Small businesses: nothing succeeds like sales

2011-07-13 00:00

ONE of the things I often see in small businesses is entrepreneurs who have a terrible inability to actually prioritise things.

You ask them what they actually do on a day-to-day basis and they tell you that they “updated Twitter” (to their 50 followers, 13 of whom are spam bots), updated their 250 friends on Facebook about what their business was doing, checked their e-mail and “strategised”.

When you repeat the question, they look at you slightly askance for a moment and then say they “built brand awareness”.

In the words of my mate, Scott Cundill, who wrote the book How Not to Start and Run Your Own Business, “In your small business … the only ingredient you need to focus on is sales.”

Truer words have never been spoken.

Here are some suggestions on getting the priorities right:

• Believe it or not, e-mail doesn’t have to be answered immediately. One of the most successful entrepreneurs I know has a very simple auto responder on her account: “Thank you for your e-mail. I will do my best to respond to you within 48 hours. However, due to the high volume of e-mails received, this may not always be possible.” I promise you, she doesn’t get involved in long and tedious e-mail conversations which achieve nothing.

• When you wake up in the morning, work out who owes you money and what is the quickest and most sensible way to get that money in your account. I promise you will feel more inspired about your business if there is money in the account.

• It can be unpleasant — but quickly remind yourself what your real cash flow position is. It helps you stay focused on what is actually important.

• Finish work you actually have and then go back to your clients and ask them what you did well and whether you can do the job again or expand on it.

• Make five sales-related phone calls or introductions in the day.

• If you like admin, do it then and there. If you despise it, stick it in one of those alphabetical filing things and summon help at the end of the week to make sure it is all traceable.

— Fin24.

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