As a digital marketing company we come into contact with all sorts of different businesses. Some are very successful, some muddle through, and some never really get out of first gear. As marketers we can help with a lot of things, but there are certain fundamentals that, if they are not done correctly, mean that the business will never provide a living for its owners or employees.
For a lot of people, including me, running a business can seem like the most complex, difficult, frustrating thing that anyone has ever attempted.
But it’s not. The most complex, difficult thing ever invented is actually golf.
However, anyone who has ever played golf to a high level (not me – yet) will tell you that golf is actually very simple. All you need to do is these five things:
- Find out where the hole is.
- Hit the ball as close as you can to the hole.
- Walk quickly and find the ball.
- Go back to step 1 until the ball is in the hole.
- Pick up your ball and walk quickly to the next tee.
If you can follow these simple instructions without throwing your clubs in the bushes, then you’ll play with a smile on your face, you’ll make great friends and you’ll enjoy golf for the rest of your life. You might even get so good at it that you make a lot of money and get famous.
Business is very similar. You don’t have to be perfect but you have to do the basics well and you need to make sure you don’t have any glaring weaknesses or gaps.
So what are the basics in business? Why do some people make business look so easy?
Here are 5 places you can start to see where your gaps might be:
- Business model
This is the person you are trying to help. You must want them to succeed. You must want them to succeed so much that you will do everything you can to help them. You will be constantly thinking up new ways to make their lives easier.
Which means you need to know them like your own family.
- Who are they? Where are they?
- What are the things they desperately need to get done?
- What does a good day for them look like?
- What does a bad day look like?
Think really hard about this stuff. Go out and talk to them. Ask them questions. Get inside their head.
This is the thing that you are providing to your customer. It has to be good enough that they will pay for it, and hopefully keep paying for it. And it has to be unique enough that they choose it instead of something from someone else. Generally speaking it must:
- Enable them to get an important job done – or solve an important problem
- Increase the number of good days they have
- Reduce the number of bad days they have
If your product is not doing any of these things, they are probably not going to buy it. Either find some different customers, or get a new product.
Note: your ‘product’ could be anything. It could be a service. It could be music. It could be a chance to win the lottery. It might be a good night’s sleep.
Like most things in life, business is a team sport. Nobody has ever succeeded at anything without a group of people helping them. The best golfers in history have always had great coaches, supportive parents, patient and caring family, and strong friendships with their fellow players.
The same thing applies in business. The team starts with your sales and your product people. These correspond to the ‘customer’ and ‘product’ headings above. Sales needs someone who loves people (i.e. customers). And the product needs someone who loves tinkering with products.
At the start, one (or both) of these people might be you. But start looking for helpers as soon as you can.
Ah, now it starts getting a bit more strategic. How are you actually going to make money and a career out of this game?
There are lots of different ways to make money. But you need to make money – otherwise your business is just a hobby – and probably an expensive hobby. The difference between amateur and professional is that amateurs do it for love (‘amateur’ comes from the French for lover). Professionals need to have a strategy for making a profit. Otherwise they will be amateurs again before they know it.
To make a profit, you need to control two things: price and cost.
Of course, a huge number of factors can go into these two things, but if you can reduce the clutter in your head and just think about these two questions:
- ‘how can I put my prices up?’
- ‘how can I get my costs down?’
Then you’re on the right track to a viable business model.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Everything takes time to get going, New brands and products can take a long time to get established, just like rookie pro golfers might take a few seasons before they start winning enough tournaments to afford the private jet and mansion in Florida.
The people and businesses you are competing with are probably well-established with loyal customers, cash in the bank, and a line of credit if they need it (and don’t tell me you have no competitors – if you have no competitors then you’re not in business at all).
Time is money, as the saying goes. So you’ll need support, i.e. money to get you through the first months or years until you have established yourself. This funding might come from a bank loan, your own savings, your family, your friends, investors, government grants. But you will need it. Don’t make the mistake of maxing out your credit card until you’re sick of it.
So there you are: the five most important things to get right in business. If you concentrate really hard on these five things, you’re well on your way.
Good luck and happy golfing!
And if you want to find out how digital marketing and web development can help in all of these areas, get in touch with Mogul today.