6 key pieces of advice for business success
Having taken the enormous jump from being employed to self employed I incorporated Business Fulcrum Limited on July 22nd 2003.
Why "Business Fulcrum"? Because I firmly believe that marketing is "the thing that plays a central or essential role" in business, and "it is the point upon which things turn or are supported"
My First Piece of Advice
I was a single parent of two girls when I jumped so I had no choice but to succeed and it was that driver which made me seek every possible opportunity for getting business. So my first piece of advice is to get out there networking with a clear vision of how you can benefit your potential clients. Networking has brought me great friends, brilliant associates, amazing contacts and ongoing work and I can remember being very frustrated back in July of 2003 that many networking events seemed to come to a grinding halt during the school holidays...
I like to help people and so I was happy to oblige when networking contacts, realising I was a copywriter, asked if they could "pop things over" for me to critique. I found myself doing more and more unpaid favours but it wasn't until I spent over an hour on a dreadful press release to get it into shape and never got so much as a thank you that the light bulb went on.
People don't mean to take the mickey but sometimes forget that the clever little skill you have is your business and the way you feed your family. I soon wised up about charging. And that's my second piece of advice set out your prices and be confident about charging for a good job well done.
I ticked along OK working on an ad hoc basis until a business consultant asked if I'd like to be introduced to his client for potential work. He added the fact that his client always took people on a retainer. This was new to me, I had to work out how to charge and how to be fair to myself and my clients in terms of workflow but adding the option of a retainer transformed my business and made my cashflow a happier one! So there's my third piece of advice - find a way of getting regular income instead of constant churn if you possibly can.
In late 2007 we hit the beginning of the credit crunch of course. My immediate thought was to look at the amount of travel to meetings I was doing and to more overtly promote skype meetings rather than use petrol to drive each time. This worked a treat so my advice to you is always look to see if you can improve the way in which you can conduct your business in terms of time and finance. It's too easy to let unnecessary overheads mount up by continuing the status quo.
I was very fortunate indeed, the credit crunch meant that people had to market harder to get customers and so my business went from strength to strength and in 2009 I also discovered a way to broaden my business offering by learning about social media.
Even in training sessions today I explain how I came to social media very reluctantly indeed, and hoped it was one of those flash-in-a-pan-things. My Damascus moment came when I saw my own name go up in a Twitter feed behind a trainer (fortunately it was a complimentary tweet!) and I realised I had to get over my social resistance and get stuck in!
That has led to me getting business via Twitter, overseas business via Pinterest and thousands of followers through blogging. It also gave me the opportunity to train in a whole gamut of new subjects. So my fourth piece of advice is to embrace the new and broaden your business where you can.
My sixth and final piece of advice
Closely allied to that is my sixth piece of advice - make time to keep up your continual professional development, if you don't your competitors will drive past you and smile at you in their rear view mirror...
I have been hugely fortunate and worked with literally hundreds of business owners through my marketing and social media support, advice and training over the years. And I still enjoy the enormous variety of both my work and getting to know my clients' varying businesses.
This has particularly been the case working with medical practitioners which has given me a new respect and admiration for their knowledge of our amazing bodies. And I delight in being their interpreter from medical to patient speak!
When I set out over a decade ago I remember seeing the stats about the survival of start ups. One in three goes in the first two years and there's a 1 in 2 chance that a start up will not survive beyond 5 years (and that's without the credit crunch) so forgive me if I give myself just a small pat on the back for getting to 13.
And thank you, thank you to all my lovely contacts for the referrals and to all my lovely clients who have supported me along the way. Here's to the next 13 years!