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There’s probably nothing cooler in your professional career than starting your own business. It’s a dream a great many people pursue for all their life. The idea is that you get to be your own boss and you basically have nobody to answer to. (Well, almost. There’s always someone you’ll have to answer to, foremost all your customers.)
Nonetheless, now that you’ve established your independence and ditched the corporate world, you’re free to pursue your dreams and do what you love doing the most; running your very own business in the way you – and only you – see fit.
As much fun and joy as you’ll have though, there are some tasks and chores that you can never stop doing, even when the business is your very own. The following are some of the activities that often fall between the cracks at the expense of others, and which can ultimately lead to stagnant or even faltering businesses.
Marketing is a function that is often neglected and only attended to when there’s “time”. But since there’s never enough time at a start-up, there’s hardly ever any substantial marketing that gets done.
This is wrong in so many ways. Whatever you do in life, marketing yourself and your products/ services is always your first priority. Marketing is not only about promotions. It’s more importantly about continuously understanding your market and target audiences through research, designing new products and services that will be needed and wanted, pricing and packaging those so they can actually be sold, and marketing those at the right places through the most effective channels.
To make sure you don’t fall into this common trap, make it a point to set aside a given number of hours per week that you dedicate to marketing activities. Two hours per day is ample of time and should get the job done.
This goes hand-in-hand with marketing. Of course, the more effective the latter is, the less you have to do of the former. But working on developing and building long-lasting business relationships that are profitable is a function you will never able to put aside as an entrepreneur.
Moreover, many limit the concept of “business development” to recruiting new clients. This is not the case at all. What’s even more important than bringing in new clients is “retaining” those. In specific, this refers to your efforts in generating repeat business from people who’ve already made a purchase with you and as such – have a much higher level of trust in your brand and its values.
As is the case with marketing, an average of two hours per day is a reasonable allocation of time. Keep in mind that this includes searching for leads, holding meetings and pitches, writing proposals, and negotiating deals. So it’s not all that much when you consider the load of work that comes with this function.
This is why you got into business to begin with; to provide clients with products and services that are better than what’s available on the market. Yes, you probably have a small team of professionals working with you now, but you always have to make sure all are in line with your vision and produce the kind of work that made you go your own ways to begin with.
Do some reading on the late Steve Jobs for example. As large as Apple grew, Steve always spent an enormous amount of time and effort in working on designing new products and services. There must’ve been hundreds of technical people working at Apple that were much more qualified, but the most successful products Apple ever produced (i.e. iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, etc.) were all creations Steve had an ever-lasting imprint on.
This should take about half of your daily time available. Even if there’s no shortage in resources, you need to stay involved so you keep developing and advancing your very own skills in your area of speciality. Amongst many others, your continuous involvement in this area will also shape the direction of your marketing, business development, strategic thinking, and recruitment needs.
This is a trap many entrepreneurs fall into once things pick up and business starts to boom. They become complacent and think it’s going to stay that way. They stop worrying about the future and think they’ve finally made it.
Again, wrong! Just as you came out of nowhere a few years ago and claimed your stake in the market, someone else will do the same and claim a stake out of your market now. This is why you’ve always got to stay ahead in the game and make sure your brand and products/ services remain in the lead.
The best time to do this is during the early hours in the morning as you exercise. Even if you listen to music at full blast, let your mind wander off into new and unexplored territories and unleash your creative thinking juices. The only thing you need to be worried about is not letting your mind wander off in the wrong direction and start thinking about various administrative problems you may be having at work. This is definitely not the right time and place for those.
Your most important function as an entrepreneur is to be on the constant lookout for people that are smarter and better than you. This is the only way you will be able to build a substantial company; by hiring the right people that can get the job done and then some more.
A very successful CEO once said – when asked about what he perceives as his most important role in the company – that his sole job was to find and hire people that were smarter than him. Think about it; how can your company grow beyond a startup without smart people? And what’s the point in having an army of people that need to be told what to do and how? It might feed the owner’s ego, but certainly not the company’s profits and value.
If you’re spending enough time on marketing and business development, your path will keep crossing with individuals whom you’ll learn to admire and appreciate. This doesn’t mean that you can go and poach people from your clients, but as you meet more and more interesting people, give it some thought about how they’d fit into your team and the value they can contribute. And the beauty of this is that you don’t really need to slice out any time for this. Constant headhunting is a “default” function just as a heart keeps beating without any intervention needed by the brain.
This is a really boring part of running your business, but one that has to be meticulously attended to nonetheless. You are after all the legal guardian of your baby (your business), and such the burden of making sure that all laws, rules, and regulations are observed at all times falls on you.
This includes chores such as filing taxes on time, complying with legal paperwork, obtaining vocational and licenses in a timely fashion, making sure social security payments are made in time, and so forth. And since you’re personally liable and responsible for several of these financial and legal commitments the company has gotten into, you’re really watching out for your very own best interests as well.
All in all though, many of these chores are of an annual nature and won’t take much of your time. Plus, you’ll probably have outsourced most of these functions so all you really have to do is remain alert and monitor what’s being done and by when. But to completely rely on external resources may become a fatal mistake that could potentially cost you a lot of time, frustration, and money.
Pinnacle Business & Marketing Consulting is a results-driven boutique consulting firm that specializes in providing clients with practical and pragmatic solutions to their business and marketing challenges. Website | Facebook | Twitter
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