Lessons I Learned Today 5/5/09 – Uniform distinction?

Here is a recap of highlights, quotes and comments from articles and discussions posted on the Applied Entrepreneurship group site on LinkedIn.

*How to Set Your Marketing Budget by Barbara Wayman

“Look at the maturity of the business, the level of competition, revenue, goals, desired positioning and other factors, like how new you are to market. You might fall in the generally established range of 2% to 10% of sales. If you’re looking to launch a new product or grow aggressively you’d be in the higher end of the range. If your product is well established and faces little competition, you’d be in the lower end.”

*Three Secrets of Marketing by Barbara Wayman

The secret to effective marketing is consistency.

Amplify What Makes You Different.

It’s your job to make sure influential audiences, such as reporters, editors, bloggers, customers, business and government leaders, who could be spreading your message, all know and understand what makes you special.

*How to Follow Up After a Networking Event by Laura Rocha

As important as it is to meet new people to grow your business and increase the amount of contacts you have in your arsenal of resources, following up is the most important part but seldom done right!  You want to be remembered and you have to act fast!

Find individuals who have the same type of clients.  Secondly, find out how they can help your clients.  Third, is their product or service something you may need now or in the future?

Don’t sell yourself!  Very important.  Ask how you might be able to help them.

*What You Need to Grow Your Business: An Interview with Jazzercise Founder Judi Sheppard Missett by Merrin Muxlow

Evaluate your costs of doing business, and show smart for the resources you need to get started.

Most of what you really need is accessible without a large nest of start-up money.

Provide what the customer finds valuable.

Too many business owners come up with an idea and try to find a market. the other way around is usually more successful- listen to what customers want, and figure out a way to give it to them.

 Be willing to adapt and change to customer needs.

Planning and development aren’t just for startups. If your customer base is growing or changing, you need to grow and change, too. Use email blasts to keep in touch with customers, and build relationships while your business is growing. Keep your offerings exciting and fun, but consistent with the product customers have grown to love.

Evaluate the resources you already have, and try to create opportunities for yourself .

*Top Ways to Get a Fresh Business Idea Off the Ground by Naomi Dunford

You need a business plan

The most important part of your business plan is your SWOT analysis.

This is where you identify your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The SWOT analysis is your new best friend.

Identify your Unique Selling Proposition. Once you know your own strengths and your competitors’ weaknesses, you can figure out what makes you different from them. This is your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. It will be the driving force behind your marketing campaign.

Ttake your USP and beat your potential customers over the head with it. They should know why you’re different than The Other Guy before hiring you even crosses their minds. Do not make them think.

 Make your service good, make it easy to buy from you, hang your shingle and prepare for a crazy ride.

*10 Essential Tips For Selling A Business

Plan Your Exit Strategy – at least three years in advance where possible
Prepare The Business
Disregard Your Own Valuation
Protect Yourself
Inform Your Shareholders
Prepare Your Conditions
Consider Your Retirement
Do Not Give Priority To Price
Full Disclosure
Choose The Deal

What I Think

The articles range from subtle marketing to beating the customer over the head, but one common thread shows up again. That is to demonstrate in everything you do, what your unique value is to your customers and prospects. You have to distinguish yourself from the competition in a uniform way and in every aspect of what you do.

What should be unique is the way you are able to satisfy something the customer needs and wants, rather than what you want to sell them. Even if you figure this out early on, things change. Remembering the chaos model, another common thread of business start-ups, “whatever is, will certainly change.”

You have to be on the leading edge of this change, rather than trying to figure out what is stuck in the profit pipe line. You have to constantly communicate with your customers to determine if their needs are shifting, and you have to keep an eye on the competition, to make sure you are the one who always has the better mouse trap. If what you have is good, somebody will try to copy you and take it from you. Keep ahead of the pack.

Begin your business with the end in mind, to borrow from Steven Covey. Formulate your exit plan as part of your start-up plan. You will exit from the business at some point. At least plan for it to be on your terms and do it so you don’t have to look over your shoulder afterwards, nor regret your decision. When I help clients buy or sell a business, I often see severe cases of seller’s remorse. This should be a happy time for buyer and seller.

Plan for the future when you start on your journey as an entrepreneur. Some say is is all about the journey and not the destination. I say, why not enjoy both?

 

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If you enjoyed my impression of these articles, why don’t you read them for yourself and see what you and I missed or hit? Join the Applied Entrepreneurship group on LinkedIn. Membership is free and I try to post about ten articles a day there. We have some great discussions going and if you are an entrepreneur, we hope you will join us.

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Posted in Applied Entrepreneurship, Business interruption, crisis, etc., Business life cycle, Buying a business, Growing a business, Innovation, Planning for a business, Running a business, Selling a business, Starting a business, Succession Planning, Thinking about a new business

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