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Improve five areas of your business

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Good businesses targeted to become great businesses have to be subjected to continuous questioning, in particular, are we best practice?

It should be the filter you put all parts of your business through, but I reckon there are five big areas where you have to keep taking it to the limit.

1. Your unique value proposition (UVP)

Your UVP is something that sets you apart. It makes you a purple cow standing out among boring brown cows.

Experts on the subject say the mistake most companies make is they look inward for their UVP instead of outward.

A UVP should be based on what your clients value and that’s why you have to research your existing customers and the customers you haven’t got – it’s always wise to presume nothing.

Business speaker and marketing expert Martin Grunstein has a bottom line lesson that says your advertising has to start with: ‘Why should I buy from you?’

Your UVP should be small enough to fit onto a napkin or be delivered to a stranger in a lift who might ask you that very question – the famous elevator pitch.

Here are some questions to start making a great UVP:

  • Does it solve customers’ needs?
  • Do you really know your customers?
  • Do you know your rivals’ offerings?
  • Have you one sentence why customers should buy from you?
  • Is it unique?
  • Is it simple to get?
  • Does it say what you do and what you are?

2. Your marketing

Marketing 101 should be the thickest book of all time, but I believe the fundamental force in your marketing is your UVP. Targeting it to your best audience is critical.

Also, make sure you’re easy to buy from as this can frustrate a partially successful marketing campaign.

Marketing-wise, it pays to think strategically about your customers and outside the square. Know what you’re selling. Charles Revson, the founder of Revlon taught me a lot about marketing when he said: “In our factories we make cosmetics; in our stores we sell hope.”

Inextricably linked to this kind of thought process is thinking outside the square, or Edward de Bono’s lateral thinking. This is at the core of great innovative products and marketing campaigns.

Try different forms of advertising – direct, radio, newspapers, etc. – and even public relations to find out what best works for your business. Ask your customers to refer you to friends and family if they think you have given great service.

Remember to market for the long-term. Regular contact is a superb way to be remembered over time.

3. Your people

The meeting with people in your business is an important glue that holds a great operation together.

John D Rockefeller used to lunch with his directors every day! Business analysts argue that great businesses have a rhythm of well-placed meetings to ensure good two-way feedback, monitoring of measurable goals and to keep the vibe positive.

The great book The One Minute Manager sums it up neatly: ‘People who feel good about themselves produce great results.’

The simple rule for managing people is to give them goals, appropriate praise and timely reprimands where you criticize actions, but not people. Encourage them to think of themselves working for themselves, but in your business. It gives them a self-employed work ethic and interest in self-improvement. 

4. Your business

The best explanation of how to simply run a business came from Verne Harnish who wrote the book Mastering The Rockefeller Habits. He advised it should be like raising kids:

  • Have a handful of rules
  • Repeat them all of the time
  • Be consistent.

I’d also throw in have a big commitment to creating a happy workplace if only for productivity reasons.

Also have a commitment to setting goals and link them to data so you can measure how your business is going. I love that old line: ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.’

Also, work on your leadership. Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, thinks leaders have to be fair, they must face the truth, be positive and be a good calculator of risk. Most of the great CEOs I have talked to think having a vision and sharing it with their teams were critical for full engagement. 

5. Working on you

Do a SWOT on yourself – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Do it like you are a consultant objectively looking at you. Outline the weaknesses in particular and seek help – books, coaches, mentors, associations, etc.

Work out how you can play to your strengths. List the opportunities (they’re often right in front of you) and research to find more and list the threats to prepare for battle against them.

Seek expertise and drive yourself through inspiration. Look for great one-liners that will help you through hard, negative times.

I love this quote by author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn: ‘Don’t wish it was easier; wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems; wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges; wish for more wisdom.’

And finally don’t let tightwad ways prevent you from improving and getting expert help. Many outlays are wrongfully seen as a cost, when they should be seen as investments in future profits and success.

If you’re looking to work on your business rather than being stuck in it, book in for a complimentary business assessment today with Switzer Business Coaching

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

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Published on: Wednesday, August 03, 2011

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