“Every human being is a truly unique individual, deserving the freedom of spirit to understand, express and fulfil the driving creative passions to which we were born. Whether we succeed or fail, nothing allows this freedom of creative expression or even stimulates innovation like free enterprise micro/small business.” Bob Neville
At least 85 percent of ALL businesses are MICRO-BUSINESS and many are started enthusiastically by individuals who have no prior business experience, no business training and usually a complete aversion towards Business Planning. This is a fact of life that won’t change – therefore, this book is specifically for those individuals, providing an easy to understand natural perspective about just what they are getting into, how to avoid many of the traps and how to greatly increase their capacity, understanding and potential for success.
THE NATURAL SCIENCE OF GROWING A MICRO-BUSINESS - GROWING ANALOGIES
(Grown from an initial “Seed idea”)
THE FARMER FARMING TEMPERAMENT THE FARM SEED SEED GENETICS SELECTING GOOD SEED SEEDLING TREE SEEDLING MATURITY RATE TREE MATURITY RATE FRUIT YIELDS MATURE TREE A DEAD TREEE
The Business Manager Business temperament/suitability Where the business is planted to grow An Idea or opportunity for a business The nature and quality of the business idea Test a business idea before starting A newly started business A business ready to produce fruitful sales Time needed for the business “tree” to grow to a viable level of sales Time needed for a viable business to reach maximum productive potential Produce, returns, actual sales Sales volume over a selling season A mature (established) business with increasing “fruit” (Sales and seasonal repeat sales) End of a business life-cycle.
(Seeding and growing sales in the marketplace)
CLIMATE AND SOIL CONDITIONS PLANTING PREPARATION PLANTING SEED SEED DISTRIBUTION PLANTING METHOD FIELD/ MAINTENANCE WORKERS PLANTING DEPTH WATERING CULTIVATING WEED & PEST CONTROL FERTILISING HARVESTING PRUNING STORMS
Economic environment and market potential Business Planning and Marketing Strategy Start promoting your Brand, Products/Services Extent of market promotion Market communication medium Sales marketing and administrative personnel The quality of market presentation Incentive communication Stimulating market interest Overcoming buyer resistance Additional timely market incentive Achieving sales Rationalisation - consolidation Threats to the business or client relationships
Think BIG – Focus Small GROWING A MICRO-BUSINESS A Natural Perspective
Bob Neville Have an Idea…?
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK Think BIG-focus Small acknowledges that many who aspire to start their first MicroBusiness face challenges which initially they do not expect or understand. This book represents highly condensed experience put into easy to understand language and clear analogies that provide anyone contemplating, starting or already in a MicroBusiness or Small business, with practical, useful understanding and tools. You are encouraged to read the first three sections of this book right through initially, then “test” your business idea or existing business using Assessment Chart on page 19. From that point, having identified your most pressing challenges and needs, focus on deeper understanding by reviewing the book or most relevant Sections or articles and make appropriate decisions and take remedial actions using Section 4 – the MicroBusiness Planning Guide. Also, especially throughout the book you should come to fully appreciate the value of finding a good Mentor. This may well improve your potential for success many times over and for many it would be business-life-saving.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Special thanks:
COPYRIGHT © BOB NEVILLE NOV 2018
To my good friend, inspired and inspiring cartoonist Ian Jones, for his gifted support over so many years and also special thanks too, to those in my life who have provided much positive support and encouragement and to those who have endured the pain of my obsession over many years while completing this book
Photographs - Bob Neville All rights reserved. No part of this Book may be reproduced, transmitted or stored in a retrieval system, or translated into any human or computer language in any form or by any means whatsoever without prior written permission from the publisher.
INDEX Page 9
About the Author
Section 1 The least understood principle of Micro-Business sustainability Page 15
Growing a Business – a natural perspective
Your Business Seed idea - Good or bad?
Business Idea Assessment Chart
What do you see in the mirror?
So you want to be in business?
Getting the balance right in Micro-Business
The mystery of Micro-Business mindset
Why many business ideas go nowhere
What is your individual capacity?
Starting a new business or buying and existing one
Section 2 The Timeless Principles of “Growing” A Business Page 44
The farmer (The business manager)
Understand your temperament make-up
Temperament Assessment Charts
The farm (The business)
Four stages of business development
Economic environment and market potential
Basic Market Potential Assessment Formula
Seed (Sales) maturity rate
Planning the business growing process (Preparing to plant seed)
Presentation medium (Planting method)
The rapidly growing influence of Internet and Social Media
Effective communication (Planting depth)
Stimulating market interest (Watering, Cultivating)
Providing additional timely incentive ((Fertilising)
Are you communicating?
Overcoming potential buyer resistance (Removing weeds)
Achieving sales (Harvesting the crop)
Reviewing the growing process
Consolidation – rationalisation (Maintenance and pruning)
Building resourcefulness (Surviving droughts and storms)
How fast should a business grow?
The business/client life-cycle (A dead tree)
Section 3 – Marketing’s Missing Dimension and more of the business practical needs Page 102
What is marketing?
Introduction to Relationship Marketing
What kind of Marketing Strategy and which Media is best?
Media Choice Assessment Chart
Promotions – How can you know if they will work?
Creating and establishing your own brand
Where are you? The 3 L’s
Constructing a Marketing Strategy
Constructing and Operational Machine
Does your Operational Machine just need fine-tuning or total rebuilding?
Will your Micro-Business need staff? – Employer beware!
Financial administration and budgeting
Constructing a Business Plan (Why most Micro/Small Businesses don’t have one and never will)
How’s your business growing right now?
Facing the business mirror
Test your current level of understanding
Section 4 – Basic Business Planning Guide Page 162
Step 1 Perspective
Step 2 Self-Analysis
Step 3 Resources Analysis
Step 4 Product or Service Analysis
Step 5 Basic Market Analysis
Step 6 Presentation, Communications and Media Analysis
Step 7 Business Presentation (Name and Branding)
Step 8 Business Location Structure and Licensing
Step 9 Marketing Strategy
Step 10 Operational Strategy
Step 11 Budgeting and Financial Control
Step 12 Consolidate your Business Plan
About the Author My career began not so brilliantly when, as an aspiring young graphic designer, I went into my first Micro-Business venture. At first, things went well, but then, it became apparent that something was wrong - especially as soon as I started to employ others, naively expecting that they would hold the same level of commitment towards their job and my business. A sensitive and creative person soon proves to be a naive soft-touch in a cruel business world of indifference. I found out early, as so many still do today, that having a skill and a passion is no measure of one's preparedness for business. Six years later I was faced with a challenge: Would I give up my dream of having my own business and get a â€œrealâ€? job? Or would I start again and try to figure out what went wrong? I was not content to call it quits but set out on a crusade (or, as some would say, an obsession). I had to know why so many people followed a common path to nowhere in Micro-Business - an often short and stony journey in pursuit of the illusive mirage of prosperity or even just personal fulfilment. My underlying feeling was that prosperity, no matter what the business, has a link to the earth itself. The foundation of all physical wealth and opportunity the soil we till, the food we grow, the elements we mine, the seas we harvest, the water we drink and the air we breathe - are our most precious gifts, all of which are now being depleted, destroyed and polluted. Without sustainable, responsible management and understanding of these things, nothing, from a carrot to a computer, can be produced and marketed sustainably. What followed were ten years of progressive revelation - the understanding of nature's own analogies and lessons of what the truly natural process of MicroBusiness and marketing were about. It was an awesome moment when I finally realised that a basic natural science for business understanding and management had existed since the very first tree produced fruit and was harvested and traded - something which is not generally known or understood today. Until the mid-nineteenth century mankind was very much attuned to nature's way of growing a business. Yet, with the advent of the industrial revolution, increased general living standards in modern western society, greater disposable incomes, a revolution in communications, the emergence of increasing corporatisation and the Advertising Industry, there came a world that demanded instant gratification in just about everything. The natural flowon assumption for many people going into business is that business success too is something that one can likewise purchase off the shelf and that advertising and promotion has a "responsibility" to deliver, regardless of what nature teaches us to the contrary. Today, the developed world of mass communications and internet connectivity has moved so far away from the reality of nature's own principles of business growth that most people simply do not know they exist. Rather, they seek to plant their business seed one day, pour a year's supply of water on the next day (in the form of their life savings spent on advertising and promotion) and expect to harvest fruitful sales immediately but in many cases only to find that nobody wants the fruit they are trying to grow and sell. This leads to extreme disillusionment. 9
With factories, corporatisation of business and mass production there came an unprecedented level of increased living standards in developing countries, but along with it has also come rapidly progressive degeneration of our natural environment, natural resources and progressively increasing erosion of traditional family values. Creation of the “Corporation” naturally led to a focus on generation of profits, often at any cost. This, combined with progressively increasing access to credit, opened the way to what we have today – a world that uses credit to produce more for less, blindly ignoring the fact that sooner, rather than later, the bubble must burst as we reach the limit of our exploitation of the foundation of all sustainable economy – the natural environment and natural resources. The reality is the world cannot go on using credit to exploit the wealth of future generations while destroying its source just so we can irresponsibly have “more for less” now – creating more and more cheap junk and inevitable waste from a finite pool of precious resources. One day, we must return to the Natural Science of business laws and principles of basic community selfsustainability as the core values. In fact, we must, in order to survive. However this does not mean that we need to go back to the past, but rather, back to the future, learning from the past while embracing the inevitability of change but reigning in unsustainable corporate greed to within the bounds of ensuring natural resource sustainability and renewability where possible. Presently, the world’s economic equation is totally inverted and the true value of natural resources completely undervalued and exploited in both land and sea. The physical analogies with the earth itself provide an absolute understanding and guide to anybody who wants to know how to grow a business, naturally this, notwithstanding the fact that nature can still be cruel, where the fruits of the labour of one’s hands can still be wiped out unexpectedly by nature itself in spite of applying all of the principles that nature reveals. A successful business depends on many variables, some we can control, some we can influence and others which we cannot control or change. The combination and impact of these are different for every person entering into a business – no two are the same. How then can one expect to unscramble these variables and put together the pieces of the puzzles if one does not know or understand the very basic natural growing principles that impact as sure as the laws of gravity. Think BIG – focus Small is highly condensed experience – the more you read it and apply it in the light of experience and add the life-giving water of understanding the natural science involved, the more it will come to life and become your most valuable guide.
Introduction This book and many other community regeneration tools have evolved as part of a complete process for Smaller Community Regeneration - the core of which is a process called Micro-Facilitation™ – a process that provides free testing of business ideas, sponsored Mentoring of individuals searching for a pathway in life and affordable Mentoring of individuals who want support to progress their business idea - this from the ever present seed of community regeneration. Micro-Business is the essential foundation dimension of the community microeconomy which, directly or indirectly, is the sustainer of all larger economy worldwide. This economy is the most valuable, representing the spending of individuals, families and small businesses, yet it is the most vulnerable economy, providing the greatest diversity and collective volume of community income, employment, community liveability and government tax revenue. Yet, it is a fact of life that most Micro-Businesses fall well below their expectations – in fact many of them don’t last even a year. Why? Consider this absolute truth about Micro-Business. Most free enterprise micro/small businesses are not driven by people who are perfectly suited to being in business - and they never will be - in fact, quite the opposite. However, in spite of this, the micro-economy is the most important economy in existence, without which any free trading community, region or nation could not exist. Micro-Business is driven more by individual need, or by inspiration and passion rather than by logic or ideal business management perspective. This individual passion is what inspires individuals everywhere with new ideas, products, services and business opportunities in their local community. It is a continual sprouting of rapidly germinating “business seed” which, unfortunately, mostly burns off and dies in the heat of the day, even before it has a chance to reach maturity, let alone become productive. In over more than thirty years that I have been working with Micro-Business, the greatest problem is that of passionate, generally decent people who go into business not knowing that there is something that they desperately need to know in order to survive and grow in business. Nor do they know (often until it is too late) that they are potential “plankton” for a whole range of hungry predators It is therefore understandable that if they don’t know that there is something they need to know, they will not be looking for it and this will be/usually is the very cause of their downfall. What is it that they “don’t know that they don’t know” yet so desperately need to know?
Much Micro-Business seed fails because it has a basic genetic flaw. It fails because the unsuspecting Micro-Business person does not understand or realise that he or she needs to know and apply the basic principle of entrepreneurship - that is - to be successful in any business, no matter how small, you cannot do it all alone – yet you still need the wisdom to avoid becoming unsuspecting “prey” in a highly predatory environment.
Successful entrepreneurs are successful because they recognise that to achieve their goal they need a diversity of skills and resources that they don’t have personally. The one-person Micro-Business that tries to grow by doing and being everything and everyone in the business is too often doomed to failure, or at very best, doomed to reach a point very quickly where the business cannot grow any further. This is often at a point where the business is still not viable and merely becomes nothing more than a hobby. The “business tree” is left struggling in the confines of a “pot” and does not produce enough “fruit” to give a return sufficient to maintain the tree itself. This is true even considering the proliferation of on-line Micro-Businesses.
This book provides the all-important “going-nowhere” cyclebreaker right in the very first section articles. It is designed to be a most valuable instructional tool for Micro-Business perspective. It is highly confronting, yet totally realistic in explaining essential business principles, lessons and warnings in very simple, easy to understand language. The articles are written to stand-alone; therefore, some very important points are repeated consistently throughout the book for valuable emphasis. Simply, it is designed to be a “mindset bomb” – providing basic essential knowledge that can preserve them from becoming just another statistic among those who have gone nowhere, simply because they are convinced that their business seed is the one exception that can be grown without regard to all that nature clearly demonstrates. This book needs to be essential reading for anyone contemplating or in a small or Micro-Business. Its highly condensed “just add water” formula provides a valuable reference and guide right throughout business life – the more you read it, the more it will reveal with experience - but its greatest value is seen if it is read, understood and applied from the very outset of considering a small or Micro-Business venture. Further, if the principles of actually “growing” a Micro-Business from a seed idea using these horticultural analogies were essential foundation teaching for young people from a very early age, there would surely be less business failures, less debt, less shattered dreams and more successful, more sustainable businesses, particularly within our small communities. Beyond this, for those who want to understand the Natural Science of Small Community Regeneration – nature’s own process for regenerating communities - I encourage you to read learn more about the Community Gold Program and read the many additional articles which have evolved out of a lifetime of experience.
Growing a Business (A Natural Perspective)
How does one gain the necessary perspective to undertake a business venture? How does one gain and use the necessary skills that will ensure every opportunity for success? Perspective is "vision" â€“ the way you see or understand things. To see things in true perspective you must view them from a distance relative to their size. If you stand with your nose against the trunk of the tree, not only will you fail to see the forest you will also have a very limited view of the tree. To undertake any business, even the smallest, requires the input of a multiplicity of skills and resources. All of the skills required are not naturally inherent in any one individual, therefore, it will be essential to understand the skills you have and surround yourself with those that you lack. Some people have a more suitable temperament for business management, a naturally inherent flair that gives them a distinct advantage. Yet even the most talented, gifted or skilful businessperson still needs the input of many other inter-related people skills. Many of us are familiar with the old saying "money makes money". This is more accurately stated as "money plus ENRREPRENEURSHIP (experience, skilful management and teamwork) makes money". Money is merely one resource required. Without a supportive, complimentary team of skills to make the business growth-equation complete, money is a resource that will quickly disappear regardless of its abundance initially.
The right perspective for "growing" a business The natural science of growing a business demonstrates how to literally "grow" a business in much the same way you would grow fruit on a tree. To grow fruit, you must have the right, good seed. You must know how and where to plant the seed and when. The soil must be right, the climate must be right, the time must be right. You must know what you are doing.
You must know how much water to give the newly planted seedling. Too much and it will drown. Too little and it will dry up and die. As the tree grows you must take care of it. Remove weeds, cultivate it to stimulate healthy early growth, watch for unhealthy signs of disease. Also, you should give the tree the right dose of natural fertiliser at appropriate times to stimulate growth and further establish the root system. You must prune the tree throughout its life, remove unproductive and dead branches to promote more vigorous growth and bigger, better fruit. You must protect the maturing fruit from pests, pick it at the right time, market it at a suitable price and re-invest the returns to continue the process of maintaining and improving the orchard. Then, there may be some potential for expansion. All of these points of management relate directly to principles in growing a business. The success you achieve in either will be directly proportionate to careful application of those management principles. In growing fruit, failure to apply any one or more of those points will affect the quality and quantity of the end result. In business the analogy is accurately similar. Let us now consider how this analogy relates to overall Micro-Business perspective.
Your Business Seed Idea? Is it Good Seed or Bad Seed?
Seed represents your Business idea and the quality and saleability of the product/s or service/s you will be offering. First and foremost, you are going to need to know whether your business idea has any real potential to be successful. In other words, you need to â€œtest the seedâ€?. Business seed analysis is the first stage of Micro-Business research. In formulating an approach to research, how far should you go? What are the practical guidelines for determining just how much research should be done? It is usually not practical for a potential Micro-Business person to spend multiple thousands of dollars on surveys and market research information for a very limited market. This is true in many business situations therefore what are the guidelines to a safe, economical approach? Consider this from a natural perspective. Progressively, this book provides insight into basic research for a MicroBusiness idea, showing what can be learned about business seed, the growing nature of business opportunities, the market conditions and climate, correct planting and growing principles for any business, no matter how small. The purpose of basic Micro-Business research is to provide a dominant part of the foundation for potential business planning, operation, marketing strategy and potential for viability, therefore it is extremely important. It is the principle of balance and control. Research teaches you to assume nothing and prove everything as far as economically practical in a Micro-Business context. You must try to think the way your potential market actually thinks - not the way you want or assume it to think. Without even just the basic research you are only gambling, therefore be patient. Consider all of the analogies and questions presented in the following sections as well as any others that may present themselves in the light of evaluating your prospective business opportunity. 17
Seed is the very basis of ongoing life, something small, seemingly insignificant, something we take for granted, something that we walk over every day. Yet, we depend upon this simple resource. A tiny capsule with gigantic potential, containing a genetic formula designed to grow into a tree or plant which bears the specific fruit or grain of the genetic formula contained therein - that is - provided it is planted in suitable conditions and properly cared for. It stands to reason that if a farmer chooses poor quality seed, no matter how much effort goes into caring for it, chances are that the seed may not even germinate. Just as important, you must likewise have a suitable seed idea for growing a Micro-Business. Business seed will contain its own genetic formula that represents the growing nature of the product or service to be sold. A seed’s genetic formula identifies its growing nature – that is: what will grow, the conditions, water and care it needs, how long it should take to grow. Like seed, a business idea is the very basis of ongoing business life. In it is contained a potential for growth - an opportunity that should, if properly planted, watered and maintained provide a profitable "harvest" of sales. Many businesses are established on sheer blind optimism. Like seed, business ideas and opportunities can exists all around us. We may take them for granted, or perhaps overvalue their worth. Just as many seeds provide no consumable value, many apparent business ideas can prove to be likewise of no value. To gain insight into the initial value of the business opportunity we must first see what can be learned about its own genetic formula. A seed contains within its genetic formula a pre-determined maturity rate. Some seeds grow to maturity faster than others and produce different varieties and different quantities of fruit. Different seeds require different amounts of water and care to bring them to maximum yield potential. Some are quick growing, high yielding and may require little attention during initial growth, while others may be slow growing, low yielding and may require constant attention. The genetic characteristics of business seed and its quality and growing nature will indicate how long it might take to initially plan, prepare for and then establish the business to a point of potential viability.
The very first step you need to take in terms of your business idea is to “TEST THE SEED.” The chart on the following page is a crucial cross-road for your idea. It looks not only at the idea, but at a range of influencing factors that will help you to at least initially identify key issues, challenges and needs. This should in no way be considered as adequate for making a final decision to proceed or otherwise with your business idea. Rather, it is a first-step “mirror of reflection.” Further, you need to be as conservative as possible in your answers; otherwise you are completely fooling yourself. I strongly recommend that you ask one or two other people who know you well to give you an honest, independent response to these crucial first stage questions. NOTE: For a clear explanation of these 20 Questions review the explanatory notes on pages 20 and 21.
Reference Notes for previous Chart) Broader Overall Influencing Factors Chart Question 1: Apparent Business idea uniqueness or novelty? What is unique, special, novel about what you are offering that will give you a marketing edge? Or is your product or service simply the same as or a variation of existing ones. If so, what makes you think that you will draw market response over already established competitors? Question 2: Would you be selling “Funerals” or “Fast Food”? This is actually asking: What is the Marketable nature of your Product or Service? Every Business Product or Service falls on a scale between these two extremes. For example, “Funerals” are low volume demand at any one time while “Fast Food” has a large volume daily market. On a scale of 1(Funerals) to 10 (Fast Food) where does your business idea sit? Question 3: Likely level of potential market benefit or need? Are you convinced that there is really a need for the business you are proposing and what are the benefits? There are countless businesses out there trying to sell something that not enough people in a market area may want or need. Think about this. Maybe do a mini-survey within local circles? Question 4: Likely level of market spontaneous interest or demand? This question bears similarity to the above two. Will your business invoke immediate interest with what you would be selling? You need to be very clear on the marketable nature of your product or service. I place emphasis on these questions as they bear strong significance when it comes to marketing. Question 5: Level of commitment to the idea by all people directly involved? It may be a great idea, but are you really committed to taking it forward? Are there others involved with you in this idea? If so, are they really interested? Question 6: Apparent level of competition? Would you be the exclusive supplier of the product or service you are offering? If already established competition is strong this may diminish potential to attract a viable share of the market unless you have or can identify some distinct advantages. Question 7: Are you clearly aware of the initial establishment costs involved?
Starting a business can involve a diversity of initial set-up costs. Have you considered or fully identified what these might be? Question 8: Your current capacity to fund establishment costs? It is important that you fully identify all establishment costs involved and relate this to your financial capacity to fund them. Question 9: Your current capacity to source start-up capital if needed? If there is a shortfall, there will be need to consider where/how additional funds can be sourced and whether this practical. Perhaps one or more business partner/s or a loan? If this is necessary, you will likely need to complete a reasonably convincing MicroBusiness Plan for this purpose. Question 10: How long is needed until the business would reach operation break-even? When you plant a seedling in the ground, there will be an initial grow period where there is no productivity. This varies depending on the genetic nature of the seed. This represents the Phase 1 stage of business growth. How long do you think it might be before you are attracting enough sales to reach cost-break-even? While this may a difficult question to answer at this stage, you need to be broadly aware and prepared for the fact that it might take longer and this will impact on the level of financial resources need until then.
Question 11: Will you have sufficient funds until you reach initial viability? Again, this is another difficult question to answer right at this point, but think about it in relation to the previous question. Question 12: How long from initial viability to reach maximum potential? When a fruit tree starts to produce fruit, its yield will increase from year to year until it reaches its peak production capacity. For example, an Olive tree will start to produce a small amount after two or three years, but it will take four years to reach a viable return and then probably another 4 or 5 years to reach peak production. This represents the Phase 2 stage of business growth. Consider this in relation to the time it may take to grow a viable return from your business seed idea. Question 13: What is your current level of related Industry knowledge and experience? You might have a great idea, but how much do you know about the industry related to your idea, and is this going to be significant? Question 14: What is your current ability to market your business? Marketing is a BIG subject, and it seems everyone is their own “expert”. Many fledgling Micro-Businesses fall apart in this dimension and don’t realise the full context of what marketing really is. In effect, it is a real “Jigsaw” puzzle and all of the relevant pieces need to be sorted and placed together to provide the complete picture. Be sure to read key articles in Section 3 carefully before you answer this question. Question 15: Would you need to employ others within the business? Micro-Business is that which employs less than 5, however, around 60perecent don’t employ anyone. If you are going have one or more business partners, or employ people for any purpose and if you have not employed anyone before, then you need to be well informed on the relevant issues. Be sure to read the article on Page 138. Question 16: Are you a good organiser? Are you an organised thinker and doer? Anticipate needs or situations in advance and able to remain focused at all times? Or do you tend to be constantly “fire-fighting” – responding to challenges and unexpected or unanticipated situations when they happen, in which case these can cause you to abort plans and find yourself in a situation of mild chaos, or worse? Question 17: Are you good at managing finances? Some people are excellent money-managers but others can by nature simply have no ability to do so. This is not a criticism, but merely a simple fact of life. Those same people can excel at other things that can contribute to the success of the business. The important point is to acknowledge if managing your money is not your forte’ and plan for having this dimension of your business covered via the right kind of support. Question 18: Are you a “people person” (Outgoing, good networker, relationship builder.) These attributes or this kind of personality is good for “front line” market communication and salesmanship. Just because you might have a good idea, this alone will not help your business to grow if you are a literal “grouch.” So often I see people running businesses who simply should not be there. They treat customers rudely or with complete indifference. There is no positive interaction, just a transaction and that does not establish lasting relationships. Question 19: Are there potential regulatory or safety issues involved in the business. These could be minimal or they could be extensive. Talk to your local Council before you go too far and be aware of the implications and costs.
Question 20: Apparent level of negative environmental impact? The environment and our natural resources are the very foundation of all sustainable business and life itself. Is your business going to leave a positive environmental footprint? If there are environmental issues, be sure to check this with your Council also.
What do you seen in the Mirror?
The Seed Idea Assessment Chart is designed to remove the “rose coloured glasses” – to evaluate your idea and your current capacity to take that idea forward. It will reveal much to you provided you are objectively open-minded and genuinely wanting to ensure that your business idea is genetically sound and if so, whether you will be able to make it happen. Even a great business idea does not mean that the business will always be successful - in fact far from it. Understand why? As you will see in the Assessment questions, there are numerous other things to be considered, any one of which can influence the potential of the business to greater or lesser extent. This is the point in time when you really need to resist the temptation to think that “your idea is the exception” and that it can’t fail. Even if your idea rates very highly in the first four questions, this does not mean that you, by yourself, are necessarily the right person to actually make it all happen. What the Assessment exposes in the low scores are the primary, most obvious issues, challenges and needs that are apparent in regard to the business idea, as it stands right now, not merely the idea as you might perceive it will be (that is very important.) It puts a mirror right in front of you and asks you to take a completely honest look at what you see so that you can determine how you feel about the idea and about your own current capacity to follow though. Take a close look at the lower scores. These are the things that can bring your business unstuck. However, don’t despair at this stage. If the idea itself seems to have merit according to the first four questions, your next step is to evaluate what capacity might exist to reduce the risks through various means of investigation and support. Then, with a second evaluation of those scores, consider to what extent the scores might be improved with that support and see what the overall second result indicates. One way or another, you will need to realistically eliminate or greatly reduce the risks.
When you have done the second evaluation, consider how confident you now feel about the whole idea. Are you apprehensive or are you thoroughly convinced that you are ready to take this forward. If you have never been in business before, if you have no business experience or training, if you are inclined to just want to get on with your great idea regardless, then you may be on dangerous ground indeed, so be cautious. The overriding message is, no matter how small the business might be we still need help. We cannot do everything and be everyone in the business otherwise you are simply trying to grow your business in a Pot. This is the time when having a good Mentor could make all the difference. Why? An experienced Micro-Business Mentor can be the voice of conscience on your shoulder, a devil’s advocate, one who recognises over-optimism and one who can generally help YOU to see where your business idea might meet greater challenges than initially evident. Indeed, this is the time when you may be most vulnerable, the time when you are tempted to think – “I don’t need help. I can do this.” If so, be sure to read and re-read all of the following first section articles and look again into the mirror. Having then tested the quality of your business seed idea, you have a decision to make. Does the idea seem to have merit? Are you still enthusiastic about the idea? Do you feel that you would like to take it further and look more closely into its potential and address the apparent shortfalls identified in the Assessment Chart? If not, and you have decided to go no further, at least you can be satisfied that you have looked into it and know once and for all that you have made the right decision. This is a potentially crucial crossroad because if you had proceeded with starting the business without looking into this first mirror, you might have made a costly mistake. Alternatively, if you have decided to take the next step, then continue reading.
So you want to be in business….! (How do you rate as a potential business operator?)
There is no doubt that the major cause of business go-nowhere syndrome is unrealistic expectations that cloud a person’s view of business potential with a sense of over-optimism. Almost inevitably, there is a sense of belief that the business is going to be successful and that it will achieve this success quickly with little or no resources. This outlook completely defies the very principles and analogies of “growing” a business. In order to quickly gain a relative perspective on one’s potential to be successful in any business there are four attributes that need to be fully under control in terms of overall business management capability. These are:
Relevant Industry knowledge & experience Marketing understanding and related skills People management and business operational skills Financial management skills
It is not uncommon that people go into business highly skilled at a trade or profession or having extensive knowledge of the business that they are entering. Unfortunately, many of these same people naively believe that this is all they need to be successful. Let’s look more closely at the four crucial quadrants of business and consider where we fit.
Relevant Industry knowledge and experience Having a good knowledge and experience in the product, service or line of business that you are intending to provide is an extremely great starting advantage. This ensures that you can be confident about the product or service you provide and know what standards the market will expect and know how your competitors compare. This applies whether you are a trades-person or a manufacturer, a farmer, fast-food outlet or even a funeral director. To be most successful, you should know, understand and be passionate about the work you do. If not it is likely that your level of commitment will not be sufficient to give you enduring strength to last in the face of a host of challenges and issues that will arise from other dimensions of the management quadrant.
Marketing understanding and related skills Business deaths are commonly written with the same epitaph - that of people who have great ideas or who can invent or produce a great product, but who prove to have no realistic idea of how to market it, in spite of their own initial perception. Marketing requires appropriate research to determine the facts about a host of related matters and as you will see from this book, in many cases, advertising will usually not play the dominant role in the collective marketing process. Marketing is a three-dimensional process of which the cornerstones are (as you will progressively see) science, art and theology. There is much more involved than â€œsellingâ€?. It also requires adequate market research and strategic planning in every phase of communication.
People management and business operational skills Coupled with marketing is the ability to understand how to win the support and cooperation of people at every phase of the business operational process. You can have the best product or service in the world and a huge market potential, but you are dependent upon your relationships with people to make, supply, pack, sell, bill and deliver your product or service. What chance have you got if the people you employ, contract or deal with, are not really interested in you or your business? What if they hate their job and hate dealing with people? What if customers are not truly satisfied and are not coming back? Worse still, what if customers and even employers, are telling their friends not to deal with you? As a businessperson you must ensure that the right people and procedures are in the business at every stage and at every level to ensure efficient and harmonious relationships and people interactions.
Financial management skills This corner of the quadrant does not merely relate to basic bookkeeping, records management and seeing an accountant once each year to have him or her tell you that you are going broke. Rather, it relates to having your finger on the pulse of how the business is situated at any given time. It involves knowing your real costs, being able to properly budget and project income and expenditure, being able to control your costs, knowing when and when not to expand and knowing how and when to adjust your expenditure in the face of any significant change in market demand.
Finding the weakest link It is likely that the chance of a business being fully successful is only as strong as its weakest link in this chain of four crucial phases of management, yet, the fact of life is that no human being is individually “exceptionally good” at all four. In fact, most people in business would excel at only one of these, while a minority would be competent at two. In reviewing many recorded business failures, you would also find that many individuals are not outstandingly competent at any of these. One of the most unfortunate situations I have seen regularly is where people who retire from a job or who perhaps have been made redundant, then use their superannuation payout to start or buy a business. They may have little or none of the quadrant management skills and are basically unaware of the trap they are getting into. They are simply not aware of the need for or relevant impact of these skills. Another big mistake made (or misunderstanding) many people in MicroBusiness have is that they believe they must be good at all four or at least, some feel that they must personally do all four in the business, believing that they cannot afford to involve others. This is indeed false economy, as the fact is you will be passionate about those aspects of business in which you excel and love, but you will suffer anxiety or even hate doing the others. This is a natural reaction - one that should not be fought against, believing that you “must” personally be an “expert” at all four and do all four yourself. To do so is to draw you away from what you do best with your greatest given gifts, talents and skills to do something that you do not like and are not good at. This is guaranteed to diminish your personal effectiveness and you will surely find that all of the time and anxiety spend personally trying to fulfil the total quadrant by yourself will not only be uneconomical, but most likely be extremely destructive personally and to the business. True entrepreneurs recognise this. They realise that to be successful, they need to focus on giving their personal passion and commitment to doing those things which they are good at and surrounding themselves with people who are equally gifted in fulfilling the other corners of the management quadrant. Recognition of your quadrant management skills and understanding of those you personally lack should be identified well before you buy or start a business. This way, you can consider the best way of finding appropriate support and costing it into your eventual Business Plan.
Getting the balance right in Micro-Business
Understand why you can only juggle just so much on your own Micro-Business ideas are conceived at the rate of about 20 per 1000 population per year in any basically stable community. This can be slightly more or considerably less, depending on that community’s level of entrenched social challenge. Existing Micro-Businesses account for around 85percent of all private sector businesses and as much as 100percent in many smaller rural communities. This makes Micro-Business and micro-economy the “plankton” of all economy, comprising the day to day spending of individuals, families and micro/small business in each community. Micro-Business ideas are the “seed” for community economic regeneration – valuable seed ideas, of which, a very realistic percentage can be facilitated into new on-the-ground business at a rate that can provide natural community regenerative sustainability and growth over and above the natural rate of decline. However, Micro-Business start-ups are traditionally the most vulnerable of all levels of business - wild seed - which sprouts quickly, often with shallow roots on poor soil, much of which is then soon burned off in the heat of the midday sun. The greatest challenge facing Micro-Business is not that of having access to information, as there is limitless information freely available today via the Internet, unlike years ago. The real challenge facing Micro-Business is, however, the same as it was and always has been. It is the very nature of this “wild seed” in that many are their own worst enemy. The problem is most Micro-Business start-ups are not initiated by the experienced, the most suitably educated, or the most adequately resourced. Rather, most are started by virtually anyone at any level who has what he or she believes to be a great business idea, or who believe that they can just use their superannuation to buy an instant business.
In spite of the enormous amount of dud business seed that is going nowhere around us constantly, many of these start-ups believe their idea is the one exception that is definitely going to succeed and they may also believe that they don’t need any help or that they can’t afford it. However, even many of those who start out believing that they do have the knowledge and resources needed can still end up going nowhere, as they find out that text book business development can usually be a far cry from reality. Why? And this is the crucial reason why so many Micro-Business start-ups go nowhere...! Because every individual is different, every idea is different, every market is different and on and on and on the list of variables continue. This means that your Micro-Business opportunity is always unique – and if you try to do it “by the book” then it is likely you will never get around to making it happen. Further, if you try to do it all by yourself believing you have all the answers, you will likely go down one of those many paths to nowhere. This is not speculation, it is absolute fact. Now, there is an important lesson in this...! You can waste enormous time and resources going down many tracks on your own trying to get a business idea planted and growing, only to find out that after you have spent all of the time and resources, your business idea, or rushed-into business, is still going nowhere. Basically, what happens to many start-ups can be compared to when the “baby falls into the swimming pool.” If there is nobody about to pull the child out – it will “drown” and that is exactly what happens to many Micro-Business start-ups. What would you prefer? Someone who immediately pulls you out of deep water? OR someone who hands you a text book and says “you need to learn how to swim”? No amount of expert publications (including this one) or textbooks or overthe-net information or Classroom Business Courses will help you quick enough to save you, unless you have the time and money to “wait” months and years to “learn to swim” first. Most Micro-Business people have neither the time nor the money or the patience to wait that long, as most of them just want to get on with it, ignoring or denying the consequences. There are plenty of government and non-government information sites, publications and Group Training Courses that are willing to teach you how to swim in business – and many of these provide practical information. But, by then, because every business ideas is so completely unique, you may find that you have studied and read reams of information that you feel is not directly relevant to your specific needs. It is a frustrating not-so-merry-go round. Further, many people who start up Micro-Businesses seem to have a complete aversion to reading advice, doing training courses or any kind of planning. Think about this: Less than five percent of all Micro-Businesses ever have even the basic elements of a business plan. While this may not doom them all to failure, it can impact heavily on the effectiveness of the path they take in all aspects of the business, and indeed, its capacity to operate smoothly.
It’s like going on a journey. They know where they are starting from and where they want to go, but instead of getting directions that will help them get there the most cost effective way, they just head off into the desert and try to find their way without a map and usually without adequate food and water. There are many aspiring Micro-Business people falling into the pool or walking off into the desert every day. But do you know what happens to most of them when they cry out for help? It’s likely too late - the kind of help they need right then is usually not there. So what’s the best all-round solution, the most inexpensive solution, the least stressful solution? Firstly – you must get it through your head that the collective elements of what will represent your potential business make it absolutely unique. Even though the ideas itself may not be unique, what can make it unique is the combination of your temperament, experience, knowledge, individual capacity, resources, location, market environment and so on, all of which form a unique business development package. Therefore, be sure to properly test your idea using the advice and tools available in this book. Then, if your idea still stacks up in your own eyes and assuming you are confident in what you see, then, and only then, your best option is to ask a Micro-Business Mentor to help you work through the essential aspects of your idea to find the best and quickest and most cost effective way to get it up and running. This, for what should be a very small hourly Mentoring fee, compared to “drowning in the pool” or “dying of thirst in the desert.” The following Articles provide more insight into what I see as Micro-Business Mindset and which I hope will strengthen your resolve to stay out of the pool. If, however, you are already in the pool and need to get out quickly and get on dry land. right with the help of someone who really greatest potential – a good Mentor, ideally under the Community Gold Program.
floundering somewhat, then you Then you can focus on getting it wants to see you achieve your a Community Micro-Facilitator™
Just one more point right here....! Having a good Mentor in itself does not guarantee that your business idea will succeed, but it will increase your chances enormously, provided you are prepared to listen to the support given. How? A good Mentor should not tell you what to do but rather, he or she will be the voice of conscience on your shoulder – a voice that will challenge you and guide you and be a navigator for your unique journey. A good Mentor understands that every business journey is unique and will not want to see you going down dead ends if you can avoid them. Every Community (from the largest to the smallest) can and should have its own Community Micro-Facilitator and if yours does not, then there is an opportunity for someone to provide this service to your community through the Community Gold Program.
The Mystery of Micro-Business Mindset
If you are going into a small business or very small (micro) business this could be the most important message that you are ever likely to read. Unless you understand, accept it and apply it, your chances of success are highly reduced. Therefore, read this article carefully and choose whether you are prepared to face the reflection in its confronting mirror. There is a mindset disease that kills of many fledgling businesses before they have a chance to reach productive maturity. It is a disease that is very easy for everyone to recognize, except for the person who has it. If you are about to start a business or community project, you need to look into the challenging mirror of Micro-Business mindset and be prepared to â€œseeâ€? what you need to see. In any forest or garden, living plants compete for the life-giving nutrients and moisture of the soil and for the life-giving light of day. The larger plants are generally the strongest, the oldest and the most dominantly visible in the light of the high canopy and spread their roots deep into the soil below. In between, a seemingly infinite variety of smaller plants also compete for life and light. By far, the most prevalent in number and in collective diversity are the smallest plants. These are many and mysterious - the most vulnerable, yet, by virtue of their massive number and variety and their place in the cycle of nature, they dominate the soil in numbers and in their often short life of individual struggle and sacrifice, they feed the soil with more life-giving nutrients so much needed for the existence and regeneration of all plants.
So it is also in the world of business. Micro-Business (that which employs less than five people) is a unique business sector in the way that it seeds to life, how it grows and how it so often quickly fades and dies in the community regenerative garden. Anyone going into business (first timers and especially those who have a history of repeated unsuccessful business ventures) need to have a clear understanding and appreciation of exactly why a starting new business or project is so vulnerable and how and why it needs to be understood in parallel with its progressively larger counterparts - the answers to which are seen in nature’s own regenerative cycle. Indeed, Micro-Business is unique. It is wild, delicate and the smallest of seed, yet the most common, the most diverse and collectively the most important. It grows mostly not from reason or deliberate planning, but from opportunity and individual passion or even from greed. It bursts into life quickly and seemingly without logic, it often flourishes but a short time and as quickly as it appears, it again disappears. Micro-Business is generally different in so many ways to larger business. It is by nature, as I have described, wild and delicate, erratic and unpredictable, infinite in colour and variety. Rather than living in control of its life and environment, it seems to be controlled by this environment - all too quickly, it is gone. Some of this business seed will sprout “weeds” – erratic Micro-Business people who grow totally out of control and who produce no productive seed. Rather, they merely torment and draw life and sustenance from others around them. Many of those people who live and die this cycle in Micro-Business seem to learn little or nothing. They simply start again on another venture, repeat the same mistakes and net the same result. All too often, it is those around them who bear the cost of their erratic cycle. The perplexing mystery is that each time they have many reasons to justify their situation. They are convinced that everything and everyone but themselves is to blame. The cycle of MicroBusiness evolution and accompanying self-destroying devolution is one of business-life’s greatest of all mysteries. What does it take to break this mindset cycle? What does it take to convince hopeful Micro-Business people that, unless they listen, understand, accept and respond to that which they desperately need to know, they may soon be on the elevator of business extinction? There are many Small Community Regeneration analogies that provide a most sobering perspective and challenge and Section 2 of this book offers a clear explanation of how aspiring Micro-Business people can understand the realities of the challenge the face and do so with greater caution and indeed, greater confidence.
How to avoid becoming a victim of your own mindset? First and foremost, if you believe that it can’t happen to you, if you believe that you are in control, then you just may be one of the most vulnerable and you need to consider the following points:
Have you been in business before? If so, was it really successful? And regardless, is this one entirely different? (If you have had a succession of failures or closures, or business ideas which simply end up lost in “go nowhere” syndrome? what makes you think that this will be any different?)
Do you have even just a basic, documented plan for the business? (If so, that is a big head start.) If not, do you believe that you don’t need one or don’t have time and will think about it later? (If so, you are on somewhat shaky ground.)
Do you intend to do most/all aspects of the business yourself – Product sourcing, design, production, marketing, despatch, administration and financial management, even without basic Mentor support - if so, then your chances of succeeding may be reduced even further.
Do you have other people involved in the business who are family or friends, whom you are counting on? (Chances are quite strong that they will not share your own depth of vision or commitment and may not last the distance.)
Alternatively, are you in the habit of using friends and relations expecting them to work for nothing to help you achieve your own dreams – if so, you will most likely end up working alone?
How committed are you yourself to the business idea? opportunity sound too good to be true? (If so, it probably is.)
If you have a less than desirable answer to any or all of the above questions and still think that you are going to make it, then you are even more vulnerable than anyone. What you are probably saying is: “Yes, I know all that, but it won’t happen to me, I know what I am doing and don’t need or can’t afford any help.” If so, then yours is likely that wild, erratic Micro-Business nature – driven in defiance of logic and reason, refusing to comprehend that “there is something you now desperately need to know but you don’t know that you need to know and seemingly, you don’t want to know…! That is, the need for seeking a suitable independent Mentor and taking the time to do even just some basic planning - preferably before you start. To the average Micro-Business person, even basic planning is regarded as unnecessary. It even seems to work against all the pulls of human nature. In fact, most people have a distinct aversion towards business planning. This is a completely natural human reaction, but certainly not a practical one. If this is your view, then so be it. Good luck. Alternatively, if the proverbial penny is dropping, you can multiply your chances of success many, many times through the following advice.
Seek out a Micro-Business Mentor who can work through even just the basic issues with you. A skilled Mentor understands the unique and delicate world of Micro-Business and has the capacity to give you the kind of real support that you need at this time, thus increasing your potential for success. He or she should not push you into doing all kinds of courses or try to turn you into an expert in marketing or bookkeeping or anything else that you really hate doing, rather, he or she should encourage you to identify what you do best and show you how to surround yourself with the kind of support you really need. He or she will not make decisions for you, but rather, place before you a series of “mirrors” that enable you to take a challenging look at yourself and what you are doing. Surely this sounds like a great idea, the perfect solution, the right kind of person you need right now! However, if you are like many Micro-Business people – you will not want this kind of help because you think you cannot afford it, or because you may not want to see what is in those mirrors. You will not want that “voice within” to challenge you – because in your own mind, you don’t need it and you are not prepared to take a little more time. You just want to get the business started – now. This attitude is the challenging mystery of Micro-Business Mindset – a mindset of self-reliant independence – sometimes even arrogant independence. It is the single greatest cause of business failure and it always will be. Due to this mindset, the cycle of “going nowhere” for business start-ups will always be very high. I am offering you what most Micro-Business people will never understand and few will ever accept - the realization that every Micro-Business is different and with the right support, you need not see your business idea die before its time. You can break the cycle of Micro-Business Mindset. The right kind of mentoring, right now, preferably before you start, and even if you already have started, can provide tremendous peace-of-mind. The real cost is very small compared to what you will waste going down dead-end paths and making potentially many costly mistakes.
Why many business ideas “go nowhere”
Traditionally, we acknowledge but accept a high level of new business “goingnowhere” syndrome believing that it is caused by a number of basic factors including poor financial management skills, poor marketing skills, lack of effective initial research and planning or lack of capital and so on. Also, traditionally people going into business are encouraged to be aware of these dangers and we encourage them to develop these much-needed skills, yet, for the most part, Micro-Business people will not take the opportunity to develop these skills – even if freely offered. Why…? They don’t believe they have time or don’t believe they have a need to do so. This is an integral fact of life regarding the nature of most people who go into business. Ironically, businesses with “going nowhere” syndrome are not restricted to the uninitiated novice. It is also worthy to note that many individuals who have had business training or qualifications also still fail in business. Further, business failure is not uncommon among all levels and professions in the community. So what really is the basic reason why so many aspiring businesses go nowhere? Indeed, what farmer would plant the wrong crop in the wrong soil at the wrong time of year, then pour a year’s supply of water on it overnight and expect to harvest a crop the very next day? Certainly not your average farmer…! Yet, this is exactly what thousands of aspiring Micro-Business people attempt every day. Over-optimistically and without even any basic research, they plant the wrong business idea (or even the right one) in the wrong market soil at the worst possible time and pour their life-savings on it in the form of what is often unrealistic expectations from advertising and promotion and expect the world to rush in the very next day and cast gold at their feet? Again, why…? Why is it that no matter how much good advice is available to people and no matter how easy you make it for them to try to avoid getting into trouble in business, many will simply ignore this advice, believing that their venture is the one exception to the rule – the only one that needs no planning, no support and no advice?
And when it all starts to fall apart, all they need, as many will tell you, is access to more dollars to make it soon happen. Don’t let this happen to you. Understand why..! This Micro-Business mindset is the very nature of those with wild business seed. This is wild seed – it is not proven seed that has been handed down over many generations – it is the seed of individual, free passion and self-will which is genetically formulated to grow where it wants, when it wants and how it wants – and nobody is going to make it grow any differently. This genetic characteristic of business seed – this natural, self-reliant, overoptimistic and out-of-control mindset is the real reason why so many fledgling businesses go nowhere. I know because I also speak from personal experience and subsequently, a lifetime devoted to working with this very large and highly erratic and unrestrained sector. You cannot change these genetic characteristics in others by bludgeoning or intimidation or even shock treatment. Even if they understand and acknowledge certain skills or temperament shortfalls – many of them will not be able to do anything about it because their overriding controlling genetic nature will not allow them. They simply do not have the personal genetic characteristics and therefore, many do not have the capacity or will to do so, until or unless the penny drops and they come to this realisation themselves. This is a fact of life – true human nature. You can’t change it or successfully work against it, rather, we need to work with it, until the proverbial penny drops – and hopefully this happens before it is too late. This is the real challenge of dealing with MicroBusiness ideas. Training and skills development, while it is much needed and is proven to improve business efficiency and survival rate, is not the answer – at least not the most effective initial answer – because it is the solution that most people will simply not be willing or able to accept. Does this make them fools? Many people may think so – but no…! Does this condemn them to certain failure? No…! Should we actually be preventing such people from going into business? No…! They will still go into business anyway, with or without the skills, experience and resources needed, and in our free country, everyone has the right to go into business, go broke and wreck their financial security and relationships for years or forever. Therefore, a different approach is needed to helping these people – one that works within the framework and scope of their individual genetic makeup and individual capacity initially – one that brings the initial approach to facilitation and support to the level of their thinking and works with them within the scope and potential of their initial limitations. Micro-Facilitation™ works with its clientele from the same side of the desk, not from opposite sides. It needs to focus on building a Doctor-Patient kind of relationship of trust with each totally individual client and having the wisdom and experience to prescribe accordingly. It is not a one size fits all “you-need-to-do-these-courses-andread-all-of-these-books” kind of strategy. As I have explained previously: Imagine that the baby has just fallen into the swimming pool…! There is a sudden and definite need – to get that child out of trouble. Therefore, do we race over to the child and say: “You need to do a course on how to swim – here – read this book and you can then learn how to get out of the pool?” 35
Unfortunately, most top-down driven business advice uses that approach when it comes to working with Micro-Business individuals who have just jumped into deep business water – or worse still, they just walk away and let them drown. At that very point, they need caring, hands-on help – not someone who humiliates or belittles them. Not someone who condescendingly intimidates them into doing this or that training or to study how to do a business plan or to read page after page of all kinds of confronting information. As sound and as practical as the training and books may be, they really need hands-on help – NOW. They really need to get right to the source of their immediate needs and resolve them if possible, with the support and guidance of a good hands-on Mentor in a way that builds initial confidence and trust. Otherwise, it’s too late – their business is literally dead in the water. Once this trust is established, it is then possible to nurture some of them out of deep water. That is the essence of and the difference with Micro-Facilitation – it recognizes that people are going into business constantly – people who don’t have all of the answers or all of the training before they start – it is not in the nature of most people to do so. There is no point in refusing to provide hands on help saying that they were fools for jumping into deep water in the first place. Failure to clearly make available this kind of hands-on, one-on-one support to community business start-ups is the major reason for the consistently high level of business “go-nowhere” syndrome. On the contrary, if we do intervene and pull them out of the water as much as they will allow – then the survival rate is greatly increased – in fact – their business will live long enough for some of them to realize that they do need to expand their knowledge and experience through practical training and supportive advice. Community-sponsored Micro-Facilitation should be a standard option available in every community – something that all communities come to understand is available, where seed ideas can be freely tested, followed with an affordable, confidential and non-judgemental source of practical one-on-one support when it is needed most. This way, individuals can focus on the real lifethreatening and life-saving issues of diving into Micro-Business deep water.
What’s your “individual capacity”…? To know what you don’t know, yet don’t know that you don’t know, but desperately need to know?
The surprising, little understood answer to the above question reveals the real reason why so many business ideas never get started or simply don’t last. Understanding this could not only get you started, it could literally save your business life. Do you have the individual capacity to start and grow a business? And just what do I mean by capacity? Let’s start with a typical Natural Science analogy. I planted two passionfruit vines, both from the same supplier and both were similar sized seedlings, both healthy looking. Both of these seedlings were planted in the same kind of soil only a few feet apart and both were given the same level of care and water. Over a similar period of initial growth, one grew at twice the rate of the other. Why is it so? The simple answer is that every plant, like every individual has different individual capacity due to individual genetic make-up. Something built into our “DNA seed” over generations makes us what we are and provides us with our individual genetic capacity. In other words, what we do and achieve as individuals is going to be largely (although not totally) a product of our genetic capacity. Environment, education, training, resources, opportunity etc., will also play a part in whether we are able to achieve the full extent of our individual capacity, but the overriding factor will still be genetic. One of our goals in life should be to grow in awareness of our individual capacity. Does this mean we can never grow beyond our individual capacity? The answer to that question is “yes” and “no”…! To understand why, let us consider another Natural Science analogy. What happens if you plant a seedling in a pot – one that normally has a capacity to grow very large?
Basically, the potted seedling will reach a capacity limit of growth due to its environment. In other words, the limiting environment of the pot will strangle the seedling’s capacity to expand its root system and therefore it will not have the capacity to take advantage of environmental conditions that would otherwise enable it to grow much larger. So if we as individuals have a much greater genetic capacity to achieve and if we limit our potential to grow, for example, by planting our business in a pot (by trying to be everyone and do everything ourselves) then our business will soon reach its limited capacity, due to environmental, time and resource restraints. That capacity may be well below what is needed for the business to be viable. In these circumstances we will not reach our genuine capacity. Now, consider, what would happen if we take the seedling out of the pot and replant it in unrestricted soil? Obviously the root system will have adequate capacity to grow and search out supporting nutrients well beyond the trunk of the tree and as a result, it will be able to grow to achieve it real natural capacity. If we are starting a business, that analogy fits perfectly. Too often we will limit our capacity to grow because we try to do too much and be too many people within a refined environment with too little resource capacity, thus making it impossible to reach our full capacity. So if we want to grow beyond this to attain our maximum capacity, we must be prepared to plant our business seed in an environment where it can grow unrestrained. To do this, we must first be aware of our natural capacity. As I so often repeat – we must come to know what it is that we don’t know and as yet don’t know that we don’t know, so that we can do something about it. Read that one again and think about it? There is a strong message there. It’s like walking alone through a forest thinking that you have everything under control, but you don’t know that you are about to place your next step on quicksand. However, if you had a guide who had been through that same forest before, you would have been warned about something that you did not know and did not know that you did not know, yet needed to know. By having a guide who is able to show you the things that you need to know at just the right time, you can increase your capacity to move forward towards your full capacity. The simple lesson is: Potential to increase our individual capacity comes through realizing and acknowledging that we can’t reach that individual capacity alone. We will always need the help of others, to greater or lesser extent, directly or indirectly. The biggest challenge ever for everyone going into a Micro-Business is understanding this simple lesson and being prepared to do something about it, because regardless of coming to understand it and regardless of our apparent stated willingness to seek help and involve others in order to extend our capacity, we will still have a genetic limit to our capacity to do so.
In other words, back to our analogy: Even if we have a guide through the forest who points out the presence of the quicksand at just the right time, we all still have some degree of urge to try to walk across it because the distance is shorter than walking around it. We don’t want to go to the extra time or expense of walking around because we want to get there faster. This attempts to explain the greatest mystery ever facing an individual going into business. That is, in spite of the fact that they might acknowledge their capacity shortfalls, they will still be incapable of doing fully what needs to be done to completely eliminate those shortfalls and risks, simply because that would require working against powerful genetic drives that are constantly pulling them in the other direction. Indeed, this principle can apply to each of us in just about every aspect of life, not merely in a business-start-up sense. So where does all of this leave us? It leads us to understand that there is a gap between what we realize is our existing individual capacity and our capacity to fully make the changes needed. In other words, while you may come to realize that your individual capacity to climb a mountain might be 60 percent, and while you are willing to do and learn what is needed to fulfil the remaining 40 percent, even with this effort, your genetic capacity may still only reach 80 percent. How then do you fulfil the remaining 20 percent? Micro-Facilitation addresses this challenge. Individuals who have a business idea can not only have the apparent viability of that idea tested, they can also have their Resource and Commitment Capacity tested, as well as their apparent Management Capacity, thus identifying the apparent risks and shortfalls. Then, beyond this, if they are keen to progress the idea into reality, they are encouraged to consider the advantage of adequate Mentor support to help fill the gap. When individuals embrace this process and get beyond the quicksand, they have reached a crucial milestone. They have then broken through the debilitating barrier of self-reliance into a world of understanding that now with the support of a caring and reliable guide they can actually increase their overall capacity to reach their goal. This is a core Micro-Facilitation activity – opening the door of the mind to one’s full individual capacity through the support of others, starting with the support of a Micro-Facilitator™ - a special kind of social-entrepreneurial Mentor. Will you embrace this understanding, or will you simply go on not knowing what you don’t know and don’t know that you don’t know yet desperately need to know, but even more amazing, still don’t want to know.
Starting a new business or buying an existing one? Here’s how to minimise the risk…!
Are you considering getting into an existing or potential business - no matter how small? How can you know if it’s a “lemon”? How can you also know if this is really for you? Is it possible to quickly check out the potential of a proposed business venture without spending your life savings or borrowed funds just to find out by “trial and error”? Can you know where you stand without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on research? Is there a way you can tell in just a few minutes whether a venture is worth considering further? Yes…! Further, just because someone else may have been successful in a particular business does not necessarily indicate that you will also be as successful. Further still, the “figures” are often not what they are cracked up to be. Figures can be distorted and to an over-optimistic potential buyer of a business, he or she can generally only see a pot of gold. Every day, people have ideas for new businesses or for buying an existing business. Unfortunately, too many of these people can be over-optimistic, or simply have no way of knowing whether what they are about to get into really has any substance. For someone buying a business, no matter how apparently appealing, the figures are the very last thing to consider. This also applies to Franchise business opportunities. Read on and you will progressively understand why…! There is much more to a successful business than the mere “business” itself. Just because a business idea may be excellent, this is no measure of one individual’s potential to make it successful. Unfortunately, many people who go into business never take this reality into account. A good business opportunity in the wrong hands can be a disaster. Likewise, a struggling business can be turned around completely in the right hands. Apart from the business itself, you must also consider whether this is really the right kind of business for you and what will be the broader implications on your time, health, family and other life-dimensions that are important to you.
There is a way in which you can gain at least some reliable indication of the potential of the entire business spectrum, however, to do so you must be completely honest with yourself in answering the essential questions that will guide you as accurately as possible to your all-important decision. If the business is going to be a partnership or a company structure where a group of individuals are going to be expected to carry out certain responsibilities, make decisions and provide capital, then the risk factor can be multiplied “X” times the number of individuals involved, or alternatively, under the right situation, the risk factor can even be reduced “X” times the number of individuals involved. To ensure that buying a business or starting a new one is going to be the right decision, there are two primary considerations: Firstly, the overall potential of the business itself in terms of its economic environment and market potential and its maturity rate. Secondly, the characteristics of the person or persons who will be operating the business, in terms of their commitment, suitability, resources and attitude. These are two entirely separate considerations that independently can influence the potential for success or otherwise. Unfortunately, most people are only inclined to look at the first and even then, too often through the rose coloured glasses of over-optimism.
How to minimise the risk in buying or starting a business Buying or starting any business can be a frustrating minefield and journey through fields of “quicksand” – you don’t know you are getting into trouble until you are already there and then it might be too late. To the novice, it becomes overwhelming. There are so many issues to consider, so many questions that need answering and the problem is in knowing who to talk to and who to believe. This is particularly daunting for a Micro-Business where someone has an idea for their first business or is thinking of buying a business for the first time. Ideally, what can be really helpful is a reliable Mentor who is experienced in this exact situation and who has the process and tools to help you identify what really matters, quickly and effectively, at two levels: Firstly, in assessing the essential elements of the business risk itself and in terms of the suitability of the business for the person going into it. Secondly, once this has been done and before making a final decision to proceed further, effective Mentoring may be required to assist the aspiring business person to address key issues and needs identified in the initial assessment. This book is designed to get you focused – to look into the mirror and see what you really need to see. I have developed a Mentoring process that I call Micro-Facilitation™ - specifically structured to assist those with MicroBusiness ideas. It is my personal hope to encourage every community to sponsor its own Community Micro-Facilitator – who can be specifically trained to provide confidential Mentor-Facilitation in the community.
The Farmer (The Business Manager)
A successful farmer usually has many years of background experience contributing to overall resources. No wise person would consider being a farmer without at least acquiring essential basic farming knowledge. Also, a good farmer needs have a suitable temperament for farm life, along with the resilience for facing the many difficulties that are paramount to the farming business. Yes, farming is a business that requires suitably skilled professionals. Without the essential knowledge, experience, resources and farm management skills, one's chances of success in the farming business are obviously reduced. Any farmer will tell you that farming demands long hours and total dedication. Its rewards are varying, often subject to unpredictable changes in environmental conditions and market trends that can destroy many years of effort. Yes indeed, the farmer is a very enduring professional. He or she knows that the farming business is a long term commitment â€“ no instant success â€“ just persistent hard work, taking the good with the bad, patient and determined. This provides us with a realistic analogy for any other form of business. Every year, seemingly millions of people all over the world undertake new business ventures. Like the farmer, they are pitting their skills against the elements in the hope of making a profitable living, yet unfortunately many do not have the same realistic, long term perspective as the experienced farmer. Just like the farmer, the Micro-Business manager requires essential knowledge, experience, skills and resources in order to be successful. He or she will also require certain enduring qualities of temperament and enduring passion for that business. Yet it is a fact of life that most of the businesses that fail so quickly do so because all or many of these essential prerequisites are lacking. Many go into business almost totally unprepared, with unrealistic expectations or hopes of instant success, failing to recognise that achieving success in any kind of business from farming to factory is based upon the same long term perspective.
Consuming passion â€“ a valuable starting attribute for the emerging entrepreneur! To be successful in business, first and foremost you must be sure that your venture is based on the right individual consuming passion. Unless you love the work and business you do, you will not be truly successful. This is because unless you are truly passionate about it and enduringly so, you will not have the underlying inspirational influence required to impact positively on others in the relationship marketing chain which links you with your team and with your customers. Remember, entrepreneurs are successful for one overriding reason - they know what they are good at, probably even more important, they know to surround themselves with others who can help them to succeed. Business requires a balance of essential skills in product or service development, marketing, people management and administration as well as in financial management. Nobody, including the best entrepreneur, will be adequately skilled at all of these things yet every business needs all of these factors fully under control to ensure relative success. A business, just like a chain, will only be as strong as its weakest link. If you lack specific management skills for business and especially if you have no individual interest or passion in them, you are well advised to focus your time and efforts on those things that you are most passionate about. Then, find someone else to assist you, someone who is equally passionate about those other skills you need in support. Understanding the mystery of the entrepreneur means understanding that to be successful in business you cannot do it alone. Your business will indeed only be as strong as its weakest link. The importance of this in the marketing process will become more evident as we progress through this book.
Understand your temperament make-up.
The next important management resource that will need to be evaluated is that of temperament. Certain basic qualities of temperament are ideal for business. We all have a different temperament make-up and how we control and use this temperament is reflected very much in our outward personality. In our temperament make-up we have a combination of temperament traits. It is very important that you recognise your own dominant temperament traits and learn to manage them effectively. The temperament self-analysis charts shown on the following pages provides a list of some dominant temperament strengths and weaknesses that can be quite evident in different people to differing degrees. No two people are exactly alike in temperament make-up and the combination of dominant and subtle strengths and weaknesses can vary seemingly infinitely. The chart is by no means comprehensive but it does provide a basic guide that may help you to be alert to any especially evident temperament traits that could influence your business in either a positive or negative way. In business, especially in terms of management, the positive aspects of selfcontrol, leadership, goal orientation and caution are very desirable temperament traits. It is also helpful to be aware of your dominant temperament weaknesses and how they are likely to manifest themselves as problems in the process of growing the business. This is why many people who may be excellent skilled tradespeople, sales people or creative people may not necessarily make suitable managers over others. While they may be first class employees in their chosen field they can be totally out of place and even be very unhappy in management positions and may well be disastrous financial managers. This is why it is so important to be doing what you absolutely love and what you are good at doing. Once you have identified your own consuming passions as well as dominant strengths and weaknesses in temperament you can also identify those temperament traits that you do not have and may need around you.
Generally it is better to ask someone else who has known you for a very long time to give an "honest" opinion of your temperament make-up. You may be very surprised and please prepare yourself or you may be somewhat offended. You canâ€™t change your basic personality to any real extent, however you should learn to recognise and use your positive temperament strengths, control the weaknesses, aspire to practice those which you need and surround yourself with other people who have other complimentary temperament strengths and complimentary management skills. Do not underestimate the relevance of temperament to success in business management. It is highly significant attribute. Unless you are controlling sufficient positive and useful temperament traits and reflect an emotionally mature nature, you may find business experience very trying â€“ perhaps even very destructive. Yet, the overriding requirement is that of individual passion for what you do. Whatever the business you are in or considering, ask yourself "what is my motivation? Am I really passionate about it?" If not you may likely be making a serious mistake. You must be prepared to acknowledge any dominant temperament weaknesses in yourself. It is very easy to recognise and focus upon the characteristic temperament weaknesses of others - however it is very difficult to see yourself. Be prepared to get numerous independent evaluations of your temperament from people who know you well. Especially, be very wary about business partnerships that are not founded on the right combination of supportive team strength and temperament. Many a relationship has been destroyed in business partnerships where passions, skills, temperament, motivation and expectations do not compliment. The strains and pressures of business will bring out both the best and worst of each person. Business stresses can create enormous pressure on partners, often resulting in very destructive outcomes. In all partnerships, every partner needs to be very much aware of what is fully involved and have a complimentary level of passion, skills and commitment. The analogy of the farmer highlights the need in any aspects of business to ensure that no matter what position of responsibility a manager, partner or any employee holds he or she will function far more efficiently if they love what they do and have a temperament mix that will strengthen overall team effectiveness. While an individual may be trained in the highest academic qualifications for a particular job, that alone may prove of little consequence without the essential foundation of passionate commitment. Certainly, I do not mean to diminish the value of academic qualifications however, there have been many academically unqualified people throughout history who have become highly successful in their field of business, trade or profession. Many of these people throughout history have even become leaders of nations.
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The Farm (Where the business hopes to produce fruitful sales)
A farm business is established on the basis of its potential to provide a profitable return on investment. Among the investment considerations are the location, the size, natural resources, soil and climate, availability of water, type of crops to be grown, machinery and labour, farm buildings, productive potential and amount of capital required to purchase, establish and operate the farm. In effect, the farm represents all of these considerations, not merely the land or the farm buildings, but the total potential that exists within its boundaries. The size of the farm and its collective resources indicate the potential productive capacity and subsequent likely returns. The amount of capital to be invested to purchase and operate the farm will need to be proportionate to those predicted returns. A farmer who buys land is very conscious of the cost of that land in relation to its potential productive capacity. Obviously, going into a farming operation involves considerable evaluation of resources in order to be confident of the viability. By analogy anyone in or going into a business needs to undertake similar essential evaluation. A business opportunity is not represented merely by a building or an office or a factory, but rather by the total potential which exists within its boundaries of complete market area and market potential. Just as in farming, in any business the amount of capital invested needs to be proportionate to the likely returns. The prospective business manager must carefully evaluate total available resources and undertake essential basic research to determine viability. Business involves all kinds of decision making, weighing up of many facts and careful evaluation and management of collective resources. If you are prepared to take the time to carefully evaluate every aspect of a business, no matter how attractive the proposition may appear on the surface, you are much less likely to end up being another statistic in a long list of miscalculations. At very best you could make mistakes that set you back for years and limiting your opportunity to achieve your greatest potential. 50
A boundary indicates the outer limits of the farm and highlights a very important principle relative to the size of a business operation and market. If a farm is too small there may not be sufficient productive soil in which to produce a cost-effective result. Even if returns given by the crop are very good, unless the farm can produce enough of that crop the initial cost of the investment and operating expenses may be too high to ever make the farm pay. Alternatively, if the farmer has invested in a very large area of land there must be sufficient resources available to farm that land in a viable manner. The farmer knows that the boundary (or extent) of the farm is a very important consideration in relation to it cost-effective operation. In any business the analogy is similar. Many people buy or start a business without considering the implications of the boundary principle. Just how much market area can they really afford to work? How much will it cost to set up and operate in a market area? Will the returns be sufficient? There needs to be a safe ratio between the cost of buying or starting a business, its operating costs and its potential returns. While the business must be big enough to make a worthwhile profit from the level of investment it must not be so big that resources are stretched to the danger level. A sensible balance must be reached, allowing sufficient reserves for efficient operation, even if initial conditions are less than favourable, as is so often the reality. Too many people pay too much for a business and do not allow enough reserves for working capital. Neither may they have sufficient other resources (experience or knowledge) to operate too big a business initially. Growing a business needs to be a "growing" experience. The boundary principle alerts the business manager to the fact that there must be sufficient scope of potential within the bounds of the total business unit in order to produce a profitable result with available resources. When starting a Micro-Business you may likely have only very limited resources - not just financial resources but the resources of experience, knowledge and understanding of what you are doing. You may have limited resources in knowing how to handle people and problems. Therefore, your initial goals should be limited to staying with the perspective of your available resources. This way, you learn to "grow" with the business. As your experience and other resources grow so too will your overall perspective along with the opportunity to expand your boundary. Let me now repeat this vital law of "perspective" Initial goals in business should be limited to staying within the perspective of available resources, growing then, as experience and resources grow together. Perspective involves being able to see where you are going. Primarily it has to do with attitude, particularly patience, realising that business involves people and marketing involves motivating peoples' responses. To achieve that response you may need a diversity of skills. Some you may provide yourself, others you will need in the form of complimentary support, be it partnered or hired, but need them you will. 51
Different skills will be necessary for each part of the business. Those skills have to be assessed, located, costed and successfully managed. Clearly, both the establishment period and later growth periods of a business must be kept in perspective with collective resources of opportunity, time, experience, knowledge and money, as well as within the perspective of your own "resourcefulness" for effectively managing all of those elements. THE RESOURCES QUESTION IS A THREE POINT QUESTION
WHAT IS MY GOAL? WHAT ARE MY AVAILABLE RESOURCES? DO I HAVE THE RESOURCES (INCLUDING LONG-TERM COMMITMENT) TO ACHIEVE THAT GOAL OR SHOULD MY GOAL BE ACHIEVED IN PROGRESSIVE STAGES, GROWING WITHIN THE SCOPE OF RESOUCES?
Before you can expect to achieve any level of success you should answer these questions and be sure that the necessary degree of commitment, sacrifice and dedication will be worthy of the end result. Some businesses are let grow out of control much faster than resources can be developed in parallels with experience. When you let a tree grow out of control it becomes unfruitful or the quality of the fruit is diminished. Most of us at different times have aspirations of personal achievement that are quite unrealistic. Often, such goals are clearly unattainable for very obvious reasons. Sometimes very obvious to everyone but ourselves where pride and blind ambition cloud all sense of reality. Sometimes people set goals without even knowing why. On the other hand, there are those who are in business who have no goals for the business, merely existing in it from day to day, not really going anywhere. Give some thought about what you can realistically afford to do initially.
What is the extent of your market area? That is, how far will customers realistically come to purchase your product or service? Are you restricted by the competitive nature of your product to a market within a close radius, or is your product something that people will order and pay for online from anywhere in the world?
Can you realistically afford to service your perceived market area? That is, will the market come to you or will you have to do a lot of costly “ploughing” over a large area to encourage direct growth?
What are the implications of servicing your market? If your customers have problems with your product, will you be able to afford to rectify the situation?
The primary goal must be to get the business venture (existing or potential) into perspective with available resources. Indeed any goal is realistic and achievable only if adequate levels of appropriate resources exist with which to achieve it. Consider this principle: A handful of corn seed will not plant an acre of ground in one season, but in time, over successive seasons, that same handful of initial seed can be used to plant many thousands of acres.
In business the growing principle is the same. Regardless of whether you are just starting a business, re-evaluating the present status of an existing business or perhaps considering expansion or diversification, you must consider the basic resources that you have and will require to know whether your aspirations are indeed realistic and wise. In any business the essential resources that must be assessed apart from whether or not you really have a good business idea or opportunity, include your temperament suitability, experience, knowledge, skills, time, state of health and financial reserves. The very choice of business, its size and perceived rate of growth are all founded upon the collective sum of these basic resource considerations. Probably, the greatest consideration, the one that can pull you through when things get tough is commitment. Whatever you are going into be sure it is your greatest passion. You must do what you love doing otherwise you will not be fully committed. Think carefully about these things. Take a full accounting of the existing level of these base resources. Determine whether your expectations are indeed simply too unrealistic.
Four Stages of Business Development Consider these simple analogies
Stage One – Seed Propagation/Business Idea Assessment This is the period when the seed’s genetic characteristics are considered, then first germinated to test its quality and understand its genetic growing characteristics. Then a decision is made as to whether the relative cost of planting is likely to be economical. Analogy 1: This is when your business seed idea is tested to determine its quality, its growing nature, capacity to grow and what challenges you need to address before taking it to the next stage of establishing the business.
Stage Two – Seedling Incubation/Business Planning This is the period when the seedling is being made strong enough to be planted out. When it’s ready, this must be done in the right climate and soil conditions at the right time of year and nurtured as it grows towards being ready to start producing fruit. This is the next most crucial stage of growth. You will be watching the growing seedling to ensure that it grows to plan. It will require the right amount of water and care at the right time and you will be alert to the potential threats from pests and disease. Analogy 2: Business Planning and Launch Preparation During this period you are doing your business planning, identifying and addressing any potential threats, challenges and needs, understanding what support you will need, developing your operational and marketing strategies, how, when and where you will launch the business and working out the establishment and operating budget, aligning these cost with projected returns. At this stage, you are then ready to “plant” (launch) the business in the “soil” (the Marketplace) where it can begin to grow. The growing “tree” is your business and the “fruit” will be sale of the products or services it represents.
Stage Three – First-fruits/Business Launch and initial growth This is the period when the tree reaches initial productivity, yielding just a small amount initially, progressively increasing to where it is yielding enough fruit to pay for its own ongoing production cost. You will be closely monitoring what is going on ensuring that the tree is healthy and progressing. Analogy 3: Business Launch and Initial Growth At this stage, you are establishing market awareness of your own “BRAND” and linking it to the products or services you are selling. This will test your Marketing Strategy and Business Operational Plan and its capacity to begin attracting initial response. This too is a critical stage of the business development and the accuracy of your work in Stage two will clearly show. It will be crucial to closely monitor every aspect of what is happening and watch for any weak links in the marketing and operational chains. One weak link can cause breakdown. If something is not working to plan, investigate, seek advice and find the cause – don’t gamble, sort it out early. It is a time when you should be building awareness and relationships that will lead to increasing repeat and referred sales progressively.
Stage Four – Full Yield Production/Business Consolidation Once the tree itself reaches initial maturity, fruit will then appear and increase each year as the tree fully matures – then reaching its peak productive potential. From that point, with continued care, it will continue to give maximum yield according to the level of care and of course, seasonal conditions for its natural life. Analogy 4: Business Consolidation and Growth So this is saying that once you are achieving a viable level of sales and continue to increase market awareness and continue to grow positive relationships, sales should increase to the capacity of your business to manage and according to seasonal demand. Each of these stages will require adequate time to grow. These simple analogies provide sound principles for understanding business propagation and growth and if followed carefully, they will keep you focused on what matters most and give your idea the best possibility for growing into reality. No matter how small or how big or complicated the business, it is easy to see why so many business ideas never make it. Too often, those who have what could be a great idea, simply fail to do the essential amount of propagation and incubation. They launch straight into marketing without even a basic business plan and realistic strategies that are within the scope of available resources. They try to do it on their own, without support, without realising their own individual capacity limits, without adequate resources, without any realistic understanding of the market or the relative nature of what they are selling and soon end up in deep water. Progressive articles will provide understanding on these matters.
Economic Environment and Market Potential (Climate and Soil Conditions)
Seed must be planted in appropriate climate and soil conditions if it is to grow to its maximum yield potential, or indeed if it is to grow at all. You cannot grow bananas in snow country yet many people try just that when marketing. The climate and season relate to marketing in the most appropriate economical place and time, while the soil represents the actual marketplace. The condition of the soil reflects your business future in terms of market potential. Initial investigation must be done to determine whether the prevailing conditions and soil are suitable for growing the seed chosen. Obviously, if all of these factors are ideal the greater will be the opportunity for seed to reach the harvest stage within the anticipated time for maturity. Many people could admit that they have done little or no initial investigation into their overall market environment. Many have optimistically assumed that a worthwhile market exists. Simply believing that the market needs your product or service does not ensure the market feels the same way. There may be a vast difference between what you believe the market needs and what it will actually accept. You do not merely promote your product or service and hope for the best. First you will need to determine as much as possible about the overall market environment and undertake whatever preparation will be necessary before launching into any high profile marketing activity. General climatic conditions determine the very nature of what a farmer can grow while the seasons determine appropriate planting and harvest times. Obviously in any marketing situation the prevailing economic climate is going to have a significant bearing upon what can be achieved. Regardless of the apparent need for a particular product or service, if the economic climate is unfavourable this can have a reducing or slowing effect upon the real market potential, level of demand and market value of a product or service.
The effect on the overall growth of a business must also be considered if there is any unfavourable economic climate prevailing for any extensive period. Just as seed planted in unsuitable conditions or just as out of season planting can result in slower, less productive growth and yield, a business opportunity can be likewise affected. Consider the effect on your resources if it takes longer than you would hope to get your business up to a profitable level of trading? Also, economic factors must not be overlooked where products or services are of specific seasonal nature. Some can be strictly seasonal, outside of which the market is not even remotely interested in them no matter how low the price, nor how high the incentive to purchase. Yet it is not uncommon for business people to make the mistake of ignoring or neglecting seasonal influence often with very costly results. Certainly in farming if you wait for absolutely perfect conditions every time you will probably never plant seed. As long as general climatic conditions and outlook for weather prospects are realistically optimistic a farmer must make a decision to plant or perhaps miss the opportunity altogether. Even in marketing a certain amount of entrepreneurial licence will no doubt occasionally be required. However, sensible observation and practical preanalysis of the overall economic conditions, outlook and factors of seasonal influence can reduce an outright gamble to a more safely calculated risk. A further requirement relates to the actual condition of the soil. Conditions might vary extensively, from ground in its natural state to established farmland that has been growing crops for years. Just as careful analysis of soil conditions will provide important insight into the potential for growth; similar careful market analysis should determine overall market potential. While determining the marketable nature and maturity rate of your business seed, apart from all of the factors mentioned (cost, extent of complexities in growing, yield amount and yield frequency) in the final analysis, the principle of supply and demand and effective brand awareness may be significant determining factors as to how profitable the business is likely to become. Subsequently, once you have determined the potential market value (that is, the current value of the product or service as the principle of supply and demand already controls it in the marketplace) at best, your market share might only be equal to that of all other suppliers. The controlling and restricting effect of supply and demand can be overcome or minimised with highly effective business branding and relationship marketing. In other words, if you grow an excellent relationship with the potential buyer and if the product or service quality is perceived to be better than average, then you will be less influenced by supply and demand factors. The customer will nearly always make a buying decision based on his or her perception of overall value for money â€“ and this not only includes price, but may also relate to confidence in your ability to supply and other overall service factors. The farmer knows the kind of soil conditions, as well as the climate needed to successfully grow from the seed. He knows from experience and even observation that bananas will not grow in snowfields. He knows that
whatever is grown must be ideally suited to the soil, otherwise the quality and yield will be reduced accordingly. Sometimes extensive analysis may be required to determine the true soil characteristics even in an environment that may on the surface appear to be ideal growing conditions. It is not uncommon for such apparently ideal soil to be lacking in some vitally important nutrients or minerals, especially in soil that may have been growing crops for some years. The purpose of Market Analysis is to understand as much as possible about the people who buy your products or services, or indeed whether a worthwhile market even exists. As in the case of seed selection (that is, the choice of business product or service) the extent to which market research is undertaken obviously needs a common-sense approach for a Micro-Business. For many Micro-Businesses the basic common sense approach is simply a close personal analysis backed up with group discussions involving independent counsel or Mentoring and application of the tools and principles provided in this book. Do not underestimate the importance of taking sufficient time for as thorough Market Analysis as practical in your circumstances. The more time you can spend in wise counsel and open-minded evaluation the more accurate the market picture is likely to become. This is where many over-enthusiastic people make their most serious mistakes. Basic Market Research simply comes down to asking and answering as many questions as possible about your potential buyers and their traditional buying habits, in order to lay a foundation for your ultimate marketing strategy. Now, consider the following questions relating to Market Analysis and Potential Market value:
What is your serviceable market area (local, regional, national, international?) Are you selling something of consistent, high volume demand with no competition or something of low volume demand with much competition? Where on the scale between these extremes does your product or service fit? If you are selling MULTIPLE products or services, ask yourself these question in regard to each one
How many people from the population of your determined market area would be likely to want or need your product or service at some stage?
How often on average is the product or service (or related group thereof) likely to be required under normal buying circumstances? Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, every three years or more?
Is there any seasonal influence involved in the buyer's purchasing decision? If so, take a note of what time/s of the year and/or relevant seasonal conditions.
What is the apparent average potential value of an individual sale?
What is the potential value of sales to all potential buyers over any specific period?
Make note and consider the possible influence of any advantages and disadvantages that exist in comparison to your competitors.
While a farmer may be successful in producing a large and healthy crop, he must be able to obtain a worthwhile market price for the produce. There must be sufficient potential in the crop to make the whole growing exercise worthwhile. Here the principle of supply and demand has a controlling influence, unless he is producing something unique or in high demand that is not available from other suppliers. Market potential relates specifically to a market's available capacity or volume. It involves having some foreknowledge of how many potential buyers exist and the achievable value of sales. The market (like soil) must be of a suitable type and consistency that is receptive to the product or service being marketed. Again, the nature of the business opportunity provides a genetic indication of the market conditions that will be needed. Some of the various factors that may need to be considered (apart from the economic environment) will include the serviceable market area and specifically "who" comprises the potential buyer. You will need to consider the number of potential buyers in your market area and the apparent value of potential sales over a selling period or season. Also, consider how, when, where, and why the product or service is traditionally purchased. What about competitive factors? share?
How are they likely to influence market
Many people fail to take this into account when evaluating market potential. While they might successfully determine the potential value of sales already apparent, they then assume that their business is automatically going to gain an immediate, viable share of that market. They forget that it takes time to establish a working relationship with the potential market. In many types of market, traditional or habitual buying patterns may be a very powerful market influence. People can be reluctant to change whether or not they are happy with their existing place or method of doing business. Habit or simple convenience factors can be very difficult to break. You may need a powerful incentive influence and considerable time to build a worthwhile market share. Before you begin to actually promote in the anticipation of direct sales you should also be sufficiently aware of any resistance factors that may exist. While soil may have good growing potential you might find yourself planting in very hard ground. This creates water run-off and makes planting difficult. In unploughed ground there may be obstacles and weed growth to cause resistance. Depending upon the market conditions you may find that establishing your business share will be very difficult or relatively easy. Resistance can be particularly strong towards a product, service, new brand or even a supplier who is new, unfamiliar or unproven to the market. If resistance factors are high, considerable initial "ploughing" may be necessary in the marketplace until market resistance breaks down sufficiently to allow effective "planting and watering". This ploughing relates to labouring with the soil. That is, continual research, testing (test marketing) and promotion of the business opportunity to create favourable market conditions of awareness and acceptance - this even before you can expect any worthwhile growth of business and sales. 59
This is particularly evident in highly competitive market environments or again where an entirely new business concept is being introduced â€“ especially those where a considerable amount of market education or convincing may be necessary. From this perspective, if any significant amount of heavy initial business ploughing is necessary you should already be sufficiently convinced of the value of the business opportunity itself. In these circumstances you may need to be prepared financially, physically and emotionally, for a long, difficult and potentially costly initial establishment period. Each marketing opportunity will pose its own set of market-related questions that will need to be asked (identified) and answered. Do not be neglectful of this very important research aspect of Micro-Business Planning. You need a clear picture of what you are up against. The marketplace can indeed be a very cruel and uncompromising place that does not care about you or your business. It does not care if you even starve to death, so be very sure that your business seed is planted in receptive market conditions.
Market "potential" versus "realistic" market share One very important principle to keep in mind when evaluating market potential in a given market area is to avoid over-valuing that potential. There can be an enormous difference between what many business people regard as potential market and the share that they are really likely to gain. Too many make the mistake of assuming that market volume for a particular product or service can easily be based on calculating a percentage of the market population that "they" believe "need" the product or service. In reality, often what the market actually needs, or even what you believe the market needs, may not be what the market will buy. For example, every home and every motor vehicle "needs" a fire extinguisher, but how many homes and vehicles actually do and why most do not? While the "potential" market is basically every home and vehicle in the country the "real" market is very small indeed due to market attitude, which in this case says that a fire is always something that will happen to someone else. You should aim to base your research as far as possible on actual statistics rather than on what you believe the market should be buying â€“ at least in terms of budgeting for sales. The realistic potential market volume so far as your business is concerned, is merely the share of the market that you can realistically hope to gain, especially in the early period of your business. The following page provides a very basic formula for considering your real market potential.
Basic Market Potential Assessment Formula Most people, in a Micro-Business context, do not have the resources nor would they find it viable, to spend potentially thousands of dollars on highly focused research to determine the potential availability and value of their market. Therefore we need a simple but practical formula that will guide the micro-business person in a realistic effort to determine this value.
How many people in your Market area population would use or need your product or service and how often, when and why? What would be the collective value of their purchase of your product or service over a specific period?
Real (available) Market
The above potential market divided by the number of existing competitors plus any competitive advantages you may offer â€“ less the estimated effect of any customer traditional buying patterns. (In other words, why would they suddenly want to start buying from you if they are content with another supplier?) Once you have proven that the market potential and economic environment is sound enough to plant your business opportunity, you will then need to understand essential factors concerning the actual "planting process" â€“ that is, the process by which you introduce your product or service into the marketplace and begin the growing process towards a healthy "harvest" of sales. Now this certainly gives you even more to consider?
Seed (Sales) Maturity Rate Two extremes in growth of market response
When considering how you are going to sell a product or service, you need to understand its two-phase maturity rate, as this will identify it marketable nature, and therefore, how you will market. I wrote earlier about the four stages of business growth, from the initial idea for the business through to the business being fully established to maximum productivity. Now, in parallel to the overall four stages of business establishment, let’s now look specifically at the sales aspect of marketing the product/s or service/s you are going to provide. Specifically in the context of achieving sales, seed is referring to planting a “seed idea” in the minds of your potential buyers that will grow to become a sale. All seed has a built-in two-phase maturity rate. The first phase is the time it takes from the initial propagation until it is a mature tree ready to produce fruit. During this phase, there is no return on investment, just the cost of care, commitment and watering. The second phase is from the time when the tree begins to produce fruit until it reaches its maximum capacity to produce. This is when the commitment to care and initial growth should start to pay off. Some seeds have a short phase one maturity rate – they can reach productive maturity in a few weeks or months. Others have a much longer phase one maturity rate, where it can take years before a first viable commercial crop is harvested, then a few more years before reaching peak production.
Sales maturity rate can be compared to this two phase process. Remember, the “fruit” of any business is sales. Phase 1: When (through your marketing activity) you plant the seed-idea of buying your product or service in the mind of your potential customer, how long will it be until those in the marketplace are actually ready to buy?
OK, this could fall between two extremes: Let’s now consider this using two extreme business examples – namely Fast Food and Funerals. Extreme example 1 - Phase One; If you are selling Fast Food in a market area where there are lots of people, the phase 1 maturity rate should be short because there is a constant need out there. People need to eat every day, so the need will be almost immediate, attracting sales from a readily available volume market and any one time. If you have effectively communicated your brand/product to the point where the market is aware and then ready to respond, you should quickly be in a position to attract first time buyers from your “in-daily-demand” volume market. Extreme example 1 - Phase 2: You are now entering phase 2 maturity at this point. This is when sales start and progressively increase. Customers should be so satisfied that they will come back as often as needed. In other words, you have established a consistent, high demand through phase 1 and now you are seeing growth in new first-time response, repeat and referral that is giving you the maximum “yield” from the market for as long as you continue to maintain the favour of your market. You now need to build/maintain good customer relationships. Extreme example 2 – Phase 1: At the other extreme, if you are in the Funeral Business, demand will be low volume at any normal time. Therefore, by consistently establishing your Brand and promoting positive awareness of the service, the phase 1 response rate will be based strictly on an “as need arises” basis from what will be a very limited need at any one time. At this stage and indeed ongoing, you will be consistently creating awareness of your Brand so that it is becoming etched, consciously or sub-consciously in the mind of everyone in your market community. Extreme example 2 – Phase 2: However phase 2 here relates to continuing to promote your brand and service, with positive relationship marketing and building that sub-conscious awareness and starting to see steady response growing over time. In fact, in this market, it could literally take years to establish business a strong business and then grow to become a dominant industry supplier. While the value of sales will be relatively low because of low volume on any one day, the collective value over time makes it viable and profitable. As you can see, the phase 1 maturity (that is, the time it takes to build market awareness to the point of initial response) depends on effectively establishing your Brand awareness (and what it represents) in your market in a way that ensures that people are encouraged to remember who you are and the service you provide and respond when needed. The Phase 2 maturity rate in this case will basically be a continuation of Phase1, consistently increasing the market awareness in order to capture a growing share of that that “as need arises” market demand.
So, the question to ask yourself is: “Am I selling Fast Food or Funerals” or more specifically, where on a scale of 1-10 do my products or services fit in that scale of two extremes?
Scale Chart 1-10 Would you be selling “Funerals” (1) or Fast Food (10)
Low volume 1
High volume 9
Therefore, look at this again in terms of marketable nature Marketable nature: High volume demand at any given time consumer product/service (For example - Fast food in a busy market environment) Phase 1 response (short-term response rate) has potential to be relatively immediate and strong. Phase 2 response (longer-term response rate) has potential to see progressively increasing response towards capacity growth in a relatively short time, depending on the level of competition and effective Relationship Marketing Marketable nature: Low volume demand at any given time consumer product/service (For example - Funerals in a normal market environment) Phase 1 maturity rate (Short term response rate) is likely to be strictly on an unpredictable “as need arises” basis. Phase 2 response (longerterm response rate) has potential to see slowly increasing response towards capacity growth over a much longer time, again, depending on the level of competition and especially with emphasis on the need for effective Branding and Relationship Marketing
Where does your product or service fit in relation to the two extremes of this scale? This gives you a broad-brush pathway to understanding what your share of the market might be, compared to the total available market, provided that you can establish market awareness and response, taking into account the level of competition and any advantages or disadvantages that you are aware of. In other words, the all-important yield frequency, yield seasons and yield volume. It is surprising just how many people do not understand the marketable nature of what they are trying to sell, or even if anyone wants or needs what they are selling. Observation of the "yield" characteristics of business seed (volume and frequency of yield) will indicate whether the potential buyer is just a "once only" buyer or whether a potentially frequent buyer or perhaps just occasional buyer over many years. I cannot emphasise enough, the need to understand the marketable nature of the products or services that you are marketing. Many business people do not understand. In many of these cases, failure to recognise the high or low volume selling nature of their products or services and establishing their business brand is their number one marketing need and challenge. However, just as the yield potential of a crop can be damaged or even destroyed by neglecting the tree or cutting it down, the long term sales potential to every existing and potential buyer can also be destroyed if appropriate goodwill is not being established and effectively maintained.
Having considered the various genetic characteristics of your business seed you should now have a clear indication of the marketable nature of your products and services and sales maturity rate in ideal market conditions. All of these factors and possibly others are going to impact on how long it will take you to break into the market, establish your business awareness and create initial demand for what you are selling. Are you selling something that nobody else has and everyone needs? Will they immediately realise that they need it when you show them and be immediately demanding it? This rarely happens. If so, you have something unique, much needed and very likely to be much in demand, this would mean that you will be able to dominate the market and virtually control it. It means that once you get the message out there into the market, the maturity rate of response will be very quick and very profitable. At the other extreme, if you are selling something that is only needed occasionally by very few people at any one time when a specific need arises, AND/OR if what you are selling is available from any number of other suppliers in your market area and you have no obvious advantages strong enough to draw your market to you, then obviously, it will take a long time to grow the business to the point of viability, if at all. So considering these extremes, where do you fit? How marketable is your product or service anyway, and do you have the resources to keep going in parallel with the likely maturity rate of market demand and competitive factors until it bears viable yield? Again, if you have an exclusive product that will be in high demand, you are in the most favourable position to draw quick and strong response, provided that you get the message out effectively. If you have a low frequency demand product or service similar to or perceived to be similar to any number of other on the market, with strong competition, then you are in a very unfavourable position and so careful consideration must be given regarding the potential for business viability, as very effective marketing will be required to draw viable response if this will even be possible. Regardless of these two extremes or where your business fits on the scale between them, brand awareness should play a key part of growing your business.
Planning the business growing process (Preparing to plant the seed)
There are some very important business analogies to draw from the planting phase of farming. Like seed, a business opportunity is just that - merely an opportunity. You can look at it, think about it, dream of the potential fruit it can grow, but until you "plant" that business opportunity in the marketplace where it can be seen and appreciated and begin the actual growing process it will produce nothing. Seed placed correctly in good soil with consistent water and proper care should, in appropriate conditions, grow to produce fruit. If an opportune business product or service is correctly presented in the marketplace recognition and awareness of that business, brand, product or service should grow (with effective communication through the medium of appropriate marketing activity) to the point where the market will be ready to buy the product or service. You have a certain amount of market soil in which to begin growing market awareness, interest and response. The farming analogies clearly indicate how this can be done.
Extent of initial market promotion (Seed distribution)
The first part of our planting analogy relates to seed distribution. The aim is to ensure economical awareness of the product or service over the whole market area. Again, the seed variety provides the direction. A farmer is aware of the recommended seed distribution for a given seed type and plants accordingly. Seed is spaced accordingly to the soil's capacity to grow the plant and yield effectively. If planting is too dense seedlings will only compete for soil nutrients, moisture, space and light. Under these circumstances many would not survive. Consequently much of the seed would be wasted.
Likewise, if distribution is too sparse valuable ground will be wasted thus reducing the yield potential. In our business analogy we can find a similar principle. The aim is to ensure cost-effective market awareness of the business product or service over a manageable market area. However, the nature of the product or service should give some clear indication of the density of market potential which exists in the marketplace. For example, if the nature of your product or service is a high volume consumer one (such as bread) almost every person in the marketplace is a potential regular buyer of bread, in one form or another. This makes identifying, valuing and targeting the market a practical, achievable exercise. In effect, the "nature" of this type of "business seed" indicates that "planting" of your message can be very concentrated, because potential market volume is very high. Alternatively, if you are in the business of selling Buses or heavy duty Mining Equipment, you would realise that distribution of potential buyers is much more selective. Identifying, valuing and targeting the potential market would require careful research to ensure sufficient buyers exist in a serviceable market area. In this case the nature of the business seed indicates that planting is very selective and targeted because the market is so scattered. Certainly, the very nature of the product or service should at least indicate whether the distribution of market potential in a given area is highly concentrated, extremely selective or whether it falls somewhere in between these extremes. Beyond market density (that is, the level of concentration of potential buyers) another point for consideration is the total area to be marketed. A farmer knows how much ground he can afford to plant. If there is not enough suitable ground available, obviously yields may not be high enough to justify the cost of the whole farming operation. Alternatively, if soil conditions are not ideal and seed is planted over too large an area, then operating costs (planting, watering and other plant management costs including harvesting) may also render the farm uneconomical. There is clearly a simple principle of economics demonstrated here. A marketer must know how much market area can afford to be promoted. If the market area is not large enough (even though the proportionate distribution of potential buyers may be high) returns may not justify the cost of the marketing exercise. Alternatively, if market potential (number of prospective customers) is very limited, the potential returns must justify the expense of promotion over a very extensive market area. While this principle is quite obvious, it is surprising just how often it is overlooked. Many business people spend huge amounts of financial resources trying to squeeze a barrelful of orange juice out of one tiny lemon. Their market area simply does not support enough market volume over a short enough time frame to make it pay. Generally, those who fall into this trap have no prior knowledge of the market potential, rather, they just assume it exists and gamble in the hope of worthwhile returns. Simply, they have not "tested the soil" or looked closely at the "nature" of the business product or service.
There is also the "over-planting" analogy. This is where the market potential is strong, but the business product or service is promoted over too great an area to be "harvested". In this situation, over-promotion results in far more potential sales than the business can possibly supply or service, resulting in poor service, loss of sales, loss of credibility and a waste of resources due to inability to service demand. This can have serious impact on your Brand and/or business reputation and potential for repeat and referred business, without which sustainable growth will not be achieved. You must consider how you are going to “grow” your business at this point.
Will the market readily come to you with some basic but effective communication?
Do you have a large and concentrated, volume market in an affordably serviceable market area with a product that has high demand and little competition? If so, as earlier mentioned, this is extremely rare and it should be relatively easy to communicate with and grow direct response.
Or, at the opposite extreme:
Will you need to need to carefully identify and target your market directly?
Do you have a small, very scattered market over a large area that is going to be difficult to identify and communicate with directly? If so, you will need to be very selective about how you are going to identify and target this market economically.
Consider the implications of these questions, in parallel with other indicators so far and remember, resources will determine what you can initially afford to do and consider if this will this be enough to attract a viable response?
Presentation Medium (Planting Method)
The next part of our planting analogy relates to selecting the method of seed distribution. The actual planting process involves placing the seed in the soil. Planting is done by one of two methods. Either the seed is initially planted manually or by using some form of mechanical planting device. A farmer will plant individual seedlings. Alternatively, he may buy planting equipment (or contract someone with planting equipment) to seed a much larger area of ground at a faster rate than could otherwise be achieved. By analogy, selection of the method of planting refers specifically to selection of the most appropriate presentation medium with which to "plant" your marketing message into the marketplace. Initial introduction of a business product or service into the marketplace can be done manually by individual presentation using one-to-one direct contact with the individual potential buyers. (This is called individual target marketing.) Alternatively, it can be done by actually placing the product at various key points in the marketplace where many more potential buyers will see it. (This is called Multiple Outlet or Agency Distribution) Further still, it could be achieved by contracting a communications medium to promote the product or service to a larger market over a much shorter time. (This is Media Advertising or Media Promotion.) A combination of these three methods might also be used. Selection of the most appropriate presentation medium, whether it may be individual representation, actual in-market product or service distribution, selective media or mass media (including online marketing) is obviously a matter of practical economics. If a farmer only needs to plant a small area with well-spaced olive trees, he is not going to use a method more appropriate for planting a huge forest. He plants an area by a method that he can afford to both grow and harvest.
There is no point employing an expensive mass medium for initial promotion to a large potential market if you cannot back it up with relationshipsustaining supply and service. Rather, you must select a medium which is suitable in relation to the nature of the product or service, market potential and availability of resources to effectively develop, sell and service the market area being promoted. Media types and applications vary considerably from those of a general mass presentation type (such as big coverage Press, Radio or Television and Online Internet marketing) to those of a highly selective nature, such as individually addressed Direct Mail. In effect, all forms of advertising media are by analogy merely planting devices - tools to be wisely assessed before being used in the process of growing your business. Obviously, if your potential buyers are unidentified and are low-volume in demand at any one time and are hundreds of miles apart over many thousands of miles, then generally, you would be unlikely to use expensive mass media presentation in the mere “hope” of attracting sales. Alternatively, if your potential buyers are highly concentrated in one area, a more focused media approach across the specific market area may be more appropriate for initial presentation and communication. Again, appropriate presentation media selection depends upon:
The nature of the product or service (high volume or low volume demand). The market density and potential value (which indicates whether presentation will be general, selective or somewhere in between). The total area of market to be promoted. The apparent cost-effectiveness of using that medium. (That is, will the margins and level of returns be worth it?)
As I mentioned earlier, planting mediums are merely tools to use in the process of growing the business. In many businesses that planting medium may need to be nothing more than one person actively Target Marketing. Many people in business have no understanding of the basic analogies related to "growing" a business and bear serious misconceptions about the role and effectiveness of advertising media. Many place blind faith in media advertising, expecting it to sustainably produce instant sales. This is also true with regard to Social Media Marketing. Most importantly, the media is not responsible for the nature of your business, the market potential or the amount of time that it takes people to begin to believe your sales message and be confident enough to respond. If you choose a wrong medium to plant the wrong message in the wrong market at the wrong time and then achieve no results, do not blame the Advertising Medium involved. Media is there to advise on its particular method of planting and then to plant accordingly. It would be like a farmer who contracts someone to plant bananas in snow fields and then blames the contractor when the plants die.
The rapidly growing influence of Internet and Social Media Marketing
Internet marketing via a website, online marketplaces and online shops or across a multitude of social media platforms is continually changing the face of marketing for virtually every kind of business. The changes are so immense and offer such diversity that many traditional media forms are now online as well as in print or on the airwaves. Now, an individual can virtually have a business in their own home office, from their car or from virtually anywhere, selling products from across the globe to customers anywhere, even without seeing or handling those products. This is also greatly stimulating the growth of online Micro-Business. In effect, the Internet offers almost unlimited marketing versatility to anyone in any business, regardless of whether it is a large corporation or even the smallest of Micro-Businesses. However, in spite of the advantages, like any other media form, it is still crucial that you understand the characteristics your own product/service/market so that you gain the best advantage possible. The versatility of online marketing certainly does not negate the need to understand and apply the natural principles of growing a business. Just having a website or online shop or networking through social media will still not bear fruit if you donâ€™t know how to affordably use and promote it, or if you donâ€™t understand fully what motivates people to buy the product or service that you are offering, or if there is no real market for it. Further, you must still remember that Marketing is a process not a promotion and that process will involve a series of steps or links in a progressive marketing chain. Regardless of whether you are using traditional media or online marketing, you will still need to know your product or service marketability and determine the steps that will be involved from concept right through to postdelivery, regardless of whether those steps are carried out through a traditional retail outlet or via the Internet.
The most successful online businesses have one overriding characteristic over and above knowing that they have a marketable product. That characteristic is summed up in just three words – flawless, uncompromising service. Just as in any business, the growth potential of business success is not found in merely providing the customer with a product or service. Rather it is bound up in building relationships that lead to repeat and referred business and unless you have clearly determined, documented and put in place a practical marketing process from concept to post-delivery, then you may well find that your online business may go nowhere – except “offline”. Before using online media, as in the case of all other media, you need to combine understanding of the principles outlined in this book with good advice from someone who is experienced in order to determine the most practical media strategy for your Micro-Business. Then, it is wise to “test” that strategy on a small cost-scale. We have access to a diversity of online media that can reach hundreds of millions of people instantly all across the world. The science and technology behind Social Media Platforms today is growing and changing so rapidly that it seems to be growing literally out of control, or at least, out of control of many who choose to use it. Social Media Marketing today can provide low-cost target marketing of your product or service into just about any chosen market location, right down to a regional or even more local market area. Further still, Social Media Platforms can identify specific individuals who have a preference for what you are selling and target them accordingly. This would seems to indicate that Social Media Marketing is the only way to go, but is it? It must be understood that the growing analogies and principles described here in this book apply just as much to Social Media Marketing as to any other, and there are dangers. You still need to build credible Brand awareness and lasting relationships and everything else explained here-in if you are to establish a credible, productive and lasting online business. If you are buying a product through a Social Media Platform, it can be much more difficult to know exactly who you are dealing with. It can be a faceless medium, where people tend to take everything on face value and risk later find that they have been misled. Social Media Marketing has also made the world much smaller in terms of trade. In effect, it has turned the world into one free-trading market area, where boundaries disappear and the driving motivation is too often greed and getting the best price. Is there anything wrong with this premise as a sole reason for buying online? Unfortunately yes, very much so, in that is erodes the true values of supporting local first, regional second, national third and international last. Failing to support local first can literally be like cutting of your arm for meat so that you don’t have to pay for meat at the local butcher? Sound absurd? Read my article titled: “Shopping Local – does it really matter?” Find it at https://issuu.com/bobneville9/docs/shoppinglocally
We live in an unsustainable era of mass consumption of just about anything, where junk and information is mass-produced and sold online to millions of people who think they are getting a bargain. This level of consumption is driven largely by greed and credit, which has given the illusion of wealth. Current generations are using unearned income (credit) to over-consume finite resources that belong to future generations. This over-consumption of what is now a throw-away society is greatly contributing to a massive increase in pollution and environmental destruction. Internet Marketing is also spurning a proliferation of online “businesses” that are as stable as the morning mist. Just one example is where individuals are marketing products via a process that is called Drop Shipping, where thousands of individuals become online agents for major manufacturers or distributors. While the process is a standard practice of some very large corporate businesses, the main problem is that individuals engaged in this as agents may not tell you that they don’t actually have the product that you are paying for up front. You may be led to believe that you are buying the product from a local supplier but in fact it is coming to you from across the world. Rather, they are merely placing an order for you on behalf of a mass supplier “somewhere” and arranging for it to be sent directly to you. This can and often does have a host of complications, especially with unscrupulous, faceless online marketers. This makes the buyer vulnerable, even putting aside the challenge of potential online fraud. There are also multiple thousands of individuals online today who are selfacclaimed “Social Media Experts” offering to build your online contacts and your business. Again, buyers please beware! This makes it harder for genuine, reputable Social Media Consultants who have made it their business to fully understand specific Social Media Platforms and provide sound advice in this often confusing and rapidly changing medium. If your Marketing Strategy points you towards needing to use a Social Media Platform, which most likely it will at least in part, then far better to seek out someone who is genuine and experienced if you are not really able to plan and construct your own Social Media Marketing Strategy. All of this aside, and for better or for worse, Online Marketing via a Website and/or Social Media is growing daily in dominance and has enormous advantages and potential if planned and used correctly and safely, but never make the mistake of believing that it is the only medium that might be best for your fledgling Micro-Business.
Again, every principle outlined in this book equally applies â€“ these principles are universal and the analogies as accurate as there were when the first tree was harvested and the fruit was traded many thousands of years ago. If you want to grow a business that is sound and which provides a return for its natural life, then you still need to understand the nature of your Business Seed, you still need to have a Business Plan or at the very least, you need to identify and account for crucial challenges and needs and a Marketing Strategy and Operational Plan that is going to work for you. Ensure that YOU are always in control of your business, not someone, somewhere, with whom you have never as much as had a meaningful conversation, let alone know where he or she is really located. Where Internet Marketing is concerned, you need to know, and KNOW that you know, exactly who you are dealing with. The introductory articles in this book are probably the most crucial advice that every starting Micro-Business person needs. Read them again and especially, reflect on the fact that no matter how small the business, you still cannot be an expert at everything and do everything yourself, otherwise you limit your capacity to grow.
Effective Communication (Planting Depth)
Planting seed at the correct depth provides the next analogy. If the seed is not planted deep enough, it will not take root sufficiently in the soil. Likewise if it is planted too deep it may not be in the best part of the soil, consequently it may never grow to see the light of day. In marketing, if initial planting of your message in the marketplace is not deep enough this simply means that the communication of your product or service has no appeal to the potential buyers, or simply, it fails to communicate effectively at all. First impressions are indeed the most lasting. After all, from the buyers' perspective: Do they really need it? Will they ever need it? Are you “connecting?” Is there sufficient presentation "depth” to germinate appeal? Is your product or service likely to be immediately perceived as just another one of many similar? Why should potential buyers even bother to give you the time of day? Is anyone even aware of you, or what you are selling? Alternatively, if initial planting is too deep, (too complicated, too detailed or too busy) your message will go right past your potential buyers in this very busy world of media saturation. Again, you will fail to communicate. They will not recognise it, they will not have time to think about it and consequently they will not respond. The "growing process" will never begin. Effective communication means that the potential buyer must be able to truly get your message. As a result, they should also ideally consciously or subconsciously remember your Brand and relate to what you are selling so that they will be encouraged to remember and respond when their need arises, whether that is an immediate need or at an appropriate future time. This can be a big challenge.
When you communicate initially with the market, regardless of which media you use, you still only have a very brief opportunity (anything from a fraction of a second to perhaps a few seconds at best) to germinate a spark of interest that will be remembered or encourage them to take in the whole message or to respond to an immediate or pending need. Just as combination of the seed with the soil creates the environment for the seed to start growing, the potential buyer response will greatly be influenced by effective communication. What do I mean by effective communication? It is just that! It is attention-getting, through provoking, creatively different, powerful and even “wow” factor communication. Many marketing efforts fail completely to communicate and some main reasons are: First, as earlier mentioned there may be no real need for demand for the product or service in the first instance. The message is not actually “getting out there” – not reaching enough people. The message lacks any kind of creative punch and is simply “information” rather than communication. We live in a world of massive information overload. Everywhere we go today we are all constantly being buried with subtle or blatant advertising messages, many of which are merely information. People switch off – they don’t even see it, let alone remember it. You will see or hear hundreds of marketing messages every day. You most likely drove past many road signs and business signs, but how many of them do you recall grabbed your attention and stuck in your mind today? If your marketing amounts to nothing more than a typical “For all your Funerals, contact Gravely Tombs” approach, then unless this is presented in a more creative way in association with effective branding, then you are likely not communicating.
Stimulating Market interest Watering, Cultivating
The built-in genetic characteristics of seeds indicate the nature of how they should grow. There are two phases of growth. Phase One – the time it takes for the seed to sprout and reach maturity. Phase Two – the time it takes for the plant to reach its maximum potential growth and productivity. Some seeds – for example wheat, sprout and grow quickly and only produce one crop unless re-seeded. Others (fruit trees for example) take three or four years before providing a viable commercial crop, but their productive capacity increases for a number of subsequent years, provided the tree is cared for. When seed has been planted, an ongoing program of watering and crop maintenance is required to ensure consistent growth towards maturity. The soil around the seedling must be cultivated to remove early growth weeds. These activities relate to taking care of the seedlings as they grow. Planting good seed, even in ideal soil conditions and by whatever appropriate planting method, is still not sufficient to ensure seed germination and growth. Seed can lie dormant in the soil for years but obviously it will not germinate until moisture is present. By similar analogy, a good business opportunity may likewise still not grow to productivity. Like seed, a marketing opportunity can also lie dormant and just never seem to make worthwhile progress in spite of often very costly media promotion. Why does this happen? Just as seed will not germinate without moisture, a product or service, even one that is well presented in the marketplace, may not sell without the "moisture" of incentive communication. Many marketers do not understand and consequently waste time and money in planting their business product or service in the marketplace but failing to provide any, adequate life-giving water of worthwhile incentive – they simply fail to communicate.
Every plant needs water and some will need the additional stimulation from added natural fertiliser. So what is too little or too much, water or fertilizer and when is the best time to use it. An Olive tree takes four years to reach a viable level of initial commercial production and up to 9 years to reach full productivity. It will not grow faster and produce sooner with over-watering. Similarly, if you are selling products or services of lower volume demand at any one time (for example, back to our “Funeral Business” analogy) then your water of communication will need to be consistently spread across the marketplace to affordably grow Brand awareness while ensuring that your communication is effective. That is, ensuring that it really does communicate and is not mere information. In this type of inconsistent, low-demand-at-any-one-time as-need-arises market environment, too much communication will not prove cost-effective. You will simply be “wasting water” and this will not grow your market response any faster. Rather, the objective is to ensure that when a specific need is apparent for products or services of this nature, where pre-emptive incentives are not really going to make any significant difference, then your market will respond to your effective brand-supported messages when the need arises. But these messages must be consistent and communicate effectively. Alternatively, if you are selling products or services of a high volume demand at any one time (for example, back to our “Fast Food Business” analogy) then additional to building Brand awareness consistently, timely “fertiliser” in the form of incentive can stimulate direct response where there is a known volume market need out there at any specific time. Most products and services are going to fall well between these two extremes, therefore, the closer to the Funeral business end of the scale, the more reliance on Brand awareness and growing of market trust will apply. The closer to the Fast Food end of the scale, the more scope there will be for timely direct-response promotion in conjunction with timely “incentive fertilizer” and growing brand awareness. Take into account competitive factors, your market advantages and being aware of relevant disadvantages. Before the potential buyers become buyers, they must want or need what you are offering. If they don’t actually need it or perceive that they will ever need it, then no amount of clever marketing or incentives will ever encourage them to respond, even if you give it away. Just because YOU think that everyone needs and wants what you are selling does not mean that anybody else out there cares less. So this first comes back to understanding the nature of what you are selling and knowing that you really have a market out there. Again, be sure you are not trying to sell “funerals” at a discount “today only.” OR, if you KNOW you have a volume consumer market out there at any one time and know that you have potential to attract a worthwhile share, then the water and fertiliser for stimulating buyer interest can be summed up in two words - effective communication.
Providing additional timely Incentive (Adding growth-stimulating Fertiliser)
Fertiliser can be added to the soil to stimulate faster growth, but its use must be balanced and be appropriately timed. It must also be of a suitable nature that will complement existing soil conditions and actually stimulate growth by providing additional nutrients for the plant. Obviously, simply adding fertiliser to soil that is already perfectly suitable for growing the plant will prove to be of little or no real benefit. It will only be wasted, incurring additional, unnecessary cost. The use of "marketing fertiliser" calls for the same level of discretion. Likewise, its use must be balanced and suitably timed. The nature of the incentive must compliment the sales marketing activity and help towards growing potential buyer confidence and interest in what you are actually selling, while being cautious that you are not simply trying to â€œbuyâ€? sales. Incentives may be used at crucial stages of prospect growth in order to stimulate greater confidence or perhaps to provide sufficient reason to purchase the product or service earlier. The successful use of such added incentives depend very much upon the prospect's perception of pending or ultimate need for the product or service. The further away the need is perceived or if any doubt exists in terms of whether the product or service will be needed at all, the less likely any amount of incentive is going to prove effective. Like putting fertiliser on your garden, timing is crucial. Added incentives work best where market demand and competition is high, however you must be careful to take into account the cost-effectiveness of incentives, as in those circumstances profit margins are also usually very competitive. Additional incentives in the form of marketing fertiliser can take three basic forms that include incentive promotions, product-plus incentives and goodwill-building (Relationship Marketing/Brand awareness) incentives.
Incentive promotions are those in which promotional advertising is concentrated over a limited time in order to attract worthwhile volume sales by the use of special offer or price, service or some form of added bonus hoped to encourage prospective buyers to respond immediately. Product-plus incentives are often used in conjunction with Incentive Promotions. These are represented by very pointed additional sale bonuses – for example: "Buy this car and we'll give you free air-conditioning!" Goodwill-building incentives are useful promotional product give-aways usually imprinted with a brand related message. These are given freely to prospective customers at varying stages of Phase One and Phase Two maturity growth in order to build buyer goodwill and awareness and preference towards a particular product brand name or supplier. In direct contrast to marketing fertiliser in the form of these added incentives is the natural growth incentive of business "watering". This natural growth incentive represents the natural marketing features, benefits and competitive advantages of the product or service. Obviously, these are the most desirable incentives to have in any market situation. As you can see, the entire growing labour process must be carefully planned, coordinated and consistent, right through to where the prospect’s confidence is fully matured and a sale imminent. The continual labour process of Watering, Cultivating, Weeding, removing Bugs and Fertilising if appropriate, all aid in growing a prospect that is “fully matured” and ready for the “harvest”.
Are you Communicating?
The right seed properly planted in the right soil at the correct depth is in a growing environment, but, water is needed to cause a reaction between the seed and the soil, so that the seed starts to grow. Likewise, a good product or service well presented in the marketplace is merely "planted" in an environment where that water of effective communication is required to stimulate market interest and begin a growing reaction with the potential buyer. If the market does not know your business and product or service exist, then nothing is ever going to sell. A certain amount of moisture may already be present in the soil from natural environmental sources and conditions. If so, the farmer merely needs to plant the seed correctly at the right time and depth then germination will occur, but follow up moisture from rain or irrigation will be necessary to sustain growth. Like dryland farming where the farmer relies on existing soil moisture and seasonal rain, our analogy here indicates that many marketing opportunities can be presented where a certain amount of incentive already exists in the marketplace. In fact, many business opportunities grow and exist solely upon the incentive moisture of their economic environment. In other words, the market's immediate recognition of and need for the product is sufficient to ensure that once the product or service is properly presented, response is assured. In other situations however, the market's incentive to purchase may not be anywhere near as strong and in fact there may be no natural incentive apparent from the market's perspective. Like soil that is bone dry, where moisture must be transported to the growing area and added, most businesses still need to plant a certain amount of incentive moisture and fertiliser of effective communication in the marketplace in order to stimulate interest and response. We live in a highly competitive world market environment today and with the constant, everincreasing volume of marketing activity all around us, effective communication can be a real challenge but it is also essential.
Stir up your creativity – be different..!
Planning of effective communication essentially requires the right kind creative input to ensure that your business Brand and product or service message is going to grab the attention of the market. You should avoid what I call "white-picket-fence" syndrome. All those identical white pickets on a fence all look exactly the same so you don’t notice any individual picket, but if just ONE picket in the fence was painted fluorescent pink, your eye would go straight to it. This analogy relates to where your business or your marketing merely blends in among the shadows and becomes just another bit of nondescript, non-communicating clutter. Your business goes unnoticed among all of those around it. If your “business picket” is going to be noticed, it needs to be a contrasting “colour.” To overcome this problem your communication should be different and attention-getting. Here's where much creative flair can be used to ensure that the total visual continuity of your business marketing has high impact, with strong BRAND recall value and response-generating impact. This highlights the fact that in any business, even the smallest, it is still likely that we can’t do everything and be everyone in the business. Not everyone is creative, just as not everyone is good at accounting. You may need to get some suitable creative support to ensure that you’re your water and fertiliser of effective communication is going to have real impact. This does not mean that the Micro-Business needs to blow the budget when it comes to creative input. We see corporate advertising today that is Advertising Agency produced and obviously can cost millions. I use a principle that I termed many year ago as the “minimum-effective” principle. The Ad size or length only needs to be big enough or long enough to get the message across effectively and memorably. Within that limited time or space, create a message that people will notice and remember and this does not need high tech graphics and overdone computer animation. Even just a small cartoon message can have more attention-getting power than a full page advertisement. Even a big bunch of ever-so-humble coloured balloon is more-attention getting in most retail settings than the biggest and most expensive signs. They create a “something happening” atmosphere and virtually nobody else around you will use them because they can’t be bothered inflating them. Remember, you only have a fraction of one second or at most, a few seconds to get attention. That requires creative impact.
Overcoming Buyer Resistance (Removing Pests and Weeds)
While cultivating refers to a continual process of growing market awareness, sound customer relations, stimulating interest and ensuring that your marketing relationships are maintained properly, it is equally important to be removing "pests" - in the form of encumbrances to growth and sales. These can take the form of prospective buyer concerns, objections or even alternative products or services offered by market competitors. Unexpected weeds of doubt can spring up all around the prospect, clouding out the light of understanding or acceptance, throwing doubt into the prospect's mind, eventually killing off the sale altogether. You should be watching for these during this most crucial phase of â€œpre-harvestâ€? sales activity. Be alert to the potential buyer's reactions, identify and remove doubts immediately when they arise. Part of this involves keeping the prospect's attention focused on the value, importance and benefits of what you are offering, ensuring that it remains a "priority interest". Indeed, is what you are selling all that you say it is? Are the prospect's doubts or objections justified? Are you really building goodwill through your sales approach and through the value in your product or service? Just as bugs feed on plants, doubts or objections feed on the mind of your sales prospects, destroying goodwill and killing sales. Competitive weeds can spring up seemingly from nowhere and before you realise it you have lost a sale to a competitor simply because you have not been cultivating a confident, ongoing, growing relationship.
Again, attitude comes into play during the growing phase of overcoming buyer objections and increasing client confidence. When a prospect expresses concerns or makes comparisons between your product or service or its quality and that of competitors, what should be the appropriate reaction? You will always have competitors so there is nothing to be gained long term by going to "war" with them with the use of destructive marketing tactics. Some business people view both the customer and the competitor as the "enemy" both to be overcome by whatever means can be employed. This traditional approach to selling seems to be based on the philosophy of outwitting the competitor and the customer. Likewise many prospective buyers are indoctrinated with the same philosophy of trying to outwit the sales person or play off competing sales people on price comparisons. In such a tactical game, all you have are two separate egocentric opponents trying to outsmart each other, but when you think about it there is no way that such a philosophy can build goodwill and lead to sustainable and mutually beneficial growth. Rather, it leads many businesses to the wall. To establish a business solely on reacting to the lower price of your competitors is a dangerous practice that can leave you in a very vulnerable position. A business must be able to make a realistic profit. Price wars, where price is the only element in consideration, only lead to dangerously low profit margins, higher advertising and other marketing costs, a reduction in quality and service. Eventually everybody becomes a loser. There is a very true saying that can be positively adopted in sales marketing procedure, especially when advising customers on comparative price. "QUALITY, SERVICE, PRICE - CHOOSE ANY TWO" In any competitive market situation there is a limit to what any business can offer in trying to give all three of these benefits. The customer must make the final choice. Beyond this, where there is no real difference in competitor comparison, the customer will make a decision often on attitude-based factors, such as product or brand preference, or the depth of the relationship that has been cultivated. In today's throw-away society, evaluating true, lasting quality and value for money can be very difficult for the potential customer. Many products and services today are packaged in such a way that they appear to be good quality or good value, but that is as far as their substance goes. A business that is growing confident customer relationships will have a wholeof-marketing perspective - that is, it will be focusing prospective customers' attention on far more than mere product and price and it will accurately represent its products or services. If you concentrate on growing a business that is founded on a reputation for quality, service and value for money and combine this reputation with good business ethics and good customer relationships, you will be in a positive position to overcome many of the traditional "weeds" and "bugs" that take the form of customer complaints, whether justified or unjustified.
It is a fact of life that no matter how carefully a business is managed there will always be customer complaints resulting from an oversight, a faulty product or perhaps from poor customer service and handling. Yes, you will probably make many mistakes however if you have a positive working relationship with customers they will generally recognise any sincere effort on your part to correct the situation. In fact such situations provide excellent opportunity to strengthen the bond with the customer. Complaints should not be seen as "problems" but rather as "opportunities" to improve. Alternatively, if a sound Phase One maturity bond has not been established and some form of injustice (whether real or imagined) has been done, there is no foundation of substance for the customer to believe that you are genuinely concerned about his or her welfare. Consequently, you will most likely lose the customer forever.
Achieving Sales (Harvesting the Crop)
As we have seen to this point planting the right seed, watering and controlling the seedling's growing environment until the fruit is fully mature is an essential ongoing activity right through the natural maturing period. Clearly, the better the soil conditions and climate, the more skilled the entire growing labour process, the greater the potential will exist for the crop to reach its maximum full maturity. The fruit for harvest in any business is SALES. That fruit must be mature before it is harvested. It must be picked at precisely the right time. Your continual sales marketing activity grows market confidence in your brand and product or service, resulting in increased goodwill and a prospect that is ready to purchase. Hopefully, you have cultivated the relationship around your business, your benefits and your ability to supply the product or service. Hopefully, the prospect perceives you as the most appropriate supplier otherwise all of your effort may have been in vain, where competitive â€œfruit bats" might fly in and scoop up the sales that you have been so carefully bringing to maturity. Mature fruit, ready for harvest, represents confident potential customers who are ready to do business with you. The relationship must have been grown very carefully to this point, where the prospect is not likely to give up his or her money to any business but yours. You must always remember that if you are to grow a business on lasting foundations you must establish a growth pattern that is founded upon a combination of both new customers and repeat and referred customers. This demands the kind of sales marketing communications that builds goodwill into the business. Businesses that rely on ruthless, high pressure, egocentric, once-only sales build no goodwill. Rather they can only exist as long as they can maintain a high level of pressure selling to new customers to replace those who have been lost.
These businesses also tend to have a very high turnover of employees. You must be growing your business to become a part of your market's essential needs, based on fostering a lasting, serving relationship that result in repeat and referral business. A business without goodwill is like an orchard that is not maintained. The quality and quantity of the fruit diminishes. Eventually, there's nothing of real value established or left over time that can be sold or handed on to the next generation. The whole philosophy of "growing" a business lies on the attitudinal principle of service designed to grow goodwill and establish a future heritage. Growth is only possible where new customers are being grown while existing customers are maintained and continually providing a sales and referral base. If you do not properly look after a plant, its yield potential will be reduced. If you cut a fruit-bearing tree down, it will bear no more fruit. Likewise any kind of sales marketing activity not based upon serving the customer in a proper, mutually beneficial manner will result in reduced sales potential. If a ruthless sales strategy is used to the detriment of the customer it is like taking all fruit from a tree and then cutting it down. Good fruit contains more seed that starts the new growing process all over again. It is all of this new seed that can be used to expand the Orchard. It is seed that comes freely from the one initially planted seed and it is a bonus that comes from producing good fruit. Another analogy provides an important lesson here. The sales that are produced in your business need to contain "good seed" that will lead to more sales. A satisfied customer can be full of that kind of seed. By growing the right kind of business client relationship your clients will plant those seeds in the minds of other prospects. This kind of seed will probably grow into sales much faster. Referred sales are indeed a bonus to your business. They cost you nothing. Such a bonus can only come by ensuring that you produce quality sales in the best interest of your customers.
Reviewing the "growing process"
The on-going labour process from planting right through to the harvest requires persistent, hard work. Obviously, if a farmer merely planted seed and did none of the watering, cultivating weeding and other labour, he could hardly expect a bumper crop. In business it is no different. You cannot merely turn on your computer and open it to your online shop, or open your doors, put up a sign and advertise, then expect people to knock you over in a rush - not unless you have a very unique and much needed product or service, and then not unless you get the message out there. You should plan and implement an appropriate program of sales marketing activity that is relative to the nature of the market and the product or service and its maturity rate. Yet, this is precisely the process that is usually least understood and most neglected by many businesses. Obviously, the amount of time required for the growing process to take place will vary according to the two phases of maturity rate (the initial businessclient relationship and the volume and frequency of client need for the product or service). As explained in earlier pages, some are fast growing and high yielding, while others may be very slow in maturing and low in yield. You should be fully aware of the maturity rate of your business product or service so that you have a realistic expectation of how long it will take prospects to develop to purchase-ready maturity and how often. You should be prepared to do the necessary groundwork.
Consolidation-Rationalisation (Ongoing Maintenance and Pruning)
Once a business-client relationship reaches sales-bearing maturity, the natural tendency of many business people and their sales employees is to ease off. Certainly, when initial sales are coming from satisfied customers, the job of maintaining the relationship should be much easier from that point. However, this is no reason to begin to neglect the delicate business-client relationship. A consistent program of pruning and ongoing maintenance will always be required. The tree requires maintenance pruning every year. If this is neglected, it grows out of control and becomes burdened down with unproductive branches or dead wood that drains its productive potential. This causes a drop in quality and quantity of fruit. In particular, much ripe fruit that is ready for harvest might go unnoticed and be left to rot or be taken by birds or other pests. Eventually, if neglected long enough the tree can become so unproductive that it may require severe pruning, right back to where a whole new regrowth must occur before any new fruit can be harvested. A whole productive season or more can be lost. Worse still, various diseases may set in resulting in total loss of the tree. In growing a business we see clear analogies. Many business people forget that client relationships must be maintained. Ongoing management of established clients is much easier than developing new ones or trying to salvage a customer relationship that has broken down due to neglect. However, many businesses get so carried away with growth and development and "expansion of the orchard" that they neglect to budget for proper care of existing customers, simply taking their productive benefit for granted. There is no room for apathy, slackness or carelessness in maintaining client relationships.
Once the all-important service attitude of growing goodwill is lost, the whole momentum of initial growth and maturity is lost with it. Its foundation is simply based on lack of patience in being prepared to ensure regular contact with clients for the purpose of taking care of those little tasks and problems that always seem to be such a nuisance. Initial success in business marketing can give way to one of the most destructive of all business diseases, apathy. Apathetic overgrowth is so common in business that much of the paying community feels forced to accept it. Here is where the sharp business operator has the opportunity to excel. Those who are not prepared to allow this traditional apathy to take hold are those who understand the critical importance of the principle of pruning and disease control in business. If threatened by the disease of apathy or confronted by client problems, they will identify, face and prune off those problems, ensuring that sales marketing actively remains sharp. The pruning and maintenance factor applies just as much to the business as it does to customer relationships. Systems, procedures and equipment needed in the business must be maintained and kept in perspective with growth and resources. As the business grows, ensure that every aspect is kept under control and that anyone directly involved is growing with it. Another problem where a Business is let grow out of control is that of premature expansion or diversification. People who may be struggling in one business with limited resources will sometime look towards diversification as a means of generating additional income to prop up the first business. These people usually end up with two unprofitable businesses and insufficient resources to manage either. The initial resources principle is very clear. You must be prepared to grow a business within the bounds of collective available resources. If not, over commitment and inexperience can easily see your incoming-generating "trees" blown over by the first storm or by any number of diseases. Borrowing more capital to expand in these circumstances is extremely risky to say the least. Just like a tree without its roots firmly established, your client relationships can be blown over if not grown on a solid foundation of sound market understanding and awareness and efficient ongoing relationship marketing.
Building Resourcefulness (Surviving the Droughts and Storms)
Storms, wind and all of the other elements of nature such as drought can take their toll on an Orchard. They usually strike with little or no warning totally beyond the control of the farmer. All he can do is simply face it the best way he can by ensuring every possible precaution to minimise the effect. Life for the farmer can indeed be unpredictable. There is no guarantee of success even if he does everything right. Natural disaster can strike at any time wiping out years of hard work and carefully invested resources. In addition, stormy market factors can also greatly affect the value of the harvest, where the price of hard won produce is taken out of the farmerâ€™s direct control leaving little or no return. Yet as I mentioned early in this book most farmers are very enduring professionals. They understand the nature of what they are dealing with and they have a long-term perspective and enduring resilience. They do not expect instant rewards and even the long-term rewards can be few and very hard won. Business can be exactly the same. Business storms are major trials that suddenly threaten to destroy business/client relationships or even the entire business. How well businesses survive these storms can depend on just how well prepared they are to face them. Just as storms bring wind that will blow over trees that are not strong and deep rooted, or damage building that are not secure, business storms have the same effect, they attack the business at its weakest points. Some are blown over by the first storm, simply because they are not built on a solid foundation of accurate research from the outset. They may be founded on assumptions of market potential, blind optimism and insufficient, poorly managed resources. It is no wonder that so many of them do not survive.
Many people invest years of effort and expense in growing a very profitable business only to have it pulled unexpectedly out from underneath them. One common example of business being grown on what can only be described as very stony ground is where there exists no security of tenure. Some businesses have no sustainable guarantee that a crucial business location is secure, or perhaps no contract for guarantee of ongoing supply of essential product or materials. This can be one of the most demoralising forms of storm devastation in business. Its potential should always be considered before investing oneâ€™s life savings to buy or set up a business, yet this is a very real threat which many over-optimistic business enthusiasts choose to neglect. I cannot over-emphasise the need for as accurate research as possible before buying or starting a new business or before starting a marketing program. Sometimes, such open-minded research can identify from which direction storms are most likely to come. In the process of learning to grow a business you will make many mistakes and constantly face various challenges. Your attitude and approach towards handling these may well determine whether you succeed in overcoming many of them. Growing any business involves skilled management of people, resources and especially self. It provides an excellent opportunity for personal growth and development if kept in perspective with collective resources. Provided that you have full control of the business you will be in a better position to survive the business storms and droughts. If not, you will be more vulnerable to the elements and may not have the resources and personal staying-power to keep the business together. This does not mean that one individual must be in control of, or doing everything in the business, but rather ensuring that every dimension of the business is under appropriate control. Businesses can be and often are wiped out by circumstances totally beyond all direct control or in spite of any amount of preparation. Just as drought will drain the resources of a Farm, every business is dependent to a greater or lesser extent upon factors beyond their immediate control, such as suppliers, or market situations that can change or break down. No one lives in direct expectation of such situations, but part of having a healthy perspective involves realising that this could be a possibility. In marketing you are dealing with the unpredictable sway of human nature and indeed nature itself. Business requires patience and self-discipline, by which the many challenges can actually strengthen your resourcefulness, even in the face of the most severe situations. The Global Economy today can bring storms of world-shaking impact. We live in a world today where the stroke of a pen or some careless Twitter statement on the other side of the planet can bring a storm of devastation upon many businesses. How well would your business or business idea manage in a severe market economic crisis? I recommend that you read my article titled â€œThe Lesson of the Little Red Henâ€? for a good perspective on this scenario. https://issuu.com/bobneville9/docs/littleredhen
How fast should a business grow? (Controlled growth and expansion of the Orchard)
It's a common story. A good business opportunity is developed. It takes off with enormous initial success and is soon perceived to be solid, unshakeable and destined to become one of the marketing and business success stories of the decade at least. But suddenly, almost overnight in spite of its obvious potential another business is gone. The impact sends shock waves that bowl over unsuspecting creditors who are left bewildered in the light of what seemed to be a veritable Gold Mine. What has gone wrong? All too often we hear: "Everything just grew too quickly! It all got out of hand! We simply lost control!" What does it mean really when a business, even a very profitable one, grows out of control? Even more important, can such a situation be avoided? Just how fast should any business be allowed to grow? The basic problem can be illustrated with a simple analogy. Consider a farmer who has sufficient resources to plant and manage a small Orchard. He has access to plenty of water, he has ideal growing conditions, he has a small team of skilled workers and generally, since the Orchard is well maintained it is highly productive. Indeed it is as productive as practical considering the size of the Orchard and scope of available resources and people who manage it. The quality of his produce is so much in demand that there is growing pressure to provide more and more. He feels that if he can't produce more, it will only be a matter of time before many prospective competitors will begin to fill the gap and diminish his own established markets. This need not be the case but sometimes the lure of "more" becomes too strong to resist.
Soon he begins to look around for additional Orchards and before too long, he has borrowed heavily and snapped up a number of potentially good neighbouring Orchards at very good prices. He has simply looked at what had been achieved with his Orchard and reasoned that considering the bargain price paid for the additional farms it would be easy to duplicate his success story many times over. Unfortunately, a few things were overlooked. Not the least among these was the fact that real property financing and operating costs were now increased and some of the newly purchased properties were many miles apart and some were in poor condition and did not have enough readily available water. Furthermore, he began to experience difficulty in obtaining and managing suitably skilled and interested field workers for the other Orchards and since he could not be on the spot to supervise each Orchard all of the time, needless to say the level of efficiency suffered. Costs continued to increase as he struggled to build up essential tools, skilled workers and meet repayment costs for the newly acquired farms. As the many fruit bearing trees became more and more neglected and overgrown from lack of pruning and other essential maintenance, the diminished quality and quantity of fruit provided insufficient returns to meet the operating and capital costs of all of the farms. The potential had been there, even in the additional farms, however, the primary mistake was to underestimate the level of increased collective resources and operational cost, as well as markets that would be needed to expand so rapidly. He simply took on more than his available resources could manage and as a result the entire operation became unprofitable in spite of the definite potential which truly did exist. In any business the analogy can be very similar. Even many experienced business people can become so overwhelmed by increased business "opportunity" that the potential sales reflected in that opportunity causes many of them to overlook a basic business principle: Increased opportunity (while it may indicate the prospect for greatly increased sales) does not always mean increased profitability. In order to take advantage of the increased opportunity a total re-evaluation of collective resources and thorough, revised planning is first essential. This does not merely refer to the financial resources, as very often there may be adequate available capital. However the real danger can be in failure to evaluate other essential resources - those which are paramount to what is called the Operational Machine. If steps are taken to increase the volume of sales before all of these essential Operational Machine elements are evaluated and carefully put into place, the business is growing out of control, no question. Regardless of financial reserves, market demand or increase in sales, without the Operational Machine back up and effective relationship marketing at every level, the whole business can quickly fall apart and nose-dive into diminishing efficiency and productivity.
At that stage it will happen so quickly that it will leave the proprietors wondering what has gone wrong. Only in subsequent post-mortem of the disaster will it become evident as to what has been overlooked. This same scenario is also seen where a second business, expansion or diversification is attempted where the foundation business itself is not operating profitably. Just how fast then should a business be allowed to grow? Clearly, there is no set time frame for every business. Different businesses will experience different growth rates simply because their nature. However, the growth must be carefully controlled to stay within the bounds of collective resources. Any opportunity to expand a business must be accompanied by a balancing increase in the size, scope, systems, procedures, appropriately skilled personnel, financial resources, financial management, forward planning and effective relationship marketing required to ensure efficient control of the growth.
Essential elements for Business Growth The opportunity for business growth and the rate of that growth is controlled by at least 6 overall influencing factors: 1
Product or service marketability and adequate profit margin.
An affordable market communication strategy that generates adequate inquiry
Effective inquiry management, sales conversion and relationship building.
Satisfied customers who will come back and even be pleased to refer others.
Sufficient resources and resourcefulness to ride the initial establishment period.
Sound overall Planning, management and review.
The Business - Client Life-Cycle (A Dead Tree)
Death is a fact of life, especially in business. Just as a tree will eventually run its productive life cycle, so do businesses and business-client relationships. History is just about the greatest teacher that is available to us all, but unfortunately most of us are too busy to learn from history. One of the greatest lessons we can learn from business history is much the same as it is for Governments and Nations. They follow a life and death cycle. They evolve through opportunity, leadership, drive and ambition. They reach a peak and then, sometimes gradually they begin to decline, or sometimes very suddenly they are gone. Few businesses last beyond a life cycle of about one or two generations. This is a reality â€“ a fact of life - in fact many of them do not last more than the first year or so of the very first generation. Even in businesses that are very successful for a long time eventually the "rot" can set in. Businesses rise initially through initiative, opportunity and hard work, reach a peak after which the original founding vision and attitude towards hard work can be lost to apathy or greed, total loss of perspective or failure to meet the challenges of changing market conditions and changing attitudes. The Orchard is let grow out of control. If a business is to continue to grow and reach maturity and its full potential, constant proper management and adapting to changing market conditions is essential throughout its entire life. The full implications of preparation, planting, watering, cultivating, weeding, pest-control, harvesting and pruning must continue in their natural cycle, year after year, generation after generation. Every step of the way involves hard work, total commitment and careful management combined with an open-minded, teachable attitude. You do not merely plant the seed, put a year's supply of water on it in one day and expect to pick fruit the next day.
Yet that is how many people mistakenly approach marketing. If their business does not bear fruit instantly they put more water on it through wasted advertising dollars and risk "drowning" the business. Then, if the first crop fails to appear immediately, lack of patience and lack of real commitment causes them to simply chop down the tree. Alternatively, they find that they have no further resources to continue. True perspective involves having this simple, but very realistic and valuable growing a business overview. This will enable you to realise that proper preplanning and careful control is essential at every point â€“ ideally, before you start. When you understand the analogies presented through nature's own formula, you can approach any marketing opportunity with more realistic understanding. Such perspective is the very foundation principle of successful business - it provides the overview for establishing realistic goals. It enables you to anticipate the likely scope of the commitment, measure progress and provide effective problem troubleshooting. The degree of success you achieve in marketing is directly proportionate to the extent to which these natural growing principles are understood and able to be successfully applied. We have seen how the natural life-cycle can demonstrate clearly what a successful marketing is all about. In effect, every business growth problem and solution can be understood at least in principle, through the growing a business analogy. In a world that is now so driven by demand for â€œinstantâ€? success, are you perhaps too proud to admit and appreciate that nature has provided us with the perfect living example to follow? It is an example that is not founded on instant success, but on active, living laws and principles which affect human relationships, which are demonstrated in the most common life forms around us.
What is Marketing?
Marketing means different things to different people and in spite of its familiarity, is one of the least understood terms in business. To some it means selling while to others it means advertising or perhaps distribution. Few people understand the total definition of the marketing term and its role in establishing a positive growth factor. To many, it reflects the image of a complex specialised profession that can only be undertaken by highly skilled, highly trained executives. While in specialised areas of marketing this can certainly be the case, in the broad sense the principles of everyday marketing management are really quite easy to understand and indeed need to be understood and applied if a business is to achieve its maximum available potential. While marketing is indeed a very broad subject covering a very wide range of business selling-related activities, what is lacking very much in business today is an overview perspective of marketing that brings the entire subject into relative focus for any business, from the smallest to the largest. For many people in business and in advertising, the very term "marketing" is somewhat a mystery, although many would not admit this. Even if asked outright, "what is marketing?" this question seems to invoke some very shallow, confusing or even extremely complicated answers that tend to add further cloud to its mystery. Why this mystery? Is there really a perspective on this subject that simply reveals what is behind the mysterious cloud of the marketing process and profession? Indeed there is…! The basic truth of the subject is not complex and is made simple through understanding what it means to actually “grow” a business - revealing that the answers have been around since time began. Indeed, what is the answer to the initial question “What is marketing?” Consider the following definition of the marketing term - a definition that provides insight into the big picture of what marketing is really all about.
Marketing a three-dimensional PROCESS, not a “promotion”
Marketing is a TOTAL three-dimensional process by which goods or services are delivered by carefully evaluating and applying every step (every link in the progressive chain) of procedural and interpersonal interaction required, from point of initial Market contact (Market awareness, advertising or promotion) to point of post-distribution Relationship Marketing. But why is there a mystery surrounding marketing? How reliable is the marketing process? Is there an exact marketing science that, if correctly understood and applied would guarantee a predictable result as accurately as the natural sciences? Many marketing strategies are based on mere assumptions, personal ideals, preference or bias – having little or no logic or no accurate research foundation. This applies as much to Micro-Business as it does to any other level. A typical example of such assumption by many business people is that advertising is the sole, or at least, the primary focus of marketing. We see around us a media-saturated society, much of which gambles blindly on many forms of advertising. The world’s media supermarkets can very easily be compared to a bookmaker’s ring at a race meeting, with each medium offering its best odds to win, frantically competing with all of the other media bookies for the advertiser’s dollar. This approach has led to the downfall of countless businesses. Certainly advertising has its relative, extremely important place in marketing, but people need to break away from the traditional advertising-dominated mindset and adopt a more discerning whole-of-marketing perspective. Indeed for many marketing is nothing more than mere speculation – outright gambling. There is however a marketing process made up of progressive management principles that can greatly reduce the marketing risk factor. So how reliable is this apparent marketing science? The effectiveness of any marketing strategy (and hence the reliability of the marketing science) depends significantly upon its founding facts or assumptions. Obviously, the more accurate the collective marketing research the more reliable the marketing science, as in any natural science – but only up to a point. More than any totally natural science, marketing involves the human dimension – the very element that prevents the marketing science from being a totally exact science.
While today, through computer and internet technology the science of Marketing is becoming more and more an â€œexactingâ€? science, wherein the reactions of people can be influenced, led or predicted very accurately, their reactions to any given influence, leadership or prediction in marketing can vary immensely individually or can change and cannot be absolutely guaranteed, due to the additional human "behavioural science" and "creative science" dimensions with which to contend. Marketing therefore can be most accurately described as a three dimensional process â€“ the effectiveness of which depends upon accurate research and combines relationship building (understanding the significance of personal passions and basic human nature and needs) with responsive and responsible creative flair.
The first dimension - Marketing Science
This dimension relates to all aspects of marketing that can be precisely measured, such as research of product or service, market potential, market volume, buyer habits among other things and this is being achieved to remarkable extreme using Digital Internet Technology today and many people are questioning whether it is becoming too intrusive of individual privacy.
The second dimension - Marketing Art
This dimension relates to the creative elements of marketing, such as how the business and the product or service will be packaged, presented and promoted. Media advertising tends to overshadow this dimension for many people however there are other aspects just as, or even more important, including understanding the need for effective business and product branding.
The third dimension - Marketing Theology
This dimension comprises the processes used to ensure growth of positive working relationships including employer/employee relationships and employee/customer relationships. This dimension is often the most neglected, yet the one that determines (assuming the existence of a marketable product and a worthwhile market potential) whether a business is ever going to achieve lasting growth, longevity and possible regeneration. Simply, you can do your research, advertise the product or service successfully with powerful creative impact and achieve a sale, however, if the customer is not satisfied with the product or any aspect of the relational experience in the entire process, then repeat and referred sales will not follow. This will make your business like a bucket full of holes. This book demonstrates the accuracy and importance of understanding the above statement by taking a natural science, such as planting seed and growing fruit and showing how individual passions, human behaviour and creative flair can either augment or diminish the end result. The process required for the sale of goods and services is made simple in the many analogies provided by the growing phase of any business. Think BIG focus Small reveals these analogies, exposing the mystery of marketing and revealing the simple truth that can be understood and applied in a practical manner. It is written as a foundation for those who want to understand the basic simplicity and indeed accuracy of the three-dimensional process of successful marketing.
Introduction to Relationship Marketing (Defining marketing’s missing dimension)
We have seen that there are three dimensions to successful Marketing. Science, Art and the generally little understood dimension that I call “Theology” of Marketing. In business, Relationship Marketing represents the theological dimension – that which affects relationships with people at all levels. These involve the manager, the business employees (team) the business suppliers and the customers and runs much deeper than mere "customer service” rhetoric. Put very simply, no matter how good the product or service, no matter how good the price (unless you have a total, rare monopoly and this is unlikely to last) the business cannot grow unless customers come back and/or refer others. Advertising may inform, attract or offer incentive to first time customers, but unless the first contact effectively starts to build a positive relationship, the experience will merely be an impersonal transaction. People (all people) are emotional beings and if you offend them even mildly or unintentionally, or even if you are passively indifferent (merely conducting a transaction as impersonal as a Bank’s Automatic Teller Machine) then you are not growing a relationship. The golden rule of relationship marketing: Transaction without interaction is (at best) passive indifference! Any transaction between people (without positive interaction) is at best a relational non-event (thus providing no incentive for ongoing customer loyalty.) At worst it is a liability (where a customer is unlikely or even determined to never return and even tell others to stay away from you.) What determines the outcome is how “people” deal with “people”. Every second of every minute in every business it is people who are either growing or destroying relationships in everything they say and do or don’t say and do, every day. Therefore, who in your business right now is growing or poisoning relationships? If you as a businessperson lack passion and commitment, if you hate the business you are in or if you feel trapped or if you are not passionate about its positive development, how could you expect anyone you employ (or even your customers) to feel any different?
Further, no amount of traditional customer service training will impact on employees who may be indifferent to the job or even hate the job or the boss – perhaps with good reason. If your employees regard you as a tyrant (regardless of how you may see yourself) then your chances of achieving the best possible results (results that could mean the difference between success and failure or even moderate success and outstanding success) are zilch. Many business people have absolutely appalling people-management and relationship-building skills and simply do not comprehend how much this is affecting the bottom line. In fact, they can be nothing less than a disaster in business. Let’s explore the basic foundation principles of Relationship Marketing more closely so we can understand why it is so relevant.
Relationship Marketing is based on understanding and relating seven overriding life-truths affecting business and relationships. 1. Every individual is totally unique, having his or her own dreams, gifts (whether recognised or not) and acquired skills. At least one of these may be a positive, overriding consuming passion - the thing in which it seems the individual was born to excel. 2. Every individual is happier, more productive and individually more successful if he or she is developing and using their gifts, acquired skills, thus fulfilling their dreams and passions. 3. Each individual naturally views life and others (including you) from his or her own perspective, not from yours. 4. You cannot successfully “motivate” anyone. There is only one form of motivation that has any genuine lasting effect – “self-motivation.” Rather than motivate, you can and you should “inspire” by example. 5. Recognition, acknowledgement, inspiration and encouragement of others will promote self-motivation. (The opposite will promote withdrawal, indifference or anti-social reaction.) 6. The shape of the community jigsaw is constantly changing. With each one of us, as individual pieces of that community jigsaw, unless we are likewise changing (reshaping how and where we fit in the light of positive change) then we may find that we no longer fit, rather expecting the community to remain the same or change back to our own perception of what it once was. 7. To be truly successful in business, at regenerating the Community Social and Economic Garden, or in life itself, we cannot do it alone. Through positive interaction, we need to recognise, acknowledge, inspire and encourage other peoples’ gifts, life passions and dreams, acquired skills and supportive driving energy to help us get there. (That is the basic principle of entrepreneurship.) Relationship marketing is therefore a more discerning level of entrepreneurial vision, which seeks greater understanding and application of these seven lifetruths.
Relationship Marketing can greatly multiply normal marketing effect by combining, as far as practical, the required gifts, life-passions and dreams and acquired skills of all three players (manager, employee and customer) in a mutually beneficial three-way partnership. Relationship Marketing is not “text book” marketing based on application of endless lists of “do’s and don’ts”. The one thing you must always appreciate is that relationships cannot be legislated. The positive power of Relationship Marketing is a finely tuned and infinite means of highly individual expression. The ways in which it can be manifested and applied in your business may be as varied as there are individuals, because it involves inspiring self-motivation of positive expression in each person’s unique personality. This positive expression can be stimulated by recognition, acknowledgement, inspiration and encouragement other peoples’ gifts, life passions and dreams and acquired skills, which, when integrated in the business environment can encourage varying attitudes of self-motivation and supportive driving energy. Put simply, where and when you can integrate the gifts, life passions and dreams, acquired skills of the manager, employee and customer, you are building an inclusive, enthusiastic, self-motivated community of people who have at least some, if not even many integrated and mutually-supportive needs, objectives and greatly multiplied initiative. Relationship Marketing can provide a distinct marketing edge in that many, perhaps all, of your competitors may never comprehend its potential impact on the bottom line, let alone apply it. It first requires a change of mindset at the business owner or manager level and commitment to understanding and practicing a different way of doing business - this, whether you are selling over the counter or over the Internet. Today, we see a proliferation of online Micro-Businesses by individuals who are selling something over the Internet. Many seem to think that constant bombarding of the market with their sales message is the way to go, but I’m sure most of them are soon disappointed. They may have a good product or service and they may be offering it at an excellent price, but the market is not responding. Why? The answer: Simply go back to the Golden Rule: Transaction without interaction is (at best) passive indifference! Have you noticed on social media there are individuals “connecting” with thousands of people from all over the world – but not really “communicating?” As soon as they connect with you they are pushing their product or service into your face and wondering why people get annoyed.
This kind of marketing is simply trying to grow an instant business. It is trying to encourage people to buy your product or service, when they have no idea who you really are, where you are, or if they can trust you. In other words, it is trying to grow a business without application of the natural growing principles described in this book. Online marketing especially, requires commitment to building relationships of trust - that is, if you actually want to see the business grow - otherwise you will be on a treadmill of just trying to flog your product or service to people who have no real connection with you and you might as well be sending those messages to yourself. The most successful online businesses know this and market accordingly. In your business you have a choice. You can follow tradition and join the many businesses that just never seem to get it all together by making all of the same traditional mistakes (including relying on gambling with advertising and promotion.) You can follow tradition by being just another battling business that in spite of apparent market potential is simply going nowhere. Alternatively, you can add the missing dimension - the power of Relationship Marketing and patiently â€œgrowâ€? your business by growing real trust. The good news is that applying the theology of Relationship Marketing costs very little beyond commitment to growing in its understanding and application. If you are one of the few people who can fully appreciate the significance of this message and want to do something about it then grasp the opportunity with both hand and with full heart and mind.
What kind of Marketing Strategy and which Media is best to use?
Newspapers, Television, Radio, Brochures, Cards, Website, Social Media, Online Shops, Signs, Direct Mail, Junk Mail, Promotional Products, Sandwich Boards, Skywriting, a Blimp, Carrier Pigeon, a message floating in a bottle - the choices are virtually endless. We live in a media and advertising-saturated world today, so much so that you can’t escape it. Consequently, people clearly become oblivious to much of it and literally “switch off” and who can blame them. Advertising certainly is not what is used to be, although the principles are still the same, the Media and methodologies associated with current day media are constantly changing, becoming more intrusive and are a literal nightmare for the business novice. Further, this is a mass consumer-driven and debt-sustained world. Quite frankly, we are “marketing” ourselves out of existence in the drive for more and more for less and less. In the process, we are consuming the earth’s resources unsustainably and we are doing it largely with debt in a drive for “global equality” where the playing-field is far from equal and subject to enormous corruption at every level. And that is just the start. Ok, with that depressive rant, I guess I am trying to encourage the reader to realise that this is indeed a challenging world in which to do business. You need to have your mind clear and have realistic expectations, no rosecoloured glasses and realise that the business world is not all just and fair, falling over just waiting to buy your products and services. Think about all of that advertising that is drenching everybody every moment of every day and night, all hoping to get a share of the bounty. Therefore, put your expectations clearly into realistic perspective. If want to be successful, you must work smarter and harder and that essentially means doing all you can to get the marketing equation right for you prospective or exiting business.
Obviously, the question of Marketing and Media is an extremely important one, but it is extremely confusing to most people. Many simply choose based on personal preference, but to do so is outright gambling. As I earlier mentioned, to choose a medium on personal preference is no different to going to a race meeting and blindly selecting any horse to back. The outcome is likely to be the same. What first determines the most appropriate media is the choice of communications-related elements of your Market Strategy, and I’m not referring to specific media here. Let’s be sure to understand the difference.
Three definitions to consider: Overall Marketing Strategy – Communications Method – Media strategy 1 An Overall Marketing Strategy is the TOTAL process by which goods or services are delivered by carefully evaluating and applying every step (every link in the collective chain) of procedural and interpersonal interaction required, from point of initial Market contact (Market awareness, advertising or promotion) to point of post-distribution Relationship Marketing. Media Strategy is just one link in that chain, but before you can consider a Media Strategy, you first need to consider a Communications Method. What’s the difference – I hear you ask? 2 A Communications Method is the market communications “process” you use to communicate via the most suitable Media. For example: Firstly: Method 1. Personalised (one-to-one) direct selling. (Individual Target Marketing) This might be done via Email or via a personal letter to the individual with accompanying literature, a phone call, or even knocking on the person’s door. This can be applied in either of two distinct ways: 1. By what is known as Spamming or Cold Calling. This is where the individuals approach is unsolicited and most likely unwanted and the results are more often very questionable to say the least. It might get some result, but it rarely leads to any kind of lasting relationship-building that would encourage repeat sales or referral. 2. By personal follow-up to a referral or request, or a lead generated via prior Brand/Product/Service advertising or incentive Promotion. This makes it more personal and more open to building a market relationship. Secondly: Method 2. Brand and/or Product or Service awareness across your Market area or towards a specific market sector. This can also be applied in either of two distinct ways: 1. Consistent, affordable Brand awareness over time – linked to your product or service in order to attract response from market-ready customers as needs arise.
2. Concentrated, short-term, incentive-based PROMOTION to attract immediate response from a known volume market. Both of these Communications Methods and their related two options for application have their pre-requisite criteria for determining critical factors of influence and these should be considered before consolidating a specific Media Strategy. (Read on then review the chart on the following page for a clear explanation of this.) These need to be considered in order to minimise risk. 3 Media Strategy then represents the specific media combination or medium that you will align with your chosen Communications Method. That is, whether you choose to use Press, Radio, Television, Email, Social Media or any of the others listed at the beginning of this article, or even more.
So before you choose which Media is best to use consider the primary factors of influence upon your potential market. These include sensual influences such as sight, sound, touch, smell, taste, colour, movement. How important are responses to the natural senses when it comes to marketing your product or service? Put you self in the mind of your potential buyers. Is yours a product which buyers must literally touch, smell or taste before they are likely to respond? What elements of influence are most likely to draw their attention? The following page provides a chart which shows you the connection between Communication Methods and the sensual influences affecting your potential Media Strategy. Then, following, a mirror checklist further alerts you to questions relating to your Market Analysis as a point of timely reflection.
Reference Notes for previous Chart Broader Overall Influencing Factors Chart Question 1: Do I have a clearly defined Marketing Strategy? Clearly, a Marketing Strategy represents the overall foundation and direction for your marketing. Review the article Constructing Marketing Strategy – Page 128
Question 2: Level of previous experience with Media Marketing If you have had no previous media marketing experience, you may be feeling somewhat daunted by these question. Alternatively if you have had no real experience but feel that you are in control, chances are you may be under an illusion. Be sure to follow through all of the related reading reference in the book and don’t hesitate to get mentor support on any aspect that may concern you.
Question 3: Do I have a clearly defined Target Market? Many advertisers either have difficulty in defining their specific target market, or even simply don’t consider it at all. Defining factors around your target market can influence just how you might target them and especially the creative approach you might take. Review the article: Promotions – How can you know if they will work – Page 116 Also: Stimulating Market Interest - Page 77
Question 4: Have I determined suitable market Communication Method/s? Which method/s would you use?
Direct Selling (As you would if you were individually identifying prospects and contacting them personally.) OR Brand awareness to attract “as need arises” sales (as you would for extreme low volume/low frequency demand products/services e.g. a Funeral Business.) OR Direct-Response Advertising with brand awareness (as you would for midrange frequency demand products or services e.g. Bedding, Hairdressing etc.) OR Direct Response Promotion with incentive (as you would for known highvolume or even daily demand products e.g. Fast Food (but taking into account the level of competition and cost against projected returns)
Question 5: Have I identified the primary factors of sensual influence? Determining this can help you to consider what will influence your market most and plan your Media Strategy accordingly. You may determine that a combination Communication Methods and Sensual Influence factors are relevant. Question 6: Am I alert to any SEASONAL factors that may influence my Media Strategy? This is something that can easily be overlooked. Certain products or services can be difficult to market out of season. It should be noted that “seasonal” factors can also include any special events that might be occurring which could provide a heightened marketing opportunity. Question 7: Have I determined which Media to use based on all above questions? This is an interesting exercise. Often it is very easy to determine, but at times it can be very difficult – and there may be more than one option, especially if you are using more than one Communication Method and if there is also a broad scope of sensual or seasonal influence. A little basic market research may help you by “testing” opinions across a range of people. In the final analysis, it will come down to having a Media Strategy that is achievable and affordable. Question 8: Do I have a sound Operational Strategy to manage response? Again, be aware that Advertising or Promotion is just one part of the overall Marketing Strategy. In parallel, you need to consider everything that needs to happen when you gain response from your Media Strategy. The Operational Strategy takes it even further, looking at people management and systems and procedures that relate to your business operation, including ensuring close financial control. Question 9: Apparent product or Service uniqueness or novelty? We look at this right back when you did your initial Idea Assessment. Has your understanding or view on this changed since? What is unique, special, novel about what you are offering that will give you a marketing edge? Or is your product or service simply the same as, or a variation of existing ones. If so, what makes you think that you will draw market response over competitors?
Question 10: What is the Marketable nature of your Product or Service? If you are selling a product or service that is consistently low volume at any normal marketing period, then your Media Strategy focus will likely be on Brand awareness in association with Product/Service awareness in order to attract a viable share of an “as need arises” market. If you are selling a high volume demand consumer product or service then you may consider Direct Response Promotion – being alert to the influence of competitive factors and cost against a conservative view of anticipated returns. Question 11: Likely level of potential market benefit or need? It is not uncommon for advertising or promotion to fail because there is not real demand for what is being sold. This can be in spite of the apparent benefit or need in the mind of the seller. If this is a fair question in regard to your product or service, a little test-marketing may be wise before any extensive promotion. Question 12: Likely market spontaneous interest or demand? This refers to where a product or service may be novel enough to gain instant market recognition and demand. If such a product or service is also unique or uniquely available from you, then you have a strong potential case for Direct Response Promotion. Question 13: Is there likely strong influence from traditional buying patterns? Many products or services are repeatedly sold by the same supplier to the same customer every time, based on a sense of loyalty or simply convenience. Consider the impact that this could have if you are trying to draw these sales away from traditional suppliers. It can be difficult unless a worthwhile incentive is provided. Therefore, would it really be worth it, especially if a competitor responds with a counterincentive? Question 14: What is your Serviceable Market Area and/or Locations? How far away is it practical for you to sell/deliver/provide service/warranty etc.? Remember, growing a business means growing relationships that lead to repeat and referral sales. If you oversell and under-service, there may be no lasting benefit in terms of business growth. Clearly define your serviceable market area or Market locations and be aware of your capacity to service. Question 15: Level of potential buyers in your market area/s? Go back over the article titled “Economic Environment and Market Potential.” Page 56: This provides a basic assessment formula for most Micro-Business situations without having to engage costly Market Research. Question 16: Apparent level of competition? This is also alluded to in the above-mentioned formula. Your market share may only be the potential market value divided by the number of competitors, or less if you are only just starting to advertise or promote. Question 17: Do I have clearly definable advantages over competitors? Clearly identify and capitalise on any distinct advantages you have, especially if they are unique to your business or product/service. Question 18: Do I have real “wow” factor Branding? Review the article called “Creating and establishing your own Business BRAND” (Page 122) and fully appreciate how this can help to grow your market awareness and “as need arises” response levels. Question 19: Am I confident that I am taking an affordable calculated risk? By now, you should see that these questions collectively provide a somewhat confronting mirror that will help you to gain and maintain realistic perspective. The over-riding rule is: Consider your resources and how you might sit if the Media Strategy does not work as well as expected? Question 20: I have an experienced Mentor or trustworthy Media-savvy support? This could well be your best overall positive influencing factor, one that provides you with the objective viewpoint – a true “Devil’s Advocate.”
PROMOTIONS...How can you "know" if they will "work"...? (Here’s the answer to marketing’s most perplexing question)
At this point in our understanding, it's time to focus some real light on the subject of advertising and promotion and what constitutes its success or failure. This can help you enormously in realistic planning and budgeting for advertising and promotion as well as provide some valuable insight into corresponding relationship marketing principles. Many businesses spend huge amounts on promotions. Some virtually constantly promote, others lash out optimistically at certain times of the year, while others still never promote and rarely advertise, believing it all to be a total waste of money. Who is right...? What is right...? Are there real, sensible answers to these questions...? Answers that you can rely upon...? Indeed there are! But first, let's consider some basics...because much of what we see going on in the marketplace labelled as "promotion" is sheer "blind optimism".
What is a promotion? PRIMARY DEFINITION: Any form of concentrated, focused market communication for the express purpose of achieving a specific marketing goal within a specific timeframe. What you are doing with promotion is outlaying a specific amount of money in a specific campaign strategy designed to give you a return within a specific period, sufficient to justify the outlay. Let’s compare it to fishing: You take your fishing rod and a set amount of bait to the lake. The bait is said to be very special and should enable you to achieve a good catch, far more than enough to justify the cost of the bait, the extra tackle you need, the cost of fuel to get you to and from the lake and the cost of your packed lunch for the day.
From a marketing perspective, if you don’t catch enough fish because the fish did not like the bait or were not hungry or if there were no fish there in the first place, then your trip has been a failure from a cost-effective viewpoint. Your fishing “promotion” has not worked and there is no residual value. You have not established a relationship with the fish, they won’t remember your “brand” of bait – so nothing gained (other than an expensive day out at the lake.) Promotion can be like fishing in that sense. However, promotion can take different forms and be used for achieving vastly different goals. For example: Whether the strategy of promotion be one simple advertisement, a whole media campaign, editorial communication, direct correspondence or even personal contact, the goal can vary from sale of specific goods or services (consumer promotion) to market education or market research (informer promotion). However, the most common form of promotion (and the one which I will specifically discuss in this article) is Consumer Promotion - fishing - the use of advertising media to promote the direct sale of goods or services.
Let's now further refine our primary definition of "What is promotion?" Simply, it is calculated, concentrated, creative communication of an incentive-based message about needed goods or services, for the purpose of achieving a "cost-effective" direct response from an existing "volume" market. That is a good definition...That is the desirable objective...is it not...? However, do you realise that very many so-called "promotions", in fact most promotions, fail to fulfil this definition and objective to the satisfaction of the advertiser...? And is it any wonder? They're not "calculated", they're not "concentrated" and they fail to "communicate" because the message is not clear or lacking incentive and simply does not get attention. The advertiser may also not have any defined Target Market and may simply be firing wasted shots into the air. Also, there may be little or no real market need to respond immediately or at all to the goods or services being offered at the time of the promotion. There has been no former relationship marketing that has established any trust with the market. Therefore direct response may be neither non-existent nor cost-effective. In fact, many do not even qualify as a calculated risk. In short, they are nothing more than an outright gamble. Yet, the budget is allocated (often, whether it exists or not) and is spent in some form of media, perhaps using shallow gimmicks or ridiculous statements or unrealistic incentives to get response. If it "works" (which even then may be questionable) then the promotion is deemed "successful" and that particular form of media is seen for the moment in positive light and esteem. If it does not work (that is if it is not "seen" to be cost-effective) then the particular medium used is often blamed (rightly or wrongly) or the advertiser or marketing manager simply justifies the exercise by saying: "Well, at least it is creating market awareness...!" Rubbish...! - Unless, of course, BRAND PROMOTION is the specific goal of the promotion. 117
Promotions, in the true sense of the word are expensive investments and if they do not "work", that is, if they do not achieve a clearly defined, pre-determined objective, then usually you've just blown it and that's very, very expensive...it's just that simple...! So then what happens...? Usually, nothing...! There is rarely any constructive PPM (Promotional Post-Mortem). The gambler simply accepts or justifies the outcome and starts planning for the next binge. Why is this pattern of compulsive gambling so often perpetuated? It is because human nature is always looking for an easy way. We can falsely hope that instant results can be achieved simply by handling money over for some form of promotion and by spending this money, we feel we can claim any success as "good planning" on our part, or any failure as the "fault of the media". Such erroneous thinking is not only sheer blindness - even more concerning, it is totally business-destructive. In the same way that compulsive gamblers never win in the end, this approach to promotion produces the same self-destructive result. All of this does not mean that you should never use promotion. Rather, it serves as a caution to keep promotion in its proper perspective, using our clearly stated definition as a measure for both planning and evaluation. However, back-to-back, end-to-end promotion as a constant business "way of life", of and by itself is generally a futile, expensive waste. Earlier in this book I drew an analogy between "promotion" and "fertiliser". Just as the right kind and right amount of fertiliser used at the right time can stimulate healthy plant growth, so too, the careful, balanced use of promotion can stimulate market response and growth. If you use fertiliser constantly not only will you waste it, you will also destroy the soil's natural balance and productive capacity. Likewise, constant, end-toend promotion that does not cost-effectively achieve worthwhile, predetermined objectives will virtually destroy the sensitive balance of the "business soil" (that is, the interest in and perception of your business in the marketplace). Poor, non-communicative advertising and promotion constantly poured out onto the community market lacks credibility and believability, if it is seen at all. In fact, many promotions are so shallow, so naive, that they seem to treat and regard potential customers as complete morons. And Iâ€™m not so much referring to Micro-Small Business promotions here. You see this kind of moronic promotion in much corporate advertising, where gullible Corporate Marketing Managers are lured into Advertising Agency productions and campaigns that cost hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars, which, by the end of the advertisement, you may have been entertained for a moment, but you donâ€™t recall what was being sold or even the Brand.
Soon the same “entertaining” advertisement is slammed in front of you so often that it wears thin and becomes annoying. Businesses which think that they need to spend huge budgets on over-production and gimmicks can lose the plot. Are you familiar with the story about the “Emperor’s New Clothes?” When it comes to production cost for Advertising, as I referred to earlier in this book, there is a principle which I use for Micro-Business. It’s called the Minimum-Effective principle. Simply, the key to cost-effectiveness in production is not in how much it costs you to produce your Ad, but how effectively you can communicate your message in an affordable way and achieve your marketing goal. Something as simple as a small cartoon containing your message can be very costeffective or choosing a headline that entertains or gets attention with a captivating statement. Keep it simple, ensure you “communicate” but don’t forget to make the marketing message effective and target your market. Still, dare to be different. Our initial definition provides a good yardstick. Ask yourself before spending on any promotion (especially if you are expecting the promotion to be specifically of a "direct response" nature), "how closely does my promotion fit with the basic definition?" Our "searching" definition is an excellent measure of the "depth" or "worth" of any promotion whether it is a promotional idea of your own or those offered to you by various media or promoters. To assist you even further, let's qualify our definition from a different perspective, and further, never spend money on promotion unless you can afford to lose it. Broadly, there are two essential components required to provide a foundation for a successful direct response promotion. Firstly: Spontaneous communication of your incentive-based message to a "known-to-exist" volume target market. Incidentally, this raises the question: How do we define a “target market”? Ask yourself: “Who is my target market?” Defining a target market involves focusing in on who (what market sector – age group – economic profile – social profile) really needs, or is likely to be drawn to your product or service, where are they? When are they most likely to respond? What will encourage them to respond? Can your target market really afford what you are offering? How might you maximise your potential to reach them? This applies regardless of whether you are talking about Consumer (direct response) or Brand building promotion or even consistent brand and product awareness for low volume products or services. 119
Remember, your potential customers are constantly bombarded by hundreds of marketing messages in various forms every day. What you have to say or present to them must get their attention in the first place and it must be sufficiently relevant and attractive to them. This is where a combination of relative creative flair and cost-effective use of appropriate media may be required. Regardless of whether your selected media is traditional mass communication media, such as a newspaper or radio, Social Media marketing or whatever, even if it is simply a "sandwich board" in front of your shop, getting attention and stimulating incentive-based interest is paramount. However, even that is only going to achieve half of the overall objective. Secondly: The media communication phase of the promotion must be supported with real "substance". As advertisers we can mistakenly tend to have an idealistic vision when it comes to promotion. We would like to see continuous waves of customers scrambling over each other in an enthusiastic effort to cast their wallets and purses at our feet, but this is indeed the idealistic vision of the compulsive gambler. Obviously, you will require a very powerful incentive to cost-effectively achieve such a result. It is one thing to run a successful media campaign, however, unless the product and service (in every respect) lives up to the promise, then all of the best media promotion is wasted. It's a bit like advertising a fruit shop full of sumptuous, big, red apples, offering "two apples for the price of one" - only to find that every apple you bite into is rotten to the core. The advertisement sounded inviting, the incentive was there, the fruit looked good, the promotion worked in a media sense, in that people came and purchased. Yet, the campaign failed because the product was not up to expectations. Further, when customers complained, they were simply told: "So what - you still got your two for the price of one." Overall effect: Lack of credibility, no repeat or referred business - indeed, quite the opposite. This second component of having real substance behind a successful promotion is still often overlooked and is a common cause of overall promotion failure. It represents the real substance, the atmosphere, shopping environment, customer service attitude and product/service quality presented in support of the media communication aspects of the promotion – in other words, the Relationship Marketing. Yet, it is not uncommon for businesses to undertake expensive media promotions without even informing sales or customer service staff that anything is even going on. Is it any wonder that customers' expectations are so badly let down? Remember, marketing overall is a “process” – not a mere “promotion’. Business growth is achieved by implementing a pre-determined process – not by just gambling with promotion. That process includes calculatingly using promotion to attract the market, but this must be supported with the kind of product or service incentive and attitude that stimulates first time, repeat and referred customer purchases, without which there can be no "real" long term growth.
In essence, business growth (marketing) is a process of customer relationshipbuilding, which ultimately can lead to less and less dependence upon the need for costly, end-to-end promotion. No advertising or promotion alone will provide positive, lasting growth unless it is supported by the right product incentive and service attitude that stimulates repeat and referred business. Yet, in spite of this absolute marketing law, businesses still gamble with media promotion and simultaneously, fail to back up even good promotions with appropriate in-house support. An always remember this: Every business is different, every businessperson is different, every market is different and so what works for someone else most likely will not work for you. You need to take into account all of the variables associated with your own business needs, situation and market conditions. Every promotion is comprised of numerous variable components that should always be carefully considered. The extent to which a promotion returns a result is clearly dependent upon the satisfaction of all the factors highlighted in the basic definition. The more fully your promotion can satisfy the basic definition, the more likely it can work for you. Perhaps the most valuable advice I can give you here is to use the basic definition to help keep your perspective and expectations realistically under control. Promotion is an essential part of attracting new business. After all, unless people know that you and your business exist and unless they know what you sell that they need - unless you are "communicating" with the right form and balance of promotion, you're never going to have the chance to encourage them to come back or to refer others.
Creating and establishing your own Business BRAND
What is a BRAND? What is a LOGO? What is a TRADEMARK? What’s the difference? Do we need one? How should we use it? A brand is a symbol, image or even a name that is meant to represent a business or a product and make it an instantly recognisable symbol directly associated with the business or supplier. A brand is an individual identity which is associated with every dimension of a business’s Marketing. Its use is all-encompassing and always “up front.” It’s a bit like your own name. Your name identifies you. Imagine anything trying to function in our society today if none of us had a name? Indeed that would be extremely confusing – in fact it would lead to chaos. Obviously mankind has always been given his or her individual name throughout history. It is our individual brand that identifies who we are. But think about this in a context of a business. A brand needs to be unique, distinctive, impressionable yet simple. Whether or not it incorporates the actual name of the business, it becomes an effective brand only when it is instantly recognised through consistent use in the marketplace. This consistency gives it instant recall and direct association with the business and its products or services. This is not always easy to achieve effectively. A Logo is also a symbol or graphic that is used to identify a particular business, but not necessarily used to the extent of a brand. A brand can also be used as a logo, but a logo is not really a brand unless it is truly associated with every dimension of the marketing mix. A Trademark is a unique kind of brand or logo wherein the design contains graphic elements or word combinations that the owner wants to protect through formal registration as intellectual property, so-as to discourage anyone unauthorised from using or copying or reproducing it something that may look similar. Surprisingly, while every business has a name, in real terms of numbers of businesses out there, very few actually have a brand, or a Trademark or even a Logo. While logos are more common, many have limited impact in terms of marketing, either due to their design or lack of broader use in marketing (which would otherwise make them more recognisable as a brand.) So what is the significance of this?
Basically, many businesses lack real market identity and product or serviceassociated instant recognition in spite of having a logo. They may not actually be relying (whether they know it or believe they are or not) on their name or logo to attract business. Unless they have established a strong clientele over time, may simply be competing with all of the other nonrecognisable logos or business names in their market area. Yes, we are all familiar with the many corporate brands that are instantly recognisable and we know what they mean. The corporate sector is generally very good at creating, promoting and establishing their brand in the market place. Why? They do it so that whatever products or services they are selling are instantly associated with their brand, which encourages the buyers to respond to that brand, rather than seek out alternative sources. When you relate this to a small or Micro-Business context - is having a brand any less important? While corporate brands are generally associated with National and International businesses or business and Franchise chains, it is no less important to a very small business with a regional or local market area for exactly the same reasons. Consider: The market area for your Micro-Business products or services might be small, but you might still have many competitors, some of whom have been well established for a long time. They may or may not have a recognisable brand, but they may well have established a long-standing traditional clientele. Alternatively, they might also be struggling due to competition and their own lack of market awareness. If you are just relying on your business name or logo and advertising that may be nothing more than gambling, your business may just be one of many that are competing out there in the same market. This may be even more significant if your competitors are actually corporate businesses who are selling online into your small market area. You ideally need to create, promote and establish an effective brand as a positive IDENTITY for your Business and what it represents. Doing this effectively leads your potential market to more readily associate your business, your products or services, your expertise and your credibility with you. Whether you go to the expense of trademarking your brand as a Registered Brand could depend on a number of factors. You can search online to find relevant Trademark information. Branding can be BY FAR a most valuable “first impression” element of your overall Business marketing. It can be the “HOOK” you need to get attention in the first place and it should always be used in association with any marketing activity. Without good branding, coupled with consistent, effective use of that brand, many potential buyers may never notice, recall or find your business, except by accident, probably when they are comparing all of the other suppliers who lack brands. 123
Consider: What can you use and do to identify/develop a unique business brand, something unique in or about your business or product or service that can be an overall identifying symbol that has real hook, or “wow” factor impact in getting attention? What is the most unique/interesting feature about your business that would generate initial interest? Is there something that can be put into a simple, visual message/graphic, with real “wow” factor that hits right between the eyes when you use it? The objective is to have a brand symbol that everyone recognises and associates with what you are selling. Done effectively, the Brand is recognisable without the name of the business in it. You might show your business name with the brand initially, until established, then it may be more effective to drop the name off once established. I have seen countless small businesses with much to offer, which are virtually “lost” in a marketing jigsaw of many other business – never attracting their potential because they have no effective brand identity and marketing.
A brand can even be a unique drawing or even a photo. It could even be linked to a unique “sound” – or the brand itself, might even be a unique image of YOU…? A couple of personal examples: The image of the Jigsaw “community YOU” is a distinctive Trademark I have registered. I don’t use it as a brand, but rather as a promotional symbol for my community development marketing. However, the photo image of me wearing the hat I use as a BRAND on just about anything I publish.
Whether it includes the business name or not, when creating a brand, again, the goal is simplicity, combined with a unique and indelibly memorable impact that has association with your business and your product or service. Don’t make it too busy or it will just be another nondescript advertisement that nobody notices. Remember, the brand’s meaning becomes established by ensuring that it is “out there” – associated, over time, with every dimension of your marketing. If you have the creative flair to design your own brand, then stick to the principles outlined here. Alternatively, get someone experienced to help you create the right brand for you. Once you have that brand, stick to it, use it consistently and don’t make the mistake of changing your brand or you are destroying any sense of identity that you may have built. Your business will be lost and you are virtually starting again. Imagine the dramas that would result from changing your own personal name frequently because you don’t like it? Nobody would know you by that name and you would have a long road to re-establish your identity.
Where are you..? And the three L’s Choosing a suitable Business, Business Structure, Location, local Laws and Licensing
Earlier we looked at the analogy of the Farm, its workable boundaries and the need to consider the scope of resources to effectively manage it. In parallel, let’s now consider the basic factors relevant to choosing a location for the business. These will depend significantly on the nature of the business, the nature of its market area and nature of the product or service being offered. Selecting a suitable business location will primarily depend on whether or not you need to be in a position where your market must be able to see you or find you. Depending on the nature of the business, this will vary considerably. If your business is dependent on a large volume of passing trade for its survival, then the location will obviously be very important. If your market is a local one and you are selling a product or service that relates to the “Fast Food” end of the maturity rate spectrum, then it will be to your advantage to be located where a high level of passing trade will have the opportunity to see you and respond or at least be easily able find you. However, you must also be very careful that the anticipated level of sales will justify the cost of the location. Alternatively, if you are in the “Funeral” business end of the maturity rate scale, then clearly, you will not need to be located in an out-of-character position – such as an expensive retail trading area or Shopping Centre Retail Arcade. If your market is not necessarily local, or if you are selling over the Internet, or if you are a manufacturer that is selling a product that is sold and delivered far beyond your actual business location, then other factors might determine the best location. These could include proximity to supply of raw materials or suppliers, storage and transport factors, availability of suitably skilled labour or factory running costs etc. Many Micro-Businesses though, are Home-Based businesses who either use the Internet for marketing or who may attend local Markets.
Factors to consider when choosing a business location Firstly: Are you in a Retail or Service business that is highly dependent on “opportunistic” passing trade rather than on the effect of advertising to attract customers? For example, A Coffee Shop or Fast Food Outlet, a Hot Bread Shop, a Clothing Retailer, a Camera Shop or a Key Cutting business? If your answer is “yes” then you will need to consider and compare the available choices of business locations and decide which one is likely to be the most affordably cost-effective. For example, you might have a choice between a busy, high profile and modern air-conditioned Shopping Centre where very large numbers of shoppers are readily attracted, providing what could be described as “instant trade”. While this may sound ideal, it usually comes at a high price. Shopping Centre shop space can be very expensive, and before you are locked into a lease, you need to be very confident that the anticipated volume of daily trade will be sufficient to meet not only the high cost of the shop lease, but also all of the other overheads of the business and still be able to return you a realistic profit on your investment. Countless, over-optimistic retailers fall into this trap. Setting up your business in a costly Shopping Centre environment can be extremely high risk. I have seen many business peoples’ lives and relationships go to the wall in Shopping Centres. Further, in such an environment, you need to take into account another big risk factor. I have seen businesses wiped out when, after spending years building up their trade in their Shopping Centre Retail Outlet, the Shopping Centre Management makes a callous, indifferent decision not to renew the lease in favour of a higher paying Franchise, virtually throwing the business out onto the street. Compare any ideal Shopping Centre location with any available alternatives and weigh up ALL of the pros and cons. You may find a smaller Shopping Centre or a Main Street shopping area where the passing level of retail trade may be proportionately as good for much less cost. While it may attract a smaller volume of retail trade, it may cost much less and be able to return you a better end result. Either way though, keep in mind that if you are setting up your business in a costly retail trading environment, you need to be sure that you are selling a product or service that is characteristic of such a market environment – that is, high volume, consumer products or services that people need frequently. You will also need to consider the prevailing level of competition and how this is likely to impact on your anticipated sales. Secondly: Let’s consider the opposite extreme. Are you are selling a product or service that is in no way dependent on passing trade – where you market is attracted or product is sold by targeting customers though some form of advertising that is supported with direct selling and direct delivery? Your customers may be such that they never need to find or visit your business location. For example, you may be selling products over the Internet to customers all over the world, or you may be producing, selling and delivering products direct from on-farm locations, or direct to a client base of businesses or homeowners. 126
If so, then the choice of business location can entirely suit your operational needs and your budget. If you donâ€™t need to pay high rents or leases for retail or office space then why do so? Yet, you can look around and see businesses that do this all of the time. Thirdly: Most businesses will fall somewhere between the first two extremes, where they donâ€™t need to rely at all, or to minor extent on passing trade, but they still need to be where people can find them when they need to do so. These businesses rely on promoting their product or service in conjunction with their own business brand/name, encouraging customers to respond as their needs arise - for example various Tradespeople. Many businesses fall into this category and there is generally a variety of options for suitable locations, anything from home based, or affordable Business Centre Office space, to light industry locations. However, whichever category your business falls into, you will need to compare the location and nature of your serviceable market to the anticipated cost of achieving a worthwhile market share. In the final analysis, remember, you are in or going into business to make a profit, so choose realistically in terms of the need for customer contact and your budget. If you have to start at a less ideal location initially to be confident of profitable trading, you may be able to relocate later if you need to when you can confidently afford to do so.
Your Business Structure The formal structure of your business (be it a Sole Trader operation, Partnership, or some form of Company Structure, a Trust or even a Social Enterprise) will depend on a number of variables, such as who is involved in the business, their role in the business, the level and nature of their financial involvement, the source and application of investment capital and relevant taxations issues, among other things. Every structure has its own advantages and disadvantages therefore, the ideal structure for your business will best be determined by researching business structures online then getting constructive advice from an experienced Business Advisor or from your Accountant, who can look at your specific situation and advise you according to your specific needs.
Licences, Registrations requirements In every community, the establishment of a new business requires conformity to various local, state or even federal government licenses, registrations. These vary considerably from community, shire/county, state and country in line with appropriate laws and bylaws. Be sure to seek advice from your local Council as to how you may need to conform. The license/approval requirements for many types of business can be quite extensive, especially if the business is associated with waste, smells, noise, hazardous materials, interaction with road traffic, preparation/cooking of food etc. Be sure to get the full picture from your local authorities.
Constructing a Marketing Strategy The plan for “growing” your business
As you can see from earlier articles, growing a business is much like farming. In farming, you have a certain amount of resources in terms of land area, soil quality, water and other natural resources. You are aware of the climatic conditions and soil conditions and the nature and maturity rate of the seed you are planting. You know from the nature of the seed that it needs to be planted in sufficient depth and density to grow a certain volume of crop in a predictable time, given the correct amount of water and maintenance during its initial growth. Given ideal conditions and barring natural disasters, you know that when you harvest the crop, it will provide a predictable return when sold, sufficient to meet the overall cost of the planting, labour and maintenance, as well as sufficient to reduce overall farm debt and allow for future capital expenditure. Logically, if the area of planting and its return are insufficient to meet these costs, then the farm will not be viable, no matter how good the crop. Growth and management of any business is exactly the same. In parallel for your Micro-Business, your farm is your serviceable market area. You are aware of the density of potential customers “planted” in that market area and what their potential sales value is worth. You know the nature, frequency and yield volume of potential customers. (That is, you know the kind of customers you seek, what they buy, how often and how much - their current buying patterns and needs.) You know how many other businesses are competing for the same market. You know how to best “water” that market with the right collective balance of Brand-building advertising or promotion and other market activity, sufficient to grow your market share. You know what density of impact you need to have on the market and what volume of sales you need to achieve to meet your operating cost and provide a return on your overall investment. A Marketing Strategy is summarised from the collective results of your basic research into all of these things in order to determine the most cost-effective way of promoting the growth of your business. This will be a plan of how you intend to combine and use your resources to grow your business. To determine a potential Marketing Strategy, you first need look at what your research basics is telling you and prepare an interim strategy initially, then evaluate this against your resources to see if you can afford it.
Once you have drafted what looks like an ideal strategy, if you can’t afford the ideal, then your next step is to scale it back to within your resource capacity, then determine whether it will still function viably. If so, then you can consolidate that strategy. If not, then you must find additional resources to operate the Marketing Strategy in a way that will achieve a viable outcome. Clearly, if you have a resource shortfall, in terms of establishment and operational capital, serviceable market area or market volume, or if you try to sell a product that nobody wants (plant the wrong seed in the wrong climate and soil) then your chances of success are very questionable to say the least.
A basic Marketing Strategy is delivered by combining findings from:
Your Your Your Your
Product or Services Analysis Market Analysis Communications Analysis Media Analysis and resultant Media Strategy
This then needs to be kept in perspective with summary findings from your Resources Analysis. For additional perspective and review, also refer to the Checklist on the following page. This provides another useful “mirror” to help ensure that you don’t miss any crucial aspects. The Marketing Strategy is just ONE strategy in your business. The other is having an Operational Strategy or Operational Plan. This involves identifying all essential day-to-day Management, Administrative and Marketing activity in the business and (where necessary) documenting procedures/process for each activity and delegating their relative responsibility. All of this certainly gives you plenty to consider and yes, it can be somewhat daunting. However, I want you to remember that every business is unique for numerous reasons, regardless of whether you are selling the same or a similar product or service as someone else. When it comes to Marketing Strategy that will also be unique! What works for someone else will likely not work for you. Take the time to focus squarely on the strategy development information shown in this book and relate it to your unique situation – plan a draft Marketing Strategy – ensure that you can afford it, and ideally, get someone suitable, like a good Mentor, to go over its logic with you.
Constructing an Operational Machine
(Ensuring that your business avoids going nowhere) With a carefully constructed Operational Machine (Operational Plan) you can ensure relative control your entire business day-to-day activity and a void oversights, communications breakdowns, waste of time and resources, avoidable problems and even dysfunction and chaos. The objective is to control your business, not let it control you. How well is your business routine operational process planned and performed? While this may not be a big challenge in a one or two person Micro-Business, it is still worthy of assessment and planning, even if it is just a regular checklist. Will your business operation merely comprise opening the door each day, or checking your email messages, waiting for customers or orders, hoping for enough sales to meet overheads? Are you hooked on gambling with frequent binges of advertising in a desperate hope of boosting sales? Are you disillusioned with promotion and don't know what to do? These are things you need to avoid if you are just setting up your new business. When things get busy, will your system fall apart and do people seem to let you down, make mistakes or forget to do important things? Alternatively, when things get quiet, do you start to worry about making ends meet? Are you about to undertake expensive advertising or a risky promotion, but feel somewhat apprehensive about the possible outcome? If so, chances are you will most likely waste your money. Remember, too many businesses rely solely on advertising and promotion to create more customer traffic. Costly direct-response sales transactions are as far as their understanding and practice of marketing will go. If you only focus on attracting business in that way, without even a basic routine operational process for ensuring effective control of all business activity, your business function may simply be like (as earlier described) a bucket with holes.
Advertising and promotion has its essential role. However, what value is promotion, even if it does achieve direct response, if you and/or your team are not prepared to respond efficiently? Let's first begin to more fully understand and focus upon the elements that make up an Operational Plan. Whether you are a Manufacturer, Wholesale/Retail Warehouse Distributor, traditional Micro-Business Retailer, Service Provider or and Online Home-based Network Marketer, your business day-to-day activity involves a series of specific management, administrative and marketing-related functions. These make up a chain of defined business activity from start of business to close each day. As briefly mention in the previous article, an Operational Strategy involves identifying all essential day-to-day Management, Administrative and Marketing activity in the business and (where necessary) documenting procedures/process for each activity and delegating relative responsibility. In every business, these functions will vary in number and in scale of operation. Imagine the result if an Aircraft Manufacturer did not have a precision Operational Plan for assembly of planes and servicing them regularly? Obviously complete disaster. While you Micro-Business may not have such drastic consequences, if you donâ€™t have even a basic day-to-day plan to control the flow of your own business, it could just as easily fall out of the market sky. The first task in constructing your Operational Plan is to identify and list those functions that are specifically applicable in your situation. Some of these listed will apply while you may identify others specific to your need. To help you visualise this, the following page graphic provide a list of typical operational functions that could be required in a business. The first task is to identify all functions that will need to be active or managed in your business. Some of these will be routine, regular functions while others may only require occasional attention. Depending on the nature and scope of your business, each function may require documentation of specific procedures, costing and delegation of responsibility. Remember, these represent typical functions. You will need to identify and list the specific functions in order of activity that will make up your own Operational Machine. Once the basic chain of specific operational functions is identified and listed in order of activity and routine, you then have a clear overview of your entire business and operational structure and scope. In other words, you will know how your business should ideally function from day to day. Then, you can plan and document any relevant administrative procedures required to implement each function. This has the advantage of providing you with a brief "job description" overview. The total picture now presented by your complete Operational Plan represents the potential operational activity required for the function of your entire business. While your Micro-Business might only need a small Operational Plan, you will no doubt be surprised at what is identified that otherwise may well have been overlooked, perhaps with potential serious consequences.
Careful review of the entire Operational Draft Plan activity will identify any relevant costs involved. These can be taken into account when finalising your overall draft budget, which is addressed further on in this Section of the book. Now, let's summarise the steps we have identified in the process of building your Operational Plan. 1. Identify and list the chain of specific functions that will comprise your business operational activity on a day-to-day basis, including those activities which are less frequent. 2. Document any relevant strategy and/or administrative procedures required and consider who will be responsible for implementation of each activity. 3. Also, clearly identify those for which any internal or externally sourced support will be needed and identify those which will involve ongoing costs. Again, depending on the nature and scope of your business operation, you are well advised to be very thorough and determined in your assessment of your entire business operational process. Although you may be tempted to say "I don't have time to do all of this" â€“ the more effective day-to-day management it will then provide. Constructing an affordable, workable Operational Plan is one of the most useful business control functions you will ever do. Please review this chapter and the rest of this Section very carefully and take the essential time needed to complete it. Do this, and you will be pleased with knowing that you are fully in control, where the business will have every chance to flourish without the handicap of constant operational or procedural problems. At this point, if you have any concerns, I once again recommend that you find a good Micro-Business Mentor to work through this process with you.
Does your Operational Machine just need fine tuning – or total rebuilding? (Understanding how the demands of change affects administrative and operational efficiency)
From the day a business starts, it is subject to constant change, (changes in market factors, competition, management and personnel, systems technology/training and changes brought about by the pressures of growth, or even decline, to name a few). Micro-Business is no less affected relatively speaking. The very rate of change in today’s business world presents many challenges, however, unless businesses keep reasonable pace with change, an outdated Operational Machine can strangle the rate of business growth and result in serious bottlenecks to general efficiency. Remember, every business, no matter how small, is like a machine with many different, but interdependent people parts working with systems and procedures to achieve effective outcomes. The Operational Machine must be designed to suit the size and nature of the business then it must be built, switched on, managed, fine-tuned and continually serviced and updated, to cope with the continual demands of change. When designing and building an Operational Machine, the size, and structure determines its resultant output capacity. Obviously, there is no point having an over-sized business machine, where the cost and extent of people and the systems, procedures and technology make the whole business viability doubtful. Similarly, the opposite situation is equally impractical, where essentially needed people parts, procedures and equipment, are missing from the Operational Machine, resulting in inefficient operation, constant “overheating, fire-fighting or even breakdown” situations seriously affecting the output capacity and viability of the business. Worse still, many businesses function without any structured Operational Machine at all. These businesses are not managed - rather, the most urgent situations and pressures dictate what is done, resulting in constant stress and breakdown. Without a continually serviced Operational Machine, a business may simply go nowhere. 135
Continual “short circuits” cause the business operation to stall and business efficiency can be seriously affected because capacity to cope with increased demand is simply unavailable or alternatively, a downturn in market may mean you are paying for an oversized Operational Machine, even if just temporarily. If so you need to know this immediately - not when your Accountant tells you in 12 months’ time that you are broke. Apart from taking the time to effectively plan (design) the ideal Operational Machine as discussed in the previous article – once it is in place and switched on - the process of servicing, fine-tuning and upgrading should be ongoing. As the business grows (or as essential downsizing becomes necessary) the structure, size and output capacity needs to be kept in perspective – that perspective being the achievement of a profitable outcome, within the scope of available resources. Unquestionably, a common problem I have observed in business is failure to be flexible enough to upgrade or down grade the capacity of the Operational Machine in parallel with substantial market or resource changes. The most effective Operational Machines are those that can be resized (up or down) to ensure a profitable, or at least, a controllable output that is relevant and reasonable in the existing market circumstances. In essence, an Operational Machine forms a crucial part of the Business Quality Assurance documentation. Too many businesses simply grow too big too quickly. Their Operational Machines are only structured to a certain output capacity, but they continue to press on the accelerator and take on more and more business without upsizing the Operational Machine, simply because of market pressure or outright greed, or both. End result – a major breakdown or total chaos. The business grows totally out of control and soon becomes unprofitable, in spite of apparent excellent market opportunity. At the other extreme, a business that needs to grow can be held back (like a plant growing in a pot) because there is no vison for bringing in the support needed to expand where the opportunity exists to do so.
Learn to let go! There is also another very common, but often unrecognised cause of Operational Machine breakdown which is particularly common where once small family businesses have grown much larger. Often, what happens is that the business grows to become quite capable of supporting a substantial Operational Machine, but the owner simply fails to let go of routine, day-today decisions. These kinds of businesses may hire good watchdogs but the owners simply can’t resist the temptation to still do all of their own barking. Meetings become bogged down in a rut of micro-management mayhem where agendas go out the window and process is side-tracked with small issue decisionmaking that should essentially be delegated. If you are not mature enough or professional enough to realise that the people you might have employed are qualified and capable of making day to day operational decisions based on a clearly defined Operational Plan – believing that you must have control over every decision - then the potential for maintaining efficient growth can be stalled. 136
Finally, another situation that can impact heavily is where falling efficiency and profitability leads to thinking that new skills are all that is need to solve the problem. Unfortunately, however, quite often it is an outdated Operational Machine (inadequate systems and procedures) or failure to work within the guidelines of operational process.
The solution to all of these problems 1. As stated from the outset, ensure that a Business Operational Machine is not only effectively planned and built and in place, but most important, ensure that it is continually fine-tuned, serviced and upgraded. 2. Remember that business growth is another way of saying Marketing, and marketing is primarily a relational process. Business growth also required business management. Before firing and re-hiring remember that new people with new skills alone may not solve a problem. Attitudes may account for a major part of the problem and the solution and it may be much more efficient to retrain and re-deploy, than to prune indiscriminately. 3. Have a pro-active and forward thinking approach to training. Assessment of the Operational Machine should be taking any need for future outlook training into account, especially in today’s competitive environment of fast changing technology. 4. Focus on what really matters most. Do this, and you’ll be surprised just how much can be achieved if you stick to well defined process. In conclusion, remember that change is constant. another absolute:
Also, always remember
“Whatever you’re business, you’re in the ‘people’ business.” You can’t make people change their attitudes, but you can provide the inspiration and encouragement that will first give them opportunity to make the changes themselves.
Will your Micro-Business need Staff..? Employer beware..!
A Micro-Business is one that might employ up to 4 people. If you are going to employ or contract any kind of support, you will need to be sure that the people you employ are all going to be a part of a complimentary team effort, regardless of whether they are to be involved in direct customer situations or in any other part of the business operation and administration for that matter. A warning though, if you are new to business and have never employed anyone this can be a real danger zone. Many fledgling MicroSmall Businesses that get off to a good start fall apart when they start to employ. Those you employ or contract should strengthen the business in areas where your own skills and needs are lacking. You will be a building complementary team that provides a complete business unit, but itâ€™s not just about complementary skill. Personality, attitude, reliability and other factors all play a part in building a coherent, mutually supportive and dynamic unit. If there is a position to be filled in the business, you should not just assume that someone in the family will be able to fulfil the role, especially if you expect that person to work for nothing. Certainly, in some cultural/family environments, that kind of arrangement can work very well and see a business grow strong by working together for a common cause. However, where such a bond of common-unity spirit does not exist, this does not inspire lasting commitment and usually does not contribute to maintaining sound relationships. They are likely to walk away as soon as the going gets tough, and it always does at some stage. Always work to the rule that nobody is likely to be as committed to your business as you are. Although this is not always the case, they need to be committed to the job at least. This means they need to feel part of a team, even if it is just you and one person. Numerous factors need to be considered. What complementary skills will I need to do what? When you review your Marketing and Operations Strategies, potential employee roles will be identifiable. Also, your Operational Plan can actually provide the job description for those roles. Then, you need to consider the cost, not only in terms of wages or salaries, but also relevant taxation, superannuation holiday and long-service leave entitlements and other costs that may be involved including the cost of having someone (if not yourself) manage this aspect of your business operation.
The minute you start to employ someone, your business leaps into a whole new dimension of challenge, responsibility, cost and potential dangers if you are not fully prepared. Many Micro-Businesses start off as hobby businesses and can grow quite successfully, some even very quickly. Sometimes the growth rate can be too quick and the business person may not be prepared for this rapid transition from self-only employment to employing and managing others. Not only are they prone to employ the wrong people for the wrong roles, they may not have counted the cost and don’t have a clear Operational Plan or adequate resource to meet this growth. Consequently, things soon start falling apart. If you are caught out with a business that is growing more rapidly than you anticipated and things are going well, before you trade in your Operational Machine on a much larger one you need to do your homework and get the systems, procedures and right people into planning first. Businesses that grow too quickly are prone to grow completely out of control and this can have worse consequences than a business that is going nowhere, mainly because they will also grow out of financial control and collapse in a heap of debt. Another consideration is finding the right people to employ or contract and know what you are looking for. You won’t employ a Plumber to block a hole in your exploding budget and you won’t employ a Truck Driven to drive your finances, unless they are also qualified to do both of course. Those whom you employ need to fit as a functioning working part of the whole Operational Machine, not only in terms of skills, but also with attitude and personality. Remember, if you need to employ, be sure that you are also a positive example and influence – it’s as much about Relationship Marketing. If the business is a very small (one-person) Micro-Business, then you can see that this puts a great deal of responsibility back onto that one person, and as such, it must be considered just how much one person can do. As I have said consistently from the outset, even the smallest of Micro-Businesses still cannot do “everything” with one person, as this stifles potential to reach costeffective growth and keeps your business limited to that infamous “pot.” However, when people are to be employed or contracted, this should not be done without careful consideration of how their role is going to effectively contribute to growth on all of these factors mentioned.
Financial Administration and Budgeting (Understanding what money is and is not)
Like water, money is a crucial element that will enable your business to grow, provided you do not waste this precious resource. There is one lesson that never seems to be learned by many aspiring new Micro-Business people. “Money alone (or credit, which is the illusion of money) does not make more money”. Unless you first understand exactly what money really is and what it is really meant to do in the business growth equation, you will not really value it and you will surely waste it. Money to a business is like water to a plant. It can’t grow without a correctly calculated measure being poured on at the right intervals and in the right amount for the right purpose, while also being sure that you are pouring it onto worthwhile “seed.” Earlier I explained how every seed has its own built in genetic formula. You know from the kind of seed you are planting exactly how long it will take to germinate and reach productive maturity in ideal growing conditions and given adequate water and care. If you plant an olive seedling and do not have enough water to ensure that the tree grows properly to full productivity, then you should not be surprised when it dies. If you plant a great idea for a business in the wrong market environment and do not have sufficient money to last until it reaches viable productivity, it too will die, especially if you have not pre-determined that it can even grow. Further, if you pour you money on a seed-idea which does not grow at all, your money is wasted. Many people go into business on nothing more than over-enthusiastic blind optimism. They have done virtually no research and planning and have little or no financial skills or resources. Others may have more than adequate financial resources initially, but because they simply raced ahead and planted their business seed without first ensuring the best place to plant, or without considering how long the seed will need to mature to provide viable returns, their money runs out before the delicate business seedling reaches maturity. Over my lifetime, I have seen this scenario played out many, many times. People convince themselves: “If I can just get some more capital everything will be all right.” 140
Unfortunately, in most cases this person may still have no real insight into the marketability of their product or service or how long it will take to achieve viability. They borrow or mortgage themselves to the hilt in pursuit of an illusion â€“ one which could well have been seen through if they had taken time to do some basic research, ideally with the support of a Mentor. In all of this I am saying that unless you are prepared to do adequate research and learn as much as you can about how to make your business work before you start, then you are taking a much greater risk. The chances of a business surviving and growing without adequate water of financial reserves, effectively and timely used, is as likely as it would be for a fruit tree planted in a field and left to survive on its own hoping that it will rain in time and hoping that the tree will bear fruit. This is one of the major causes of business go-nowhere syndrome, inadequate research and planning and not knowing how much money is really going to be needed to grow the business until it is generating a sustainable income. I cannot overemphasise the relevance of earlier articles in this book, particularly in reference to understanding the nature and genetic characteristics of the business you are in. Having said this, and now assuming that you have documented a basic Marketing Strategy and Business Operational Plan, you will next need a Financial Plan to determine what it will cost and how you will pay for it with a Budget. This is done by carefully determining the combined cost of implementing your Marketing Strategy and Operational Plan, including relevant initial business set-up (Capital) costs. Also, prepare a projected Cash Flow Budget for at least the first year. For most Micro-Businesses, it is far more practical to find a good Bookkeeper to help you set up a suitable Bookkeeping system/program and work with you to also set up a basic Business Cash flow Management Plan. You can then work with this same person from month to month to see how you are progressing. Unless you have the specific skills, experience and especially time required I very strongly advise you that you line up support for this crucial dimension of your business. This applies equally to your Marketing. Especially if you are employing anyone, then this becomes even more critical. Control of cash-flow, paying of wages or contract cost, budgeting for meeting Taxation related costs, Superannuation, Annual Leave and long service leave etc., will add additional burdens and become a nightmare if this is not your strength and passion â€“ far better to focus your time where own skills will prove most productive.
The Chart below provides a timely mirror. Review the questions and consider your true position. Even if you rate highly in with relevant industry knowledge and experience and Marketing experience - even if your business idea is a “10” - if you do not rate favourably for questions 4-9 collectively, then you would be at apparent high risk. Consider the “Wild Card.”
Once your business is operating, if projections are not on track, you need to determine why. Don’t go on spending in blind hope if you don’t know WHY you are not getting the projected result. Remember, for every effect, there is a cause, so you will need to find it or get help in finding it. If you do this and then find that you don't have the resources and projected cash flow to run your Marketing Strategy and Operational Machine in its present ideal scope, look for ways of reducing its initial scope and trim back costs accordingly, but be sure that it will still function and provide a satisfactory although perhaps a lesser result. If you find that you cannot cut back any further and still do not have enough cash reserves to implement the project in a way that will attain viability before your funds run out, then you would be well advised to seek additional funds if you are convinced that the plan is still viable. To do so without adequate resources will surely be more than a calculated risk, rather, an outright gamble. Never gamble unless you can afford to lose everything that you are risking. And do not believe for one moment that your business venture will be the one exception to the rule. As we have seen, a successful business, no matter how small, needs good management in regards to Product or Service, Marketing, People/Operational Management and Financial Management. Unfortunately, too many people going into Micro/Small Business do not understand how important it is to always know how you are going financially. Many Micro-Businesses are an Accountant’s worst nightmare – you know, the ones where business people come in without an appointment carrying a few shoe boxes of receipts and no payee information, only half of their bank statements, no basic books and bits of paper dealing with payments covering everything from fuel costs to the yard dog’s visit to the vet. And all this – months, or even years after their tax return falls due. If this is symptomatic of how you would treat your Accountant, or worse, if you don’t have one at all, then the eventual end result when you do see one will likely be to have your business pronounced “dead on arrival.” The very basic essentials is a formal and well managed record keeping system for your business, including daily payments and receipts and any other necessary requirements for taxation purposes. If you are not qualified, or don’t have the time and patience to flawlessly ensure good records keeping and still take care of other demands on you in the business, then the first step is to find out exactly what you will need to set up a daily records management system that can readily be accessed for further accounting purposes. The Micro-Business Planning Guide for Part 11 provides a clear checklist and tasks to follow through when evaluating and setting up your Budgeting and Financial Administration needs.
Financing your Micro-Business start-up – Consider the Risk If you are not convinced that the plan can still work by sourcing additional funds, then reconsider the wisdom of continuing with the venture. The question to ask is: What would be the consequences if my existing financial plan and/or additional borrowed funds, does not work? This is a real danger zone and certainly not without good reason. This is especially true if the only business resource, experience and training you have is just your business idea itself and even more-so if you are under the illusion that your idea is a guaranteed low-risk winner. I want to make a very important point here – and in many ways it is one of the most important points in this whole book. Thousands of people have ideas for business every day, and if you, like them, have an idea and are convinced that the idea has merit – but are concerned about your capacity to know how to make it happen in terms of any of the four Management Quadrant skills (Product/Industry knowledge/Experience, Marketing, People/Operational Management and Financial Management) – this does not and should not mean that you have no hope of having a successful business. Your idea may actually be great, even fantastic and if you don’t explore it fully and find a way to make it happen, you may regret this for the rest of your life, especially if someone else comes up with a similar idea that makes them a fortune. No, if you truly believe that your idea has merit, then this is your own precious seed. As I have said many time before:
“One tiny seed - if truly valued and planted in the right time and place and given the right care, could, in a few years, feed a nation” Don’t cast your seed-idea aside. Talk to a Mentor, read and re-read this book, find the support and partners you need and carefully develop the plan to pursue and achieve your dream. You can’t possibly do everything and be everyone in a Micro-Business. Those who have successful larger businesses don’t do everything themselves and the reality is no different when it comes to Micro-Business, except that they seem to think that their little enterprise is too small and cannot afford to seek help. As I also said right at the beginning of this book:
“Every human being is a truly unique individual, deserving the freedom of spirit to understand, express and fulfil the driving creative passions to which we were born. Whether we succeed or fail, nothing allows this freedom of creative expression or even stimulates innovation like free enterprise micro/small business.”
Constructing a Business Plan (Why most micro/small businesses don’t have one and why they never will..!)
Most businesses don’t have a formal Business Plan and they never will. Do you understand why..? Micro-Business represents most businesses on the Planet in terms of number and their enormous volume of micro-diversity is what keeps every economy going. In fact Micro-Business is the economic “plankton” which supports all other levels of business, directly or indirectly. Yet, in spite of this, very few have a plan, at least, not a plan that is traditionally seen as acceptable to Banks, Financiers, Business Education and Training and Government Business Support entities. Also consider: In many developing countries of huge population, Microbusiness is indeed “micro” in the very true sense of the word, representing the daily activity of many families and individuals who are dependent on very small enterprises or family farms for their very survival. They do what they must do each and every day in order to live. They have no support, no capital to work with and obviously, no need for a formal business plan. In 1974, Muhammad Yunus saw the plight of many in his home country of Bangladesh who struggled in poverty under virtual economic slavery. His response led to the establishment the Grameen Bank – the beginning of what is now known around the world as Micro-Finance, which now provides support to millions of people in many countries. The Grameen Story is something that everyone should read as a most inspiring story of true vision and compassion. However, in the developed nations, as I described in articles in Section 1, much Micro-Business is what I call “wild seed” - ideas which has sprung out of seemingly nowhere and which grow rapidly for a short time and then are burned off in the heat of the midday sun. Yet, by virtue of its sheer volume of constant start-up and closure for whatever reason, Micro-Business is the lifesustaining platform of economic sustainability. Why is it that most Micro/Small businesses in developed nations don’t have a Business Plan, at least not in a formal sense? Trying to convince them will fall on deaf ears for most.
The reason is that many have a natural aversion towards the traditional form of Business Planning and are extremely indifferent about it. They likely have no prior business experience or business training, but in their minds, most still DO have a plan. It’s just not the kind of plan that meets the expectations of the “high priests” of business support, Banks, Financiers, Business Networks and Government support and Training entities. This is a fact of business life and it won’t change, yet this does not mean we should write them off, but rather, understand the nature of what we are dealing with here and approach it in another way. The traditional, formal approach to Business Training for this sector is like trying to convince a dog that it should eat grass instead of meat. Yet, our formal training entities try to bludgeon these hopeful, aspiring start-ups into becoming “experts at everything” before they start. It does not work that way in the real world and never will, because it is trying to work against nature – trying to make these individuals become something they are not. The fact is, we are all different, ever living one of us, and we are that way for a very good reason. We are meant to need and support each other, so that the skills we don’t have can be provided with the support of those who do. Incidentally, this principle applies equally to Community Development. Every business idea is different and when that idea is conceived is also different, the time they need to prepare for and establish their business is different. Every market and market circumstance is also different – and what will work for one may be entirely off the beam for another. Onesize-fits all Business Training for Micro-Small business is an absolutely flawed process, because of these factors of complete differentiation and uniqueness. To expect a fledgling Micro-Business start-up to have a flawless formal business plan that is akin to a University-standard Corporate Business Plan is completely idealistic. Therefore, we need to approach this in another way, a way that works “with” human nature, not against it. So what can we do? This is where Think BIG – focus Small sets the pace. The objective and the need is to work with these individuals at their current level, where they are at right from the beginning of their level of understanding, in a language and with a process that they can understand. The further objective is to encourage them to stop and think about what they are doing, have an open door towards recognising, understanding and confronting the challenges and to feel progressively confident about surrounding themselves with the support they need instead of trying to do it all alone. 146
Not always an easy task, no, because many that start-ups feel that they have all of the answers. They simply don’t know what they need to know and don’t know that they don’t know – often, not until it is too late. Through Think BIG – focus Small and the business Mentoring process called Micro-Facilitation, business planning starts with testing your idea, identifying the key issues, challenges and needs and encouraging individuals to focus on resolving these things first, ideally under Mentor support. This can progressively encourage you to continue to build your own Business Plan step by step, but at and within your capacity to do so. In so doing, this can build a solid relationship of trust between you, the individual and your Micro-Facilitator Mentor and proportionately increase your capacity and understanding and your potential to be successful. The greatest potential for regenerative economic growth in our communities lies in stimulating the consuming passions of individuals who could start small enterprises. However, there is a disturbing paradox to this enormous potential. Traditionally, there is not the right kind of professional facilitative support economically available to many of these aspiring business people when, how and where they need it most. Many people who go into Micro-Business, especially first time may be relatively or even totally naïve or even arrogantly self-assured and very independent. The greatest advice that I can offer any aspiring entrepreneur is: “Do not fall into this same trap.” Growing a business is a process, just like growing a productive Orchard. There are business laws and principles as sure, as accurate and as unforgiving as the laws of nature. One fact that many aspiring Micro-Business people have difficulty in comprehending is that it takes time to progress a business idea through to the start-up stage – months in fact – and often 6 months or even more than a year.
To assist the aspiring Micro-Business person, the final Section of this book provides you with a basic Planning Guide which reviews the key information from the entire book. I encourage you to read the whole book a couple of times, test your business idea, identify the key issues, challenges and needs and then begin working though the Business Planning Guide, starting with those identified priorities. The Graphic on the next page provides a summary of the steps in putting together a basic Business Plan. Through this process you will be making brief summary notes as you work through each part. Collectively, these notes will form the foundation for your Business Plan. The Planning Guide is just that – a guide. It is there to help you focus first and foremost on the key issues, challenge and needs that you face and to help you to be aware of and avoid traditional traps. Use the guide within your capacity to do so, and seek help where needed. You can take a further step and find a Micro-Business Mentor to guide you through it. Check out MicroFacilitation™ on my Website.
How's your Business growing right now? Is your existing business struggling, going nowhere?
Clearly, the very first step in achieving positive business improvement is being prepared to face your present overall position. Then, the second step is being prepared to do something about it. Generally, it is unrealistic expectations that are the foundation of constant business struggle and failure. Poor financial management is often cited as the major cause. However, if people have unrealistic expectations from the outset, or simply do not have the skills on their own to manage all four sectors of the business spectrum (Relevant Industry knowledge and experience, Marketing, People Management, Financial Management) or who expect that the world is just waiting in breathless anticipation of their new business, then expectations are all unrealistic. One of the greatest unrealistic expectations is that of marketing, especially advertising. Failure to recognise that marketing is a three-dimensional process, not a mere promotion. Advertising/promotion alone will not sustainably grow a business and in fact it can have the opposite effect. The big question is "Are you prepared to take the time to openmindedly look into your current situation, seek Mentor support and face it honestly and realistically?" A business that is struggling or going nowhere needs to understand nature’s own principles of “regeneration” Remember, a Business is like a “tree” – it can very easily not grow at all, or it can be allowed to grow out of control. Also remember what I said in the article in Section 1 about “Controlled growth and expansion of the Orchard”. Business diversity, merely for the sake of trying to overcome the fact that an existing business is not profitable will not usually improve the situation, as generally, the problems and causes of those problems will simply be transferred to the new activity. If your business is struggling, or if you feel it should be doing better, review the pages of this book and consider where it can help you. Further, a good Micro-Business Mentor should be able to help you to identify key issues and
challenges that will enable you to achieve the best possible outcomes in the existing market circumstances with available resources. Further still, if you have a struggling business but feel that it still has potential, well then don’t just ignore the situation and hope that things will get better. Don’t go to the other extreme and gamble in the hope that you can just make things happen with more advertising and promotion. You may need to stand back and take a close look at every dimension of your business. To assist you with this, I recommend that you track down a MicroFacilitator™ - a specially trained Micro-Business Mentor who has the training and tools to very quickly work through your entire current business marketing and operational situation and help you to identify where the key issues and challenges and needs are. Sometimes we can be too close to the situation to see and do this without support. Micro-Facilitators have access to an excellent process for Current Business Situation Assessment. You will find information about Micro-Facilitation support at the end of the Business Planning Kit. In the meantime, consider a number of principles for approaching business regeneration. That is, the steps that will be required to revaluate the current situation of the business and do something positive about it. Phase 1 – Clearly decide where you want the business to be in 1 year, 3 years and 5 years’ time and what role you see for yourself and for others in the business between now and then. (Establishing a clear Vision for the Business) Phase 2 - Preparing to prune and regenerate the “business tree” (This involves looking carefully at the business tree to determine how and when to prune back any clearly non-essential overheads. Phase 3 – Clearly identifying the scope for Business Income Generation. (Revisit your products or services in terms of marketability and profitability) Phase 4 – Preparing or updating an Operational Plan and Marketing Plan for each area of income generation Phase 5 – Looking at parallels between each Operational Plan and Marketing Plan to determine direct links Phase 6 – Identifying the skills and resources needed to make the Operational Plans and Marketing Plans work Phase 8 – Review budgeting, essential working capital needed and revise a cash flow budget Phase 9 – Essential “pruning” and restructure. (This is done when all of the previous phases are completed) Phase 10 – You’re then ready to effectively control regeneration of your business tree.
Facing the Business Mirror….Will you dare to face a “glass-breaking” attitude that limits business growth..?
In this article, you will be looking into three separate "mirrors". Will you see an honest reflection? Or will you, like the Witch in the story of Snow White, see only what you want to see? The future growth potential of your business could well depend on how you respond. There are three attitudes (or mindsets) of business approach. Two of these destroy or at least, stifle relationships and growth. Only one builds relationships and leads to growth. Is your present way of doing business holding you back? Or if you are about to go into a business, will your attitude and approach hold you back? Our individual style of relating to others and conducting business is a product of a combination of background factors. These include:
Our hereditary balance of natural temperament strengths and weaknesses.
Our personal background environment and life experiences (good and bad) that combine with our temperament to form our individual personality makeup.
Understanding and application of the primary principle of entrepreneurship.
Obviously, who and what we are, as a result of our collective strengths, weaknesses and experiences will have a major influence on the way we do business, on our potential to be successful and on the way we relate to others that is, apart from the level of genuine market potential for the business opportunity itself. It is quite apparent that if there is little or no viable market need or demand for the product you are trying to sell, then even the most positive background
training, education, experience and business temperament strengths will be of little consequence. Neither would any form of marketing. However, assuming the genuine marketability of your product or service as we explored earlier in this book, these above-mentioned factors (and in particular, the first two) combine to reflect one of three broad based attitudes, only one of which provides a workable environment for truly effective marketing. Certainly, skills, education and ongoing training are extremely valuable tools that greatly increase your chances of success. However, it is our temperament and personality make-up (reflecting our attitude towards business, people and life itself) that can have greater influence, or even control. This can be clearly demonstrated. Over many years I have dealt with many micro/small business people. Across all sectors, I have seen even the most academically qualified people fail. Also, I have seen others at the opposite extreme (even some who could barely read or write) become extremely successful. I'm sure we can all cite such examples. There seems to be no logic to it. Those, whom you would expect to succeed, fail. Those, whom you would expect to fail, succeed. This is not to say that your temperament and background has predestined you to succeed or fail. However, it is likely to breed a resultant attitude and influence your business expectations and especially, your relationships with people and the way you respond to the constant day to day highs and lows of business activity. Human temperament is a complex and extremely diverse issue. Although we each display certain dominant temperament strengths and weaknesses, we are all still vastly different. This uniqueness (in spite of any genetic similarities) combined with our background life experiences and resultant personality makeup, makes us what we all are - so uniquely individual. We are all inclined to naturally evaluate situations and people from our own egocentric perspective and then form opinions, make decisions and take action accordingly. Relationship problems can occur whenever someone else's opinions, decisions and temperament or personality, are at variance to our own, especially if we expect others to “be like us.” By nature, we are all (including the criminally minded) inclined to believe we are right, and we believe that our way of seeing things and doing things is the way it should be seen and done. Conflict occurs whenever individuals become locked into their own egocentric mindset. Not only do they refuse to acknowledge any other person's individuality, uniqueness and potential to also be "right", but they may force their opinions and ways onto others. It is this naturally selfish aspect of our human nature, combined with all of those background elements that make each of us who and what we are, that we take with us into our business relationships - sometimes with disastrous consequences. Go back and re-read the Introduction to Relationship Marketing and the seven overriding life-truths affecting business and relationships. The fact is, we are each totally different – totally unique - so we need to acknowledge that individuality and see it for its potential to strengthen relationships through recognition of each other’s potential to support each other. Let's now (if we dare) look into the three mirrors and see which one reflects our attitude.
The Mirror of â€œManipulation" This attitude is based on authoritarianism, control and fear. If a person has developed this perspective, then his or her style of relating will be to set up a chain of authority which strictly controls all aspects of administration with rules and regulations demanding compliance, under threat or intimidation or penalty of dismissal. Business people can be this way to varying degrees. To the customer, for a while, these businesses seem successful, often presenting a front image that cleverly deceives the outside world â€“ but behind the scenes, they can be a festering prison of unhappy people. While it may work for some, in terms of maintaining control and getting end results, this approach creates many problems, not the least, an inclination for the manipulated (be it employee or customer) to move on at the first available opportunity. Such relationships tend to be based on exploitation and so sooner or later, must fall apart. A dominant spirit of extreme self-interest strangles cooperation, initiative and any desire to go above and beyond. While temperament traits of ambition, leadership, drive and a strong survival instinct (combined with opportunistic vision and entrepreneurial flair) are highly advantageous and desirable in any business - they tend to be negatively used by some. This may be evident in a ruthless, exploitative nature (sometimes cleverly disguised with charm and persuasiveness) for purely selfish reasons where customers are involved. However, where employees or business associates are concerned, the facade soon gives way to expose powermongering and using (or abusing) of others, in total disregard for employees, customers and even family or "friends", for the sole purpose of getting what they want - more money and/or more power. Such people cannot win respect, but try to command it or manipulate it, or even simply take it. The most extreme cases where this attitude is prevalent could aptly be described as outright intimidation or even slavery. However, those under subjection will only remain so until a better opportunity comes along, or until they have simply had enough. Interpersonal conflict becomes rife to the point where it is unacceptable or unbearable. These ruthless, self-gratifying, sometimes "Jekyll & Hyde" types may still succeed financially, because their overpowering temperament traits (including persuasive power to manipulate or to charm, and determination to go for what they want, at all cost, until they get it) will sometimes see them through. Yet, every other aspect of their lives provides a testimony in a trail of broken relationships and human wreckage. What price "success", so called?
The Mirror of "Disillusionment and Discontent" This attitude tends to surface within individuals who have gone into business with totally unrealistic expectations. They may be initially blinded by the apparent potential of what seemed to be a oncein-a-lifetime opportunity. They may have been misled by stories of successful business people who have started a business with nothing, or who bought a business and sold it within a few years and made a fortune. People can also be misled by professional speaker circuit entertainers who tell them what they want to hear - namely, "it's easy - you can do it too - all you need to do is buy my formula and you can make your own fortune". Many people go into business infected by the "easy money" bug of over-optimism. Some pay out their life-savings to buy what they think will be an “instant income”. The fact is there is no easy way. Businesses that are successful apparently overnight achieve this status for very definite, individual reasons that may not (and usually don't) work for most other situations. Further, it might really have taken them years to become an “overnight” success. Others who end up with this attitude of disillusionment may simply have not been at all prepared for business, neither in terms of temperament and training, nor in terms of realistic expectations. These business people can become victims. They may be sincere and very hard working, but it is possible and even very common, to work yourself almost to death and still seem to go nowhere. Also, among the disillusioned and discontented are those who make no real effort. Rather, they go into business, sit back and just expect things to happen. An opportunity comes up which is too good to miss. The figures all look right and they expect that as soon as the door is opened, continuous waves of people will start to flow through, eager and willing to spend. However, for any number of reasons, it just does not happen. Further, they may encounter a host of unexpected problems, setbacks and costs. Some may become so desperate that they may try anything to improve results. Initial bouts of optimistic gambling with Advertising and Promotion or pricecutting, quickly give way to disillusionment, cynicism and eventual despair. Once they reach this point, it becomes difficult to see anything in a positive light. Optimism, enthusiasm and hope disappear, as their whole style of relating to others becomes cynical and un-cooperative. They may become openly indifferent or even abusive, especially towards customers, and their whole attitude negatively affects all relationships. The dream has been shattered. It simply did not work out as it was meant to.
Furthermore, it is the Media's fault, or the Landlord's fault or the blame can be traced to "unfair" competitive practices. They find it difficult, if not impossible, to accept that "good guys don't always win" financially in business, or it becomes most discouraging to find that there are no guarantees to success, or that they may have been sold a "goose that lays brass eggs." Too many unsuspecting people buy an existing business solely on face value. Over-optimism sees them fail to get professional advice or to look below the surface or “behind the scenes.” Ultimately, they are faced with the realisation that business growth is not something that you can buy. You can buy a business, but growth and prosperity are not a guaranteed part of the deal. No, not even as Franchisee of a reputable Franchise. Growth and prosperity is a "result" - not a "right". And yet, (just like in farming) climatic conditions and other circumstances beyond control, can still wipe out years of hard work. When people in business face the mirror of disillusion or discontent, there are only two practical options. Either you cut your losses and get out while and if you still have your health, put the experience behind, get on with the present and learn from the experience. Alternatively, you dare to face the image reflected in this discomforting mirror, lift your sights above the negative cloud of blame and despair, re-trace your steps from the beginning, start again and do it right. If you still have the will, the courage, the resourcefulness and the resources to do this, you can take the many benefits that the business experience has provided to date, look into the third mirror and evaluate your potential to turn near defeat into outstanding victory.
The Mirror of Entrepreneurial Expression (The positive power of “Relationship Marketing”) Business people who reflect the attitude in this mirror understand the one most important key to business success. “TO BE SUCCESSFUL, YOU NEED OTHER PEOPLE”. In combination with this realisation, this mirror also reflects what is really a missing dimension in too many businesses – in fact it is a crucial dimension that ultimately determines whether a business has the best potential to be truly successful, applying the value of genuine entrepreneurship to its broader connection in what is termed as “Relationship Marketing”. This involves the creation of a genuine sense of mutually beneficial community within the business environment – where management, employees and customers are working together as far as practical, as one. With the positive passion of Relationship Marketing at work in you and in your team, legislation and books of rules for things like Customer Service become obsolete and unnecessary. 155
You and your team will be more passionately inclined to think, respond and act in a way that stimulates the right attitude and response to the prevailing circumstance. You cannot genuinely successfully legislate customer service. This is not idealism - it is true entrepreneurship. What do you see? What will you do? The question is: Will you embrace its positive power and experience the free benefits of its distinct marketing edge? - Or does your mirror reflect only what you want to see. How has your mindset affected your willingness to understand, believe and practice true entrepreneurship combined with a business way of life called “Relationship Marketing?” Which mirror reflects your attitudes towards business, people and towards life itself? The fundamental truth and the founding principle of relationship Marketing is this: "In everything we think, say and do, were are either (consciously or in ignorance) building up or tearing down relationships." Obviously that applies in the business, in the home or in the community. The following chapter provides more insight into this crucial yet little understood dimension of marketing. Will you throw away the key, or will you turn it and open the door to the positive power that it offers? You choose…!
Test your current level of understanding 10 things you will need to understand to maximise your potential for Micro-Business success. These have all been addressed at least in principle or analogy in the pages of this book. If you are serious about making your idea work, then read and re-read it consistently. Then if there is something you still don’t understand, or regardless, apply understanding number 10 below.
Understanding the challenges and realities of Micro-Business and fact that you cannot do it all by yourself……………………..
Understanding your current capacity and risks by testing your Business Idea………………………………………………………………………..
Understanding your personal Temperament and Management Quadrant capacity/shortfalls…………………………………………………
Understanding the four stage of Business Development and their relevant impact on resources………………………………………
Understanding your market’s Economic Environment and Market Potential…………………………………………………………………….
Understanding the growing nature of your product or service and how this affects marketability……………………………………….
Understanding the challenges of marketing and need for an effective Marketing Strategy……………………………………………….
Understanding how to stay in control with a clear Operational Strategy………………………………………………………………………………….
Understanding the need for an affordable/workable Budget and ensuring Financial Control………………………………………………
10. Understanding that your potential overall risk may be reduced by as much as 90percent or even more with the support of an experienced Micro/Small Business Mentor……………………………
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Micro-Business Planning Guide This process has been designed to help you develop a basic but practical Micro-Business Plan that is uncomplicated and one which suits your needs. The Guide will provide recommended reading references, explanatory notes, specific questions and tasks for you to do. It encourages Micro-Business people to do some useful step-by-step “mirror gazing” and make summary notes as you progress. These notes are then compiled into a basic, but active, living Business Plan which can provide progressive guidance. Before you progress with the Planning Guide, first be sure to read the entire book up to this point in order to gain an overall perspective. Read the references then answer each question and task assignment to the best of your ability. While this process is designed to help you to help yourself, you can find it much easier, increase the effectiveness and your potential for success enormously if you work through this Planning Process step-by-step under the guidance of a suitable Mentor, ideally, a MicroFacilitator. Either way, there is no expectation for you to produce a “University-quality” document in response to questions and tasks given. This Process is designed primarily to encourage you to look into the mirrors and to simply explain your answers in your own language and within your own capacity to understand. DO EVEN HALF OF THIS AND YOU WILL HAVE DONE MORE THAN MOT MICROBUSINESS PEOPLE EVER DO.
How strong is your foundation for business planning? The very foundation for your decision to be in business must come back to some personal evaluation and decisions and the basics of these were most likely identified when you tested your business idea. Whether or not you are under the guidance of a Mentor, doing a full Business Plan using this Guide or merely using it to address some key issues, needs and challenges, you will get as much out of the process as you are prepared to input yourself.
Be patient in this process and avoid “falling into the pool”.
Growing a Micro-Business Step 1 - Perspective - Testing your Idea
Perspective starts by testing your idea for the business itself and gaining an initial self-reflective overview of the business potential, its logic and objectives. In other words, what is the business idea, why are you considering it, what makes you think that it can work for you? What do you want to achieve in the business. In Part 4 we will look more closely at the idea. However, this Part 1 of the Planning process is extremely important. In fact it is a “crossroad” point at which you will need to make decisions on whether or not to continue. Please take the time needed to review and answer the questions carefully and accurately as possible.
Reading references and tasks: Read all of Section 1 from Page 15. These articles focus on the least understood principle of Micro-Business sustainability. Read Pages 102-104 “What is Marketing?” and Pages 44-45 “The Business Manager (The Farmer)” Task 1: Highlight any points in the above readings that have significant personal impact and make notes of any specifically relevant reflective thoughts that come to you. So you think you have a great idea for a business…? But do you have what it takes to be fully committed? Micro-Business is the “engine room” of our national economy, collectively our largest employer and therefore should be supported and encouraged, yet, many Micro-Businesses go off the rails even before they start because they fail to look objectively at the initial business idea itself in terms of the genuine level of personal commitment. In other words, to what extent are you really committed to the idea? What is your motivation, what does it really involve and is this what you really want? The following readings and tasks will help you to answer these key questions. Read: Pages 17-18 – What is the quality of your business idea? Task 2: Print out and complete the Business Idea Assessment Chart on the following page using the Reference Guide on Pages 20-21 for full understanding of each question.
This assessment is a very confronting first step in evaluating your overall Business idea. It will enable you to see the strength of your idea as it stands right now and relate it to multiple influencing factors. The important task for you is to ensure that you are objective in your assessment. Low scores will be highlighting key challenges and needs, indeed, risk factors. You need to confront them. Once you have completed the Chart you will have gained an overall picture of the strength of the Business idea itself and your capacity to make it happen based on your current situation. Task 3: 1. You should now review the Chart questions and answers again and consider which of the low-scoring answers might be able to be improved with support from others who have the skills that you may lack. 2. Indicate the second-time scores in the second column beside the first round. This second evaluation will give you a clearer picture of the revised potential, given adequate, suitable support. 3. Reflect on the overall outcome of both stages of the assessment. confident, or perhaps at the other extreme, having doubts.
4. If your score is low, yet the marketability of the idea itself is high, this may be telling you that in spite of a great idea, you are not the person to make it happen, at least, not without help. Therefore, before giving up the idea altogether, consider the â€œWild Card.â€? (This will be looked at more closely as you progress) Most of us deep down are not specifically passionate about just making money. Rather, we are passionate about doing something that we love and enjoy or which we are really good at and if it makes money, even better. Therefore, do not confuse your genuine driving passions with making money, otherwise, you might find yourself doing something you hate, just because it makes money. In such a situation you are unlikely to remain committed and may feel trapped.
Your Product or Service Marketability Assess your initial perception of just how marketable it is? The previous Chart looked at factors relating to the overall Business Idea. Letâ€™s now look at your perception of the marketability of what you are selling. The Chart on the following page specifically asks some key marketability questions. The answers may not necessarily be anywhere near exact science, but they will reflect YOUR view of how you see it right now. This view may be modified or completely change once you get into the Product or Service Analysis (Step 4) and the Market Analysis (Step 5)
APPARENT MARKETABILITY of your Product or Service (Potential for establishing initial buyer relationship)
Before you â€œplantâ€? your business idea, you need some indication as to the likely level of basic marketability of your Product or Service. That is, you need to consider whether the market (potential customers) is likely to respond and to what extent in the light of competition, price etc. Considering the following questions can give a surprisingly accurate insight. On the scale of 1-10 answer each question objectively and compare your total with the rating indicator below.
Growing a Micro-Business Step 2 – Self-Analysis
This will be a summary of your existing natural or acquired business skills and experience (or lack of) and how/why you feel this will assist you to be successful in the business. It will also ask you to identify your own dominant temperament strengths and weaknesses. It will further seek your motivation for going into the venture and challenge your level of dedicated commitment? You will consider what are the likely implications of the venture impacting negatively upon your health and your personal relationships? It will encourage you to consider how you rate in the Growing a Business Management Quadrant. What aspects of business management are you good at? In which ones will you require support? At that point you are well advised to consider seeking support for those aspects of the Business Management Quadrant in which you do not personally excel.
Reading references and tasks Read Pages 46-49. “Understand your temperament make-up” Task 1: Identify Temperament strengths and weaknesses from the Charts on Pages 48-49. Highlight all temperament strengths and weaknesses that are dominantly obvious to you. You will need to be ruthlessly honest with yourself in this regard and you are also advised to ask one or two others who know you well to read those pages too and give you their assessment of how they see your dominant temperament strengths and weaknesses. It should be remembered that this Temperament Self Analysis is purposed to focus you on your dominant existing strengths and weaknesses so that you can be aware and ideally, in control of them. Further, it is unwise to typecast yourself or others using this analysis. There is a danger that we can pigeon-hole self or others into temperament categories and limit one’s capacity to grow and gain better understanding and greater self-improvement and greater self-management. Do not make this mistake. Always remember: “Change is constant” and the way we knew or perceived an individual five, ten or fifteen years ago may not the same individual today in terms of their understanding, growth and maturity.
Task 2: Consider/write very brief answers/comments to the following questions: 1. The business idea aside, what really motivates you? In other words, what are you personally passionate about? (Whether you are currently doing it or not, what is it that you would do with your time and life, above all else, given the freedom and circumstances?) 2. Most of us like to make money, but is “making money” really your driving passion? (If so, then you would probably be happy doing anything, as long as it makes lots of money.) 3. At the other extreme, while it is desirable to be doing something you really enjoy or something that you are even passionate about, if you are to have a successful business, it will still need to make and adequate profit. So, do you realistically feel that the venture you are considering can make sufficient money to be viable and how/why? 4. While some people seem to have a natural entrepreneurial flair/temperament for making and managing money, many others at the opposite extreme tend to be very poor money managers. Some may also be infected with “soft-touch” syndrome - tending to “give away” their product/service too cheaply or reducing the price just to keep customers happy. Does this describe you? If so, to what extent? 6 Does the business that you are considering really centre round your own personal motivations and passions? (that is, around your answers to question 1) If not, your long-term commitment may be in serious question – especially if the business involves long hours every day. 7 Many people in Micro-Business are too close to their business and are unwilling to ask for help. Many are totally unwilling to accept that their ideas or their way of doing things could prove to be wrong or in need of drastic review and improvement. By nature, are you a person who carefully and willingly seeks and listens to advice from others? Perhaps you could ask others who know you well whether they believe you are willing to accept advice and whether you really “listen” to what people are saying to you. You may be surprised. 8. Do you have a personal history of solid commitment? (For example in your work history, in relationships, in meeting financial commitments?) 9. Would the business involve long hours, even 7 days each week? 10. If so, what impact will this have on your family and other personal interests? 11.
Will the level of personal commitment be worth it?
OK, if you are still in the race after the previous questions, now you can get down to some specific personal reflection: This involves thinking about what your business will look like when it is achieving the optimum result?
Task 3: Write a brief, one paragraph answer to the following questions. 12.
What makes you think that your business idea can work for you?
What is it you really want to achieve and by when?
When you or someone looks at the end result of what you want to achieve, what will they see?
Do you envisage the business as something that you are committed to for a lifetime, or just a few years, something you want to grow and then sell?
Obviously, to this point, you have evaluated the potential of your business idea along with additional personal perspective (including the above questions) Task 4: The above answers should now be summarised simply in a few paragraphs, or at most, a one or two pages providing an essential overview of the business idea, logic and objective and how you feel about the whole idea now. Once you have reached this point, your initial level of commitment will have been questioned at which time you can decide whether to continue. If so, you can then begin the pathway required to progressively achieve it. A very important, relatively clear picture will have been gained from this part of the Planning process.
Reading references and tasks: Read: pages 24-26 “So you want to be in Business…?” Unfortunately, too many fledgling businesses don’t last for a variety of reasons, the primary one being failure to understand the basic principle of genuine entrepreneurship. This involves the realization that to be successful, we need other people, as none of us individually have all 4 essential skills of the overall management quadrant to go it alone. 1. 2. 3. 4.
Relevant Industry knowledge/experience. Relevant Marketing expertise. Business and People management skills. Financial Management skills.
No matter how good you are at one or two of these, the business is only likely to be as strong as its weakest link. This means you will need supportive skills in place to compensate for those that you do not have. “Nature”, or God if you prefer, has created us this way, and for a very good purpose. To grow, we need the complimentary interaction of the gifts, skills, personality and passions of others. As individuals, there is only so much we can physically do and achieve in a day, week or lifetime. If we try to be an expert at everything and do everything in the business, then we will quickly 169
reach the ceiling of our physical and mental capacity and become unable to grow any further. Have you come across an isolated fruit tree in a wilderness, one which has been left to fend for itself? - It will usually have grown out of control and become unproductive. We are much the same â€“ needing the cooperation and support of others in a mutually beneficial environment. Task 5: Review the chart on the following page and consider how would you rate yourself in each of the four dimensions of the Management Quadrant?
1. How does your view of the 4-part Management Capacity Indicators impact upon your initial outlook? 2. Are you discouraged at the thought of having to need or call upon the help and support of others? 3. Do you prefer to do everything yourself? If so, then you need to see this as a potential warning signal.
4. What does this tell you about your capacity in each of the 4 Management Capacity Indicators? Write down your thoughts and comments. Read: Pages 151-156 “Facing the Business Mirror” This is a challenging question. Which of these 3 business mirrors do you believe may describe “your” attitude? 5. Ask one or more people who know you well to read the above article and give you their reflection of which of the 3 business mirrors best describes your attitude. (Your response may well prove the point) 6. Go to Page 156 - Test your current level of understanding: “10 things you will need to understand to maximise your potential for Micro-Business success” Task 6 Read: Pages 105-108 “Introduction to Relationship Marketing” This article will cause one of two reactions from the reader: 1. You will regard the article with relative indifference or disbelief, failing to comprehend it or failing to see its relevance. OR 2. You will have a sense of initial comprehension and intrigue – a sense that this chapter provides the introduction to something about which you need to know much more. 7. What is your reaction to that article? (Circle the above relevant response 1. or 2.) Few people ever fully comprehend the potential depth and power of Relationship Marketing, which potentially holds the key to their most valuable marketing edge, one that too many business people will never comprehend or successfully apply. As would be expected, those who are inclined to “go it alone” in business and try to do most things themselves are usually the ones who will least understand the significance of relationship marketing. 8. Have you clearly considered (from the full context of Steps 1 and 2 of the Planning Guide so far) the impact of the apparent required level of commitment to a business on your health and personal relationships? Task 7: Reflect over your responses to each question and task so far, consider the above question and make relevant, brief summary notes.
Growing a Micro-Business
Step 3 - Basic Resources Analysis
This Step and the following 3 Steps are the most “research-intense” phase of your Micro-Business planning and consequently an appropriate level of time and attention is required. Commit as much effort as necessary to ensure confident outcomes. In this Step you will first need to look at collective resources, as this will determine the initial limits of what the business can afford. Also, you will look at your level of personal commitment and your capacity to address any need for change. (Quite a confronting but valuable perspective.)
Recommended Reading References and Tasks: Read: “Growing a Business” Pages 50-53 “The Business (The Farm)” This asks you to consider the venture in terms of its serviceable market area, asking you to be careful to ensure that initial goals are limited to within the perspective of available resources. Task 1: Give some thought to the following questions posed and make brief summary notes in answer to the following questions: Q1 What personal resources do you have to contribute to the Business from the following list? Relevant skills? Relevant experience? Extent of computer-literacy and familiarity with email/website/social media use? Dominant temperament attributes? (Refer to the Chart on pages 48-49) Management Quadrant Strengths? (Refer the Chart in Part 2 and to your Part 2 Summary notes.) Available financial resources and assets that might be needed for the Business? Available time, energy and good health to commit to the demands of the venture? What resources are currently lacking that will be needed in the business? 172
Task 2: In reviewing the Chart on the following page, as well as considering the previous questions relating to collective resources, do you believe that you have the necessary resources, including full commitment? Compile your brief answers to the above questions into a summary of your overall resources picture. Is it positive on all above aspects? What are the shortfalls?
Understand your individual capacity and shortfalls and true level of commitment to the idea The following chart reviews initial resource capacity (Score 1) A subsequent review (Score 2) after identifying/addressing potential or improvement. If you have wisely found a Mentor, Score 3 can be provided as an independent third review. Questions 1 and 2 relate specifically to the four stages of business growth. (Refer to pages 54-55 of Think Big â€Ś focus small.) The first two stages relate to the planning and pre-launch period of the business, during which time there will be no income generation. The second two stages relate to the immediate post launch period where income starts to flow and grows progressively to peak potential.
Personal Commitment While many people conceive ideas for business and may even see great potential therein, there may not necessarily be any substantial level of personal commitment to seeing it through. TASK 3: Let’s consider this in the light of the following questions? Essential Reading: “What’s your capacity” https://issuu.com/bobneville9/docs/capacity
Personal Change Capacity (change-ability) Having identified any obvious risks associated with the business idea, then having considered ways of potentially reducing those risks, the question is: “Just how willing will you be to actually take the action necessary to achieve the risk reduction? Task 4: The Chart on the following page can give some indication of individual willingness and likely capacity to address changes that can lead to risk reduction. A key attribute to good Entrepreneurial Management is realizing one’s limitations and need to surround one’s-self with the supportive skills of others. Just what is your actual “capacity” and even “willingness” to facilitate personal change? It’s one thing to identify risk and what needs to change, but will you be willing or able to do so? This “mirror” is indeed most confronting – one which some or more than some would find difficult to look squarely and honestly into – and that is the understandable reality of human nature. The key issue here is that change or willingness to take action that leads to change is a deeply personal one. Considering any Risk Factors associated with the business idea, on reviewing the next page Chart and the article link above, to what extent would you be willing to involve (and pay if necessary) for other people who could provide the necessary skills to improve management capacity and reduce apparent risk. Unfortunately - it is a trait of human nature to see ourselves in the most positive end of the scale and sometimes we can be too close to the situation to see the reality clearly. If you really want to get a clearly unbiased result, why not ask one or two others who really know you well to review the Assessments so far and ask them to give you their honest opinion about the Assessments and where on the scale they see your willingness and capacity to address change. However, don’t be offended if you do not hear what you want to hear. Rather, take it as constructive criticism and temper your own outlook.
Your Apparent Risk Factor What is the overall picture so far? Having looked at the collective resources picture, as well as previously, apparent Marketability and Management capacity, let’s now for a basic overall risk factor. The following Chart enables you to put together the capacity scores from the previous Charts and determine a basic overall risk factor. While this is certainly not anything like exact science, it at least put up the “Mirror” and enables you to confront some sense of reality about the collective results. Task 5: Review results from the relevant Charts (Pages 165,173,174, 176 and the 4 scores from page 169) and write the results in the following Chart
Where to from here…? At this point you have a clear indication of the level of apparent risk that your idea presents. If the assessment indicates high risk, then you have the option to drop the idea altogether. At the very least, the exercise will have helped you avoid rushing into it. HOWEVER: If your idea itself rates very highly in first 4 questions in the initial Business Idea Assessment, then you can consider the “Wild Card” factor (See Page 142 of Think BIG...focus Small.)
ALTERNATIVELY: If you still feel that the idea has merit, in spite of apparent challenges, then your next best option is to review those risks with the support of a suitable Mentor This may provide you with a clear path for moving further forward.
Apparent Risk Factor and Possible Case Scenario Apparent Risk Factor of 0-14 - Minimum Risk Excellent prospects, but always avoid being “over-confident” and “assume” nothing. Be objective in your outlook, not “over optimistic.” Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is…! Apparent Risk Factor of 15-24 - Low to Moderately low Risk Very good to good prospects but don’t neglect scope for potential risk reduction, addressing of key issues, challenges and needs identified and adequate Business Planning. Be objective in your outlook, not “over optimistic” Apparent Risk Factor of 25-30 - Moderately low to Moderate Risk Should have good prospects with attention to potential risk reduction through addressing of key issues, needs and challenges and adequate Business Planning. Mentor support will be very useful in this situation. Apparent Risk Factor of 31-35 - Moderate to Moderate-plus Risk May have good prospects with definite focus on confirmation of overall marketability, addressing of key issues, challenges and needs identified, along with careful Business Planning. Mentor support is recommended. Apparent Risk Factor of 36-40 - Moderate-plus to Near-High Risk (Think very carefully, particularly if your Risk Factor is closer to 40. May have prospects with careful Business Planning, close control, attention to risk reduction and confirmation of overall marketability) Weigh up the cost of this investment against realistic potential returns and don’t rush into this without doing your “homework”. Mentor support is highly advisable. Apparent Risk Factor of 41-50 - High Risk Think twice: May have prospects with close, experienced management control and attention to risk reduction and confirmation of overall marketability. Detailed Business Planning essential. Consider the cost of this investment against realistic potential returns. Mentor support is advised as essential. Apparent Risk Factor of 51-60 - Very High Risk Think very carefully and think twice: Prospects may be very marginal. You will need to be very sure about overall marketability and available level of professional management/monitoring at all times. Risk reduction, addressing of key issues and flawless Business Planning are essential. Mentor support is advised as very essential. Apparent Risk Factor of 61-80 - Extremely High Risk Are you really serious about this? If your Apparent Risk Factor rating is above 70 percent, don’t even consider it unless you are in a position where you can afford to lose everything you put into it. If you still wish to proceed, then the venture will need flawless Business Planning with the help of an experienced Mentor, adequate resources, professional management and very close monitoring at all times. Mentor support is seen as absolutely essential. Apparent Risk Factor of 81-100 - No realistic chance of succeeding (You would probably be safer walking on all-fours across a busy 6 lane Freeway, drunk and blind-folded)
Growing a Micro-Business
STEP 4 - PRODUCT OR SERVICE ANALYSIS
Here, you will need to fully evaluate the product or service (or range of products or services) to be sold in order to understand its/their “genetic characteristics” – that is, the growing nature of the business seed. Is it something that will grow quick acceptance in the marketplace, or will it take months or even years? Understanding the marketable nature of your product or service will play a crucial role in the overall Marketing Strategy. The following will help to get this into full perspective.
Recommended Reading References and Tasks: Read: Pages 54-55 The Four stages of Business development Here we consider the initial phase of testing a business idea, going through the framework process of Business Planning, launching your business and nurturing its growth to maximum productivity. The first two stages involve investment of time and resources for no return and depending on the nature of the business seed - this may be a short period or a very long one. The implications being, will you have the resources to sustain the business until it reaches the third and four stages, where the business starts to generate initial income and grows to maximum achievable results in the existing market circumstance? This relates back to the previous Step 3 about being aware of the level of financial available and resources needed. Now consider the following: Read: Pages 62-65 Seed (sales) Maturity Rate - Two extremes in growth of market response. (Are you selling “Fast Food” or “Funerals”?) The above reading encourages you to consider the nature of the business seed in terms of market response. Does your product or service represent quick growing seed or slow growing seed. By analogy, are you selling “fast food” or “funerals”?
Influencing Factors Do you have a product or service which is exclusively available from you which has obvious, immediate recognisable need/demand and with very high volume market appeal? Are you able to supply and service maximum demand and achieve a good profit margin? (For example: a new tech gadget that “everybody must have.”) Such a market advantage is rare and rates an absolute 10 on the marketability scale. OR: Do you have a product or service which is NOT exclusively available from you, has limited, unpredictable demand in any one day but which has a profitable collective value over a period of time. (For example, if you are selling something like Tractors or Machinery?) Obviously, such a market relies on your potential buyers knowing who/where you are and have a level of trust that will ensure they seek you out when needs arise. To achieve this, you will need to ensure that your name/brand is “out there” and you will be doing everything practical to establish brand awareness and a good reputation in the meantime (Relationship Marketing.) OR: What is more the more likely scenario in most product/service analysis is that yours will fall somewhere well in between these two extremes. SO: Where does your product or service fit in relation to the two extremes of this scale? Task 1: Be sure to read the above pages carefully and reflect on how your proposed business product or service relates on the following scale. Would you be selling “Funerals” (1) or Fast Food (10)
Low volume 1
High volume 9
If you are selling a range of products or services or groups of similar products or services, you should consider this question of scale in regard to each product/service or related groups thereof. If so, it is more likely that brand awareness will play the major role in your marketing Is your outlook changed from this question in your initial Idea Assessment? Or does it still rate the same in your view? What does it indicate? Is it going to take a long time before the market responds in sufficient volume to initial awareness of what your business is offering? Make relevant notes: If you are under the support of a mentor, then these issues would have been broadly addressed in the initial consultation, however, even so, you are advised to review/respond to the following Task 2 carefully.
Task 2: As best you can, make summary notes answering the questions below. Q3 What is the apparent average potential value of an individual sale and what is the profit margin like? Q4 What is the potential value of sales to that one individual over one year? Q5 Are you introducing something new - something to which the market can clearly relate value? Or Q6 Is the product or service merely another version of something that already exists, perhaps making the market even more competitive further diminishing the potential returns? Q7 Does your product or service compare well with existing similar ones? Q8 What will encourage a market to respond to your new, unproven product or service over those that are perhaps firmly established and clearly accepted already in the marketplace? Q9 What advantages does your product or service offer, and just as important, what disadvantages? Q10 If you are selling a service, will you be able to successfully break into an existing market that may already have high market credibility? (Just because you may be qualified to provide a product or service does not mean that the market will necessarily see you as a credible supplier.) Task 3: For the purpose of summarizing the previous questions - list your products or services or related groups of products or services - the frequency of individual customer need - any variable seasonal influences. Then: Consider what realistic level of sales you anticipate/need and whether the margin is adequate to meet all costs over time Task 4: In reviewing the previous questions relating to analysis of your Product or Service, what picture does it paint for you? Are you confident about your findings? Make a summary of your overall â€œProduct or Service Analysisâ€? Outcomes.
Growing a Micro-Business
STEP 5 – BASIC MARKET ANALYSIS
As far as practical in a Micro-Business affordability context, you will need to know the economic environment and market potential for what you are offering? (Market area, volume, number of competitors, price competitiveness etc.) You will need to be aware of just how difficult or otherwise it will be to establish sufficient market confidence in order to attract consistent sales. You will need to consider the likely sustainable level of demand for your product or service from each customer. You will need to know your realistic potential market share as opposed to apparent market volume?
Recommended Reading References and Tasks: Read: “Growing a Business” Pages 56-61 “Economic environment and market potential” Read: “Growing a Business” Pages 66-68 “Planning the business ‘growing’ process” In this section we are talking about “seed distribution” – that is, the extent of your initial market coverage. The aim is to ensure cost-effective market awareness of the business product or service over a manageable market area. Task 1: You must consider “how” you are going to “grow” your business at this point. Make summary notes or comments on the following: Q1 My Market Boundary is: Immediate Local, Regional, National, International Q2 Where is my primary market? (The most accessible low-hanging fruit) Q3 Who, specifically, (what demographic) represents my potential market and what influences their decision to buy? Q4 How many potential buyers might exist within the population of my market area? Q1 How often on average is the product or service (or related group thereof) likely to be required by an individual under normal buying circumstances? Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, every three years or more?
Q2 Is there any seasonal influence involved in the buyer's purchasing decisions? If so, take a note of what time/s of the year and/or relevant seasonal conditions. Q7 What is the apparent level of competition across my market area? Strong – Moderately – Some – Absolutely no competition Q8 Will traditional buying patterns/customer loyalty influence my market? Very much so - Moderately - Some - Unlikely Q9 Why would anyone buy from me rather than from existing suppliers? Do you believe that the market will readily come to you in response to your initial launch into the marketplace? If so, why? Q2 Do you have a large, concentrated, volume market in an affordably serviceable market area with a product that has high demand and little or no competition? If so, this is extremely rare and it should be relatively easy to communicate with and grow direct response. Or, at the opposite extreme: Q3 Will you need to carefully identify and target your market directly? Q4 Do you have low volume, inconsistent and very scattered market over a large area that is going to be difficult to identify and communicate with directly? (If so, you will need to be very selective about how you are going to identify and target this market economically.) Now, consider the implications of these questions, in parallel with other indicators so far (particularly in regard to the Seed Maturity Rate – Page 6265 - and Marketable nature of your product or service.) Remember, resources will determine what you can initially afford to do and consider if this will this be enough to attract a viable response. Q5 What are the implications of servicing your market? If your customers have problems with your product, will you be able to afford to address/resolve the problem? Q6 How far will customers realistically come to purchase your product or service? Q7 Is it something that mostly opportunistically sells to passing trade?
Determining Market Volume and Market Value Most people, in a Micro-Business context, do not have the resources nor would they find it viable to spend potentially thousands of dollars on highly focused research to determine the potential availability and value of their market. Therefore we need a simple but practical formula that will guide the micro-business person in a realistic effort to determine this value.
Task 2: Using the formula provided below from Page 61, as far as practical in your circumstances, estimate the realistic market share available for your product or service. Make notes of the outcomes. Is the picture presented a positive one or an uncertain one? This will ultimately be further influenced by your Product or Service Seed Maturity Rate (that is, the amount of time likely required to establish confident initial business/customer relationships and then to establish a relationship of repeat and referral business). Now you can begin to see more clearly why your RESEARCH is so important! Using this formula and your basic research information, prepare an estimate of what you see as the overall market potential and what you can determine is likely to be a more realistic available market share. This does not mean to say that you cannot obtain a greater than average market share, as indeed an appropriate Phase One Promotion and relationship development strategy may well achieve, however it does provide a much safer basis for budgeting initial sales until a growth pattern has been statistically established in the business.
Once you are convinced that the market potential and economic environment is sound enough to plant your business opportunity, you will then need to understand essential factors concerning the actual "planting process" â€“ that is, the process by which you introduce your product or service into the marketplace and begin the growing process towards a healthy "harvest" of sales.
Growing a Micro-Business
Step 6 - Communications and Media Analysis
This phase of your research involves looking at how you will present your product or service to make it appealing to the market, how you will communicate your business and your product or service to the market and what forms of media may be used. This part of your research will be tempered by the outcomes of your previous research (your Resources Analysis, your Product or Service Analysis and your Market Analysis.) Before proceeding with this section, carefully review the outcomes of your research so far. By now, you should have prepared a basic summary picture from each section. What does this indicate to you? By now you will know: The extent of your resources and any relevant shortfalls. As much as possible about your product or service and its marketability. You will understand who represents your market, its buying patterns, its value and your serviceable market area. Now, how you present your product or service and how you communicate with your market is extremely important. Unless you do communicate with your market in one form or another, it will not know you even exist, let alone want your product or service. Review Page 81: “Are you communicating?" Phase one of your presentation and communication calls for you to consider how you are going to let the market know you exist and how you intend to encourage them to trust you and buy from you for the first time. Again, consider the marketable nature of your Product or Service. You need to take this into account when considering how long it could take to achieve viability and what level of resources might be required to see you through until a buying pattern is being established. Phase two of your presentation and communication calls for you to consider how you are going to ensure that the customers will come back and even refer other customers to you. You will have some idea of how frequently customers need your product or service and not forgetting to take competitive factors into account. All of this will impact on the type of market presentation and communications you need to use and can afford to use.
Recommended Reading References and Tasks: Read: Pages 69-70 Presentation Medium, Read: Pages 109-115 “What kind of Marketing Strategy and which Media is best to use?” And: Pages 116-121 “Promotions” how can you know if they will work?” AND: Read Pages 71-74 “The growing influence of Social Media” Task 1: Identify the most suitable Market Communications Method and the most appropriate Media Strategy To achieve this, print off and review the Charts on Page 112 -113 and the reference notes on page 114 to determine: (The first Chart is also shown on the following page.) Q1 What Communications Method have you considered suitable? Targeted Direct Selling OR Brand and/or Product/Service Awareness? Q2 Of the options available in each of these, which ones do you believe are suitable as YOUR Communications Method? Q3 Have you identified the relevant Sensual Influences that relate to your potential Media Strategy? Q4 Are you now able to determine the most suitable Media Strategy for your Business Marketing? Write a brief summary for the following Questions: Q5 How do you intend to “plant” market awareness of your product or service into the marketplace? What Media will you use, if any? Q6 How will you simply, creatively and effectively communicate your Product or Service message to the market? Q7 Are you confident you can stir up your creativity to effectively ensure that your marketing is different and attention-getting? Q8 Will you use some kind of incentive to encourage market response? What and Why? Q9 Do you see the role of “Direct Response Promotions” fitting into your Marketing Strategy and “why”? Task 2: Now make a summary of your overall “Market Communications and Media Analysis”. In reviewing the previous questions relating to analysis of your Presentation, Communication and Media, are you confident about your findings?
Growing a Micro-Business
Step7. Business Presentation (Name and Branding)
Purpose: Choosing a suitable business name and in particular, establishing a recognisable brand is relatively just as important for a Micro-Business as it is for a large corporation. In this step, we ask the questions needed to get you thinking about this and how it relates to your proposed business. Your Name and Brand will play the pivotal part in growing awareness of and progressively, response to your business. Be sure you have read “Think BIG ...focus Small Pages 122-124. A brand is an individual identity which is associated with every dimension of a business’s Marketing. Its use is all-encompassing and always “up front.” Regardless of where your Product or Service fits on the “fast food” to “funerals” marketability scale of High volume products or low volume services, a unique, distinctive, impressionable and yet simple Brand, plays the key role in establishing your Business identity. It ideally needs to be synonymous with what you are selling so that your potential buyers recall this when needs arise. This is especially important where you have strong completion for the same or similar products or services.
Recommended Reading References and Tasks: Read: “Growing a Business” Pages 122-124 “Creating and establishing your own BRAND?” Task 1: Write brief answers to the following questions: Q1 What business name have you chosen…and why? Q2 Is the Business Name itself short, descriptive and effective for use across all dimensions of marketing? Q3 Does the business name reflect what your business sells? Q4 Have you considered the need for a potential BRAND?
Q5 What can you use to identify/develop a unique Brand? What is the most unique/interesting feature about your business that would generate initial interest? Q6 Will your chosen business name/brand and resultant visual impact be economically able to be reproduced in signage, business stationery and other forms of advertising? Q7 Does your business name and brand simply and inexpensively achieve â€œeffective recallâ€? value for those who see it? Task 2: What progress have you made so far on choosing the right business name and creating a suitable BRAND? Now make a summary, indicating your Business Name, Branding ideas and decisions and why. Show some draft examples.
“Growing a Micro-Business”
Step8. Business Location Structure and Licensing
You will need to determine what kind of business structure is going to be best in your circumstances. This may depend on a variety of issues, including employment and Taxations factors. Also, you need to find out what legal/compliance requirements may be related to your business and ensure that you comply.
Business Location, Laws and Licensing Recommended Reading References and Tasks: Read: “Growing a Business” Pages 125-127 “Where are you and the 3 L’s”
Task 1: Write summary answers to the following questions: Q1 How important is it that your customers be able to easily find you? Q2 Are you selling to a volume consumer market where reliance on “passing trade” is crucial? Q3 What factors most influence where you need to have your business located? (Circle or highlight the relevant following answer) Access to passing trade? Proximity to raw materials/resources/suppliers? Operational cost of office or factory location? Q4 Have you considered the cost of your business location against anticipated returns?
Business Structure: Task 2: Q5 Have you investigated/considered the various formal Business Structure options and their relevant suitability? Q6
Have you discussed this with an Accountant or Business Mentor?
Business Regulation/Licensing Task 3: Q7 Have you determined what Registrations, licences or other approvals are required for any aspect of your business nature, location or activities? (Check with your local Council and State Government Business Advisory Authorities.) Q8 Are you intending to buy or build your own premises or facilities for the business? If so, you will need to ensure that you have professional advice from an independent advisor/consultant who knows all about the issues concerned â€“ and this person should not just be the one from whom you are buying or who is building it for you. Q9 Provide details of Licencing and Regulatory requirements associated with the start-up of your business. Include any initial and recurring costs in you budget.
There are many issues relevant to buying property or building that need to be detailed in advance and supervised progressively. DO NOT TRY TO DO ALL OF THIS YOURSELF. Regulation can be tricky and costly and you need to deal with the relevant Authorities.
Growing a Micro-Business
Step9 - Marketing Strategy
Here you will begin to more precisely detail the collective means of promoting awareness and response for your business? A Marketing Strategy will need to be based on the Presentation and Communications needs of the business. How you intend to inform the market that you exist and how you propose to consistently attract first time inquiry/sales and what Relationship Marketing Strategy will be required to ensure customers come back and refer others? Review Think BIG … focus Small - pages 128-129 Constructing a Marketing Strategy. Your Marketing Strategy should seek to satisfy the overall definition: A Marketing Strategy is the TOTAL process by which goods or services are delivered by carefully identifying and applying each step (every link in the progressive chain) of procedural and interpersonal interaction required, from point of initial Market contact (Market awareness, advertising or promotion) to point of post-distribution Relationship Marketing.
Recommended Reading References and Tasks: Read: “Growing a Business” Pages 77-88 “Stimulating Market interest” – “Overcoming buyer resistance” “Providing additional timely incentive” – “Achieving sales” – “Reviewing the growing process” Read: Pages 102-104 Pages 105-108 Pages 116-121 Pages 128-130
“What is Marketing?” “Introduction to Relationship Marketing” “Promotions – How can you know if they will work?” “Constructing a Marketing Strategy”
Painting the picture Task 1: Document a condensed summary and/or a dot-point summary of your proposed Marketing Strategy outlining how you intend to present and communicate your Product/s or Service/s to you specific Market/s. Your documented Marketing Strategy is represented by the overall picture gained from your progressive brief summary notes in: Your Product or Service Analysis (Step 4) Your Basic Market Analysis (Step 5) Your Communications Method and Media Analysis (Step 6) Your business Name and Branding decisions (step 7) This collective summary should provide a logical Draft Marketing Strategy Finally, you then need to review the cost of implementing this Plan against the picture presented in your Resources analysis and determine its affordability. A Draft Marketing Budget will be represented by the potential cost of implementing your Draft Marketing Strategy. If you have carefully completed all previous parts of the Program, this will be relatively easily as you summary notes can be used. Summary of Proposed Marketing Strategy
The clarity, logic and accuracy of your proposed Marketing Strategy is very important. It will also reflect how thoroughly you have read and understood this book and how carefully you have completed each step so far. Task 2: Now, re-read you Marketing Strategy Summary and indicate your reaction to the following questions: Q1 Is your Marketing Strategy picture clear and concise? Q2 What shortfalls or doubts are apparent? What aspect am I not clear or certain about Q3 Have you taken sufficient time to convince yourself and others that you have done your “homework” and are fully aware of all of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats related to your business venture? Q4 Finally, what is your own overall reaction to the Marketing Strategy at this time: (Circle or highlight your reaction accordingly) Confident that it will work? Potentially successful? A calculated risk? An outright “gamble”? Other reaction or thoughts?
At this point, review/fine tune any aspects which may still be unclear or which may be some concern. Even if you are experienced with marketing or believe that you have a natural flair for Marketing you should still seek appropriate Mentor advice to review your Marketing Strategy. From this book, you should have a clear indication of the warnings and pitfalls of “assuming” that you are right. Additional oversight from experienced Mentors can help you to evaluate the potential of your Marketing Strategy and identify areas which may be idealistic. You should now be ready to move on to the next step in developing your Business Plan – building an Operational Plan (Operational Machine).
Growing a Micro-Business
Step10 - Operational Strategy
To identify and list the chain of specific functions that will comprise your business operational activity on a day-to-day basis, including those activities which are less frequent. (Each activity should also include corresponding identification of who will be required fulfil each function, when, as well as the skills and experience required.
Recommended Reading References and Tasks: Read: Pages 131-134 “Constructing an Operational Strategy” Read: “ Pages 135-137 “Does your Operational Machine need fine tuning or total rebuilding?”
Your Operational Plan (or Operational Machine) is your documentation of how day-to-day routine activities will need to coherently function along with relevant systems and procedures. It may mean the difference between functioning smoothly, with machine-like precision, or simply responding to pressures and constantly fighting fires. The reading references above provide adequate instructions and tools for you to identify the relevant chain of operational activity and control that will be necessary in business. Prepare full written notes on the following: (Prepare on separate pages if there is insufficient space provided) Task 1: Identify and list the chain of specific functions that will comprise your business day-to-day operational activity. Task 2: Plan and document any relevant administrative procedures required for implementation of each function. (This has the added benefit of providing good basic Job Descriptions for all team members.) 196
Task 3: Identify any Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) issues that could impact on the business operation and everyone associated with it, including clients. These issues need to be assessed in terms of the nature of the product or service you are providing, business premises and the delivery of the business product or service. With this completed, you now have a clear picture of how you intend to operate and maintain active control of the business In effect, what you now know is: ď‚ˇ What day to day steps are required to operate the business smoothly (including any potential OH&S issues)? ď‚ˇ How many individuals will be needed to carry out each of those steps and what skills and instructions they will need? You are now ready to review and consolidate the overall cost of implementing your Operational Plan and consider the overall apparent viability, availability of resources and where/how you might obtain additional financial resources if necessary.
Growing a Micro-Business
Step11 - Budgeting and Financial Control Plan
Many who start Micro-Business never even do the basics of determining their true set-up (Capital) cost or what funds they will need to operate from month to month. Consequently, they tend to treat any income as “profit” in their mind. This is where many come unstuck early. You will need to determine your entire Budget by costing your anticipated Business set-up costs, Marketing Strategy (including your Media Strategy) the cost of implementing your Operational Plan. In other words, everything you need to pay for in the setting up and ongoing running of your business. This also involves preparing a preliminary projected monthly Operational Budget showing projected income and expenditure, monthly cash flow and resultant projected net profit or loss for at least the first 12 months of business activity. Involve Appropriate Mentors: Unless you have the specific skills and experience required be sure to get help in preparing you budget and financial plan. Even if you do have the necessary skills, it may still be advisable to have an Accountant, Bookkeeper or an experienced Business Mentor review your estimates. There is plenty of information and video instructions on the Internet to assist you in knowing how to prepare these basic plans, however, the question is: is this your forte? For most Micro-Businesses, it is far more practical to find a good Bookkeeper who will request the essential information from you and then prepare a projected Cash Flow. You can work with this same person from month to month to see how you are progressing. If you are employing anyone, then control of cash-flow, paying of wages or contracts cost, budgeting for meeting Taxation related costs, Superannuation, Annual Leave and long service leave etc., will be essential. At least know your Capital and Operating Costs and what monthly Cash Flow is projected for the first year. This way you can compare income and expenditure from month to month and know immediately if you are on track and make any necessary adjustments. If projections are not on track, you need to determine why. Don’t go on spending in blind hope if you don’t know WHY you are not getting the projected result. Remember, for every effect, there is a cause, so you will need to find it or get help in finding it.
At this point I would remind you of the message at the beginning of this book concerning the basic principle of successful entrepreneurship – simply – you cannot do everything yourself, as you do not have the natural or acquired skills to be an ‘expert’ in all four dimensions of Business: (Product-MarketingOperation-Financial) If you try to do everything yourself, you may only become very frustrated and waste much time and precious resources if what you do is not adequate or accurate. Concentrate on what you do best and seek help for the rest. At this point I would remind you of the message at the beginning of this book concerning the basic principle of successful entrepreneurship – simply – you cannot do everything yourself, as you do not have the natural or acquired skills to be an ‘expert’ in all four dimensions of Business: (Product-MarketingOperation-Financial) If you try to do everything yourself, you may only become very frustrated and waste much time and precious resources if what you do is not adequate or accurate. Concentrate on what you do best and seek help for the rest.
Reading references and tasks: Read: Pages 140-143 “Financial Administration and Budgeting” Read: Pages 95-97 “How fast should a business grow?” Read: Pages 94-97 “Consolidation – Rationalization, Building resourcefulness – Read: Pages 98-99 The business lifecycle”
Now, before you start to pull together a Draft Budget: Q1. Have you documented a basic Draft Marketing Strategy? (Step 9) Q2. Have you documented a Draft Operational Plan? (Step 10) Q3. Does your Planning indicate the need to employ or contract support? Q4. Are you aware of your own limitations in terms of preparing and controlling the Financial Management of the business? 5.
Have you identified who will set up a suitable Bookkeeping System and Cash Flow Budget?
Putting your Financial Plan together
(If doing this is clearly not your forte’ and passion you need to get support from someone else whose skills and passion can fill the gap) You now need to build a picture of all potential costs involved in: 1. 2. 3. 4.
Initial Setting up of the Business The Draft Marketing Strategy The Operational Plan Establishing a Bookkeeping System and Cash Flow Budget
Task 1: Make a list of the Capital Expenditure costs involved in setting up the business. That is, all of the initial things that you will need to pay for once only in order to get the business to a point where it can operate. Task 2: Make a list of everything else you can think of that you will need to pay for during the day-to-day operation of your business. This includes all projected costs for your Marketing activity. These might be daily, weekly, monthly onceonly annual costs. Then prepare a spreadsheet projecting each of these costs from month to month for the first year and compare those cost projections with projected monthly income. If projections are not on track, you need to determine why. Don’t risk spending in blind hope projected cost and income are not positive. Remember, for every effect, there is a cause, so you will need to find it or get help in finding it. Task 3: Now on a spreadsheet write down what level of sales income you expect to gain from month to month for the first year of the business from each of the various products or services you will be selling. Also, make notes about “how/why” you expect the sales to achieve what you project. Q1. What is the estimated amount of initial set-up Capital required? Q2. How does the Capital Cost, Operational Cost/Cash-Flow Budget stack up with available resources? Q3. What does the Cash-Flow Budget indicate is the level of Operational Capital required for the first year? Q4. What level of sales will be required each month to meet all costs? Q5. Are you anticipating a short or long Phase 1 establishment period? (that is, the initial period when operation of the business sees little income before it reaches the monthly break-even point and then starts progressive Phase 2 growth (See Think BIG…focus Small Page 62) Q6. Is the budgeted profit margin on sales adequate for Phase 2 and still enabling you to remain competitive?
Task 4: If you have the skills to do so, prepare a Computer Spreadsheet projection of Business Total Income/Expenditure for the first year from the previous estimates, along with a Cash Flow Budget required to implement your proposed Operational Plan. This is essential in order to identify the “high” and “lows” in your cash flow so that you can be sure that you will have adequate working capital. If this is not your forte’ then take all of the estimates you have prepared to someone with appropriate skills who may assist you or if necessary, refer you to a Bookkeeper or an Accountant. If you are able to prepare these spreadsheets yourself, you are still advised to have someone else qualified to review them. However, it must be done - and done properly. Your Bookkeeper or an Accountant will advise you on the best way to allow for various Taxation requirements or other costs that need to be identified and budgeted..
Also remember that your Accountant is not an “expert” at everything. While he or she will be able to identify any essential regular operating costs that you may overlook, as well as be able to advise you on budgeting for taxation and other mandatory costs, if the information and figures you provide are not accurate, then the whole Budget will be flawed from the start. Further, your Accountant cannot be responsible for the soundness and accuracy or otherwise, of your Marketing Strategy and Operational Plan. Again, if you have difficulty in confidently developing these strategies, then seek help from a suitable Micro/Small Business Mentor. Don’t gamble. Q1 Does your Budget and Cash Flow projection indicate that you have the resources to set up the business and to run your Marketing Strategy and Operational Machine in its present "ideal" scope? (If not, look for ways of reducing its initial scope and trim back its operating costs accordingly, but be sure that it will still function and provide a satisfactory result.) OR Q2 Will you need to source additional funds in order to implement your Operational Plan at a level that is going to ensure the most cost-effective means of achieving a viable outcome? Yes… No… (If so, be very sure that you have researched all aspects of the business as thoroughly as possible in order to minimize risk.)
Q3 If your Cash Flow Budget indicates that you do not have enough resources to ensure the consistent growth of your business until it reaches viability, what options do you have for sourcing additional funds? Look for a suitably compatible business partner who is prepared to invest in the venture? Sell some property? Seek a bank loan or Micro-loan from a reputable Micro-Finance lender, private investor loan? Other? Q4 Do you really need to raise substantial capital for this venture? (If so you will need to be relatively sure of the venture’s overall potential viability. Consider discussing funding options with your Mentor and your Accountant. The question to ask yourself first is: “Is it really going to be worthwhile raising the extra money and what will be the consequences if for some reason the venture does not achieve the planned outcomes..? Then if the risk is palatable - then and only then ask yourself: “Where can I get extra funds…? (There is no room for blind optimism at this point.)
However, before you do seek funds, you need consolidate your Micro-Business Plan using Part 12 of the Planning Guide Task 5: Review the checklist chart on Page142 10 Key Risk Factors that can impact on business viability What is your reaction to the low-scoring outcome of any of these 10 questions? Do you have a great idea – one that is potentially highly marketable, but you are lacking in personal and financial capacity to carry through? Consider the “Wild Card” strategy. Can you find someone to fill the gaps? Remember, starting a business should at worst be a calculated risk, not an “outright gamble”. Never risk what you cannot afford to lose, unless you are very sure that you can live with the potential consequences. However, true entrepreneurship is about vision and calculated risk, surrounding yourself with complementary skills of others, combined with the wisdom of seeking and carefully evaluating all advice.
Growing a Micro-Business
Step12 - Consolidate your Micro-Business Plan
Purpose: Ideally, you should identify (if you have not already done so) various appropriate Mentors who can review each part of your plan and advise or assist with fine-tuning progressively. You should be prepared to listen objectively to your Mentors and be prepared to re-evaluate any areas of concern. When the Business Plan is completed, you must be convinced (and so too should your Mentor and anyone whom you may be seeking to invest in it) that the Plan is sound, workable and affordable.
Recommended Reading References and Tasks: Read: Pages 151-156 “Facing the Business Mirror” Read: Pages 145-148 “Constructing a Business Plan” Final Task: Now you are ready to format your brief summary notes from the various findings and summaries that you have created in answer to all of the questions and tasks throughout this Planning Guide It is important that you don’t get “bogged-down” doing this. Consider: All of the answers to questions and notes that you have made are primarily for YOUR understanding. Hopefully, you will have drafted a summary from those notes from each Part of the Planning Guide which provides an accurate “short story” that shows the outcomes – much of which might be done in dot-point form. You aim in documenting Business Plan is simply to put each of those short stories together in one document under separate headings that build the collective 12 Part story – Your Business Plan.
This information needs to be summarized into one progressive, coherent and convincing Business Plan Document with the following Section Headings:
An attractive front page Vision and Idea for the business Self-Analysis and Resources Analysis Product/Service Analysis Basic Market Analysis Market Communications and Media Analysis Business Name, Location Structure & Licencing needs
And summarised from all of the above:
Proposed Marketing Strategy Proposed Operational Strategy Proposed Financial Plan Spreadsheets showing Set-up costs, projected income, expenditure and cash flow for at least one year and more if possible. A List of supporting Mentors who have and will assist you in the business.
Remember, you are now preparing what is to be a convincing document upon which the business future will be staked. Make it as clear and accurate as possible – crisp, tight and convincing impressive. Where appropriate, include appropriate relevant graphics or photographs that will support the Plan and help to present aspects of it more clearly.
Once you have this final Business Plan document completed this can be your active, living guide to focus you progressively. When change impacts on the plan, update it accordingly.
Good luck – and again remember: “Every human being is a truly unique individual, deserving the freedom of spirit to understand, express and fulfil the driving creative passions to which we were born. Whether we succeed or fail, nothing allows this freedom of creative expression or even stimulates innovation like free enterprise micro/small business.” Bob Neville
The underlying message and reality of “Growing a Micro-Business” is:
Many people who go into Micro-Business simply “do not know what it is that they do not know” and naively and blindly make many “business-fatal” mistakes that could easily be avoided.
Many people who go into Micro-Business arrogantly refuse to seek help or to listen to advice or simply can’t find the right advice
Don’t try to be an expert at everything – nobody is.
GET HELP in crucial aspects at which you do not excel. Especially get help in preparing your Business Plan. This book is your introduction to nature’s own process of how to “grow” a business, “naturally”.
Re-read the book “Growing a Micro-Business” regularly and completely, as the more you relate to its principles as you grow, the more it will fine-tune you understanding with experience.
Visit my Website and related links for more information about the “Community Gold” Program of Small Community Regeneration and the emerging Small Community Regeneration Industry and its career opportunities. Trained Micro-Facilitators can Mentor you in the “seed idea” testing, planting or regeneration of your business. www.communityregeneration.net.au Follow Bob Neville at https://issuu.com/bobneville9
This book is sold totally on the understanding that the purchaser or any reader acknowledges its function as an overview instruction for Microbusiness understanding and development. Due to the difference in the way any individual may interpret, apply or misapply the principles, advice and tools presented in this book, the Author accepts no responsibility for any outcomes whatsoever from its application in practice and advises the support of a skilled MicroBusiness Mentor.
Want to know and learn more? Please watch this short video for an excellent introduction to the Community Gold Program
Growing a business or growing a community is much like growing a garden. If it is not lovingly cared for, eventually it will fall into disrepair, become unproductive and decline. Bob Neville has dedicated 20 years to understanding how to face economic and social challenges of smaller communities. In 2011, Bob received the Inaugural â€œBuilding Inclusive Communitiesâ€? Individual State Award over 50 nominations - sponsored by the Ethnic Communities Council of Australia (NSW) and Macquarie University. This has resulted in a growing RESOURCE CENTRE of outstanding free articles, which are available on ISSUU.COM at https://issuu.com/bobneville9 as well as affordable, powerful tools for Community-driven Social/Economic Regeneration/Mentoring, including a sustainable and affordable12 Module Training Program for training very special community based social entrepreneurial MENTORS to drive community regeneration in local communities. The foundation overview to all of this can be captured through the articles, but ONE compelling article in particular article reveals 16 key economic truths that are the foundation of sustainability for every community. https://issuu.com/home/published/realitycheck 206
“Every human being is a truly unique individual, deserving the freedom of spirit to understand, express and fulfil the driving creative pa...
Published on Oct 11, 2019
“Every human being is a truly unique individual, deserving the freedom of spirit to understand, express and fulfil the driving creative pa...