Before we get to our four important business tips that help drive success, let’s look at three simple shifts in mindset that can help set the stage for taking your business to the next level.
First, you need to let go of some of the most common preconceived notions about buying and selling.
Second, you need to open your mind to seeing your dream as no longer simply a dream, but a future reality that requires a specific set of concrete steps to achieve.
Third, you must apply the same set of principles over and over as you refine and sell your product. And, get this—while creating your idea probably required expanding your thinking, implementing your idea will require narrowing the targets and goals to which you apply your thinking.
Now, let’s turn our attention to the topic at hand:
Business Tip #1: Embrace the Sales Process
Wrap your head around the idea that you are your company’s CSO – Chief Sales Officer. You must make sales your passion and priority. Sales is not four letter word!
Take a look at your profit and loss statement or financial pro forma. What’s at the top, on the first line? REVENUE! You can’t run a company without capital and, as an entrepreneur, you will find out quickly that all capital has a price. Capital generated through sales is the least expensive capital you will ever access.
Why is achieving break-even and positive cash flow so important? You’ll no longer have to look outside the company for expensive or limiting capital! Investors, banks, friends, family, etc., all have a price for their capital, and different stressors and pressures within the terms and conditions of accepting their capital WILL influence how you approach your business.
I’m not saying you should not take outside capital, all businesses require some form of external capital to get started, what I am saying is that the more you embrace SALES and understand how to leverage core business-building principles, the less external capital you may need and the less equity dilution you will experience. The result will be less time spent communicating with and managing investors, and more time running your business. If you’re already sure you don’t want to sell, you may want to save yourself time, heartache, and failure—and stop now. Still here? Great. Moving on . . .
Business Tip #2: Know that You are the Product
Understand that you, your product, and your company are one. There is no separating you from the product. No one in your company will understand your product’s features and benefits, markets, competitors, and customers more comprehensively than you do. Also, no one in your company will ever have as much buy-in as you. Have you heard the analogy about bacon and eggs? The chicken was involved, the pig was committed.
You have an advantage you will never replicate in anyone you will ever hire –– your commitment and passion for your business. When entrepreneurs talk about their company you can feel the excitement and electricity in the air. You can sense the possibility, you can feel the success.
Everyone loves a winner. Don’t believe me? Who won last year’s Super Bowl? In the early days, your passion and enthusiasm will carry the day while your product is not quite baked, still evolving from sale-to-sale. People will sense your enthusiasm and passion and they will jump on board with you –– not your product, YOU.
In this phase, it is almost impossible for a buyer to distinguish between your product and their desire to support you and share in your success. YOU ARE THE PRODUCT.
Business Tip #3: No Other Salespeople But Yourself
Be the only person to sell your product in its developmental phase until it’s no longer being refined.
From meeting to meeting, often on the fly, you will be adding and subtracting from your product, refining your messaging, changing the emphasis placed on one feature over another. You literally will be building the plane as you’re flying it.
This phase will demand everything you have as founder and entrepreneur to ensure that as you move to market expansion your product is fully baked, your markets are tightly defined, your sales processes are repeatable, and your company is ready for the product to stand alone, without you.
Business Tip #4: Be Certain Your Product is Static
Do not turn sales over to a professional salesperson or sales staff until you’re certain the product is static. This means you have multiple customers that resemble one another in the same or similar market sectors who are using a very similar, if not the same version of your product, that required little to no customization, that you sold on merit, not price, utilizing a sales process in which the steps are highly identified and repeatable, to a delighted customer that will gleefully act as a reference.
If you’re ready to do those things, you’re setting yourself up for success. But while path you’ll take is made up of relatively simple and straightforward steps, that doesn’t mean it will be easy. Fine-tuning both your products and your sales approach may require even more homework than you did to come up with your business idea in the first place. And, it will require you to put yourself out there as a salesperson while demanding flexibility in responding to changes at every step of the way.
Have you heard the analogy about bacon and eggs? The chicken was involved, the pig was committed.