Sunday, 22 April 2012

Small businesses say finding clients is the hard bit.

Most small business people offering services I have been talking to recently are very good at what they do. When they have an opportunity to deliver a service then all is well; enthusiasm is there and deliver is easy.

Most tell me their real problem is not doing what they do but finding the clients to apply the service to is the hard bit and very frustrating. One craftsman the other day said " I used to think of myself as a cabinet maker but now I seem to be a salesman more than a wood worker - it is not what I wanted to do".

Quite often a good copy writer, restaurant proprietor, fence builder or bathroom installer is very good at doing what they do -only if they get the work and getting the works is what makes life difficult for them. This problem makes them go out of the comfort zone into areas that previously they were not skilled in like: planning, project managing, marketing, sales and e-commerce.

How does one tackle this problem? Well unfortunately there is no easy answer but one approach is to network and collaborate with others you know - stick with what you do well and let them do the bits you don't have the expertise of. I know seems like this might cost a bit more than doing things yourself- but does it really?

Spending days in front of the laptop struggling with things you don't really understand isn't good for the soul and your time is money. Well, even if you have got loads of spare time on your hands and many small business people do at the moment, leisure seems a much more valuable use of it!

Networking, even quite passively, has benefits, recommendations are much more valuable than a cold lead.

Working in collaboration with like-minded people is psychologically lifting because being a one man band is a lonely business.

Just consider using the skills of others you help them and they help you;  it may just well pay off in the longer term.

Monday, 16 April 2012

SME Business Design & Coaching

I have been applying some business modelling techniques to helping people form their ideas into a businesses recently. A bit of a change from leading business architecture courses with large corporate organisations but in some ways it is more fulfilling when you are able to take someone's personal vision and convert into a plan to business launch.

I think the mix of large and small is good for a variety of reasons: you can distil best practice from the corporate world and convert it for the simpler business and the small business side "keeps your feet" on the ground  making you remember the importance of customers and keeping down the costs avoiding the corporate waste that we see so much in larger organisational cultures. Many of C level executives would do well to run a micro business I think it would change their outlook in so many ways.

It is clear that basic business architecture (business structure) principles work just as well for micro businesses as for major corporations. One man/woman bands sometimes do find it difficult to get the mass of ideas and thoughts distilled onto paper and that is where a business coach with business architecture skills can help. Business coaching need not just be accountancy and marketing advice as there is a both lot of breadth and depth in helping new starts.

This has led on from another exercise last year where on behalf of my local college and job centre lecturing colleagues and I  ran a business model workshop for a small group of people just starting out in business after redundancy and the feed back from that group was also encouraging. I am going to more of this, it was fun and interesting.