with three Mobile Marketing Agencies is your account being kept separate? What is your agencies ethics of sharing potential clients?

Your new business account should be, if at all possible, separate to any other companies. You do not want to paying for someone else’s new business. It can be all too easy for a New Business Manager to find details of a company looking to rebrand all their marketing collateral… and keep two design agencies happy.

Question 5 – Who is your Account Handler?

Always ask to meet the person handling your account. It is your business, and they are representing you, be sure you like the way they come across. Your New Business Manager should not really read from a script and should be confident and knowledgeable enough to hold an in-depth conversation. If you are a New Media Agency does your New Business Manager know their augmented reality from their rfId barcodes, and how far can they carry on with this conversation?

In order to find common ground with a potential client it is good to know about their business before having a conversation with them. This means your New Business Manager has to be knowledgeable about the sectors they are targeting.

New Business Mangers should be versatile. They should be good researchers, communicators and able to pick up information quickly. Providing a New Business Manager has had experience in marketing or creative agencies they will understand the processes and jargon and can generally adapt to other industries that have specialist interests. Someone on the other hand, who has no background in design, marketing or creative industries in general will probably find it harder to learn everything from scratch and find out about niche markets.

If your New Business Manager has built a relationship with a Decision Maker it could be an idea to take them along to the meeting as a part of your company. Does your New Business Agency allow this? In an ideal world your Account Handler should feel they are a part of your team.

It is important for you to go to meetings prepared and know what is expected from you at the meeting. It is down to you to give your New Business Manager all the information they need. You know your market and it never does any harm to keep them updated with your knowledge of industry events. When you launch a new project let your New Business Manager know, keep them involved.

Question 6 – How do you prepare to work with an New Business Agency?

Be prepared to be involved. Most New Business Managers spoken to for this article said, “The closer they have worked with clients the more likely they are to achieve results.” Do not expect a New Business Agency to start work and come back to you a week later with lots of new work – it rarely happens like that. If your New Business Agency is starting conversations with the right people make sure you have the supporting materials. Many potential clients will ask for an email with links to your projects, PDFs, show reels or brochures – it is down to you to provide these. When attending the meetings, that you have essentially paid a lot of money to get, make sure you are prepared for the presentation. Your New Business Agency can only take you so far. Remember that if you run your business you should really be the best person to undertake your new business as you know your business inside out, your capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. If you cannot get yourself a £500,000 contract don’t expect a new business agency to. Be realistic

Many creative agencies I spoke to had worked with at least a couple of New Business Agencies before finding the one they felt they could work with, hence the reason for this article. There are obviously many questions to ask before undertaking the expense of a New Business Agency but I hope this article covers a few! Please see more advice on handling your own new business on my website http://www.kerinewman.com.

21 Top Marketing Mistakes Small Business Owners Make

The analogy between marketing and a business is similar to the relationship of body and food. Marketing is the heart of the business. Every business is different so each business has to offer marketing and development, which fits each unique business’s need. There are many ways of developing and marketing for any business, but first let’s find the true concept and definition of marketing.

Marketing definition:

“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large”.

1- Thinking advertising is marketing:

The biggest mistake most of the business owners make is to think advertising and spending money is the only marketing way exist. This group only focuses on advertising, which when the desire result is not achieved at the end of the month, they complain of how much money they wasted away. Advertisement is merely one of many ways of marketing.

2- You don’t enjoy what you do:

As stated above Marketing has many ways and approaches. The main marketing for your business is to love what you do. Nothing is better than your “Love what you do” attitude since it brings out your creativity, shows your talent and tells everyone how devoted you are to your business. Your daily positive attitude defines the successful future of your business. The love of your business construe in your daily interaction with new clients, employee’s moral and making important and effective marketing decisions. To be a good marketer for your business, first rule is your love for what you do.

3- Don’t have a good business plan:

What is business plan?

“A written document describing the nature of the business, the sales and marketing strategy, and the financial background, and containing a projected profit and loss statement”.

Having a business plan is like having a map. Many businesses start their business ignoring this very effective tool and get lost in the middle of the road. Every business plan states the exact details of the business’s concept and outlines clearly the marketing strategies, profit and loss, demographic, place of business, finances and targeted niche market. In order to make a solid business plan:

A) Know your business inside and out

Knowledge of your business is important to know the answer to all the categories of business plan. If you do not know the concept of your product or service, business plan and the pillar of your business does not exist.

B) Study, analyze and scrutinize

When you know the back and forth of every detail in your business, you can access all the required information needed to project your business in a business plan. In order to access all this information you need to study, analyze and scrutinize every file and information in libraries, city records and valid informative site on the Internet.

C) Print it and have it accessible

When you put all the info together and created your fully detailed business plan, print a copy and keep a file handy and accessible.

Your projected analysis for the business works as a map to your success. Don’t drive to an unknown destination, not having a map on hand.

4- Don’t have any plans:

Marketing and developing its strategy is vital for every business. Marketing works as fertilizer to boost the lawn of your business. Even more importantly, marketing acts like sun to shed light and direction to your business for finding leads for the potential clients. Marketing is like having your open sign on in the dark street. I think I emphasized enough and you understood how important marketing is for any business, small or large.

5- Not analyzing the market for correct pricing.

Every business offers products or services. Then producing and providing the products and services involves certain cost and fees. Setting the price according to the market is very important and cause for a major failure for small businesses if done without market awareness. The root and source to find a perfect price is your business plan. It is necessary for every small business owner to investigate:

A) The demographic income of the targeted niche and audience:

The business plan states the average income of the targeted audience and the niche market. Set prices based on the factual statistic and spending ability of potential clients.

B) Market needs and economy balance:

An involved business owner is always aware of the market needs and the economy balance. Based on your niche market, be on top of the factors of change in economy that can impact your client’s ability to spend. If you deal with bankers and investors, keep up with stock market news and its daily changes and adjust your prices regularly.

C) Competitive market prices:

A business person is always on a lookout for its competitors and is aware of their side of story. It is necessary to know your competitors and adjust your prices based on their offering and similar services.

D) Demand of the product or service:

Investigate the demand before putting the price tag on your product and service. You can find this information through the data in your business plan. Balance your prices based on the market demands;

  • If you projecting a good volume of sale, price it lower than competitors.
  • If the demand is lower and the project of volume is slow, price higher to accommodate the distance between each sale.

E) Uniqueness of the product or service:

A unique product and service in the market attracts more attention. Price it higher than other regular products.

F) Acceptable profit margin range in the area:

Profit margin’s acceptability is always decided based on the market and economy as well as the market demand for the product.

  • Consider a big city. If you have a product or service that is unique, but projecting a high volume of demand, based on the economy and your targeted niche, the profit margin should set higher than normal.
  • In a small community, If you are investing on a product with limited demand, go conservative on your profit margin.

6- Not having any budget

Many small business owners make a big mistake and do not place any budget for daily, monthly or yearly marketing plans. Whatever the profit and loss data projects on your business, it must include certain amount of budget for marketing plans that are realistic and traceable. Unfortunately small business owners mostly have no budget and deduct the cost of marketing plans from their profit data. This particular budget assignment is very effective in the future of business growth. Increase the marketing budget with business slowly reaching the peak of demands for your product and services.

7- Spending money on non-traceable ads

As the market changes, so as the marketing plan, pricing and target audience. Invest and assign marketing plans that are traceable. Traceable marketing means follow-up charts to analyze data.

The worst mistake of marketing is to spend money on a plan that cannot be traced and measured. This marketing mistake is wasting money or in other terms is shooting in the dark.

8- Do not trace the result

Many businesses have assigned a budget for the traceable marketing plan but sadly do not follow-up on the result and do not trace it. This is just the same as spending wasteful money on non-traceable.

9- Think in a closed box:

Each business is unique. Even if the business offers a same product as other business few streets down the road, the two are still unique and different in many ways. The biggest mistake small business owners make is to follow other businesses’ footsteps. Marketing and its strategies should not have any limitation. Think of marketing out side of the box and do not limit the marketing strategies to a cliché approach others do. Be creative and design a plan unique and suitable for the very business.

10- Don’t know what plans to set:

Everyone is familiar with the word marketing. The first conversation when opening a new enterprise is “Lets do marketing!” But do we all really realize the core meaning of it?

I compare marketing strategies and its unique approach to our fingerprints, which is distinctive. Many understand the word marketing but are not familiar with how to set the strategy and the game planning related to the business.

It is a big mistake not knowing how to set the strategies while being fully aware of marketing important role in the business. Since setting the marketing plan requires research, analysis and knowledge of he market, hire a professional researcher and marketer to create the necessary game plan.

11- Assuming the product or service will sell itself:

One of the biggest marketing mistakes is to assume your product or service is going to sell itself. This assumption is misleadingly translating marketing into advertisement. I have met many small business owners who declared that quote-to-quote “I don’t spend money on the marketing, to me I only rely on word of mouth”.

Word Of Mouth is the strongest way of marketing. So what this small business owner was under impression that he does not do any marketing because he thought marketing was spending money on advertisement. So he was counting on the most effective marketing, the word of mouth. Word of mouth consists of two factors:

A) Product or service:

People have to like the product or service to continue talk about it and refer their friends.

B) Customer service

Another major difference between businesses is the level of customer service. I didn’t say the level of good or bad. What I mean is each business owner or employee that has been fully trained to look after a client as a customer service has his or her own charm. This specific charisma and character make the business unique to others and is a major influence for word of mouth.

Let me give you an example of how powerful the word of mouth and spreading the word is to any business. While ago, I worked as a junior manager in an up-scale restaurant. The general manager identified his target niche as young professionals in downtown area. So he hand-picked few employees in the same age range as the targeted niche to use public transportation and talk about the restaurant among each other. His decision, although was not directly traceable, but yet had an amazing effect. How did I analyse the result and witness the proof?

The restaurant offered comment cards, asking “How you hear about us?” and many without any surprise responded via word of mouth in public transportation.

Even if the business owner is avoiding any advertisement cost, they still rely on spread of word about their service and product via the community and the word of mouth marketing.

12- Don’t know the target audience:

To plan and set a marketing strategy, any small business has to have a direct target niche as an audience. Analyze everything about the niche audience. The list certainly is not limited to the audience’s income, age, interest ratio to the product, sex, education, commitment ratio and their loyalty.

13- Don’t know the competition:

The best way to analyze the market is to get familiar with the competition and rivals. It might sound cliché but as the Godfather movie suggested, “Keep you enemy close“. Or if I may rephrase ” Keep your competition close and be aware of their moves”.

This is especially important for small business owners in small community to have a good relationship with other competition. To share my experience in the same restaurant I used to manage, the general manager always encouraged me to go to other local restaurants and dine. He even offered to pay the bill. All I had to do was to analyze everything from the greeting, staff knowledge, manager’s presence, client’s relation and the overall quality. My report helped him to understand his competition strengths and weaknesses.

14- Hiring wrong person to do marketing:

Many small business owners out of desperation and lack of networking, hire wrong people to do their marketing. As we said earlier, every business has unique offering and services so must focus on unique planning for its marketing strategies.

It is the small business owner’s responsibility to hire a professional firm who can relate to the business’s need and offerings.

A good reputable marketing firm whose focus is to promote books and authors in not a good fit for a small local bistro.

15- Underestimate the value of existing clients:

A good businessperson always knows the value of the existing clients;

The best way of follow-up with the existing clients is to create informative data about them. Many small business owners lack this very important source of information. To avoid this mistake, keep a record of every client’s information. If the information requires certain personal data, keep it in a safe and secure place.

A client whom already has experienced your product and service knows about the quality of it. Always do follow-up calls and do not be afraid to ask how they liked the product or service. Even if the client responses back with dissatisfaction is a perfect opportunity for the business owner to fix the problem.

Gain a new customer is costly. I am gong to explain this by an example:

Nancy enters Joe’s café because of a coupon she found in a local magazine offering 10% discount. She solely relies on a menu attraction, prices, quality of the food and customer service. Joe the owner spent lots of money and time for marketing after analyzing the community needs, price affordability and the targeted niche market.

Joe has three ways to collect emails or phone calls for follow back:

A) placing a note pad in front of the cashier’s desk asking new clients to write email or contact info for special promos.

B) Placing a glass bowl by the cashier’s desk offering the weekly draw of free lunch from dropped business cards.

C) Offering comment cards and asking for contact info.

Joe has three ways to accumulate client’s information and follow-up with them. So everyday he goes through all the information and creates a secure data.

Nancy finds the place charming and the food great but not a good customer service. It is Joe’s responsibility to follow-up and gain back Nancy’s business once again to avoid spending all the money and time all over to attract another new client.”

Existing clients are the perfect way to promote every business. Send special offering, communicate with them and even ask them to share your business with their friends. Respect the boundary between proper communication and spamming.

16- Not offering giveaways and novelty items:

One of the most effective ways to attract clients is to giveaway your product or service for free.

A) Test run: Offer a monthly test run of your product and service and giveaway a free sampler. People love to get samplers. It gives them information about your business and its quality.

B) Propose monthly contest: Proffer a monthly contest and giveaway prizes based on participating in your business. People love contest and it excites them to know they can win something. If it didn’t work, Lottery and Casinos didn’t exist.

C) Give out novelties like mugs, pen, key chain, notepad, calculator, shirts and hats with the business information printed on it.

17-Wrong niche:

As a business owner recognizing correct niche market target is necessary for further marketing planning and budget assignment.

To explain this better lets picture a shoe store that carries high-end fashion shoes for women. The first thing that comes into the mind, high-end fashion niche is only younger generation and teenagers. A good business owner will explore the possibilities to analyze further more into the data from business plan to understand the local community needs.

If selling high-end, then its higher quality and higher prices. A teenager on a student living budget cannot be a direct and only target niche. So the correct niche is a professional and higher income spender who is more interested in quality without considering the price tag.

This example clears how a business owner distinguishes the certain target audience by analyzing the local market data from business plan. With enough knowledge in market research, the business owner avoids wasting the marketing budget on a wrong niche.

18-Not participating in community:

“Every big things has small beginning”

Regardless of the geographical target of any business, whether global or corner store in a small village, it all begins with local community.

Who are the first people you would share news with in your everyday life? Family and friends are the strongest link to marketing and spreading the word. It starts from friends and family and spreads to their friends and family and before you know it, is a snowball effect and cumulative.

The local community is the test run before spending a time and money on a dead-end marketing plan.

19- Do not own an informative and representative website:

Internet plays a great deal of connection in people’s life everyday. Many customers use the Internet to search and review local businesses. No matter what kind of business, it requires an informative and user-friendly website. A good business website is a gateway that welcomes customers to enter and experience the business offering.

Many small business owners making mistake and assume their line of business does not need a website. With daily development of technology, people get more connected via Internet and do their shopping online. Search engines get stronger everyday by developing codes and programs to bring up the exact and precise inquiry.

20- Do not appreciate the value of the Internet:

With a vastly growing competition on the Internet and the increase in demand for business development, simply having a website that offer information is not enough. Popular search engines are only producing websites in their search result, which have better ranking. Many small business owners simply making a big mistake by avoiding the presence on the Internet and ignore the growing highway to success. Every business must have an informative website and optimizes the business on search engines, social media and popular relevant forums. This subject of Internet marketing and its highly effective marketing plans is a lot of subject to cover in this article.

21- Expecting too much in short time:

Do not expect too much in a short time. There is always cause and effect but it requires proper time period to produce best effect. A seed needs time to open the surface and grow to a strong tree. But it requires water and good fertilization. Marketing is the water and fertilization to the business. It takes time for a good marketing plan to spread the roots and make a strong holding ground.

“Rome was not built in a day”

It took generations and much hard work of skilled engineers, planning and proper budgeting to build the mega city of Rome.

Can you hold a roof without building the pillars and the walls?

Marketing is the pillar of the business. Without marketing and planning, business lacks a foundation.

Many business owners place the marketing and development in their last page when the business opens its door to the public. Marketing starts when the business idea takes shape. It begins before the business is even called a business. Avoid making marketing mistake and start your marketing with knowledge and strategy.

Marketing is the heart of every business and keeps the health of the company in balance. But treat the heart right. Eating healthy, exercise and lack of stress are keeping the heart healthy to beat the life into our body. Practicing and implementing the right marketing strategies keep the business in shape. Don’t make mistake if you had a good run. Many small business owners get too excited for this temporary beat of recognition and look at it as everlasting. To keep a good balance in business, marketing and planning should match the flow of the business. Increase your strategies as your business grows and increases.

Marketing is the pillar of every business and is the only foundation to go further, faster. Imagine a boat with no engine crossing the Atlantic. The marketing to a business resembles the engine to a boat. The planning and strategy of the marketing to the business is the safety gear of the boat that keeps it balance and not to tip over.

Are Employee Personal Electronic Devices Dangerous to Small Business Security?

Can my employees using their own endpoint devices endanger the cyber security of your business? ”

Good Morning:

A lot of small business owners are starting to allow this and the answer, of course, is YES, your business computer system will possibly be more vulnerable. In fact, how can it not be? But that doesn’t mean that it should never happen. So let’s cover a few things to help you can decide if it is safe for your small business.

Inside some businesses it will work fine.

This is a business decision that you need to make with thoughtful deliberation as well as valid information. What is good for some businesses will be dangerous for others. Some call it the BYOD transition and it opens up all kinds of potential small business security issues.

For one thing, you need to always check to make sure that your employee’s device has anti-virus protection. No exceptions. You simply must determine that it can handle any possible security concerns, especially if you have company network with company data installed on it. Consider all data to be sensitive and therefore a valid company security issue.

Keep in mind that this will involve regular software updates, and you will find it difficult to track this over a wide variety of devices.

Never, ever, consider not installing a Fail-Safe on your machines in case the device is lost or stolen. This will wipe the data from the device to prevent unauthorized use of your company material.

But it is possible that it might be appropriate to consider a BYOD policy for your office equipment. Under the right conditions, it can be a real bonus for your business.

QUESTIONS TO HELP DECIDE IF A NEW ENDPOINT DEVICES POLICY IS DANGEROUS TO CYBER-SECURITY.

Here are a few questions for you to go through in order to decide. I encourage you to get competent advice from a trusted source, from someone who really understands the issues involved. Your software provider could be one source. You don’t want to buy things you don’t need but it can be a real disaster to miss a bet here.

First of all, I would question if your employees are really tech-savy. Don’t just ask them but find out for sure. This can make the process easy but a miss here can spell nightmare. Also, will they have reliable equipment as well as understand how to update and maintain it from a security standpoint. The difference here will make the transition either easy or wildly chaotic.

Secondly, is how sensitive is your company data? Some companies would find one slip-up here to be catastrophic, while another will ease through it. If you have a medical, financial,or legal office, I would be very wary. Having a serious data breach here could lead to all kinds of problems and is too big a gamble. So think this through.

Thirdly, how many employees would be able to choose their own devices? If only a few employees are interested in this change in policy, the problems in it may not be worth the hassle. Remember that cyber security is the paramount concern. Not just happy employees (although that is of vital importance!).

Next would the question of how quickly is the business growing? If you are expanding quickly, the benefits might be huge. It could reduce your already serious technology costs a great deal. And new hires could have reduced work stations. This might also reduce on-site workers which will leave you increased office space.

The next question is one to ponder seriously and slowly. It depends a lot on what kind of office staff you have. If your people are serious about business and possess the business focus necessary, it might work out fine.

When you walk around the office, do you see a lot of surfing? Do they play games while working? If so, you know what will happen with their own devices. Your company data might have to compete for space with Donkey Kong.

I am just saying that if they have a hard time focusing on your business priorities, giving them access to their own devices might be counterproductive.

These are serious things to consider and get some good advice.

Thank you for coming.

Jim

This ONE Thing Can Help Your Business Succeed

Man, do I have a passion. Well, maybe I’m starting a little too far along in the story here – let’s roll back the clock a little bit so you can see where I’m coming from.

I was watching TV the other day and I caught the end of a show about some investors looking to finance the next big product or company. The premise involves amateur inventors and entrepreneurs who try to achieve the American Dream by getting one of these super-rich investors to agree to go in on their ideas – usually with a sizable investment that would allow the entrepreneur to scale their operation in a big way or just launch their product.

During this particular episode, one of the investors was intrigued by the entrepreneurs’ idea, which would do something great for some poor people in Africa while providing a quality product to American consumers at a reasonable price. But this investor, however moved he may have been, responded with something that rang so true I wish I could repeat it to every single investor I meet without coming off as rude or preachy.

What did he say? It was something in the vein of, “this is great and it warms my heart, but HOW WILL IT MAKE ME MONEY?”

Now, before you whip out your list of expletives and email them to me (and compare me to a heartless money monger), let me explain why I think this is a crucial question to ask yourself if you are a serious entrepreneur.

I know most of us have a many things we’re passionate about. Some of these things run so deep in our veins that we feel compelled to make a business out of it. Generally, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you like to get creative with people’s hair or makeup, you may want to open a beauty salon or start a cosmetology business. When I was a kid I met a guy so passionate about baseball cards and comic books that he opened a local “Cards and Comics” store (this is where I met him). I loved going there because this guy knew his stuff. He knew everything that was going on in the various series of comics, and he knew which baseball cards would be the next best ones to save in a hard plastic display case.

I remember wanting to buy some cards off of him, and he wanted more than the cards were worth, because he said Darryl Strawberry and a few others were going to be HUGE.

Here’s the problem with this guy’s business, though: he was too passionate about the business and not passionate enough about making money. There was no question that this guy knew his stuff – he knew the product inside and out – but he didn’t know his business inside and out. The sad reality is that the best he could ever hope for, like the cosmetician or hairstylist, is to make a living, rather than make serious money. And again, if that’s what makes you happiest, then that’s almost all you’ll ever need. Maybe the people on that show I mentioned could start a nonprofit to help these African ladies and they could feel fulfilled for the rest of their lives. But… to make it big, this “Cards and Comics” guy, named Rob, needed to focus more on growing his business.

I found out much later in life that eventually Rob closed shop in the early 2000’s, which serves as proof of his biggest mistake. The key here is that, even a small business needs a plan for at least some growth. Even if to offset any unforseeables like a lawsuit, government regulation, or whatever. But his passion for baseball cards and comic books made him blind to shortcomings in his business. I’m willing to bet that, on a bad month, he convinced himself that the next big “crossover event” in a popular comic book would dig him out of a hole. Or perhaps the next Mickey Mantle would have a special limited edition card that would bring him a big payoff and keep him in the black.

His passion for the sport and the comics, however, blinded him to the possibility of Darryl Strawberry having substance abuse issues, or to Jose Canseco writing a bestselling book naming several top players as anabolic steroid users – which, of course, made many of these players lose all credibility as great athletes. So, cards that could have been worth thousands today, are worth $150 or less. Now, that may sound like a pretty good return on a card that only cost a few cents, but we can’t ignore the time value of money, nor the harsh reality of inflation.

The big takeaway here is that if you have a passion that drives you to open a business, you first need to have an honest soul-searching introspection to determine if your business idea is one that can truly make you a millionaire or if your passion for the product or service would overtake your passion for making money. If it’s the latter, you may be dooming yourself to becoming part of that infamous “80% of businesses fail” statistic – and nobody wants that.