Is starting a business easy? NO IT’S NOT! And anyone who tells you it is, is either lying to your face or trying to sell you something.
Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as some people make it for themselves either, but there are 7 things you really need to know before you decide to start one of your own…
1… It will take time before it starts making any real money for you.
I’m sorry but there is no getting around this fact. A new business is going to take quite a while to get going. Normally a business takes about 2 years before it becomes profitable or takes enough money to provide you with a living. Can you wait that long?
If the answer is no then there are a couple of things you can do, 1) stay in your day job and don’t become a business owner or 2) find someone who can help you get the basics in place so that you are at least doing the right things in the right way from day one.
Most new businesses fail. That’s just a fact. In actual fact, about *80% of new businesses do not last until their 5th year. Do you know why that is? I’ll let you into a secret… *source: Companies House research.
It’s because the business owner has unrealistic expectations of how long it will take to start making any real money from the business. Most new business owners think that they can set up shop and start replacing their regular day job income in a matter of weeks – or a couple of months.
It is because of this belief that when they don’t see the money rolling in as they expected, they feel they are failures or that their business is just not working. This couldn’t be further from the truth and here’s why…
Any business can make money providing it is providing a solution to a problem. Let me explain what I mean by that.
Screwfix sells tools. Big ones, small ones, expensive ones and cheap ones. But do they sell those tools because people are collectors of drills and spanners? No, they sell tools because they provide the solution to the tradesman’s problem of how to create a hole in a wall, speed up putting screws into a fence panel, loosen a tight plumbing connection etc.
Boots sells toiletries and medicines. Do they sell these because someone wants their bathroom cabinet to be full, or because someone likes the packaging that the pills come in? No, they sell their products because people want to look and smell nice and fell well. They provide the solution to the customer’s problem.
Even supermarkets who sell food don’t successfully sell food because people want food, (although obviously this is the case), they sell food because they are convenient places for people to go to get ALL the food they need all in one place. They provide the solution to the problem of having to waste time visiting many shops – which brings me nicely on to point 2.
2… You need a really good solution to your customers’ problem
If your business is going to start making money faster, it needs to find a great solution to a problem that many of its customers face. The bigger the problem and the better the solution, the faster the business will grow.
Think about your product or service. What does it do for your customers? What problem does it solve? How much of a problem is that for your customer and is your solution the best one on the market?
Obviously, the more competition you have for your solution, the slower your business will grow as you will have to compete for market share against those already established companies who have been providing a similar solution for years, and have testimonials and loyal customers to help them sell even more. Therefore, you are going to need to be a bit different.
3… What is your USP (unique selling point)?
You will need to think about something that sets you apart from your competition. Something that makes your solution more beneficial than all those others.
Here are a couple of examples:
One of my clients invented a way of printing book covers without the ink cracking on the binding, as had previously been a big problem for the industry.
Much time and money had been spent by printing houses outsourcing their print finishing to companies that could afford the huge and expensive creasing apparatus that was need to accomplish this task.
My client invented a small desktop creasing machine that could produce the quality needed, at a fraction of the cost, and at a fraction of the time.
It is no surprise that my client’s business is now a multi-million pound, multi national organisation. He found a big problem in his industry and provided a UNIQUE solution.
Did this take time? Yes it did. It took him years to perfect his machine, but once perfected, it started to sell immediately.
In my industry, I have customers who are trying to figure out how to get noticed online so that they can begin to attract leads and customers quickly.
There are thousands of online courses and workshops out there that will talk all day about what to do and how to do it. However, my solution is different…
I don’t just show or tell you what to do, I work with you to get it done. I am the only business coach or mentor in my area who will actually roll their sleeves up and get stuck in with you to get your marketing set up and working for you.
I also tell the truth. when my clients ask “is starting a business easy?” I tell them the straight answer – No. But I do give them solutions to the problems they face so that it is less difficult than it would otherwise have been.
If you are going to stand out, you are going to have to start doing things a little differently from the rest of the crowd. You are going to need your USP. You are also going to need to say the right things when you are talking about it either on, or offline.
4… Set the right scene from day one
By the time I get to work with most of my clients, they have usually been running their business for a little while and are frustrated at the limited amount of traction they are getting in terms of leads or customers.
As I mentioned earlier, a lot of this is down to their unrealistic expectations of how quickly their business would take to get going. But there is usually an obvious reason as to why it is taking even longer than it should be.
The first thing I usually notice is that they are not consistent with their message online. They are usually all over the place when it comes to the image or brand that they are trying to develop.
I usually find that their website says one thing, and their social media says something quite different. This is not consistent marketing and will therefore not be very effective.
You should set your business up so that you are clear about what it is that you offer and why you offer it.
ALL your marketing should be aimed at getting people hooked on your solution so that they will buy it.
Make sure you are completely focused on what your solution does for your customer and how they will benefit from using it. For some ideas have a look at your competitors and see what they are saying.
Your website is your shop window. Make sure it looks professional and has all the legal policies, disclaimers and disclosures in place. You don’t want to be caught out by this somewhere down the line.
Another thing I notice is that they are promoting their business before they even know exactly what it is that they are selling. Here’s what I mean by that…
Let’s say you are a beautician and offer services such as facials and manicures.
- You set up your Facebook page and start to tell people all about your business.
- You get a brand new website and start telling people to visit it.
- You put some lovely pictures on Instagram that show off your nail polishes and gels.
- You put leaflets out in your local gym and take out a small ad in the local paper advertising the fact that you are open for business.
This is all great and you should be commended for your efforts. But what makes your salon different from dozens of others that I could visit in the area? What extra benefit will I receive from coming to you rather than going to someone else?
Also, what incentive are you providing to entice me to try your salon? Remember, people are much more likely to buy from someone they have already bought from, or from someone they have already met.
Surely, it would be much more effective if every person who saw your Facebook page had an opportunity to download a 20% off voucher wouldn’t it? That would be a nice incentive to get people to come and try your salon.
And what about all those people you are sending to your website? What are you giving them to encourage them to become a lead, and later a paying customer? Can they get a discount on there too? Can they book a facial right there on the website? The easier you make it for someone, the more likely they are to take action.
Selling 101: It is much easier to sell to someone who has already experienced your product or service and knows you than it is to sell to a complete stranger.
You need to know, about 1% of visitors to your website will become a paying customer. But with careful marketing, and adding a strategy to your marketing you can increase this to 10% or even 20%. Surely that would be better wouldn’t it? And how much quicker would your business become profitable if you were converting at 20% rather than 1%? 20 X quicker.
5… You need leads if you want to grow faster!
There is no faster way to grow a business than to attract leads and then nurture those leads until they become paying customers.
This is nothing new. Think about the old days before the internet (heaven forbid). We used to go to shops. People used to walk into a shop to have a look at what was for sale.
Shop assistants would ask if they could help you, and, if you were in the right buying frame of mind you would say yes. Then a process would take place.
- The sales-person would introduce themself and ask you about your family
- They would ask what the purchase was for – (what benefit your were looking for)
- They would establish a budget
- They would make small talk
- They would explain all the features and benefits to you of the product your were considering.
- They would ask you questions about your thoughts and if there was anything putting you off from buying.
- They would then overcome those objections or alay those fears.
- They would help you to justify your buying decision
- They would take your money and thank you very much for the business.
A lot of the people I get to work with have forgotten that just because a lot of sales and advertising is done online these days, that this process still needs to take place. A relationship needs to be built with your prospect. They need to be courted, to be nurtured, to be assured and to be sure that the decision they are making is the right one.
You need a way of doing this in your business. It is vital if you are going to build a business quicker. Each person you spend time nurturing is far more likely to turn into a customer than someone who just happens to land on your website – unless of course, you are the only person and website providing that particular product or solution.
Putting a system in place in your business that helps to generate leads will help you to grow your business much faster. If you can integrate it into your marketing strategy all the better, as it will become a seamless process and your customers will be impressed at your professionalism.
6… Do things in the proper order.
Getting something to work faster is always easier if you build your business one step at a time. This way, one thing leads to the next and it will become less disjointed and clunky and you won’t have to continually go back and tweak things.
For example; what’s the point in promoting your business everywhere if you haven’t got your branding sorted. What message are you sending out? What’s your proposition? Why are you different to your competitors.
If you are shouting your service from the rooftops but no one is listening, you are wasting your time – and energy.
Have your solution firmly in mind before you start sharing your Facebook page or website. Make sure that when you share them they are consistent. Make sure you are using the same colours, fonts, images etc. You need your potential customer to be able to spot you instantly.
It’s no good having an amazing offer or freebie if no one gets to know about it. You need a way to share your offer with your potential customers so that they can get to try before they buy. Landing pages, sales pages and lead magnets will help with this.
It’s no good having lots of visitors to your Facebook page or website if you don’t know who they are. You need to be able to follow up with them. After all, they were obviously interested enough in you to visit in the first place.
Having a lead capture page will help with this. You need to be able to capture details from the people who visit your business so that you can follow up with them and go through that selling process I mentioned earlier.
There is no point in collecting lots of email addresses or leads if you then don’t do anything with them. The fortune’s in the follow up. You are going to have to devise a system to follow up with these “warm” leads so that you don’t miss out on sales. Remember, you can increase those conversion rates to 20% with a proper follow up process in place.
If you need help with setting your business up in the correct order, click on the link below and grab your copy of my free Business Basics Guide. It will tell you all you need to know about how to get it set up for success from day one.
7… Stick to one thing and get it working before moving on to another.
And finally, if there is one thing above all else that slows down your business growth, it’s flitting between strategies trying to shortcut the system.
I’ve been honest with you. I’ve told you it is going to take you about 2 years before your business is really going to take off. That is 2 years of sticking to one thing and getting it working.
Lots of clients I see have been trying for years to get their businesses working and I ask them what they have been doing. Here’s what they tell me….
“I’ve tried social media marketing but it didn’t work so I switched to Google but that didn’t work either”. “I thought about doing an online version of my course and I set it all up but I didn’t have any customers so I decided to scrap it and try selling it on a one to one basis instead”. “I’ve been getting some interest but only in dribs and drabs and I need to start making money now so I’m changing my business to something else”.
I ask them how long they have been trading for and they tell me anything between 12 months and 3 years. This explains all…
They have not given one thing time to start working before they have given up on it and tried something else in the hopes that would work quicker. Guess what? Those second choices never work any quicker than the first choice did. There is no such thing as a magic wand so stop looking for one.
Think about your audience. Where are they? Who are they? What are they struggling with? How does your product or service benefit them in a way that no other does?
Choose a strategy that is going to get your message to your audience and stick with that strategy until it starts working for you. Yes you will have to tweak and adapt it. Yes you will have to test it and re-test it.
Building a business takes time and effort. It also takes money, which is another thing a lot of new business owners get wrong. They have been told (by whom I’m not sure but obviously someone very unscrupulous) that they don’t need to spend any money to build a business. NOT TRUE!
You do need to spend money, but you don’t need to spend a fortune and you usually don’t need to spend it where you think you do (website creation for example) but you do need to spend it where you think you don’t (developing a proper marketing strategy for example).
I’m no longer shocked, or surprised when my clients tell me they spent £800 – £10,000 on getting a website built. At least they were not thinking they could do it all for nothing but the fact is that they could have had one built for as little as £200 or they could have created one for free using amazing WordPress themes.
I am no longer surprised when I ask my clients what their marketing budget is, and they tell me they don’t have one. Most still think they can advertise online for free. Okay, yes you can, but you have to know what you’re doing and where this still works. Clue: not on Facebook.
I am also no longer shocked or surprised when I ask my clients what their marketing strategy is, and they tell me they don’t have one. In fact, more usually they look at me with a blank expression as if I’m speaking a foreign language and just shake their heads in a vague response.
It seems that my clients have spent the last 2 years chasing after something that doesn’t exist – a way to get their business making money for them immediately.
I’m sorry to have to be harbinger of doom. I don’t like spoiling your fantasy and smashing your hopes. But I do like being honest with people and in the long run it helps them. If I told you today that your business would be turning over £100,000 in six months and in six months it wasn’t, what would you be thinking? “I’m obviously not cut out for business” “I’m a failure” I’m obviously just not as good as everyone else”. I don’t want you to feel like that.
I want you to feel successful and motivated. I want to inspire you and encourage you to continue until you do become successful. I don’t to fill your head with nonsense. I don’t want to offer you false promises.
But, unfortunately, there are plenty of people who do. There are plenty of people out there who will promise that your business will be making six or seven figures in little to no time. Honestly, it won’t.
But it could make six or seven figures in five years from now. It could, if you work hard, if you are consistent, if you stick at one thing and get it working before you move on to something else.
- Is starting a business easy? NO
- It takes on average 2 years to start making a living from a new business
- Over 80% of new businesses don’t make it to their 5th year
- You need a proper strategy if you want to make money quicker
- Having a successful strategy can improve conversion rates from 1% to 20%
- Think about where you are spending money, is it in the right place?
- Are you building your business the right way, and doing things in the right order?
- THERE IS NO MAGIC WAND SO STOP LOOKING FOR ONE AND JUST ACCEPT THAT IF YOU WORK HARD AND STAY FOCUSED, YOU WILL SUCCEED.
For anyone who is willing to believe me, and is willing to stop chasing rainbows and get down to the business of making their business work for them, I can help.
I offer many different services, all designed with one thing in mind, to help you to grow your business faster. I offer:
- Free workshops – for those who want to find out what’s possible
- Paid workshops – for those who want to put it into practice
- A 5-day course – for those who want their whole marketing strategy designed and working for them in just one week
- A quick start programme – for those who need some help with the technical aspects of online marketing
- A full 12-month mentoring programme – for those who would like the one to one support and ongoing encouragement to help them grow their business in as short a time as possible.
I hope that you have enjoyed this post and found it useful. I have many free resources to help you grow your business faster on my resources page. Please feel free to take a look and download whatever may be of use to you.
If you have found this post useful I would love it if you could share it so that others might get use out of it too.
Until the next time….