STOP PRESS: If you have been stood down or lost your job because of CIVID-19 and you are thinking of starting your own business, read to the bottom of this article where I am giving you an offer to help you plan your new business idea. Offer valid until 30 April 2020.
My Mum told me that if I studied hard, I could get whatever I wanted.
Did your mother tell you the same thing?
My Mum told me that I had to study hard to be an expert at something. So I studied to be an expert accountant.
Then when I decided to start my own business, she was very supportive and said that with all my skill, all I had to do was sell.
But you know what, none of that made me the successful small business owner that I am!
I think my Mum told me a bit of a fib.
While I am a subject-matter expert in a lot of business skills, and I did start selling as soon as I started the business, it almost collapsed into a big heap because I didn’t treat my business as a business.
I treated it as my place of work.
So, let me tell you my story.
I am a doubly qualified accountant (in the UK and in Australia). I am an expert in finance as well as in business development. I consult to small businesses and teach others about business planning, team building and organisational development, about preparing focused marketing plans. I used to be a senior executive in an international consulting and financial services company, leading an international team of 20 people servicing Small-Medium Enterprises in three continents.
So when I decided to start my own business with three other partners, I believed I was set!
When we started the business, I threw myself into providing my expert services to my clients.
In the meantime, one of my partners decided he didn’t have to work anymore. He simply hired more and more staff (that we couldn’t really afford) to do his work for him. My other partner decided that all he needed to do was work on his (small) portfolio of clients because he was the junior partner.
So, long story short, nobody worked on the business and it began to suffer.
Caught up in the day-to-day traffic, I was swept up in the need to generate more income, to sell more and then fulfil the orders. That meant I worked harder and harder delivering the services and more and more time worrying about the conduct of the business.
You don’t have to be a genius to guess that we hit the financial wall.
But before we did that I left the partnership, taking my clients with me to start a new consulting business.
And this time, I didn’t just take my skills and start selling!
When I established my own consulting business in 2004 I started by working out what my vision of the company was.
I wanted to start with the end in sight.
In order to do that I really needed to look deep inside myself and ask why I wanted to operate my own business? After all, I had been a very successful senior executive and I could have easily walked into a similar job in another worldwide consulting company.
Bish-bosh, no stress! Why choose to start and operate my own business?
You need to understand your purpose in business before you even start selling.
We all need to make sure that we truly understand our “Why” when we start or own our businesses.
What is it that drives you to be a business owner?
What is it about the business that you want to build that is so special it deserves to not only exist but to succeed?
Whether that purpose is to care for your loved ones, or to provide an exciting life for yourself, or to bring something special to your community, or to delight your customers, or to invent something that will benefit the world, it is important you know that passion so that you can use it to create compelling messages when you market your product or service.
The most compelling marketing is what people believe drives you, not some arbitrary list of what makes your product or service better.
If your narrative drove a message that, as a mechanic, you really believe in giving people safe vehicles to drive in, and how easy that is to do if you stuck to quality methods and products – people will see it. They will believe it more than a message that says you provide a “10-point check” when you service a car.
As a medical practitioner, if you tell people how you were driven to help people because you really cared about the individuals’ health, and how that helped make your community a better place to live in, people will listen more to that than if you told them that you qualified in Cambridge and you use the best diagnostic computers.
In his famous Ted Talk, Simon Sinek gives the example:
“If Apple were like everyone else, a marketing message may sound something like this: ‘We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. Want to buy one?’
Here’s how Apple really communicates – ‘Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. Want to buy one?’
Totally different, right?”
The value of understanding your purpose in being in business, your “Why”, is that it also drives you and your business, not just your marketing. If it was only your marketing, it would be a little false, no?
Indeed, being driven by your “Why” will get you out of the toughest spots:
“We are in a real economic slump, do we close? No, wait, I’m in business because I wanted to build a good life for my kids. What does that take? It takes me to be determined and to find a way to survive these times, and then ready to thrive when the economy turns. So, what can I do to do that?”
Or, “I truly believe that the way I provide my service will change the way things are done in my industry. It will help people who use that service and it will make others in my industry stop producing BS and change the way they provide real service. But my peers are attacking me and the stress is too much, the competition is too much, what can I do? Wait, I’m in this to change the world – it will be a better world, I will change the world. What will I do?”
Once you remind yourself about what drives you, you ask different questions about your situation and your mind starts to find a way around or through the situation.
Knowing your “Why” also leads you to describe exactly what kind of business you want to create – how it looks, how it behaves and treats customers, how it looks after staff so that they look after your purpose, what your products do for people and solves their problems.
This is your vision, and your vision cascades into a set of goals, which cascade into a set of strategies – all aimed at attaining your vision and therefore achieving your purpose in owning your own business.
This is the way to start your business!
If you want to know more about how understanding and being true to your purpose and vision, you can get my free report and business startup checklist here.
And, of course, if you want more tips and tools on how to start, build and grow your business, go to my website at teikoh.com.
STOP PRESS: If you have been stood down or lost your job and are thinking of starting your own business, I am offering a 90% discount off my online program called How To Start Your Own Business. Normally selling for $97, you can register and start your course for only $9.70. All you have to do is email firstname.lastname@example.org with proof (letter from your employer or something similar) that you have been stood down or have been made redundant, I will reply with a discount code. This offer is only valid until 30 April 2020 so don’t delay.