Sustainability – you and your business

Sustainability – you and your business

So you have several great ideas for your business. Without a real plan, but with a lot of enthusiasm you get started on one of them, but then something else comes along, so you run with that for a while, and then things start happening with the original idea you started on, so you go back to that for a bit.

Meanwhile, something else has grabbed your attention, and you realize that your web site doesn’t say anything about any of these new ideas, so that really needs updating, or maybe a new web site entirely….? But then you really need to figure out where that fits in with your business as a whole….? And who your target market is….? And what your key messages are…..?

Then you get up one morning and realize you have no idea what to do next to further any of these projects, and you waste time looking at Facebook and feel exhausted at the prospect of doing anything. Does this sound at all familiar?!

It is usually at this point that I get a phone call or email from a client or prospective client because they need to figure out what to do next and they are, frankly, burnt out.

If you look up ‘sustainable’ in the Thesaurus, it’s associated with all kinds of wonderful words like ‘unending’, ‘worthwhile’ and ‘continual’. For me it means not only that your business model needs to be sustainable, but also, very importantly, that your workload needs to be sustainable too. If you get burnt out because you are overcommitted that is no good for you, your clients, or your business.

Here is my sustainability checklist:

  1. Prioritise – Stop and take some time to figure out what you really want to do with your business, and what your long-term goals are.
  2. Have a SMART plan – once you have set your goals, make sure they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed.
  3. Take time out – as a small business leader you are probably your businesses most precious resource. Make sure you are doing all you can to take care of yourself on a regular basis.

Next time you are feeling overwhelmed, take these small steps and you will find that you are well on the way to creating something sustainable.

If you, or your business, need a sustainability check, click here to book a free 30 minute consultation.

How does fear hold you back?

How does fear hold you back?

“What is the most dangerous thing you have ever done? And why did you do it?”

If you follow my Facebook page you’ll know that one of my absolute heroes is Commander Chris Hadfield, the so-called ‘Singing astronaut’ and sometime Commander of the International Space Station.

In his recent TED talk on fear, this was the opening question he asked the audience. Chris Hadfield should know a thing or two about fear. He went blind while on a space walk to make repairs to the International Space Station, after some of the anti-fog chemicals on the visor on his space suit got in his eyes and made them shut down. Luckily he recovered as soon as he got back inside the space station and took his suit off.

His talk was about how we can change our response to fear, while still taking risks, and this got me thinking about some of the conversations I have with clients. Running a business can be a risky venture, and can make people fearful, about what would happen if things went wrong.

Unfortunately fear, can motivate us to make all kinds of bad decisions, and keeps our thinking small. Big thinking and vision do not come from fear. Fear and anxiety take us out of the present, in to the future and this is when we spiral in to that negative, worrying kind of thinking; the 2am kind of thinking that no good can come out of.

Next time you feel fearful, anxious or worried about your business, think about Chris Hadfield blinded out in the darkness of space. What kept him calm was remembering the procedures that he had practiced many times before; it was the voices of his colleagues talking him through what to do, and it was the fact that he was clear about why he was doing something so dangerous, and why that was so important, to him and to humanity.

So when things do go wrong, which they will, make sure you have good systems and procedures in place for your business, take wise counsel from those you trust, and remember what motivated you to start a business in the first place, but don’t let fear motivate you.

 

If you have a big vision you would like to turn in to a business, click here to make an appointment for a free 30 minute consultation.

Your business and the six core values

Your business and the six core values

Have you ever thought about what your values are? One of my coaching heroes, Frederic Hudson studied the biographies of several hundred successful people over a twenty-year period, searching for the things in life that gave them meaning, and guided them toward realizing their own greatness.

 

They found that those people who described themselves as successful measured their lives with one or more of the six basic core values, often in combination. They are:

  1. Personal Power – Self-esteem, confidence, identity
  2. Achievement – Proving yourself, reaching goals, being purposeful
  3. Intimacy – Sharing yourself, caring, making relationships work
  4. Play and creativity – Expressing yourself, being imaginative, re-creative
  5. Searching for meaning – Finding wholeness, peace, inner wisdom
  6. Contribution – Giving yourself, improving, helping, reforming, social and environmental caring

 

Checking in with your values from time to time can help you understand what is most important to you in life and therefore in your business too. We all go through transitions in life, and the choice of values we make at this time generates immense energy and sense of purpose, preparing us to evolve and move on successfully to the creation of new visions and plans.

 

If we keep evaluating our priorities, we can be sure that at any time in our lives we are marching to our own drumbeats, empowered by the values we honor at any given time. Not only is this extremely valuable for us as individuals, but it is a vital part of the business planning process.

 

Keep asking yourself:

 

What is my sense of purpose? How will I measure my success? How much is enough? What is my legacy? How am I creative? What learning would deepen my creativity? What do I feel called to do with my life? What contribution do I want to make?

 

If you would like more help identifying your core values and making plans for your business, click here to book a free 30 minute consultation.

The problem with business jargon

The problem with business jargon

When one social group wants to exclude another social group, they often use slang words or jargon. It’s what teenagers do all the time so we have no idea what they are talking to their friends about! It is also what ‘experts’ do so you know that they know their stuff, and they can justify their fees.

 

I have recently been holding a series of workshops for entrepreneurs about how having a business plan can benefit your business. They were really well received but what one of the things that kept coming up was how the language of business, or business jargon, can put off people in small business.

 

I have sometimes noticed a ‘them’ and ‘us’ mentality; ‘us’ being the small business entrepreneurs, and ‘them’ being the big business corporate world. The perception seems to be that the corporate world speaks the language of business and this excludes small businesses, making them feel less business-like or professional.

 

In my work as a business coach exclusively with small businesses I have seen how limiting and disempowering this can be, so I work with clients to de-mystify the language of business. Let’s take back ownership of the business jargon and use it our advantage, after all, it really isn’t rocket science; they just want you to think it is…!

 

Here are the top 5 business terms and what they mean:

 

  1. Target market – the group of people who are most likely to buy your product/service.
  2. Marketing mix – the different activities you undertake to get customers (think advertising, social media etc)
  3. USP – Unique Selling Point. The thing that makes you different from your competitors.
  4. Growth potential – how your business is likely to grow. It might be through increasing your product range or offering your services to a yet untapped group.
  5. A) Direct Competitors – those selling the same or similar products/service (i.e., if you are a florist, other florists selling bespoke bouquets)

B) Indirect Competitors – those selling alternative products/services (i.e., if you are a florist then other places selling flowers/ready made bouquets)

If you need some help with business planning and want to find a way through the jargon click here to book a 30 minute free consultation.

 

Social Media and The Marketing Mix

Twitter, Facebook, Linked in photograph on Marisa Guthrie's Business Coaching Sussex website by 100Designs

One of the questions I seemed to get asked a lot by all my clients irrespective of what they do is “Do I need a Facebook page?” or “Should I set up a Twitter/Instagram/Pintrest account?”

Social Media Icons

Social media has indeed become a baffling minefield.  Many people in small business feel it is something they should be doing, something they should know about but are either just not that interested in, or are even intimidated by and frankly just don’t know where to start.

Before thinking about what you should know/do, you need to ask yourself some important questions about your business and your target audience. This will inform your ‘marketing mix’; put simply, the activities you undertake in order to get customers. Social media is only going to help you get business if the people you are selling to actually use social media in the first place. 

Before you decide what social media to use for your business, or whether you should bother at all, take these 3 simple steps:

  1. You need to know, if you don’t already, how customers and potential customers hear about you. It is good business practice to ask this of everyone who contacts you.
  2. Once you know that, ask them what social media they use, and what kinds of businesses they follow.
  3. Remember that good social media should enhance your customer’s experience of using your business, not just be another selling platform; think carefully about what posts would be of interest to the types of people who are interested in your product or service. 

Top Tip: Always post an image with copy, never just copy on its own.

Use it well, and social media can become a vital part of your marketing mix, not something you are doing for the sake of it.

If you need some help with the marketing mix and social media, click here to book a free 30 minute consultation.

 

A bargain at twice the price?

Fruit and veg in silver bowls on Business Coaching Sussex website by 100Designs

For something that at first glance seems to straightforward, pricing can be unbelievably tricky. You want your price to reflect the quality of your service or product, because if it is too low, people might assume you are not that good, but if it is too high you won’t attract customers and they will go elsewhere, but if it is too low and you do get customers then you won’t make a profit, but if it is too high, you won’t get any customers anyway… and so on and so forth. 

Phew, it’s a minefield! Getting pricing right is crucial to your business model, but it needn’t be that hard.

Let’s start with the basics: 

Check out the competition

1. First of all you do need to look at what you competition is charging and exactly what their customers are getting for their money. Find out what their USP, or Unique Selling Point, is, or in other words, the added value that customers get from buying their product or service. Compare it with yours. [N.B. If you haven’t worked out what your USP is yet, you might need to go back to your business plan – you do have a business plan don’t you…? Ok well that’s a whole other blog!] 

How much do your customers want to pay?

2. Find out as much as you can about your potential/existing customers and what they are willing to pay for a service like yours. They might be paying a certain amount for a service like yours, but with the added value of X, they might be willing to pay more.  

What are your own costs?

3. Scrutinize your overheads. You need to be sure your price takes in to account each stage of the production/service delivery process. It is very easy to forget that answering phone calls, emails, having meetings and travelling to and from those meetings, costs you time and therefore money. 

Pricing is one of the most important elements of your business so take your time to get it right. You’ll be so glad you did.

If you need some help with pricing and don't know where to start, click here to book a free 30 minute consultation.