Category Archives: Sales Basics

Are you leaving employment to start a business?

The Solo Success Start-Up Guide It’s something that quite a few people are doing at the moment.

However, if you’re leaving employment to start a business,  you face an immediate challenge.

What should you be doing each day if your business is going to succeed?

There’s no shortage of tasks you could focus on, but the question is:

Which are the right tasks?

Managing Your First Month In Business

It’s early days but when you’ve left employment and you’re still getting used to being in business you will struggle with your scheduling.  That’s a shame because there are make-or-break activities that need working on.

  • You need to think about who you serve and how you serve them.
  • You need to think carefully about who you’re going to do business with and how you’re going to get your first piece of business.
  • You need to think about how you’re going to promote your business so that it will grow.
  • You need to think about how – exactly – you’re going to make sales.

That’s as well as doing all the things that land on your plate every day.

How will you decide what to work on and what to put to one side?

Starting A Business The Smart Way

You need a plan and a timetable that will make sure you don’t neglect what really matters in your business.

You can find a list of vital 21 activities to complete in your first month in business by clicking on the link below.

Leaving Employment To Start A Business

You’ll also find guidance on how to help yourself to get the right things done.

The advice is taken from The Solo Success Start-Up Guide by Margaret Adams.

 

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Filed under Business Building, Sales Basics, Starting A Consulting Business

Practical tips for when you start your business

I’ve been adding to my list of 100 tips for people who are starting a consulting business.

One of the things that is really important is to decide on your legal status.  I wrote a post about this.

Decide what your legal status is going to be.

Should you set up a company, work as a sole trader and so on?

I then moved on to think about the business name you choose.   I set out options.

Choose the right name for your business.

The post on the choice of name has proven to be popular.

Then I moved on to writing about a virtual business card.  I have one and I find it very helpful.

Here’s  a view of my virtual business card.

Margaret Adams - virtual business card

Create a virtual business card.

The text on the right of the card says:

Our websites . . .

Our site for consultants and organisations delivering professional services is:
http://www.margaretadams.co.uk

Our site for public sector organisations is:
http://www.attractmorebusiness.co.uk

And …
Follow me on Twitter at:
http://twitter.com/BMargaretAdams

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Filed under Good Business, Sales Basics

It’s in the news.

When did you last write a press release?

If you’ve written them for other people, they don’t count.

When did you last write a press release for yourself, and about yourself?

It’s worth spending time thinking about what is newsworthy about what you do. It’s also worth thinking about who might be interested in reading about you.

You’ll find this task easier, if you think of yourself as something other than a writer.

  • As well as being a writer, are you a female entrepreneur?
  • As well as being a writer, are you a survivor of a serious illness?
  • As well as being a writer, are you the only person to ……? (You fill in the gap.)

Think about what you do. Think about what could appear in the local paper about you. Think about what local people like to read about.

Bring all of these things together in an interesting way. Create a story about yourself.

It’s not an easy task, especially if you don’t see yourself as being famous or interesting. However, part of the process of promoting yourself, and your business, is building a public persona and to do that you will need to be reported on in the media.

So, now is the time to start to build a list of media contacts. Now is the time to start to think of yourself as somebody who will be in the news soon.

Now is the time to write that press release.

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Think about what you deliver

The previous post reminds you that it’s a good idea to stop defining yourself in terms of your skill-sets.

Forget that label. The terms teacher, writer, consultant, coach and so on must go.

Think instead about what potential and actual customers want and the benefits you deliver.

I get more work as a consultant because my clients know that when I produce reports that are going to go out of the door with their branding on them, they don’t need to hire a sub-editor to correct and rework my text.

They also like the way I lay things out on the page.

Or rather, they also know I can follow instructions – style guides and the like, so they won’t need to edit my work.

That’s what they want – an easy life.

Do I get more writing work as a result? No, I don’t.
Do I get more consultancy work that is partially writing work? Of course, I do.

Many of my customers wouldn’t know how to work with a writer. They wouldn’t know how to set up fee schedules. Therefore, they wouldn’t want to work with me, if I defined myself as a writer.

The great thing about avoiding defining yourself in terms of what you do, is that you can define your fees in terms of the value you deliver, to your customer.

I have never sold copywriting services, editing services, design services and the like, but I have charged for all of these things under headings which customer are more comfortable with.

It’s still the same work.
It just makes more sense to the customer to define it in ways that are recognisable and valuable to them.

Therefore, think what you deliver to the customer, how the customer defines what you deliver, and stop thinking about what you actually do.

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Think about the buyer

In the last post I wrote about becoming more market-focused and thinking about the supply chain leading your book to the reader.

This time consider a different ending place for this journey.

Think about the buyer. Think also that the person buying your book might not be someone who will read it.

People buy books for other people as well as for themselves. They give people presents. They give books away.

So, just like the entrepreneur I’ve been writing about, if you are going to succeed, you need to be able to move away from saying how great your work is and how much someone will enjoy reading what you have written to thinking about what you – or your publisher – could say to encourage people who will never read your work to buy it.

For a start, you can forget all that stuff about the story, the action and the characters, or if it’s a non-fiction book how good the advice in it is, or how informative the chapters are.

Every one says this about their work.

Every one’s work is good, just as every new product is the best, the most useful, the highest quality . . . and so on.

You need to find ways of differentiating what you are doing from what other people are doing, if you are going to succeed with that buyer looking for a birthday present or a present for someone with time on his or her hands.

What will make someone buy your book as a present for someone else?

It’s an interesting challenge. Think about:

  • What makes your book different?
  • What makes your book relevant to the proposed recipient of the present?
  • Why should your book be the one chosen as the present?

If you can begin to address these issues, you have gone a long way towards building a sound case ready for when you come to look for someone – be it an agent or a publisher – to become your champion in the publishing world.

Start making that case.

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Think about your supply chain.

Entrepreneurs who are likely to struggle to succeed focus on themselves and on their ideas. Writers who are likely to find selling their novels and their book concepts difficult do the same.

If you want more commercial success from your business as a writer, think about the journey your book will eventually make from yourself to the retail purchaser.

Then think about all different pairs of hands through which your book passes on its way to that purchaser. In other words, think about the supply chain.

What would you want to say to each person in the supply chain to encourage him or her to pay special attention to your work and to promote your work more forcefully than other titles that are around at the moment?

If you want to draw breath and talk about the great story you have written, or to describe the magnificent world you have created, or to talk about the intensity of the romance in your great work, stop and exhale.

You’re talking about features here. Just like the entrepreneur with the great idea you’re looking in the wrong direction.

Think again.

Why will people buy your book?

Think about your knowledge of the market.

Think about the potential purchasers. What do they buy? What do they like? Who are they?

What is the publisher interested in? What do the distributors favour? What appeals to bookshops – big and small – and to the on-line stores?

What would you say to any of these people about their prospects of making money by taking a chance on you?

If you’re stuck, start researching the market in which you are hoping to make a living.

You can’t afford to write novel after novel or send book proposal after book proposal out just because you think it’s good. Do this and you’re likely to find that the key people within the publishing industry don’t agree with you. You could waste years working in this way.

Yet people do just this. That’s why you hear of published writers having several unpublished works hidden on their computers. There are lots of unpublished writers with unpublished works hidden on their computers, too.

Remember you’re looking to be in business.

Remember you’re asking business people to risk money on supporting your aspirations.

Map out the supply chain and think about talking to each person in that chain as a business person. It will be worth the effort, even if you never have the chance to have the conversation with every one. Someone will.

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Filed under Business Processes, Sales Basics

Don’t set out to fail.

Last time I wrote about Paul – or Paula – and made a link between an entrepreneur who goes about building a business in ways that are unlikely to work and writers who adopt a similar approach.

It’s a big mistake to go forward with a business idea, just because you think it’s great. We’ve already dealt with the need to accept the differences between writing for yourself and writing for a world that will pay. Click here to read the post.

It’s also important to know what the market is buying. Whether you have a business idea, an idea for a novel, or an idea for a non-fiction book, you need to do your research about the current market. You also need to get in touch with real purchasers and find out what they are buying and why they are buying. In other words, you need to get close to your customer.

Finally, you need to remember that you don’t sell great ideas. You sell benefits to people. You sell solutions to their problems. You sell products and services which add value to your customers. Your idea is only great as far as anyone else is concerned when it does something to help them.

I’m going to deal with issues arising from these points in more detail over the next couple of weeks.

I’ll be doing this from the perspective of writers looking to be more commercially successful.

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