Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service. I’m continuing with my business questions from Quora. I’m looking at some of the most popular business questions and basically going through them and giving you what my thoughts are.
Recently – or just today in fact – my Mac computer battery died. Everything on my computer, most of it is backed up anyway, but regarding video production, I’m recording this on an iPad at the moment, so if it is a little bit different than normal, that’s the reason. I will give you an update on the tech stuff as and when it happens.
The first question, continuing on where I was before regarding the business questions, is:
What are the things that need to be considered when starting a new business?
I think there are many things that need to be considered but I will go with what most people don’t consider, and that is what makes you different from your competitors. Often it’s the case that if someone decides to, let’s say, set up a local florist, they’re selling flowers just like anyone else is, there’s nothing different about their business. I’ve got a video on the USP, which I will put in the comments if you want to view that. Also, whilst I’m going through these questions, I am at home so if there’s some shrieking in the background then you’ll know why (my kids).
The other thing which people don’t consider is how they’re going to get sales. Now, especially if you are reliant upon the income that your business will generate in the short term, or you are putting money into your new business, it’s imperative that you know where your sales are going to come from and how much that’s going to cost. Some people have budgets when they start up new businesses, but often it’s the case that although they have budgets, they don’t know what it’s going to take to acquire a new client from that media. If your budget is, say, two hundred pounds a month on a particular media and it turns out that you can only get one client based on that budget, then you’re only going to get one client per month and that’s obviously not going to be enough. The two main things I would focus on if you’re clear on being able to provide that product or service is that you are able to get the sales first and then what makes you different second.
What is the best way to promote your small business online?
There is no best way. It’s about performance-wise what’s best for you. An example of that is LinkedIn is a B2B platform, meaning mostly there are business customers to be found on there for other businesses. Now, if your client is a business, then LinkedIn should theoretically be a good platform for you and so that might be the best one for you. But if you don’t have any business customers, if you’re direct to the client – or direct to consumer rather – then LinkedIn probably won’t be the best for you. It is dependent on first of all where your clients are and then what the performance is. And often I’ll answer a performance question, meaning what sort of performance will I get? With the same templated answer every time, which is we would test it, see what works, and do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. So, in marketing you test things. You don’t know in advance what’s going to happen. If I could be able to predict for you – even though I don’t know what business it would be – here’s exactly the platform that you need to be on and that’s all I had to say, then, that’s more like Mystic Meg stuff than it is, you know, testing marketing.
You need to look at your marketing, your initial marketing, as I am testing this platform with a certain amount of budget over a certain amount of time. I’m going to look at the results and if the sample size is high enough, then I’m going to conclude whether I should do more or less on that platform, and that’s how you determine what the best place to market for you is. The other thing to remember is, it should be about improving your marketing over time. Let’s say you were to go on LinkedIn and you tested it over a certain period of time, it’s based on what you are doing on that platform is feedback for you. It doesn’t necessarily mean that LinkedIn won’t work if your advertising doesn’t work. It’s just that the advertising that you tested didn’t work, and so you need to be confident that if you move away from a platform, you need to know that you couldn’t have done any more. I wouldn’t look at it as a short-term thing. If you are going into business and you’re looking for the best possible platform to get clients from, I would look at it as, you need to put some time into it. If you don’t have that time because it’s a new business, then you really need to do some research because if you’re putting money into it that you can’t afford to lose then you need to counter that by knowing a little bit about how your industry or the businesses in your industry perform on particular medias.
How does one become successful in business?
It’s a logical question to ask that. The first thing that springs to mind is the definition of successful. I would imagine the person who asked that question, “successful” means a certain amount of money, either in revenue to the business or in dividends that you’re able to extract from that business as the owner. Now, I don’t recognise that definition. I prefer to think of success as, let’s say, you set your outcome or your goal in mind, so, let’s say my particular goal for my business is to have a thousand employees and the business obviously needs to have a high enough revenue in order to pay those thousand employees.
So, it’s a very long-term goal and that’s what drives me. Now, just because I don’t have a thousand employees right now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m not successful. It means that I have a goal and I’m working towards that goal. And Earl Nightingale said that if you have set your goal and you’re progressively realising it, then that is what makes you successful. And the problem with most people’s activity in business and also in their careers if they’re working towards a career, is that they just don’t set that end goal. I think the example he gave was a ship which sets off for its journey, if you don’t have a destination, then you’re not going to go anywhere, you could end up anywhere. Whereas, if you have a set goal in mind and you’re bringing it back to business and a person with a career, if you’re progressive realising that goal, then you’re successful by that definition. Now, I don’t think that that particular definition is going to be helpful based on what the question was, because in that instance all that person needs to do is set their end goal, have their business, and take more steps towards that end goal and therefore they’d be successful.
I think what that person is asking is, how do I have a business which is, like I say, generating a large turnover or a large profit. And large, based on – I mean the numbers will be subjective, but if we say based on most people’s idea of what a large amount of money is, how you go about achieving that end is – “how does one become successful in business?” In order to achieve a large amount of revenue for a business, you need to be able to get sales. Now, whenever you take on a client in business you do need to be able to fulfil either that purchase or that service. So, when I say you need to get a large amount of sales, it is assumed that you are able to service that need or send out that product.
Theoretically, if you’re able to generate a large amount of sales and then deliver on what it is that you’re selling, then that is the thing which would make you successful in business. I said this in the last video and I will reiterate it here because I think it’s important. Most people think about the product. Most people spend time thinking about the service and how it can be better. Most people think about how it’s going to be managed. Lots of different things within business. Most people don’t focus on how they’re going to generate that revenue or those sales, or if they do there’s not enough emphasis on that.
And if you are able to generate a large amount of revenue then that’s the thing, I think, which makes the difference between successful businesses and unsuccessful businesses. Now, there are a few caveats and that is there are plenty of businesses which have a large amount of revenue – let’s say the big corporate businesses – and they still fail because they’re unprofitable. Because it really doesn’t matter how much revenue you’re generating if you’re unprofitable because you’re just going to continue to make a loss. So, within that statement, I’m saying that you’re not making a loss essentially. But if you were able to take a business from – let’s say zero because I’m assuming this person isn’t in business – zero to, let’s say, ten million and make a fairly average percentage of profit, then that would be successful in most people’s eyes. Now again, I would encourage you not to think of success as external gratification or how other people view it, but whether or not you’re progressively realising your goal and not anyone else’s, but that’s the answer to the question.
Why is SEO important for business?
The question has a presupposition in it, and that is that SEO is important for business. I think it is a way to acquire customers. Now, much like I said in my previous video on my previous podcast, you don’t have to do online marketing, but if you are able to get clients from a particular media then you should be doing that. And a lot of people get confused about offline versus online, you know, which one should I do? Should I go from offline to online? etc. And you should do any type of marketing where you’re able to get a client for your target cost per conversion. Now, if we take it back to SEO for a moment, it’s, in my view, a long-term approach, so you want to be thinking of it, not in the short-term ROI but in the “I’m doing this for the benefit of the website visitor”, if let’s say, you’re generating content, for example. I’m putting this out there for them and I’m optimising it for the search engines so that in the long run we’re going to get relevant traffic and eventually, providing we are able to continually increase the number of the volume of traffic to the site, we’ll eventually get enquiries and then we will get sales from those enquiries. If you’re able to do that, and you can actually implement that meaning you’re able to put time and investment into it over the long period and you do it in the right way so that that end goal is met, then SEO is important because you can get customers that way.
Customers provide sales, your business needs sales in order to prosper in the way that I mentioned in my last question, which is in order to be successful you need revenue. SEO can provide revenue and therefore that’s why it’s important. A lot of the online activities, they’re viewed as quite fashionable. So, Social, PPC, SEO, they’re new and therefore that makes them more appealing but I would encourage you to think about any way that you can get a client or any way you can get a client at your target cost per conversion, that’s a good thing to do. And when I say good, what I mean is it’s meeting your goal.
Just because you can get plenty of clients from online – and that’s the reason we’re a digital marketing agency because it’s the volume of clients that you can get from online is very high – therefore lots of people are attracted to it. But all I’m saying is the reason why it is desirable to be online is because customers are there, and if you can get customers from elsewhere you should do that too.
What are good marketing strategies for a small business?
A strategy is an end goal. It’s a very general question. The first thing that sprung to mind is, let’s say you’re a window cleaning business and you’re talking about marketing strategies. I would say one way to do it, and this applies to all businesses, is to have some sort of giveaway where you’re saying here’s what you need to do if you’re considering taking on a window cleaner. Or here’s what you need to do when you’re considering hiring a digital marketing agency. Now, your giveaway might be a course or it might be an audiobook or a PDF, and you exchange that piece of value for someone’s details. And that is a way to build up your list whether that be phone numbers, emails, doesn’t really matter. The idea is that in exchange for the value you’re giving them – and it does have to be highly valuable, you really need to help them make their decision – then you’re getting their contact details and you can follow up with them. And the reason why that’s beneficial is because you have a customer list or at least a potential prospect list, and if they don’t immediately say yes to you, you still can follow up with them later, you can offer them discounts or special promotions, and you can stay in touch with them.
And you can communicate with them things like okay, we haven’t been able to do business with you yet, but we’d very much like to be a value to you. You still need help with your window cleaning, etc. And over time – and I don’t think businesses think enough about this prospect – you’re going to be in business hopefully for years and years. And most businesses don’t realise that if they collect contact details or if they do something like building a social media following over a long period of time, that is something which can really build up to the point where it’s an asset for the business.
If we talk about, let’s say, an email list for a second, if you were to do marketing and you put investment into it but you didn’t have that list of clients, you then continually need to be doing marketing and putting money into it, I mean, the whole time you’re in business. Whereas if you build up your email list and the whole time you’re putting money into it you’re building up your email list, and it can be thousands and thousands of people eventually, and each time you run a promotion or each time you are of value to them, you can normally – it’s dependent on the relationship that you have with those people, so you can’t just pitch to them the whole time, you need to be of value like I said. But each time you do a type of communication you send out an offer, you send out some information, if the list is big enough, you’re going to get a response from it. And then it means that eventually if you’re in business for long enough and you do this right, it means that you actually may not need to do any advertising where you’re putting a significant amount into it because you’ve already got that pool of clients or potential clients, that you can send an email out or you can send bulk texts out or make calls to because each time you do that you’re going to get more clients. And so, that is one way that you can have a good strategy for your business.
“What are good marketing strategies for a small business?” That’s a very specific example. The other more generalised way to think about it is, it’s about what’s in it for them, not what’s in it for you. Most people, when they think about advertising when they want clients, they talk about themselves, and it’s about what they want, “come be a customer of ours, we’re great.” And if you provide value for people, sometimes it’s referred to as “reciprocity”, and that’s where you do something for someone, they feel like they should also do something for you. But basically, if you’re valuable to the market, if you’re valuable at an individual level, let’s say someone calls you up and you help them, that’s a principle that you can use. And if you use it over a period of time for many, many people, that’s something that can be a strategy for your business. You can do well just by being helpful and, you know, if you look at what I’m doing now, I’m trying to be as helpful as I possibly can to you. Hopefully, it’s working. And if you find that I have been of help to you, then it’s more likely that you’re going to be a client of ours. We have a digital marketing agency and, like I say, the more valuable I am to you, perhaps you might want to be a client of our digital marketing agency.
I am 24 and want to start up my own business. Which businesses can I consider?
I had a teenager question in my last video, and I wish I had said that the good thing about being a business owner or an entrepreneur for the most part is that age doesn’t matter. It is about value. Now, there are some exceptions. There are bound to be some limitations if you’re very young, so if you’re under the age of 16 or something. But once you’re 18, 21, depending on which country you’re in obviously, I think it’s going to be 18 for the UK, I would suspect, there are no limitations based on your age. It’s all about what value you deliver to the client and no one else will care about that.
Now, they may ask questions if you’re particularly young, and let’s say you’re selling a high-ticket item and they feel like they want someone with experience. You have to be able to justify it in the way that you have to be able to justify anything. I mean, it’s the same principle. No one cares how old you are, they only care about what it is they’ll get if they give you their money. I wouldn’t even consider age. It doesn’t make any difference whether you’re really, really young, really old, or anything in between, people don’t care. They only care about what’s in it for them. If you can deliver something that’s good that they’re after, something that’s in it for them, then they’re not going to care about how old you are.
The second part of the question is, which business can I consider? I did already answer this in my last one and the summary of it is that it’s subjective, and a business that’s right for me is not necessarily right for you and you need to determine what business would be right for you. I covered it briefly about maybe you should be thinking about what the demand is for what you’re trying to be in business for, what’s that like? There’s no point in trying to be in a business which no one wants to buy anything for, but at the same time, I do think that it should be something that you enjoy and that you’re knowledgeable in.
What is business?
They don’t get more general than that. It’s fairly easy to go on Google and type in ‘business definition’ and I could do that, but I’m going to give you my definition because I think it’s more helpful than giving you a dictionary definition which probably isn’t going to tell you very much. Now, really a business is a construct. It doesn’t really exist, except perhaps in the legal sense. It’s been created for the purposes of a legal entity is basically what it is. In business, all we’re doing is exchanging value. If a consumer comes to you, they want your product or service more than they want their money, and it’s your job to give them, I would say, more value than what they’re giving you with their money. If someone buys a hundred-pound product, then you need to give them value in the thing that they bought from you, ideally, the value needs to be more than what they gave you. It’s quite difficult to measure in some instances, but that’s what I think business is. It’s an exchange of value and it’s also often referred to as solving problems for people. People who create businesses where they solve the most number of problems do very well. When you’re considering creating your business, or if you’re in business already, it doesn’t matter, just think about how big is the problem that I’m solving for people? The bigger the problem and the more people it helps the better you’ll do.
There’s a CRM question which I don’t really feel like I can answer because I’m not that much of a CRM guy. There are a couple of repeat questions which is why I’m not talking right now.
What do I need to start an online business?
I would argue you need a website, but if you’re predominantly not online if you’ve got some other way of transacting with clients, then a Facebook page probably does it. Although if you want to be perceived as professional then it’s a website, you just need to understand that it doesn’t necessarily mean anyone’s going to find it. In terms of what you need, you can run your business transactions through your personal bank account but you do need a business bank account if you’re incorporating if you’re doing a limited company. And even if you don’t decide to do that you should still have a separate bank account if you’re running it through a personal one. You need an accountant, bookkeeper. A lot of these things, if you’re informed enough or if you’re knowledgeable enough on those things, you can do them yourself, but the more you try and do things yourself the less your business will grow because there’s a phrase – I think it was Joe Polish who I heard this from – you need to work on your business rather than in your business.
If you’re doing all the work and you’re doing the accounting, the bookkeeping and basically, you’re doing everything, your business isn’t growing because it can’t get bigger than you. You need customers, so it comes back to what I’ve said previously about the fact that you need to know how you’re going to get your sales. I mean, of the value that I can give you – I think I’m going to move on from that question because I think that most people can Google an article or something which will give you a checklist of the things that you need to start a business. And if you do have questions, you can always ask me. I’ll put them in a video for you.
Are business plans useful? Why or why not?
I did answer a question previously about something like how does one do a business plan? And I put the link in the description in the previous video. And I’m referring back to this video a lot, so I’ll also put this link in the description of this video. Business plans are helpful. I think that people get hung up on the fact that they’re not going to be 100% accurate, but that’s not where the value is.
The value is in answering a lot of tough questions about why you should be in business in the first place, and also knowing what your end goal or your exit strategy is because it asks you to clarify exactly what it is, you’re trying to achieve. And most people when they go into business, they basically say I want to create a window cleaning business. Now, I don’t know this to be true but I have heard it be the case that, let’s say you don’t have a job right now and you think that you can do window cleaning and therefore let’s go out and create a window cleaning business. There’s nothing necessarily wrong about that, but having a business plan makes it a lot more professional because it sets out what you’re trying to achieve and asks you to clarify how you’re going to achieve it.
An example of that is instead of I don’t have a job and, let’s say, I’m just going to go and clean windows, a business plan will get you to clarify okay, I want to create a business and in five years I want to have ten employees and I want to be turning over this amount of revenue, I’m going to get this amount of profit. And how I’m going to do that is by these means, so I’m going to set out my plan, I’m going to achieve it this way. When you take the two options that I just gave you, so one who just decides to go into business because it’s just available to them versus someone who has a set plan with an end goal and a strategy, I mean, that should be fairly obvious in terms of why that’s valuable to you – or to do, rather. And so yes, I think it’s valuable, yes you should do one if you haven’t already, and it should be something which you should refer back to.
A lot of people, if they were to create a plan of some sort or create goals, that’s the thing which is most, shall we say, frequent. Most people are aware of setting goals versus a business plan. But they’re the same thing. You’re setting your end goal and you’re going to say how you will achieve it. That’s the closest thing, I think, which people are used to and you should definitely do it. I lost my train of thought a little bit there but I think I’ve talked enough about that to let you know what my position is.
How can digital marketing help me grow my business?
Digital marketing helps people get clients. You need clients in order to get sales. Sales grow your business or provide revenue for your business which helps it grow, and that’s why it will help you grow it. Now, there is a performance caveat to that. Digital marketing isn’t some magic thing. It needs to be done correctly. Now, that means that you either need to put time and education and effort into doing it yourself, or you need to hire someone capable. And if you’re willing to do it all yourself then that might be okay for you, but I would say it comes back to the previous principle which is you can’t be taking on everything yourself because your business isn’t going to grow as much as if you gave responsibility to experts. Now, that can be inside your business or outside your business, and they can fulfil their role and you can work on growing your business.
What are the most interesting business ideas for homemakers?
Interesting is subjective. What I think is interesting is different from what someone else thinks is interesting. Homemakers – I’m going to make a presumption, and that is within the question they’re not saying that they’re a graduate of some sort. I’m presuming that this fits into one of those “work from home” type opportunities where you’ve got a computer, you’ve got the internet, but you haven’t really got any skills or any education. I wouldn’t classify that as a business necessarily. I would classify that as a way for you to make some extra income.
Now, it can turn into a business, but I would say if you’re at the very beginning stage of asking what types of opportunities there are, then I would imagine that it’s not a business yet. The thing which springs to mind is a VA or basically a person who does admin for businesses. Businesses always need problem-solving for themselves, and there’s always a way for you to add value to a business.
And I would also argue that a business expense is different than a personal expense. If you ask someone who’s, let’s say, an employee to do an admin – or get them to pay you for an admin task versus if you ask a business to pay for a task, businesses are very used to paying for expenses in order to provide value. It’s an easier sale to do work for a business, and there’s some stuff which needs to be done within a lot of businesses which maybe hasn’t been done because people are too busy, you know, they’ve got priorities and things get neglected. And you can solve that problem by using your computer, your time, your effort, and yes, so a VA, so someone who’s willing to be a type of assistant or someone who’s willing to do admin, that is what I would do if you were a homemaker and you were trying to earn some extra money.
What are the most unusual business models?
I’m not sure about business models. I’m going to have a slight marketing slant on what I refer to. My expertise is how to get clients more than perhaps anything else, and I’m going to answer the question that way. The most interesting business model and how it relates to marketing is instead of doing any type of marketing at all, I heard this in – I think it was for dentists, I might be wrong, but I’m pretty sure it applies there – and that is once you have a pool of existing clients, for every new client that you bring on you say – I mean, that’s once it reaches a certain point – “in order to be a client of ours you need to refer someone who will also be a client, and if you are unable to do that we can’t accept you as a customer of ours or a client of ours”. And what it means is – and you also do that for the next person that they bring along – that you actually don’t have to advertise and you can openly say we don’t advertise, we pass on those savings to you, but in order for you to be a customer of ours you also have to provide us with the customer.
You’d have to have a certain element of maturity in your business to be able to do that, either that or if you were young, a young business, then you’d have to turn down business essentially, so you’d have to be in a financial position to be able to turn down business, but I think there’s a lesson within that example. And the lesson is you dictate terms of how someone is going to do business with you. Now, when you’re a young growing business and let’s say you’re ambitious, maybe you take on clients which perhaps you wouldn’t if you had a bit more leverage.
But as you get bigger and bigger there is something that you can do, which is you start dictating your terms. I think you would find that the more established, the more well-known someone is, for lack of a better word, the more famous someone is, the more they can dictate their own terms, even though someone else is paying them the money, and that, I think, is a very interesting business model and also a lesson. The quicker that you can do that, meaning the quicker that you can set your own terms – I know it’s not easy to do initially – I think the happier and more sustainable your business will be. I think a lot of people get stressed in business because they’re doing things which they don’t want to do, and the lesson is you don’t have to do that once you reach a certain level.
What are some of the weird and bizarre business ideas that prove to be successful?
As much as I like that question, I mentioned in my previous video that the business idea isn’t the thing which has the value. It’s the implementation of the idea. I don’t know what the driver behind that question is. Maybe they’re looking for some quirky ideas, but regardless, unless it’s, like, you know, just interesting to them or a type of entertainment, I think that you should be thinking about the implementation of the idea, not the business idea itself because there are plenty of good ideas but there’s not – I was going to say there aren’t plenty of good businesses, but that’s not true. The more important thing is the implementation of the business than the idea.
How can I start a home-based business? I would go with the VA thing there or the admin assistant.
Where can I find business ideas? It’s a reiteration of what I just said, which is there are plenty of businesses, there are plenty of opportunities. What’s important is not the idea but the implementation.
What is the best way to build capital for your business? There are two ways to be able to interpret that question. The first one is your existing business, are you building capital within your existing business and what’s a way to do that? Or what’s a way to build capital in order to create your business? I’m not 100% sure which one you’re looking for an answer to. If it’s building capital within your business in order to do something, then it’s about being profitable. It’s about having a surplus. Now, if you’re unaware of what a deficit and a surplus are, you calculate your income, you calculate all your costs including, for example, tax, and any fees, and basically, if you are losing money that’s a deficit, if you’re making money, meaning if continually your income is higher than all of your costs, then that’s a surplus. And you will build up capital if you have a steady surplus. The bigger your surplus, the more capital you’ll have, and that’s how I would answer that question. If you’re building up capital in order to start a business, I think you should start rather than waiting but there are some businesses, as I’ve said, that require capital. There’s lots of information on the internet about finding venture capital and going to pitch for money. I am very much in the camp of you just go out and do it and when you get, for example, your first customer, whatever it might be, then you put that money back into your business. I’m aware that there’s a certain section of, sort of, separate to that where the money’s flying around and people put hundreds of thousands into ideas rather than into businesses, but I’m not in that camp so I wouldn’t be the best person to answer that question. Basically, what I would say is that you go out and do it and you invest back into your business and that way you’re building up your capital. It would also be nice to know when you’re answering that question what it is that you’re looking to do with the capital.
What are some start-ups with really unique business models? I think I, sort of, partially answered that already.
What is the first step before starting a business? I think a business plan would be good. It comes back to what we’ve talked about previously.
What is the most profitable business you could start with only five thousand dollars? I don’t think you require capital in order to start a business. I think that if you’re selling a product, you just need to be able to find someone who will allow you to sell a product without buying it first, their product, and you take a commission for that. If it’s a service then you just exchange your time for a fee. Having some capital to start with is, I think, beneficial but I think you need to rely more on your hard work and less on your capital because that’s the thing that’s going to take you towards your goal. It’s not going to be money, especially not. I mean, if you need an extremely large amount of money to take you from scratch to successful and if you did have that amount of money, then you probably aren’t thinking too much about being successful because you’re already successful. So, it’s all up to you. Don’t think the money is going to get you there. And also, it’s about solving problems for people.
Which business has a low investment but very large profits?
Profit, as I’ve explained, is about the money that you make after all of your costs have been factored into it. Let’s say you have ten thousand pounds worth of sales and five thousand pounds worth of costs, your net profit would be five thousand. But what I think that you’re referring to is margin, so what are the products, for example, or the services where they don’t cost very much but they’re very profitable? Can you sell a product for, let’s say, twenty pounds that you only bought for a pound, for example? And they do exist but what you will find is that if they exist now if you’re going to be reliant upon that, then they won’t exist for very long. So, in the way that I said, what you need to be thinking about is what’s in it for the client and not what’s in it for you.
The way that question is posed is, I’m going to take something which is not worth that much and I’m going to sell it for much more than it’s worth. And will happen if something is not worth that much – if something is worth a pound, let’s say, and you sell it for twenty, there’s going to be someone who’s more ambitious or who’s equally ambitious, and they want to take your client, so they’re going to come in and they’re going to sell it for fifteen. And this process is going to go on and on until the point where you’re selling for, you know, two pounds, and you’re out of business if you’re still trying to sell it for twenty. So, think more about the client and less about what’s in it for you because business is all about solving problems for people. And also, think about what makes you different from everyone else because you may be able to continually sell that product for twenty, even though it costs you one if you’re particularly different than other businesses.
What online business can I do to make money?
Theoretically, one of my definitions or one of my thoughts about business is that you can call yourself a business when you start making revenue. And so, if you have a business which is making revenue or that is receiving revenue, you are making money. I also made the distinction that businesses don’t make money, they earn money. I think that some of these questions, the intent behind them, are what can I do in order to do as little as possible and get as much as possible? and you need to think about it in reverse. You don’t have to personally do lots if you can pay people to be of value to you, but basically, the only way anyone’s going to give you their money is if you’re valuable to them.
There are countless ways of being valuable to people and people are always going to need different ways or new ways of solving problems for them. You don’t have to look very far. Business ideas are everywhere and you only have to make incremental improvements in certain things in order to be better than your competition. It’s not my favourite example, but if we take banking for a second, I happen to think that banks, traditional banks, are just shocking in their ability to make people happy with the service that they have. And if you and I were to come up with – let’s say we had a brainstorming session about what it is that banks could do better and we had a blank piece of paper and we just brainstormed, we could easily come up with maybe a dozen things to make the banking sector much more appealing than it is right now. There’s a slight caveat to that or a distinction to be made because I think the only reason that’s not the case is because of all the regulation that banks have to go through. But the point is that it’s about what you can provide, how you can provide value, how you’re different, and it’s about them, it’s not about you.
What are the best business cards?
To a certain degree there are two ways to think about this, the first being that if you’ve met someone and you give them your business card, they need to be able to remember you because if they accept twenty other business cards it needs to be memorable. So, that’s one way of looking at it. The physical appearance of the card, not always, but it can be a perception issue about you. Let’s say you have a business card which is very bog standard, fairly low quality, and yet you’re selling something which is very high quality, then there may be a presumption about the fact that well, if they can’t even afford proper business cards or nice business cards, then they’re probably not doing very well in business and therefore I’m not going to give them my money.
I think it’s not always going to be the defining factor, the business card, it has a very specific job and that is for them to remember you and to call you. You need to think about that when you’re designing it. With business cards and also with websites people get very hung up on its physical appearance and not what the job is. In the same way that a website, its job is to convert a client to a customer or a visitor to an enquiry – when I said client what I actually meant was visitor – either a visitor to enquiry or a sale, and yet all of the emphasis is not placed on that principle, it’s placed on how it looks, because people want a nice looking website. You can use that analogy and take it over to the business card. The business card has a specific job. The job is to get that person to call you. And rather than focusing on that job, people think I’m going to make my business card look and feel as nice as possible. Now, it can have a positive effect if you do that, but you need to remember that it has a job and you need to influence that person to remember you. I’m not necessarily a business card expert, so I’m really just telling you what the principle is rather than what I do because I’m not that into business cards. Some people put their picture on there, so if you meet someone, let’s say you and I were to meet and I gave you my business card, you’d remember my face and revert it back to the business card. And you might have many other business cards but you’d remember me because my face is on there, so that’s one thing that you can do.
But it’s conditional and I would take into consideration all those things that I’ve said. You do want to try and get the best quality business card you possibly can, but you do need to remember that it has a specific job. Just because you have a nice business card doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to be a customer of yours. Its job is to get the call or the email.
What is the best business to start in a village or small city?
I think that’s an interesting question. If it’s an offline business and it’s not looking to scale nationally, I think there are a lot of businesses that could exist but don’t. That service a local community, for example. If it’s an online business it really doesn’t matter whether you’re in a big city or you’re in a local village, it makes no difference. But if you’re servicing a local community, it’s again about solving problems for people and looking at the demand of that particular area and the competition. I think it’s quite easy for people to start-up companies and providing they know a few people in that area, other people will tell other people about them. There’s a certain element of market research there.
There are some tools that are quite useful that Google have, so keyword research is something that we often do. If it’s a very small village then this won’t really apply. If it’s a small city, then it can do and that gives you a gauge of demand. So, using our window-cleaning example, I’m in Worthing, so I would go onto the keyword planner. I’d type in ‘window cleaning in Worthing’ and I’d see what sort of demand there is for that service. But if it’s a little village, then you just need to think about what problems you’re solving for people and also what you actually want to spend your time doing.
What is the best online business?
We’d have to specify what ‘best’ means and also how it applies to you. If I were to say best is highest revenue – I think I had this question in my last video – then just because, you know, selling computers or creating computers, like Apple Mac does, just because that’s the best business doesn’t mean it’s going to be the best business for you. And if you mean best by, lifestyle, then that’s subjective so I can’t say because our opinions might be different.
How does a new business get its first client?
What a great question. I’m getting some repetition and that normally happens when I’m at the end of these videos, so I’ll probably end with this one. If you’re new, if you don’t have any experience whatsoever and you’re looking to get your first client, this somewhat depends on which business you’re in, but you do it by doing a job for free. And the reason why that’s beneficial is firstly when you do a job for free and you do a good job – I spoke about reciprocity briefly – and that person who is your customer and you don’t charge them, they will likely recommend you. In a true window cleaning conclusion, let’s say you don’t have any clients and you’re looking for your first one and you decide to do a free job for someone who does window cleaning, if you do it for free, most likely in that type of business they’re going to want you to come back, and that’s when you get the money.
The other thing is if you do it for free and they don’t call you back, the next time that someone has a need for window cleaning in that little radius of that person’s life, they’re going to recommend you. The other thing that you can do is if you’re doing it for free you can ask for something in return, which is either a testimonial or you can use that work as an example on your website. So, maybe they don’t want to do a testimonial for you but, you know, they’ll allow you to do a before and after of their windows, and that can allow other people to see that you have experience and that you’ve been beneficial, you’ve solved a problem for someone previously. And it’s very difficult for your competition to compete with free. There is a time where you don’t do free, but it’s not on your first client, so that’s exactly what I do. I’d do free for a while and I would ask for something in exchange, like a referral or a testimonial. I’d build them up over time, people get to know about you and you’ve got clients, and eventually some of them will come back. Some of them will refer and some of them you will use for testimonials.
I hope that some of this has been beneficial to you. I try to give as much value as possible. If you do need help with your digital marketing, you can visit us at ethicalmarketingservice.com and I will speak to you soon.