When I started planning my new business, back in 2000, I sought as much advice as I could, on how to set up and run a business. One of the best pieces of advice I received has stayed with me ever since and I frequently share it with other people who are setting up or running their own businesses, so I want to share it with you now. I was told that, aside from what you actually do in your business – whether that is coaching, consulting, training or something else – you also have to be able to do three other things. They are admin, marketing and finance; and I was told that if you cannot do any of those three really well, you should seek help to get them done. When I started my business, I could handle the admin because there was not much to do; as I got busier I found other people, in the form of a virtual PA and a phone reception service, to help with the admin. The accounts I managed for a short time, but numbers are not my strong point, so as soon as I found myself struggling with my first tax return, I sought out a bookkeeper. I had wasted an afternoon achieving nothing, when I could have been out looking for new business. From then on I paid someone else to do what I could not do, in less than half the time.
Of the three activities – admin, finance and marketing – the last area is the one that I kept hold of from the start and that I will always do for my business. I am, after all, a Marketing Consultant, so I should know what I am doing! However, even I have my limitations. While I can happily write over 1000 words of a book in an hour (yes really!) I cannot spot the spelling errors or grammatical mistakes that a spell checker will not see. I can stand up in front of a room of 100 people, or more, and give a presentation, but I am hopeless at making cold calls and setting up appointments with people who do not know me.
When you run your own business, if you try to do everything, two things will happen. Firstly, you will spend a lot more time doing things like marketing, finance and admin than someone who is a specialist in that area. It comes naturally to them – in the same way as doing what you do to earn your fees comes naturally to you – so they can do it much more quickly than you can. Then, because you are spending so much time doing what someone else can do, you will find that you do not have time to promote your business properly or look after the clients you have.
This blog is about looking realistically at what marketing you can do – with the time and skills that you have – so that you can then look at where you can find the people who can support you to carry out the different marketing activities that you want to use, so that you can build a great team around you.
What Can You Really Do?
Unless you are a Marketing Consultant of some sort, you will need to look for help with some or all of your marketing. You might not be able to afford to take on a full time marketing department if you are just setting up your business, but you do need to look carefully at your marketing and decide which elements of it you can realistically handle.
To help you decide which marketing activities you can carry out, answer these questions:
There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. They are designed to get you thinking about what you are good at and what you enjoy doing. For example, if you love meeting new people and talking to strangers, then if networking is on your list of marketing activities to be carried out, you will do a great job at it and will not need someone else to go to meetings for you.
On the other hand, if you are always rude to cold callers when they phone you and you find it hard to get up when you get knocked down, if telesales is on your list of relevant marketing tools, you should find someone else do it for you.
Unless you know how to set up a website or you got a grade A at art, think about finding some help with graphic design and creating your website.
Look at all the marketing activities that you would like to use to promote your business and think honestly about which you can do and where you need help.