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Love is all you need!

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I have a sole goal, and that’s to be the lateral thinker for you.

The articles I write and the tips I give emanate from my own experience as a business owner and an employer and from my regular access to outrageously successful business people.

I used to be a teacher both at schools and universities and my unbridled desire is to pass on key messages that should give you an edge in business.

My tips and style of writing are also a product of knowing that we’re all time poor and unable to immerse ourselves in all of the latest business strategies. The plan here is to help you ramp up your brand, take it to a wider and more ‘useful’ audience and then find time to make it happen.

Love your brand

Here’s one from left field, but it’s so obvious that it should be centre field, right in front of us. We’re all being told that what we have to do to make a success of our businesses is to build a brand. It has been good advice, but one of the world’s foremost gurus on advertising is recommending we opt for ‘love’ as a key tool to build our businesses.

What’s love got to do with it?

Kevin Roberts, author of Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands, tells us that we have to create a brand that makes customers think about their love for your product.

Trade marks are a fantastic starting point in a successful business, but you will need to add a big dose of love to get the best value out of the investment into your brand.

Who do we love?

Roberts points to the passion Mac people show for their Apple Macintosh computers. I guess Aussies feel it when it comes to Qantas and flying overseas.

The Australian Reader’s Digest looks at the most trusted brands every two years and many familiar names included in the top ten for 2006, including Panadol, Colgate and Qantas, with Cadbury taking out top honours.

The trust factor, I suppose is related to love.

Consumers have more access to information and are more cynical of brands that bombard us. Roberts says we have to create love that means our customers will be loyal to us beyond reason.

The best bit is that if you invest in love you can often charge higher prices. If you’re a big giver to your customers, ultimately you can be a big charger. That’s a nice thought.

A love affair

One of the most successful businesses in this country is Paul Caves’ BridgeClimb, which has grown not only out of a great idea but also on an unswerving commitment to search for customer feedback.

Cave says he’s really disappointed when he is not given criticism, though I suspect it is tongue-in-cheek, because he believes he is being robbed of reforms he could make to create an even better business.

Climbing the Harbour Bridge is one of the most sought-after desires for a UK tourist in the entire world! That’s effectively a love affair from afar.

Apart from the appeal of the challenge, Cave’s business has benefited from fantastic word-of-mouth advertising from those who have had a real love experience with the business.

It’s just like love in real life — you are going to have to give ‘a whole lotta love’ to get it back from customers. That’s where big business is vulnerable to small business.

More than just a network

Once you create a loveable brand, it’s time to think about expanding your network. Getting into a network is at the heart of many successful businesses.

When Bart Lommerse, retired company director of Rinstrum, a successful industrial weighing instrumentation company, watched as his two largest customers were bought out, it was a harsh revelation that his business plan of high dependence wasn’t for the long-term. When he launched the company in 1992, he built the business on the basis that if he got one big player on board, he’d be fine.  

Lommerse’ company had won the 2004 Australian Design Award, but the business was too dependent and over-exposed. Lommerse said he was already a member of The Executive Connection, a development and mentoring group for CEOs.

Working with his group of CEOs from a varying range of industries, he developed a three-year plan that brought his electronics company from a then $1m annual turnover to $5m, and offices in Australia, Europe and the United States. “The first thing they taught me was to step back and plan,” he explains.

As in life, in business we are judged by the company we keep. A network not only will give you ideas and better business practices, it opens up your business to suppliers who might be interested in your business and it also showcases your business to potential customers.

Time to get it right

You’ve now got the brand and a network to make it happen, the next challenge is to beat the time problem. With better time management you can actually drive up your wealth and build a much more profitable business.

I recently conducted a seminar made up of heavy hitters in the financial planning and insurance industry. These people had built up big businesses from scratch. Now they were running massive operations and I told them the story of chef Neil Perry.

Perry makes the point that he was wasting his time doing stuff he could do, but not do well. Other activities, which he was suited to, were being neglected or ignored because of a misallocation of time.

The impact was not only to catapult the earnings of his Rockpool business, but it gave him time to develop other businesses such as products that are sold off the shelves of other people’s stores, a catering business, a position with Qantas as its first-class chef and a television show!

At the core of poor grower business stories is a failure to plan effectively. The highly successful are invariably great planners and they realise that their precious resource they had to manage effectively was TIME.

Time tricks

We are all different, but many people have found it useful to a daily time sheet for a few weeks to see how they are using or misusing their time.

Once you see how you are using your time, start to design a time plan that makes much more time for those activities that bring the greatest reward.

I know of some high flyers who actually rule out one full day where they don’t take phone calls, except from their PAs, instead using the time to visit branch offices and to chat with their staff at the coalface.

Others block out times for emails, making calls and holding face-to-face meetings. The overall aim is to get the best use out of their precious time resource.

You don’t have to do it yourself

How come they are so smart? Well, some are smart and have worked all of this out for themselves, but others say a mentor or coach advised them to sort out their time poverty. Let me assure you, they are definitely richer for the innovation.

Published on: Tuesday, July 07, 2009

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