When somebody tells me they are starting a business, I have a bunch of reactions at the same time.
It’s usually a mixture of excitement and concern. I love the enthusiasm people have when they are beginning a business adventure. I get a little anxious knowing some of the challenges they will face and that their base probability of success is not high.
There is no exact formula to being successful or even repeating successful strategies. Whenever you start a new company, it is a little like starting a new game. You only get to bring what you learnt so far and you should be getting better the more you do it.
There are some things you can do or learn anytime from any starting point that will give you advantages in this game. I will be exploring that idea in this blog.
The game looks like this:
- Find a problem worth solving.
- Produce a unique and profitable solution and supply it effectively.
There are many ways to prepare for this game and, especially if you have limited resources, this is a good start.
- Learn sales.
- Learn to negotiate.
- Model, plan and execute.
Sales teaches you how to build a business inside another business, which is a very useful skill.
If you have never sold before or had limited bad experiences, give up that you know what good selling is and be prepared to learn from the ground up.
Get some good coaching, learn the basics and become a master of pipeline development. Get an understanding that marketing generates leads that become customers with good selling.
Don’t try to teach yourself sales; your preconceptions and opinions will get in your way.
Get a sales job if you can and learn how it relates to the rest of the business. It can be part time or full time and can be selling anything.
Learn that selling has nothing to do with convincing everyone you meet to buy anything.
Discover that it has more to do with finding and collecting customers who have problems you can solve. If you are fair, reliable and hardworking, you will be good at this and it will be something worth experiencing.
Learn how to negotiate. I listen to a lot of people complaining about a deal or arrangement they are in. When I ask them what they would rather have, they aren’t usually that clear.
If you don’t think you are getting what you are worth, consider that you never asked for anything specific and therefore should be grateful for whatever you got.
Learn to explain to people what is ideal for you. It doesn’t mean that is your final position.
Sometimes when people request something from me and tell me how it would be ideal for them if it were done a certain way or for a set price, I think, yeah, that’s fair enough. Sometimes I think, how about this instead? It is always great when both parties are clear what looks good to each other.
Neither party should walk away from any negotiation having left something on the table.
Compromise is fine; being bitter about something you didn’t mention doesn’t help anyone.
Speak up. People can accept or reject your offer. Nobody is ever going to give an ideal outcome unless you ask for it.
If you have a story you like to tell everyone that you are an introvert, or shy, or a conflict avoider, or something that forces you not to present your view, then stop doing that. Your future company is relying on you speaking on its behalf.
Get used to being in uncomfortable conversations because they can be the most interesting of all.
Notice yourself when you are reacting to words being spoken by people and just be with it. Tune in to what they are saying and interrupt if you missed something or want clarity. It is fun being exactly on the same page.
Model, plan and execute as a mode of operation. In that order. On everything you want to develop.
I always ask people to send me their current business plan. I tell them not to prepare anything, just send me what they are working to right now. Mostly what I get is insufficient. Often it is nothing or just a set of accounts, or a slide deck, which is useful but not enough.
When I committed to coach ten thousand entrepreneurs I took on a responsibility to ensure I was heard when I said something important and that I was listened to as an expert.
The things I discussed above are not things I think are just a good idea. I reckon they are fundamental to increasing your probability of success. If you aren’t getting the results you expected, try some of this. It works.
About this picture
Circa March 2016
Back seat of a London bus with my cuz. I was born in the UK and this was my first time back since my parents immigrated to Australia in the seventies. One of my goals when I went to the UK was to spend a couple of days with each of my cousins and have some fun.
We had a great time.