The Smashing Business Blog
The Blog from Smashingbusiness.co.uk. We're all about helping you run a "Smashing Business." Whatever your niche, we hope you find some inspiration or help here. If you'd like us to feature a particular topic just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We took our two daughters to see Santa this week at the local tourist attraction. Joining the queue I marvelled at all of the added extras that Santa was offering apart from having to pay for a 1 minute sitting with the big man himself. Not only did the man in red want me to pay for my daughters to see him but photos, rides on his sleigh, and drinks for parents were all added extras. Fair enough I get that. It was a local event run by local organisations so the pull of all that potential money must of been huge. I get that. I understand. I have no problem with paying for kids to see Santa and may even stretch to the odd added extra if I'm in a good mood.
My problem with today's little festive outing was that if I wanted to take a picture of my kids with the special man I couldn't, I had to let the (so called) professional photographer take the photo and then in order to take it away with me I had to pay for it. The reason given for this was child protection. By not allowing me to photograph my own children they were ensuring that my daughters were being protected. The real reason however wasn't protection but revenue generation. Someone from the organising committee had obviously twigged that it would be a nice little earner to charge for taking memories away from the event.
What has this got to do with running an online business? Well go back to the three questions I asked right at the start of this post. Do you charge for absolutely everything you can or are you more relaxed and give something away for free? If someone comes to you with a suggestion of how they could use your product or service a bit differently are you excited or do you flatly refuse?
So we haven't had a inspiration video in a while so we thought, seeing as we could all do with some inspiration every now and then we drop this one, from Steve Jobs, in.
Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech 2005 was given to the young minds of the future but as an online business owner there is a lot from the 3 stories he tells that we can take on board and apply to our business.
Why not let us know what you think about Jobs speech in the comments
Sometimes when we approach something new and different, we can shy away from it; fearing to do too much too soon. The same came be true for people starting their first online business. They fear to put themselves out there in case they dilute their message or face crictism.
The Internet can be a daunting place, even for the most tech savvy of business people. There's a lot to learn about running a business online and it's a topic that you can never stop learning about. But still many small businesses shy away from engaging online with their customers or from promoting their latest product. They slip back into the 'If I build it they will come' mentality. Frankly, nothing could be worse.
You need to be brave online. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there, give things away for free, be controversial, do things differently or simply be open and honest online. The braver you are, the more your customers will respect you.
Ever wondered why some entrepreneurs are so successful? Ever think about why these truly successful business owners can do so much and reap so many rewards?
Easy! They’re obsessed by what they do. They love it. They eat sleep and dream the business and their goals.
Want to start being as successful as them? Become obsessed.
Getting your customers and users to pay attention to your business is harder than ever. People have an infinite number of choices compared to 2 or 3 years ago and a lot less time. By taking a different approach to selling and marketing you can begin to make more enquires and more sales.
For regular readers, you’ll have noticed that I’ve talked about marketing guru Seth Godin before (even reposting articles direct from his own blog). Seth attracts many followers for his insightful take on modern marketing and is not afraid to be a bit controversial. I highly recommend anyone to check out his blog or videos.
My 3 ways to better sales is inspired by some of Seth’s ideas that I really dig and think you guys will get a lot out of.
Be on the fringes
Many small businesses play safe when they’re approaching things. They follow the crowd when it comes to things like marketing, branding, sales and customer services. They do what they see others doing as they see it as being safe. But no one says you have to play it safe.
Do things differently to others. Approach your strategies from a different angle and make your customers sit up and take notice.
10 years ago in the era of mass marketing playing safe was the safe thing to do because everyone listened. Now people (your potential customers) don’t have to time to sit through the ads and listen. Now you have to be on fringes to be noticed.
You get on the fringes in business by being remarkable. By becoming something or someone that people want to make a remark about you can create a buzz around you and your business. When they have something to say about your product or service they tell someone else. They’ll want to share the story.
That doesn’t mean you have to come up with a new product or service that is out of this world, just that maybe you need to do something that is remarkable with what you have.
When Google announced Google Wave earlier in the year they did something that was remarkable with their marketing. They only opened it up to a handful of developers. If you didn’t get an invite first off, you desperately wanted one. The buzz about Wave and the fact it was a limited invite-only spread like wildfire to the point where now they haven’t even fully released it yet and people are trading invites on eBay for crazy sums of money.
By taking a remarkable approach you can get your future customers to sit up and take notice.
Sell to those who are listening
With a massive choice and not a lot of time, consumers don’t have to listen to everyone that tries to sell them something anymore but they’ll most certainly buy from someone they already listen to.
Why waste your time and effort (and maybe even money) trying to sell to the large percentage of people who aren’t listening or aren’t interested? What’s the point?
Apple doesn’t try to sell its stuff to the non-tech savvy customers. It aims the majority of its marketing to the geeks, the fashion conscious, the tech savvy, the trend-setters and to those who appreciate great design because they know that they’ll be the one’s listening.
Talk to the people who are listening and you’ll be able to sell to them far better than those who couldn’t care less.
I must see this question all over the internet all the time. So many people want to know how they can start their new online business off with a bang and be instantly making money. There are loads of options out there that look to offer some amazing results to first timers offering a massive financial return for very little work.
The easy answer is no! No you can’t make quick money from an online business. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hard work and a great deal of patience, something of which many people entering the online business space don’t seem to have.
When they don’t get any revenue in the first few weeks from their products they begin covering every piece of html real estate with click though ads, affiliate links and adsense code. Expectantly they sit back and wait for the money to pour in. And guess what? None arrives.
Simply there are no quick money fixes on the internet. You need hard work and patience. With a lot of commitment and constant work you’ll begin to make money, maybe some serious money but you won’t get there with quick fixes.
It’s often said that one man’s heaven is another man’s hell. When we look at the definition of success though we see that things are not black and white and that there are actually many subtle shades of grey.
Success means different things to different people. Ask a young person what they understand of success and they’ll usually talk about money and fame because this is what they see in the media every day. They look at celebrities and want to be in the same position one day themselves. However if you ask the same question of someone who has been out in the world of work for a time what their idea of success is, they are less likely to talk about fame and financial reward but will bring up words like family, security and fulfilment.
Why is this? Well it’s really due to experience. When you are younger the idea of fame and fortune is very attractive but as you experience more of life you begin to realise that these things aren’t for everyone and that actually you crave other things. Some people do go on to achieve fame and insurmountable wealth but they don’t always bring happiness and as we all grow and mature many of us seek happiness.
Why it’s important to define success?
When you can define success into something that makes sense and is relevant to you, you have direction in which way to travel to achieve it, much like a map of a journey. Once you’ve defined your success you can move toward whatever you have to do to achieve it. It sets the goals and parameters by which you need to work.
Here are some ideas if you’re struggling to think about what success means to you.
- Do you want to build something?
- Do you want to be part of a team?
- Do you want to win something?
- Do you want to do something remarkable?
- Do you want to do something less than remarkable but do it exceptionally well?
- Do you want to be in position to be able to do anything you want?
- Do you want to be able to provide for your family?
- Do you want acknowledgment from your peers?
We often make excuses for failures we experience in life, whether it be at home or at work and we try to proportion blame on to someone or something else. We often do this, not because we are low, callous individuals who constantly seek to hurt others, but because as a society we generally slip into the easy option of shifting responsibility away from ourselves. It takes a special person to fess up to their failures 100% of the time, right? Well no not really, it just means that you have to look on things in a different way.
In today’s fast paced, modern, online society we have a whole bank of resources at our disposal that we can use to creative truly amazing things. Gone are the days when people work outside their cave sharpening stones all day long, now we can achieve almost anything we put our minds to.
Now we live in a world where we have more time than ever, not due to increasing the amount of hours in the day but from the respect that people can work and create things at anytime of the day or night and in any place. That is something previous generation never had.
We have more money at our disposal than ever before as well with people earning more money in their own jobs, their companies earning bigger contracts and receiving greater amounts of funding. All of this leads to an increase in resources to get the job done.
There is now an abundance of technology that can allow us to create bigger, better, faster, more efficient products and services that can make billions on pounds and truly make a different in people’s lives.
People are able to network, create contacts and maintain those contacts like never before. You can now connect with someone on the other side of the world without ever meeting them and be able to keep up to date with what they are doing and where they are.
With the ability to be able to do all of these amazing things comes experience. As a generation we are able to experience so much more that previous generations and can therefore learn more and at a faster rate.
But what do all these things have to do with running an online business? They can also be used as excuses when we fail to achieve something. Why? Because it’s easy. It’s easy to complain that the reason you couldn’t achieve is because you didn’t have the time. It’s easy to not start off a great idea because you just didn’t have the money, either personally or commercially to kick it off. How many times have you would to do something with your business and complained when you couldn’t because you didn’t have the technology or the experience? Probably more than you care to admit.
It’s easy to blame these resources when we fail to achieve because other people can sympathise as they’ve most likely been in a similar position themselves, in the past.
5 years ago in the traditional corporate world, it was more acceptable to make excuses about resources and be able to get away with it without it affecting your job or your business. However, in the online world that can’t happen. The moment people (customers) see that you repeatedly making excuses for not providing or achieving something, they’ll go somewhere else. The Internet is now full of people who offer the same or similar products or services as you and you can bet your yearly turnover on the fact that they’ll do it right if you don’t.
In order to succeed in anything, your business, your personal life, a music instrument or even playing cards; you need to be resourceful. Resourceful people always succeed no matter what they are trying to achieve because when you’re resourceful you never run out of resources and therefore you can’t ever find an excuse to fail.
When you’re resourceful you have determination to succeed. You’re driven constantly to achieve and will let nothing stand in your way.
When you are resourceful you’re creative. It doesn’t matter if you’ve not got the money or the time, you find a way. If you are creative enough and playful enough you can get your idea or your business across to anyone, however uninterested they may seem initially.
If you’re resourceful you have curiosity. You are interested and intrigued by want you what to achieve. You want to play with it, tinker with it, break it down and build it up again to see how it works. You want to know everything about it and you want to know about anything else that might add to it to help you achieve.
When you are resourceful you have passion. You live and breathe what you do. You wake up in the morning and you instantly want to engage with your passion and what you want to achieve. Passion is a tough thing in people’s mind to find and you hear people all the time saying “I don’t know what my passion is.” Well to me it’s easy. Your passion is the thing that you’d do for free if you had to. Your passion is the thing you’re immersed in the all time.
When you have all these things you also develop resolve. You make a definite decision on what you’re going to achieve and you set your motive for action.
It’s easy to make excuses when you fail. It’s human nature seemingly to blame others when we don’t achieve. But the difference between people who fail and people who succeed is that successful people don’t see failures as failures; they see them as challenges and opportunities to overcome. Why? Because they are resourceful.
Follow me on Twitter @benlumley6
- Moving on in 2010
- Website Statistics: Why constantly checking your Stats can harm your Online Business.
- Do You Spend Everyday Trying To Keep Up With Your Competitors
- What do you charge for? Or do you give back to the community when you can?
- How to Promote Your Brand on the Biggest Social Network Around, Facebook
- 5 Reasons why Apple Stores are Great Examples of How You Should Run Your Online Business
- Inspirational Video: Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech 2005
- I know what my customers want!
- Fighting the fight of the small online business owner.
- My First Guest Post
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