Business can be a funny beast. One minute you’re hard at work running your business a certain way and then, seemingly out of the blue, a potential new direction presents itself. A number of incidental circumstances can lead to these turning points. It could be that a customer need sparks the idea for a new product or an opportunity for a business partnership occurs to you while you’re reshuffling your finances. In my case, the turning point was marketers wanting to work with me!
Marketer to franchisor
I have been a marketer for the majority of my career and have had my own business for many years, working as a sole operator with a solid team of graphic designers, copywriters, web developers and more behind me. I loved doing what I was doing… and then, out of the blue, it all changed.
To cut a long story short, I was contacted by a number of marketers within a short space of time asking if they could work with me. They wanted to know if they could join me and do their own marketing from their own office with my brand and processes as their own. Given that it wasn’t what I envisioned for my business, ultimately it was a ‘no’. Nevertheless, these encounters sparked an idea: why not franchise?
Before diving in, I wanted to do my homework. I wanted to make sure that this was the right path. So I engaged the services of a franchising specialist to undertake a feasibility study and determine whether this path had the substance necessary to really take hold and take off. The results were nothing short of amazing, and then the journey began.
Listen and hear
The moral of this story is that opportunities for massive growth and change can emerge from the smallest of incidents. BUT it’s all about listening and learning about what is happening in your business, otherwise opportunities will just glide by without notice. Most people starting out in business are willing to take on pretty much anyone as a client just to get the dollars rolling in and their business off the ground. As your business grows, however, it is important to not only take stock of the money coming in but also the quality of your clients. Listening to them – and the ‘pulse’ of your business – could bring you amazing opportunities.
If you are more discerning about whom you work with, the likelihood of repeat customers and referrals can increase substantially. By creating a comprehensive profile of your ideal client you can drill down into who you really want to attract and what those people look like (it’s ok to get specific here). List down what you don’t want as well as what you do. This helps you to identify them from the outset. For example, what size is their business, what skillset do they have, what is their work ethic, are they demanding in their dealings with you – that kind of thing.
Get the right advice
Another huge area for growth is to look for a mentor. I know there are loads out there, but the right mentor or coach can take you from level three to level ten in a short space of time with the right advice and direction. They can pull and push you through the toughest decisions, the critical moments and help you overcome the mountains of work you seem to have in front of you.
When choosing a mentor or coach, it’s important to ensure they are the right fit. For example, you don’t want to engage the services of someone who is identical to you. You need someone to enhance your skills rather than just add to them. Below are a few points to think about when choosing the right mentor:
- Ask for references from other clients
- Do they work to a program or is it a personalised process?
- How do they determine success?
- What do they expect of you?
Remember that as your needs change, it’s likely what you’ll need from a coach or mentor will also change. I have found that I engage the services of particular mentors and coaches for a certain time before moving on to different people depending on my needs.
Family and Career
Changes in your personal circumstances can influence your business dramatically. For example, if you are a working mum, it can be tough managing children and their schedules. But developments in your personal life can also open up opportunities to change your thinking on what is possible in your business and where you need to be going with it. You’ll need to think outside the box but it will be well worth it.
When you acknowledge your limitations, you can then clearly see what is left and what you can do, rather than focusing on what you can’t achieve. A great example of this is choosing to only work on particular days – or hours within the day – so that work fits in around the family schedule, and having strategies in place to ensure you stick to your plans.
So you might ask how this could lead to growth? I speak from my own experiences when I say that by scheduling in your family commitments you can free up space to also schedule in time for learning and planning, this in itself is valuable in developing and growing your business. What is really surprising is that being a mum makes me a better career person and vice versa.
When growing your business, ongoing learning is crucial. And by that I do not mean going back to college or university. A learning opportunity is the common thread through any situation or problem that may arise. When you deliberately seek out the lesson in your business experiences, you learn and you grow. Being defeated in that moment of difficulty is when your business stagnates or worse, ends. I am always telling my young children that making mistakes is good because we learn from them and this applies to all of us at any age. A true entrepreneur and business owner will never stop learning and never stop evolving.
About the author
Belinda Bow is the founder of Green Chilli Marketing, which recently evolved into a franchise. She is a Certified Practicing Marketer and an Associate Fellow of the Australian Marketing Institute.