Are You Putting Yourself Out of Business?

Have you heard either of these pieces of advice, “Do what you have always done and you’ll always get what you always got” and “More of what’s not working won’t help”?

The first one is no longer valid and the second one gets proven in the small business world everyday.

When it comes to marketing why does the first statement not work anymore? Simple, with all the changes that bombard our businesses, clientele and technology on a daily basis it is ludicrous to expect the same results. You see examples of businesses sticking to outdated and unimaginative approaches to marketing and then being surprised with declining results.

In a recent marketing analysis I did with a local business owner I did a very poor job of keeping a poker face. His business was now in such dire straits that they had gone from a fancy office with many employees to a few employees working from the kitchen table at home. His company had tried “cold calling” as their main strategy to build their business. The results were dismal.

What was the logical response to their poor results? You guessed it, they hired more people to cold call. They lost more than most small businesses will earn in the next 5 years. When I asked him why they would pour more money into something that was clearly not working he responded with, “We figured we just needed to get our name out there more and eventually things would take off!” The only thing that took off was their money and eventually their employees.

I’m not going to beat this fellow up because we are all guilty of hanging in too long with an ineffective strategy or two. That is why it is so important to be able to step back and evaluate your marketing efforts. Are they working? Are they cost effective? Are they getting you the results you want? If not, how long do you plan to continue using them before finding something better? How long can you afford to stick with something that isn’t working?

5 Important Tips to Overcome Business Start Up Fears

Just a week ago, I met two of my college friends. It’s been (4) years since we’ve last seen each other, so we decided to have a cup of coffee to do some catching up.

We mostly talked about our life back in college, how the school culture has evolved, the people we were with, the education system our school had, and our careers. Apparently, when we got to talk about our careers, they were so shocked to know that I already have two businesses. They even got more shocked to learn that I have been investing in the stock market and still kept my day job. (If you knew me in college days, I bet you’d also be shocked.)

They were really intrigued with the fact that I already had two businesses and could even afford to to keep my full time job in one of the biggest companies in the Philippines. They asked me questions like – how I started, how big was my capital, how much do I earn, and many other questions. (I wanted to tell them to join our Truly Rich Club with Bo Sanchez and they will be able to start their own business as well.)

I had so much fun telling them my story, and even told them about my future business plans like acquiring real estate properties and renting it out to receive cash flow.

After telling them my story, I encouraged them to start their own business as well and ironically, both of them seemed to look like “squirrels trying to get back to their hole” to hide from people. The feeling in their eyes suddenly changes from excitement to sadness or worse – fear.

At one moment we were so happy talking about business and how it drastically grew my income, and eventually changed my life but when I asked them to do the same, all they could think about was the negative factors in starting a business. Both made excuses like I do not have the capital, I don’t know how to start, I’m not the business type of person, I do not have the time, I do not have the time and I do not have an idea what business to start.

It really saddens me to think that a lot of people really want a business of their own yet only a few even try to start. They complain about their income and how they are treated at their job, but they still work anyway.

In my case, I started dreaming about having a business of my own even when I was still very young. Hence, i unconsciously pursued that dream without even realizing it. Now, it wasn’t really that easy, I even failed tremendously. But as I tried more and more, I became better and better.

To help you with overcoming your business start up fears, here are (5) five tips and ideas that have greatly helped me in my business success:

Tip #1
Have A Strong Burning Desire – A Dream Life!

I put this as the number one tip because I believe that this will be the key to your business start up success. Having a strong dream will keep you going no matter how many times you will fail. Mr. Kiyosaki coins it very well when he said, “It is the WHY that is important in achieving financial abundance, not the HOW.” Know why you want a business, and the how will slowly unfold right in front of your eyes.

Tip #2
Stick To Your Guns

When I started doing business, I tried to do it all at once and never got a single result. I tried flipping foreclosed properties, opening a retail store, joining a networking business, started a logistics business, and on top of that I kept my full time job (yeah I know what you are thinking, I was crazy right.) My belief during that time was hitting a single bird with thousands of stones. I told myself, I want to succeed I must open many businesses at the same time.

Big mistake!

I ended up frustrated, emotionally drained and broke. Even worse, my friend who invested with me got all mad at me.

Now I learned my lesson. In starting a business, stick to your guns. In fact, just start with one gun first. Do not diversify and “reduce risk” (diversifying is only good when investing in the stock market). Focus your efforts in just one business first. Set-up a system to automate it and hire people and professionals to take care of it.

Based on my experience, it would often take at least two (2) to three (3) years to fully automate a business depending on your experience (learning curve) and the nature of your business.

Tip #3
Start Small Always

This inevitably reduces the fear you have inside you knowing that you are not using your entire savings to start a business. There are many ways to start small and I will discuss this also in my future posts. The important thing is, you do not loose food on your table, and be able to sleep at night knowing you still have enough to survive.

Tip #4
Learn To Sell And Market

No matter how great your business start up idea maybe, at the end of the day if nobody knew your product existed, getting sales will always be very difficult. Hey we all admit that apart from fulfilling our life mission to be successful businessmen (yes, I believe that is my life mission, I hope you too) we also want to earn money right? So how can your start up business be successful if you can’t sell a single cent from the services or products your start up business offers.

Remember this, sales and marketing will be the life blood of your business. So please be sure that your business start up has a strong sales and marketing system, that will back up your thriving business.

Tip #5
Get Yourself A Mentor

Yup, you heard it right. I had a mentor during all the times I was doing my trial and error in starting a business. Remember that in business, there is really no guarantee. The market is actually free and a lot of things could happen to your business.

Having a mentor on your side, gives you an advantage against your competitors since you are getting valuable advice from someone who has gone to the route that you are about to partake. Your business mentor will be short of a fortune teller of your future. Since he has gone to the process of failure, success, failure, success, failure and success again.

Now where to find those fabled mentors?

Actually finding a mentor is not as hard as it seems, they are actually everywhere. They can be your parents, your rich uncle, your quiet neighbor who owns hundreds of rental properties, or the old woman who goes to the same gym with you. It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune to get a mentor, you can trade services with him so that he will mentor you for free.

Ask him this question – “What is your biggest project right now that I can help you with? and of course you offer your services for free. With this effort alone, you gain his trust and his ideas on how he handles his business.

Let me end this business start up idea with the true definition of FEAR. It actually means:

F – False
E – Expectations
A – Appearing
R – Real

So when you come up with a very good business start up idea, remember that your fears are just false expectations that appear real but in real life it does not exist until you have done it. Instead of feeling fear, think of your dreams and take action, action, action, action…. until you meet success.

Business Cards That Make Your Business Stick Out

One might ask how significant are business cards for the success of a business or what happens after one hands them out to prospective or current customers. It’s until one becomes an independent businessman or woman that one realizes how essential they are as part of marketing and networking tools. A good business card should always put creativity and artistic display at the core of everything. This is something that professional photographers and designers will always proffer to anyone who intends to design one. The cards should be exceptionally creative with inclusion of some unique features such as some portraits at the back of the card or an inspirational quote that will leave an indelible mark in the reader’s mind.

It’s always necessary to think of a card as a marketing tool from the onset. There are common mistakes that many business people make by making it a directory of contacts and poorly elucidating on the services they offer, and thus making the card lose the taste immediately after exchanging hands. Think of the impact that a card designed with high resolution with lucid and well cut out graphics and letters. The selling point of such a card will undoubtedly be high and will always bring out the rare Wow factor.

If one has a small business offering products to the market, it is always advisable to include a product picture at the back of the card while at the same time ensuring that the card professionally designed and are the type that one can hardly throw away. The best way to achieve this is to look for designers who print full color on both sides of the card. One can choose the best photos or choose from the color schemes and designs that they have in their numerous templates although using the available flexible templates usually works well. All one needs to remember is that creativity is the bench mark with which to measure whether the business card will stick out or not.