Thursday, 17 December 2009

10 Things I Know for 2010

So as we approach the end of the year, the web is full of predictions & tips for the New Year. Me? What I’m offering up below is not full of jaw-dropping revelations. Just a simple Top 10 List of Things I’ve learnt in running my own business and working with businesses in the last 12 months. And these themes will continue to inform how I work with clients in 2010. Whether you are a small business owner, a department head, a solo-entrepreneur, whoever - I hope it resonates.

1. GO FOR IT. Forget over-planning, focus instead on actually delivering your projects, websites and products. Over-analysis can paralyse your business so don’t spend months deciding on your new brand name, or days and days plotting financial projections before launching a venture, often it’s more important to just go for it.

2. HARNESS DIGITAL TOOLS. “Digital tools”, “social media”, I don’t care what you call it but you have to be on top of the tools that work for your sector, for your message, for your audience. They’re pretty much free and they can be harnessed for enormous value. Don’t just use them to pimp your products, use them to build relationship with the marketplace, to listen and engage with people. I’ve made such a great bunch of contacts via Twitter this year, it’s a great way of expanding your network.

3. POINT OF DIFFERENCE. I make no apologies for banging on about this for the last 12 months; this is what marketing is all about. How is your product, brand, idea, offering different from the rest? Then tell the world about your difference.

4. KEEPING PACE WITH CHANGE. So you, your team, your business, your product has changed over the last 12 months. Question: has your marketing, your language of communication and your sales messages kept pace? If not, update them.

5. COMPETE ON SERVICE. Okay so hardly a new one, but it *still* counts. Are your beating the competition on service, on intimacy, on attention to detail? Because that’s where you can win. We like dealing with people who are nice guys and treat us well. That simple.

6. WHAT ARE YOU ACTUALLY SELLING? I still see so many businesses put the emphasis on selling what they make rather than sell the benefits of what they make. Missed opportunity. Sell what your products and services can do for your customer - sell the applications, not the software.

7. COLLABORATE. A personal goal for me for 2010. We have to recognise that however ambitious and talented we are, we often need other people to help achieve our goals. Find partner companies, new teams, like-minded souls to inject fresh passion and talent in to your projects to achieve game-changing results.

8. GROW DIFFERENT. Business growth doesn’t *have* to be about adding more stores, adding more staff, growing bricks and mortar premises, getting a bigger warehouse. There are smarter routes to business growth. Building intellectual property, building brand equity, growing it online. Keeping the operation small, but building your niche, offering more add-ons, charging clients more (and this route can be lower risk too).

9. FACE TO FACE. Communicate externally with clients and internally with your staff/ teams. Don’t let human relationships deteriorate. For the business that’s got “too busy” to talk to its staff, sit down and have that weekly 08.30 meeting; for the company that let clients lapse, come up with some initiatives to keep in touch. And don’t keep relationships virtual; invest the time and train/rail miles to sit down with clients and teams face to face (Twitter just ‘aint the same).

10. BE REACTIONARY. If you suddenly spot an opportunity, be flexible enough to react to it. If your business model is broken, fix it. If your marketing sucks, change it. If your offering is tired, reinvent it. Be open minded about opportunities, don’t get entrenched in rigid plans. Don’t run away from change, embrace it like crazy.

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