Table of contents
Summary: Build a Business Strategy
Too often business leaders look to others to develop a business strategy.
It's critical to develop and build a business strategy correctly that plays to your (and your team's!) strengths not only because it's what will make you unique, but also because that's the repeatable process you're willing to follow through on over the long haul.
Regardless of how you're funded, it's likely there's something you're doing to attract your people (and that you love) you can build a strategy around.
When we were sitting there, he looked at me and said, " Do I have to max out all of my credit cards to be successful?"I was stunned by the stark honesty.I paused for a minute and I said, "Absolutely not. You do not have to max out your cards to be successful." — Jen
- Business Risks
- Google My Business
- Mark Schaefer, Cumulative Advantage (book)
- Fancy Sales Funnels
- Music from Uppbeat (free for Creators!): https://uppbeat.io/t/soundroll/time-to-believe
Connect with Jen
Transcript: Build a Business Strategy Around Your Strengths
Jen: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Women Conquer Business. I'm your host, Jen McFarland. Technically I'm sitting on vacation on the shores of Shelton, Washington. It's near the Olympic Peninsula, pretty close to a place called Olympia, Washington. As I'm sitting here, I'm remembering and reflecting on a conversation I had within the last week or so
that was just too important not to share. I was meeting with a client who I hadn't met before, and we were really just getting to know each other a little bit better. And he seemed like he really wasn't maybe as into it as you'd like to see from a new client, to be honest, but after talking to him for a while, I realized that he was just really nervous and concerned about some things and I can understand why.
So I thought I would share just a little bit about the most important question that he asked me. When we were sitting there, he looked at me and said, " Do I have to max out all of my credit cards to be successful?" And I'll be honest. I was stunned to have this question asked in part because he seemed, as I said, not as into the conversation, maybe not as willing to share about his business and everything.
And then it was just this stark honesty that I think so many people have, whether you are self-funding on credit cards like this client was, or whether you have bank loans, business loans, any, anything that you're using to fund your business. So I paused for a minute and I said, "Absolutely not. You do not have to max out your cards and everything to be successful."
And I realized that's the narrative going on out there, particularly around marketing that you have to spend all of your money and eventually it's going to work out for you, and all the successful people go into huge amounts of debt and then dig their way out. I'm not going to say that I haven't spent a lot of money.
When I started my own business, I had less than $10,000 of capital. And having never started a business before, I didn't realize how little that really is to start a business. So I did go into some debt when I started my business and I am actively managing that debt and actively cutting back on my budget on a frequent basis so that it's not a money pit, a hole that just sits there all the time.
And when things are good, it seems like they constantly raise the credit because I pay my bills. So if something were to occur, I have that cushion. And I think
that that's important for a business to have is operating capital and a cushion in which to operate. You may need to go into debt to an extent to run your business and marketing is in fact expensive.
It can be. The marketing that I propose for most businesses, it actually begins with so many of the fundamentals that even the most advanced companies seem to forget and overlook. But since I work primarily with small to medium-sized companies, those fundamentals really matter, especially depending on what your industry is and who you're up against.
Spending money on things like advertising, expensive sales funnels, all of the things that you're sold and told all the time. It's not that they're bad tactics. I support businesses in those areas, but if you're overlooking some of the more fundamental areas of your business, of your marketing that are free or relatively low cost, and then leap into expensive tactics that while effective lose their effectiveness, if you haven't done all of the fundamental things like basic search engine optimization or setting up a Google My Business account, or setting up all of your social media accounts and picking the most effective place to be.
If you haven't taken some of these fundamental steps, then it's far less effective in your marketing efforts. the other thing that in the same conversation this client mentioned is that he's not a risk-taker. And then he proceeded to talk about a situation where he was attending a gathering and he tailor-made his product to meet what he felt were the needs of the people who would be at this gathering.
And then he personally sold to everybody there and made a lot of money doing that. To me, that's risky. That's taking a risk. He had self-identified as someone who doesn't like to take a risk. And I think it's really important that we look at ourselves not as well, "I'm not a risk taker," or what you are or are not as a business leader.
I think that it's safe to say that this particular business owner is risk averse when it comes to overspending beyond his means, but as certainly not risk averse, when it comes to sales. In fact, his approach to sales for some people would be super risky and brave and amazing. So before we start to say what we are or are not, I think it's more appropriate to talk about it in terms of what we're willing to do and not willing to do.
I think as business owners frequently, we feel like we need to do what other people are doing, or we look around and we think that other people are getting it all right. Our competitors know things that we don't, and maybe we need to do what they're doing, or our colleagues who are also business owners.
And I think it's really important to say we're all different. When he told me this situation where he had gone to a gathering and sold to a lot of people, I said, " that's risky. That takes a lot of courage." And there are a lot of people who wouldn't do that. There are a lot of people who would rather spend money on marketing funnels and hope that somebody stumbles on it rather than stand in front of somebody and commit to making a sale on the spot with a person there who could reject them. Or in his case,
bought the product and he made a lot of money. So I think that when we talk about things like risk or spending money or capital and sales and all of these things, we need to remember that so much of what we do as business owners is personal. So many of our tactics and strategies and how we go about doing things are so unique to us.
And before we start diving into things that other people are doing, we need to really reflect on what it is that we like to do, what it is that we are willing to follow through on. Time in and time out, again and again, and realize that those are the strategies that are going to work for us. And sometimes we need to follow that for as long as we can and see where it leads.
I recently read a really great book by Mark Schaefer called Cumulative Advantage. And this idea of finding the thing that we're good at, and following that seam is a concept that he talks about in his book. And it's really what the customer story that I'm sharing with you it's really what he was doing.
He was going in and he had found his seam he knows he has a good product. He knows that if he talks to someone, he can make a sale. You ride out that seam as long as you can, and you build relationships around it and then see where that leads. And that's one of the great things about business is that we all do things differently.
We all have a different approach. We're all good at different things. And so I really want to encourage all of you who are listening to really think about in terms of your marketing, whether you are following the crowd, or if you're really playing upon your own strengths as a business leader, as someone trying to market your business, as someone who is selling, and it really encouraged you to think about what your strengths are and really play to those rather than following the crowd.
And I also acknowledged that this can be really difficult. It can be super hard. And I know that at times I've followed the crowd too. I look at trends. I spend most of my time researching software and making recommendations to clients. So it's really easy for me to see the latest and greatest thing out there that can make everything better.
And I've realized that in order for things to really work, you have to let it settle for a while. So I've found some ways to work through my own interests so I don't get bogged down and buying a bunch of software. But I think that for everybody, you all have your own thing. It's probably not software.
Cause I know that I'm a dork and that's just my thing. But you probably have something else that you collect or like to buy or like to do over and over for your business. Figure out a way to leverage that. Maybe that's a service like for me, researching software is so fun. It's something that I do for clients now, so that it's not something that I'm doing and spending way too much money on and spending too much time on.
So there could be something like that. Or you could be somebody like this client who really likes being in front of people and making the sale. Then don't focus on things like online sales funnels. Your first sales funnel is always how you engage with people in person. So don't forget that. And when you think about your marketing, think about the overall strategy for your business and how you and your team and the people that you're working with, how they all engage and,
build a business strategy and supporting tactics around that. And that's how you're going to be the best.
Thank you for listening to this talk. If you'd like to learn more about me, my workshops or presentations, you can learn more at https://womenconquerbiz.com or follow me on LinkedIn at https://linkedin.com/in/jensmcfarland. Thanks again.