I have recently completed a survey for the Association of Coaching asking for my top tips on growing a coaching practice, so I thought I would expand this theme to business in general as there are so many correlations.
8 years ago when I was in my garden for 6 months after being ”shown the door” from my company, I spoke to many successful businesses before I worked out what my own business strategy was going to be.
The common feedback was that whatever I did would take longer than I thought
– they were absolutely right
That certainties often don’t come off, yet opportunities come from surprising places
– absolutely right, some people really let you down, yet others are incredibly supportive
That perseverance is the key in those very quiet times when starting off a business
– changing your style of working takes time; in fact it took me a couple of years
Are you somebody who can work on your own or do you need to work with people?
– I established early on that I need people around me so I have a portfolio career which gives me sufficient people contact and the buzz and banter of an office
What happens next?
Find yourself a product that people will want to buy
– it sounds obvious but so many people come up with bright ideas and don’t survey and assess what will really sell
Have a plan of how you are going to build the product and what your target market is
– will they be able to afford your product?
Is there going to be enough margin in your product to ensure you can make enough profit to live on?
– this means keeping your costs down and ensuring your product is affordable
Is there enough critical mass and is your product different from everybody else’s?
– how many cafes can Tunbridge Wells and other towns really sustain!
Depending on the type of business you are running, have 2/3 niches
– don’t totally rely on one product and ensure you have viability throughout the year i.e. don’t have dead months for income
So put yourself out there, network and see plenty of people
– try and focus on events which will include your target customers. I certainly made a mistake here and should have focussed on the IOD rather than BNI i.e. larger companies rather than traders and small companies
Maximise the use of referrals; it is always easier for other people to promote your products rather than sell your own
– having been in sales all of my life, selling my own coaching feels incongruent
Try all marketing methods and see what works for you
– advertising for coaching doesn’t work as there has to be the element of trust before the coaching process can start – what will work for your business?
Try new things and follow up every opportunity
– sounds obvious but I have seen so many companies quote and then that is the last you hear from them
So that’s my version of what’s important to build and grow a successful business. Here was the late Anita Roddick’s version:
“Every successful business will have a moral compass – a gut sense of what is right and wrong. Our challenge is to put these values to work both on and off the job. The best teams walk their talk, are quick to jump up, confront tough issues head on, speak passionately about what is right. And your biggest tool is communication. Make it bold and enlivening and passionate – if you can’t communicate, you are just not there. So BE BRAVE, BE BOLD, and BE DIFFERENT and if any one of you are told by anyone else it can’t be done, that the business case doesn’t work and the customers don’t really give a toss about anything other than the products, just say … ‘Up yer bum!’”