Published on 29th Aug 17
As someone who started my business from scratch 12 years ago, I have always understood how difficult it is to run and grow a company, and often how lonely it is too!
Whilst you may be an amazing carpenter or buyer for a retail boutique, it is different having to run a company whilst still having to think of everything that goes with it; branding, marketing, process, procedure, customer care, staffing and very importantly: cash flow and profit!
Over the first few years I made every mistake in the book, and wasted lots of time and money, due to the fact that I didn’t have all the skills to do the role. Thankfully I was always keen to ask for help and I have taken so much great advice from many local experts who specialise in the various sides of running a business. I have learnt so much during the journey, and continue to keep learning every day. As we strive to find new ways to help small businesses out there, this month we are proud to be launching our brand new initiative – Business Buddies – which is designed to help small to medium businesses run their companies and make more profit!
From now on you can expect this double page spread in each edition, packed full of helpful tips and articles that we believe could improve the way you manage your business.
Furthermore, we shall also be launching a monthly ‘Business Buddies Free Support Networking Event’, first one to start in October!
This is where business owners can get together over a drink, with the aim of sharing best practice and making good contacts within a relaxed and informal surrounding – the pub! Whether you are a local business owner, or just starting out – you are very welcome to come along. Details will be on our website, blog, and Facebook pages, or you can contact me direct for details: firstname.lastname@example.org
To get your quick fix of insider knowledge for this month, read on below…
Many small business owners are quick to dismiss branding as it is commonly thought of as something that only matters for larger businesses. This however is false. Branding is a marvellous tool which completely forms how people view your company, allowing you to be in almost complete control of the way you are perceived by the general population. Below are our tips on how to successfully brand your small to medium-sized business, and why they are important...
Firstly, you need to know your audience. You need to evaluate exactly who your target market is and what they care about, as well as their needs, motivators, likes, dislikes and habits.
Secondly, you should consider exactly what is driving your brand. What is your central belief system? What do you do that makes you better than your competitors? Once you have answered these questions, you can begin to create a sense of brand identity across your company communications.
Visually, you should use one logo across everything, one colour scheme, and a select few typefaces for various functions. If your brand has other visual elements, you should also try to keep these similar (such as flyers, catalogues, photography).
The most important things when it comes to branding are, ironically, not visual aspects. The most important things for a small business in terms of branding are as follows: brand position, brand voice, and brand DNA.
Brand position: This is the act of setting yourself in a certain place in your customer’s/audience’s minds. When done right, your brand shows itself to have a unique and sustainable position in the mind of said customers, meaning they are more likely to think about your company for future needs. Strategies for doing this include pricing, aesthetic, quality and ethics. This is why you need to know your target market… so you can work out what they want your company to be, and be just that.
Brand voice: This is simply how you communicate with your market. The personality of a company can be largely determined by the words it uses, the type it uses and the sentences it uses. Make sure your brand voice matches your purpose/audience etc., as otherwise you may send confusing messages.
When the above aspects, and everything else involving your company matches up, you have a STRONG brand DNA. This allows consumers to truly engage with the brand and therefore gives you a better opportunity to reach your goals in the future.
Discipline, willpower, self-control – Whatever you call it, it is the foundation upon which all success is built. Lack of discipline inevitably leads to failure. So, how do you become better self-disciplined? Here are my 5 top tips…
1. Pace Yourself – Sometimes we have so much to do, we feel overwhelmed. For example, look at your business plan for the entire year. If it looks like an impossible undertaking, you might be tempted to give it a half-hearted effort.
2. Organize – When lacking willpower, any minor setback will completely derail your efforts. So plan your day and then you won’t waste time or become discouraged.
3. Be Flexible – Continually re-evaluate your list of tasks and do them because they are the right things to do, not because you might feel like a failure if you don’t complete a task on your list.
4. Take Responsibility – As you work toward your goals, be mindful of your effect on others. Take responsibility for your actions and, if necessary, apologize or change your behaviour.
5. Reward Yourself – Being self-disciplined is hard. You deserve credit for doing things you don’t want to do, or don’t feel like doing right now. Give yourself praise and a reward when you accomplish tasks. Don’t wait for others to notice, go ahead and pat yourself on the back. You deserve it!
Ian Dickson – International Speaker & Multi-Award-Winning Business Coach.
The Directory Group covers the following areas within Hampshire and West Sussex: Petersfield, Clanfield, Hayling Island, Cowplain, Waterlooville, Denmead, Purbrook, Widley, Farlington, Cosham, Drayton, Havant, Rowlands Castle, Emsworth, Southbourne, Westbourne, Bosham, Portsmouth, Alton, Alresford, Bentley, Four Marks and Meon Valley