Over the past few years the UK economy has ‘forced’ many people to become reluctant entrepreneurs, through redundancy and lack of PAYE options. Well this blog is to sing praise to those people. I spend a lot of time encouraging and talking to small business owners advising them on matters such as social media marketing and sales skills.
I do appreciate that there are a small minority of people that never wanted to be self-employed and have hated every minute of the experience. I hope for their sanity that they have now found paid employment as the economy continues to improve.
For some people however, redundancy has simply been the best thing that ever happened to them. The old saying is “Necessity is the ‘mother’ of invention”, well in my experience (and indeed my own experience) some fantastic businesses have been born through necessity. I can also categorically say that not one business has been born through ‘apathy’!
I am simply fascinated by the myriad of business diversity in the ‘small sector’ and also the sheer size of it. According to the Federation of Small Business (FSB) 99.3% of ALL businesses in the UK are SMALL (employing 1-49 people) but they account for 47.9% of UK employment and contribute 36.6% of UK business turnover!
0.6% of businesses are classed as ‘MEDIUM’ (employing 50-249 people) and they are responsible for 11.5% employment and 13.6% of UK turnover.
According to the FSB only 0.1% of UK businesses are ‘LARGE’ which means they employ over 250 staff. Despite the tiny number (in comparison to small businesses) these business produce roughly 50% of UK turnover!
It is a slight digression but a big ‘hate’ of mine, that despite the above numbers, schools and universities put such value on a corporate career.
Anyway back to my entrepreneurs! When I speak to them, many have tales of woe and stories of long standing jobs snatched away from them at a very short notice. Rather than crumble and accept their place on the scrap heap prematurely, they decided to fight. They stuck two proverbial fingers up at the corporate or public sector treadmill to go it alone. These are the brave pioneers of small business and I love them!
Don’t get me wrong, being self-employed is not for everyone and many that start don’t even last a year! Here are four key questions to see if you should start a business:
What you don’t know can’t HELP you, so also attend seminars and training courses to learn new skills. The time and money invested will reap rewards.
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Ask buyers what their main decision-making criteria are and you’re bound to get a plethora of answers that revolve around the company’s goals, the saving of money, the reduction of risk, the efficiencies of running the business, and a host of others. Their main concern is how you can help their business succeed and gain credence in the marketplace.
Some of their decisions may revolve around their own needs but these are often overridden by the needs of the organisation or their department.
When selling to an entrepreneur, however, their needs may well be different to a larger organisation, so how do you structure the sale so that you appeal to this particular type of buyer? How do you make your company stand out against the crowded market?
Firstly, remember that their needs and desires are, and will always be, more personal that the large organisation. They may prefer flexibility and adaptability in their approach. They may feel they can be and, indeed, have to be, unique in their approach. They may feel they have to offer personalised service to their own clients.
With this in mind, you should approach the entrepreneur on the basis that you are best suited to cope with their unique demands. You could say something like:
“We pride ourselves on responsible, accountable, flexible and thorough. We follow through on everything and cover all eventualities, so you can leave all those little details to us.”
What you’re effectively saying here is mirroring how he or she would like to be viewed by their clients, and you’re hitting the hot buttons that drive decision-making in the entrepreneur’s mind.
Two of the main driving forces that support entrepreneurial thought processes are personal independence and products or services that reflect their unique situation. They want to do business with suppliers who consider them important enough to warrant flexible and special treatment.
Entrepreneurs believe that they are different from all other companies and want to be treated that way, so aim to be the kind of supplier that can show flexibility and responsiveness that will set you apart. Of course, you probably don’t have to be that different from the service you offer your other clients…you just have to be perceived as doing so.
This sense of uniqueness that the entrepreneur feels should help you to position yourself as their company of choice. They often complain about their lack of resources and if you can discuss how your company back-up services can assist them in dealing with this perceived lack, then they will see you as an additional asset to their portfolio of offerings.
Many entrepreneurs are time-poor as well, having to deal with a lot of business issues that they wish could be taken care of by someone else. If you can take the pressure off them and show how you can assist in these areas too, they will determine the extra value you can offer them. Show them how you can enable their sense of independence in the market-place, and you open up the door to more reasons why they should choose you as one of their key suppliers.
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Develop your Entrepreneurial Skills – that’s a key activity that you need to develop if you’re going to sell more product or service to the sophisticated and sales savvy buyer of today.
When I say that you need to improve entrepreneurial skills, I mean that you need to start viewing your planning, your prospecting, your sales process, in fact everything you do you need to run it as though you are running your own business.
Any decent business has systems in place, they have a vision and a plan, the have a research and department, they constantly learn, they innovate and so on.
The most successful businesses have flair and are unique.
So, in your entrepreneurial efforts I would recommend that you start to read all about entrepreneurs and what they do and what their mindset is. Apply what they do to the way that you sell.
Here are 5 top tips to improve your entrepreneurial skills:
1. Have a personal vision and a mission – what do you want to achieve in your role?
2. What sets you apart from the other sales people who are trying to eat your lunch?
3. Innovate – entrepreneurs make up the rules. How can you become more innovative in all all that you do?
4. Systems – set up systems to get the best out of your time and efforts
5. Positioning – position yourself as an expert rather than as a sales person – what can you do to become a trusted advisor?
So, improve your entrepreneurial skills and watch your sales soar!
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