I originally wrote this article ‘5 business development strategies I wish I knew before starting a business’ back in 2010 and having recently rediscovered it I thought it would be nice to reprint. Enjoy and feel free to comment with your thoughts below:
The original article: 5 Business Development Strategies I wish I knew before starting a business
Experience brings us many opportunities to both learn and change ourselves for the better. Business is exactly the same, from the outside you feel you have it all but when you jump in things can often be different until you get it right.
They teach you very technical subjects in business school but no one prepares you for the actual challenges you will face in business, the problems that involve you and how you organise both yourself and those around you. This is why I wrote Double Your Success as an Entrepreneur to help new business owners learn the basics of business mindset so they can get up and start earning to their full potential fast.
I put together a short list of key lessons that I wish someone has taught me before I got into business. I hope by reading these I am able to help save some of you some time and even more save you some agony that I had to face before my first successful business.
Business Development Strategies I wish I knew before starting my first business:
You only have to be good enough:
There will never be a point when you know everything there is to know in a business. Even if you did there would never be enough time in a day for you to do everything so learn to keep things simple, especially at first.
What I wish I know before starting a business is that you only ever have to be good enough.
Nobody expects a product to do everything you feel it should do. They only expect it to do something which provides value to them. Take the example of modern-day electronic products, consumers expect the first models to be a little buggy but as long as it still provides them value they are more than happy to part with their cash.
I spent so long getting my first product ready it was unreal. I wasted time trying to perfect advertising and my videos when I should have been spending selling direct with my customer. In reality people later told me my videos were great, where in my head they were nowhere near being ready. The lesson was that they only ever had to be good enough, they never had to be perfect.
The whole concept of perfecting things meant that I never really completed anything. I never really completed the circle to a full product and thus I lost a lot of money where my product was not ready. It was much better to get the product finished and then improve things as I went along. At least that way you actually have a product as a half-finished item is just an idea and nothing more.
Always be able to describe what your product does in three seconds:
I had heard this so many times described as an elevator speech where you can pitch to somebody in three seconds, but the importance of the three-second speech goes much further than that. By being able to define your product within three seconds it helps you clearly define what the key focus of your product.
So many times I tried to be too many things to too many people and that led to a product which was lost in th crowd. It would have been much better to be everything to a small group of customers then being a nothing to a much larger group of customers.
What I wish I know before starting a business is that you should be able to pitch your product or service within 3 seconds.
This helps you massively to focus your energy on your core business proposition. Procrastination makes you focus on so many different business angles at once that you often forget what is most important and what your core proposition is. By really taking to time to focus on your three-second pitch you really have to define what your company does clearly and the simple act of doing that helps you focus your entire business strategy to a real core proposition.
It also allows you to really target your marketing. To really defining what it is you do within three seconds, you have to be really specific. Instead of saying that I am a business coach, I had to really be specific in saying that ‘I help Online Marketers without traditional business experience gain that experience via my structured Online Marketing MBA coaching course. That immediately tells the person who my target audience is and who would benefit from my couching course.It also helped me focus on my core customer and thus spend my advertising budget wisely with people who were more likely to need my course.
If you cannot define your business within a three-second pitch, which includes who your target audience is and what you business offers, then you are perhaps a little unfocused. That unfocused nature will cost you dearly in wasted time, energy and money so take the time to define it now and watch how much it helps you make decisions. Every decision I now need to make always refers back to my 3 second pitch, where I ask myself if the decision helps me to get closer to delivering on my key proposition or not.
Business is 99% perspiration and 1% luck.
Sometimes it is very easy to look around and hear of other companies doing better than yourself. You are often told ‘they were lucky’ or that their situation was different to yours. It’s wrong – 99% of the time businesses only succeed due to perspiration. That’s right, you have to keep working on doing things right and creating opportunities that will help you succeed. You have to have good business development strategies.
An idea is never enough. If ideas were worth money then I would be a billionaire as I am often told I have the best business ideas. However, none of them will see the light of day unless I put my heart and soul into working on them.
What I wish I know before starting a business is that success is 99% perspiration and 1% luck
Every business has to start somewhere, and usually that is very slowly. You have to work hard at doing the right things to find a core group of customers. Then once you have that you have to expand to a larger group of customer. Then you keep going until you get these customers to buy from you again and again. It is so logical but it all takes an effort. Nothing in business happens without effort.
The more time you put into your business doing the right things the faster it will become profitable. Sitting around hoping a chance meeting will be your key to success will rarely work. Always be working on plan B’s and plan C’s. Knowing what the right thing is to do is not always easy and thus my coaching program is there to help, however I really wish there had been someone to kick me up the but when I first started my business.
Nobody in business makes it alone
One of the biggest lessons I ever learnt is that you never make it in business alone. There is no shame in asking for advice when you need it. It actually shows you have really good business sense if you can ask for help at the right moments.
As stated before it is impossible to know everything about business and it is not shameful to ask for help. Surround yourself by good people and you will have an abundant supply of good advisors to help you whenever you have a need.
What I wish I know before starting a business is that you never make it alone.
Football players and great sportsman all have coaches even though they are on top of their game as it helps keep them there. Business people on the other hand seem to falsely believe they have to make it alone or it would show a sign of weakness. This is totally wrong. Every high level executive of any company has access to a business coach to help guide them into making good business decisions. It’s time entrepreneurs learnt from their example and understood the value of a good business coach.
Having someone to guide you helps you focus you energy on what is important and helps you develop as a person. Only if your kills are developing can you take your business to new heights. My book Double Your Success as an Entrepreneur is designed to help take your abilities and your business to new heights.
You are going to make mistakes
This one really took me a long time to learn. You do not have to defend every decision you make as sometimes in hindsight your decisions can be wrong. Your mood, your stress levels and those influencing you can all contribute to making a good or bad decisions, even on your well thought out business development strategies. There is no shame in looking back and acknowledging your bad decisions as long as you learn from them.
Nobody can ever make all the right decisions, it is impossible to make decisions about the unknown future without making a few mistakes. Movies lead us to believe that great leaders always make the right decisions but any business owner will tell you that they made some great decisions along with some terrible ones.
What I wish I know before starting a business is that you are going to make business mistakes.
When speed is key to success then decisions have to be made fast. Ensure you use those people around you in your network and perhaps your business coach, who you turn to for advice, in order to make the best decision with all the information at hand.
Nobody can ever ask anything more than that. You are going to make mistakes so plan for them and be open enough to acknowledge them when they happen. That is why a coach is invaluable to helping you to attempt avoiding mistakes and to help you reflect and learn from them when ever they happen.
These are just a few of the things I wish I had known before I started my life as an entrepreneur over 12 years ago.