Now, if you are already running a successful business, this article isn’t really for you.
If you are an emerging business, working towards your goal of owning a successful business…
…or perhaps you are stuck on a plateau, then the following set of tips can serve as an excellent guide.
The path to a successful business need not be like rocket science, such as SpaceX*, but it can be something doable and actionable.
*the private company that is building reusable rockets to reduce space transportation cost.
1. What motivates you towards a successful business?
This is one of the most important questions before we can even dream of a successful business. It’s the reason behind your business.
The fuel that moves us.
The compass that helps us steer back to the course during the storm.
The 300-joules jolt that triples our heartbeat the moment we think about it.
Especially when we are too tired to get up in the morning.
Recently, I met up with a trainer and coach focusing on the retail industry.
Her inner desire to see people succeed is simply contagious.
And that’s the very thing that motivates her to do more than what her competitors would.
For example, she’d prepared refreshments and snacks out of her own pocket money when the client had no budget.
She would help out in the window display (with permission of course) when her purpose was just to meet the store manager.
What about giving expert actionable advice to the shop owner, on a problem no one could solve?
Within an hour, the shop sold off the products that were sitting in the storeroom idling.
So, whats your motivation?
2. Is your brand authentic?
For some, this is an easy one. For others, it’s a struggle.
Got to make ends meet, meet sales quota, or only trying to please all.
I’m struggling in this, to be honest.
In real life, I usually speak in singlish (that’s Singapore-styled English) and really like comedy.
But somehow, it very seldom shows in my writing.
Perhaps I’m still trying to be safe.
Hanging on for my dear life, not letting go of the rope, when the ground is just a foot away.
Just because I can’t see through the
Being authentic is powerful. It is real and attracts the right people.
Authenticity attracts like Apple fans attract to iPhone whatever-version-now.
The message is portrayed genuinely and gets the audience connected on a deeper level.
It’s warm and personal. Like mum’s comfort food.
During a General Election rally in September, I heard a first-time female candidate giving her rally speech in her native dialect.
Very personal and touching story that vocals out the inner heart cry of the party.
Would it have worked if she were to force it in the Malay language?
Many successful businesses that have survived many storms have an authentic voice.
Think Apple, Pizza Hut and KFC. (The danger of writing before dinner time is this. One can only think of food.)
While researching this topic, I chance upon this article on Forbes about 3 imperatives of authentic branding.
3. Target audience
Knowing who you are and focusing on your strength helps to speak to your target audience as well.
A God-sent if the target audience is similar to yourself.
Wonder why it’s easier for the homemaker to sell Tupperware to other homemakers?
The pain, hope and desire are better understood and appreciated.
Now, ask a fresh grad sell those plastic boxes to a homemaker.
Besides the obvious facts and figures, there probably isn’t much else he or she can connect the prospect with.
So, if possible, begin with targeting an audience you can sympathize with.
Otherwise, it can be an uphill struggle.
Can be done, just a bit more siong (tough) on the effort and advertising expanses..
Many successful businesses have niche target audience or create niche product for difference audience.
McDonald’s for kids, McCafe for adults, for example.
4. Positioning, NOT Price War
Do you sell everything to everyone or are you seen as the go-to person for a specific need in a niche?
Without this positioning, it’s a price war, and you know the ending.
Bloody with high casualty rate.
Resources wasted, marketing messages confusing. Or worse, getting customers who don’t value your services, keep demanding lower prices, or only buy when there’s a discount.
Once you try to increase the price, they scuttle away as many would from an insurance road-show guy.
This price war defeat is happening to Groupon as I write. It is laying off 1100 and leaving 7 countries.
This announcement is on top of the two exits in March this year.
Unless they revamp their business model (away from the price war and develop other revenue models), things may not look too good in the long term.
Find a niche the big boys are not serving and position yourself as the expert in that niche.
There’s a reason why many medical specialists can command the high fees and patients are still willing to pay.
Go niche and position as the expert. It’s a sound mode for a successful business.
5. Think and do the opposite.
Once you have a reasonably good business model, is surviving and keeping afloat, how to go to the next level?
Do the same as everyone else?
No one ever.
Because copy cats are usually seen as inferior. Can survive, but won`t go far.
Once upon a time, mobile phones were fighting towards a smaller and sleeker design.
Suddenly, Apple ‘chut’ (come out with) a phone with ‘gigantic’ 3.5″ screen called the iPhone.
When airlines were pushing their services and perks to the next level, some smart lawyer named Herb Kelleher (Southwest Airlines) introduced no-frills budget airline.
No service, no entertainment. But relatively cheaper.
Ever since then, it has inspired many other budget airlines, turning them into a successful business.
When all smartphones respond solely by fingertips, Samsung Note got famous for its stylus pen (that comes together with the phone).
Meanwhile, Apple presents you the Apple Pencil @ USD$99 that only works with the iPad Pro.
Is it a good example? Charging an exorbitant price when others provide for ‘free’? Sounds like greed to me.
Probably a negative example for this tip.
So, if you want to stand out in your industry, do the opposite but in a meaningful way. Make it better and easier, not harder.
What about you?
These are just some of the ingredients in building a successful business. There are more useful tips that can elevate your business and help you get noticed.
Most, if not all successful business have a robust system, the ability to create demand and desire, and so on.
What do you think of the few quick tips above?
What is the mantra you have been hanging on to for a successful business? Please leave your comment below.