Networking is what separates today’s businesses from previous century’s businesses. It has become an integral part of every new business venture. The effectiveness of an entrepreneur’s strategy to develop his business depends largely on his ability to establish new relationships with other businessmen and entrepreneurs. It is a continuous process. Almost every new business startup today focuses on creating business links to gain competitive advantage. Let us try to understand more about the key factors which make business networking the cornerstone of every entrepreneur’s success.
Business Networking – A Habit! Successful entrepreneurs realize the fact that business networking is a habit. It is an important part of every entrepreneur’s journey. It is portrayed in the way an entrepreneur presents himself to others, creates a sense of trust and a bond of likeness towards his personality. Often this happens in a very short period of time. Ever wondered how every time you meet successful businessperson, they leave a positive impression on your mind? This type of magnetism is a consequence of developing consistent positive habits. It requires improvement of networking techniques and strategies through regular learning and practice. As with all important skills of life, networking requires continuous conscious effort.
Networking Opportunities- Every new contact in business is a valuable opportunity. However, time spent in establishing relationships with clients largely determines the effectiveness of networking. Treating every new contact as an opportunity produces fruitful long-term results. It is a good practice to treat all individuals as you did when you met them the first time. Overlooking a potential contact just because they have different interests or ideas may not always be the right decision. They may have something valuable or know someone valuable that can transform your business. Don't judge a book by its cover!
Entrepreneurs and New Businesses- Every new business startup requires a huge investment of time, money and energy. However, that investment is in vain when you fail to find new business or clients. Entrepreneurs who persistently develop their business networking skills have a high likelihood of attracting new businesses. This keeps the business cycle moving. However, it all starts with connecting different people into a business web that functions in a synergistic way.
Netweaving- Netweaving is a new twist to networking. It is a rather simple concept focused on more effectively developing reciprocal business relationships that has far-reaching potential. Netweaving involves you doing more than just meeting people. Netweaving is going into a party or an event and meeting people in order to learn about their personal and business needs. Why? Easy. So that you can figure out what you can do to help them. Providing a person with help or with contacts that can help them advance their position helps them to create a positive impression and memory of you. Now in the instance that you may need to connect with that person further, it will be much easier. Now you have more than a new business card to add to your collection; you have a new relationship. the best part about this concept is that when you help others, good things seem to happen to you.
Netweaving may be more comfortable to others than networking. It is more casual and informal and reduces the pressure that some feel in "working the room". Major developments in technology and social media have redefined business networking. It is easier today to speak with people across the world and establish relationships with individuals all over the world. You can exchange ideas and interests without meeting each other in person. This has resulted in a dynamic change in business networking. You would be surprised by the relationships that you can build with a simple hashtag or retweet!
Whether you network or netweave, you must become a charismatic entrepreneur that works persistently on forming new contacts. Successful entrepreneurs understand the value of connection and pooling resources. I challenge you to network or netweave for at least 2 weeks in order to see what a difference it can make in your perspective. Who knows... you may make a new friend! :)
Procrastinate. Abuse valuable time.We all do it. Yes, I am raising my hand too! When it comes to productivity and your business be sure that you are being productive all day as opposed to just BUSY. Yes, there is a difference my friends. It is time to get real about how to be productive AND busy!
As an entrepreneur time is your most valuable asset. You can't buy more time, you can't borrow it nor can you create it. However you can RECLAIM in today! I'm optimistic that a few minor adjustments can help you identify the time you may waste and help you to adjust.
Many people keep a food journal to help them monitor what they are eating and how they can change. I really hate when I am forced to see how many unnecessary calories I consume..YIKES! Nonetheless, why not do the same for your time? Keep track of your computer use with RescueTime. It tracks activity time spent on sites, per activity and per program... YIKES again!
Did you know that only 2% of the population can successfully multi-task? Shocking, because I thought all women were pros! Instead of multi tasking a better idea may be to just take one task at a time. Focusing on just one thing at a time will help you be efficient and speedy on that one particular task. Try focusing on one task for 10- 15 minutes and then switch to something else.
Another suggestion is to set mobile alerts. Yep, smart phones alert for more than just emails, Facebook comments and texts! LOL While using mobile alerts for managing your time you will also need to turn off other alerts. Set designated times to return calls, respond to emails, respond to texts and have your phone remind you. Time gets lost when you stop an activity to respond to non- urgent messages. Many take the time to respond as soon as they receive an alert, but it then takes another 10-15 minutes to get back on task after responding. Worried about an emergency? My best guess is that if it is really serious that person will call you!
Another vicious time snatcher is the internet. Sometimes willpower alone is just not enough! If necessary you can get site blocking tools that will let you get your "fix", but will cut you off after an allotted amount of time. Examples of these site blocking software tools include StayFocused, SelfControl and Self Restraint. The names of the software sound like things that should be inately within us, right?! :)
My final suggestion is to "Take 10". At the top of each hour take 10 long, deep breaths and focus on absolutely nothing! Do not think about what you have accomplished throughout the day. Do not think about what needs to be done. Just stop. This will allow you to release a bit of stress and allow you to be more productive. It will also free a bit of space in your brain for more creative entrepreneur ideas.
Commit to doing at least two of these for a few days. Let's treat time as the most precious of all gifts, because it is!
Starting your own company is a little like giving birth to and raising a child. There are unexpected expenses, painful experiences, and seemingly endless hours of work. But when the business is finally up and running, you can look proudly upon the fruit of your efforts and smile.
Do your homework
As with child rearing, it’s always wise to do some research before jumping into business with both feet. Explore your competition. Get to know your target audience or market. Compare pricing with similar goods or services in your area.
Devise a plan
Having a good business idea is not enough. Every solid business is built on a solid plan. Sit down and write your business plan in great detail. If you are unfamiliar with this process, seek out a business plan template on the Internet, or use some reputable business-organizing software like Quickbooks as a guide.
The above steps are likened to the pregnancy stage of childbirth. They constitute the preparation period for the birth of your new business. Use this time wisely. The real fun is about to begin!
Ready, set, launch!
The launch period of your start-up business is both scary and exciting. You’ve done your homework, and now you are ready to push your infant business out into the public eye. This requires a tremendous amount of effort, but your adrenaline will carry you through. As you look back on this time later, it will seem like a magnificent and somewhat horrific blur of marketing campaigns, advertising slogans and office work. This is simply the normal angst of “business birth”.
Hold your business by the hand
Fast forward a few months to the toddler stage of your new business. Things are starting to move along without as much effort on your part. A customer base is building. Supply and demand is kicking in. Your sleep patterns are beginning to normalize. Don’t get complacent! You still need to run alongside this baby business to make sure it doesn’t stumble. Keep a close eye on your profit margin, and be sure to troubleshoot any customer complaints or service failures immediately.
Let the business grow in its own direction
Just as you would allow a child to make choices, be ready to let your business take its own direction. There may be an untapped market that you didn’t see when you wrote your business plan. Perhaps you need to expand your list of services to give the business more income options. Maybe your services are too diverse, making it hard to concentrate effectively on your customers’ needs. The goal is to keep business flowing. Don’t get too hung up on the direction in which it flows.
Maintain good parenting practices over your business
As your business matures, it needs less life support from you and more guidance. Manage from a distance so that your vantage point includes a “big picture” mentality. Allow the business to grow at a steady rate, addressing all of the common growing pains along the way. Delegate as much responsibility as possible to your employees, but always be available as a resource. Your guiding hand is the key to maintaining the company’s mission and core values.
Look back as you move forward
Every once in a while, look back at where you started and marvel at your creation. Smile proudly as you watch your business running strongly alongside the competition, remembering the nurturing and care that you poured into it during the early years. These are joys that cannot compare to corporate participation or big business ownership. This is the sweet success of parenting a small business!
As a new or growing business it is important to ensure you are changing your marketing techniques from time to time. However, if one or multiple marketing techniques are working–Don’t fix it!! Creating an alliance may be something to consider.
A great way to market that many may overlook is to effectively build a business alliance. A business alliance is an agreement between businesses, usually motivated by reducing costs and/or improved customer service. Trust me, there are plenty of small businesses that are also looking for new innovative ideas and would welcome an alliance that would be beneficial! Creating a business alliance does not necessary create a legal partnership. Your businesses can remain independent of each other.
Imagine owning a pediatric clinic which you only practice general medicine, but having an excellent pediatric orthopedic surgeon to whom you can refer your patients with broken bones. You look GREAT to the patient and they will appreciate the referral and hopefully remain loyal to your business. Additionally the other physician benefits and can refer other patients to you. It is a win-win situation. Another scenario, imagine owning a child care center and planning an open house/ festival. The cost associated with that is great. However if you partner with a pediatric dentist to host the event you
1) cut down on costs
2)benefit from the dentist’s invited guests which could possibly need your services
3.) You have created credibility because another company has chosen to affiliate with you.
Creating these partnerships may take a bit of work on your part, but it will definitely be beneficial if done correctly. When creating these alliances it is important to be sure you and the other company share the same expectations. If the expectations are not clear someone may feel cheated or feel as though they have wasted their time. In the instance that happens, people definitely talk and someone can get a bad reputation in the community.
Speaking of reputations… Check your potential alliance’s reputation. It would hurt you more than it would help your company to be looked at as a business that would “partner” with another that generally is not favorable in your community. In the proverbial words of my grandmother, “You cannot jump into bed with everyone! You can get up with fleas!” (smile) Protect your brand as if it were your child. It is hard to build a brand, but relatively easy to destroy one.
Another piece of advice is to ensure the two companies share similar views, cultural similarities, etc. The alliance needs to make sense! You can’t be a minority business forming an alliance with a business that financially supports a minority hate group. Do your research, ask questions and follow that up with even MORE research!
In addition be clear of what you are sharing. This includes materials, costs and other possible reoccurring fees. It may be necessary to put everything in writing in a clear and concise manner to avoid confusion.
It may take some creativity on your part to find a business that is not your competition, but related to your products/ services. Be sure to know your targeted demographics and look for a company seeking and/or maintaining a clientele in that demographic. Further, if you are a new business, seek a more established business.You can create an alliance AND learn from them!
Just be sure to talk it over and make it beneficial for both of you. You will likely have to “sell” your business to them as if they are a consumer! If you aren’t excited about your business, don’t expect them to be excited to work with you!! Once you have mastered creating these alliances it can be very beneficial for both parties involved. This will take you one step closer to being that innovative marketing guru!! Yes, remember you signed up for that role when you decided to be an entrepreneur?
We all make mistakes. That being said, I made many mistakes as a new entrepreneur. The important part is that I did not let my initial mistakes discourage me. I used them all as learning experiences that could not have been taught to me from a text book. The mistakes I made helped me to grow, to change and to become a success. These are definitely my top 4.
1. Hiring the wrong staff: In order to have a successful business you need a successful team! TEAM WORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK! I made the mistake of hiring people based too much on their personality and what I sensed as our ability to get along with one another. Eventually I learned that hiring competent people with amazing assets to contribute to my company was more important that me being able to get along with them. Essentially I need and depend on the person to do a job to help grow the company, not a buddy to play kickball with on weekends! I have enough friends ☺ It sounds heartless I know, but once you become BFFs with your staff some may lose the respect they once had b/c of their new level of comfort. Once that happened to me it became incredibly difficult for me to regain the respect I once had.
2. Having High Expectations: It is possible to find a team member that wants to see your business grow and is willing to go the extra mile. However most of your team members really don’t care about all of the idiosyncrasies of your business and what you have to go through to ensure that you all stay afloat. They really just want their check! I found myself surprised when those that I thought were really devoted to me/my cause were asked to stay late or to do something extra to help and they said no. I had to realize that no one would ever work and sacrifice as much as me for my brand! In addition not everyone has the same work ethic. My, my, my how things changed since I was a young adult trying to stay employed!
3. Getting too comfortable: I had a business that I purchased and pulled out off total financial devastation. I spent day and night changing the image, making adjustments, trying new marketing techniques, etc. and it all worked! In hindsight I should have kept that “financial devastation” mentality the entire time. I should not have gotten comfortable with the increase; I should have constantly pushed for even further increase. In obtaining further increase it can provide a “cushion” in the event there is a change in expenses, someone deserves a raise, maintenance, etc.
4 Failure to Delegate: I decided to enter entrepreneurship in effort to be more available as a mother. I made the mistake of taking on too much instead of delegating responsibilities to those that were paid to do so! I handled everything to the point of detriment! Further, I made myself too accessible to everyone. Instead of calling a manager, my staff called me. Instead of a customer calling the business because of an issue, they emailed or called me. Nowadays I prefer to be like the Wizard of Oz…out of sight and unknown! Because of my old practices I was unable to spend quality time with my children because I was so busy doing things that I did not have to do. In one particular business venture I feel as though I missed at least 12 months of time with my children. I worked too hard outside the home and when I was home I was exhausted! Lesson learned: Work Smarter, not harder!
Why should a customer or client choose you? What sets you a part? What makes you better?
There may not be anything that sets you apart from your competitor. There may not be anything that is better about your business. As a matter of fact your product/service may be exactly the same as the business around the corner. You know this, your staff knows this, your family and friends know this. That does not mean the CONSUMER needs to know this.
One important factor that does set you apart from your competitor is your branding. The way you represent your business, yourself, your product, your services, etc can make ALL the difference in your potential customer choosing your business or services. If you are marketing (which you should be doing even if you cannot afford it on a large scale), make sure the materials that you are presenting to represent your business are giving a great first impression. You only get one chance to make a first impression :) Forget about how sub-par or average you may feel. Your marketing materials need to scream "We are the BEST", "I know what I am doing", "this is a high quality product". Confidence is not only attractive on an individual; it is also attractive on a BRAND! Be sure to write down the best qualities of your business and expound, expound, expound! Get feedback from others on what they feel is your business' best attributes and use their testimony. Remember others want to know why a REAL person choose you.
Lastly, MAKE IT PRETTY!!! High aesthetic quality in your business and marketing material is often the only way to stand out. Many times you are not able to personally meet each individual interested in your business or services. Before they meet you they "meet" your logo, website, your pamphlet, your business card! The consumer formulates an opinion about whether they want to know more based upon the impression after viewing. If done correctly their impression of your business will be quality, high class, sought after business. You create these reactions without words, without shaking a hand, without giving your elevator pitch! Create a consistent sensory experience with a quality website, social media graphics, fonts and more.
Remember your business may be exactly the same as your competitors, but the IMPRESSIONS can be totally different by creating an awesome sensory experience.
by Kate Toon
You send a great proposal, but now the client says your costs are too high. Should you reduce your rates to win the job, or should you stick to your guns and risk losing the project altogether?
Changing your rates on a client-by-client basis can be a dangerous game, so here are few things to think about before you take the plunge.
Times are tough
OK, so it's been a while since you've had a bite. The sales pipeline is looking a little empty, and just this once you feel you could drop your price just to get some money in the bank. Fair enough, but remember that business is a gamble and a full-fee paying client could be just around the corner.
First impressions count
If you quoted $1,000 but the client can pay only $800, then by reducing your rate at the drop of a hat you're basically saying that your first quote was excessive. You've just devalued your business in the eyes of your client. Not good.
Reduction breeds resentment
Feeling forced to drop your rates is not the best way to start a project. You may end up resenting your new reduced-rate client, grumbling every time they call, rushing their work, and prioritizing better-paying clients. If you do decide to reduce your rate, be sure to do it with a genuine smile on your face.
You need to prove yourself
Some clients ask for reduced, or even free, work, so you can "prove yourself." If you're new to the market, it might be worth doing a few reduced-rate jobs to fill your portfolio, but if you're an established business your proof should be visible via your body of work, testimonials about you, and your reputation.
You wouldn't ask a plumber to fix your toilet free of charge to prove he can plumb in your shower. The same goes for asking an established business to jump through hoops and doing a job at a bargain rate.
There is more work to come
Often, clients will dangle the carrot of "more work to come" as an inducement to get the project at a knockdown rate. Unless the work is guaranteed (in writing), don't be fooled. Often, the future work never materializes, and instead the client moves on to the next supplier and uses the same ploy with that supplier.
Start low, stay low
Once you've given clients a discount, it can be hard to ever increase the cost back to your original quote. They've argued you down before, so they'll assume they can do it again. Also, if they got a bargain rate, word could spread and then everyone will be asking for the same low prices.
That said, at times reducing your rate can be a clever business move:
Overall, reducing your rates is a risky strategy; instead, opt for one of the following tactics to make your costs more appealing:
Learn to say no
Often the best policy is to just say "no." After all, your price was based on the time you thought the job would take, your experience, and the going rate for your services in the current market. More often that not, the prospect will respect that and will ultimately agree to your price.
Often, many small businesses fail because they are just too nice; they focus on trying to please the customer more than trying to earn a profit. Just remember: Every time you reduce your rate, you are essentially giving your time away FREE.
So think long and hard about whether you feel the client deserves your charity.
Read more: http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2013/11263/reducing-your-rates-how-low-should-you-go#ixzz38jfh9rPO