Picture from http://pinterest.com/spindlephoto/
Aussie Adam Garone talks on how an idea became a worldwide movement to fight and create awareness about prostate cancer.
We have all heard these words before, but how true are they? Is it more important to have contacts then it is to learn and gain knowledge? Are the two independent of each other or is there a relationship?
I attend a number of networking events so I wanted to share with you what I do when preparing for a networking event.
1. Identify key events– your time is just as precious as money in business. Choosing which events to attend is crucial. Networking is about meeting people that will add value to your business.
2. Cost of attending– There is not only the money cost but the trade off. You could attend the event or you could spend that time working in or on your business (“Work on your business, not just in it“).
So I have decided the event is worth attending as it could create some great opportunities for me.
3. What is the purpose of me attending– Give yourself goals or objectives for the event.
Now I need to prepare for the event
4. What do I need to know before attending– You may need to do research before going to the networking event so you go prepared.
5. What do I need– You will need 20-50 business cards, an elevator pitch to introduce your business and possibly brochures. TIP: I highly recommend a pen and a notepad. Extra TIP: stick to the basic essentials. SECRET TIP: Your own personalised name tag!!!
6. Clothes– You have found out what the event or location dress code is, so dress to this. TIP: it is easier to dress down then to dress up. Extra TIP: Wear something eye catching that grabs attention.
7. Logistics– Know how you are getting to the event and leave enough time to arrive on time. TIP: Find out parking places and cost from the event venue. Extra TIP: Give yourself extra time to freshen up before walking into the event.
8. Personal Grooming– Look how you want to be remembered, as you only get one chance at a first impression. TIP: brush your teeth if you’re a smoker or strong coffee drinker. Secret TIP: Tic Tacs or mint chewing gum can be used for mouth freshener.
You are now at the event.
9. Remember your goals and objectives at item 3.
10. Moving around– don’t walk around asking for business cards and handing out your business cards like a black jack dealer. Take your time to talk with people.
11. Alcohol– my personal preference is to not drink. But if you are, moderation is essential.
12. Relationship– take the time to listen to others as well as talk yourself. TIP: build a repour/relationships. Extra TIP: Don’t spend all your time talking with people you already know or with one person/group. Secret TIP: We have 2 ears and 1 mouth, use them accordingly.
13. Finishing the conversation– If you want to meet the person for a follow up meeting after the event, let them know.TIP: by saying. “[name] I would like to meet up again for a chance to talk more. Would you like to meet later for a coffee?” Extra TIP: When you say you are going to call them, call them. Secret TIP: read the Extra TIP again so you remember.
So, is it not what you know but who you know? It is a combination of both. If you go prepared knowing what you need to know, then when you do meet the right people, you will be ready to build a relationship with that person. I leave you with these words
“Luck is where opportunity meets preparation” ~ Benjamin Franklin
~ Damien Foley
Tim Leberecht in this 7 minute presentation explains how giving your brand to others gives you more information and control over your brand.
A good friend of mine called to tell me his daughter, aged 18, had just bought a dog grooming business. Hearing anyone’s story about their business always excites me. I asked him to pass on my congratulations and should she need any assistance, to let me know. Driving myself, I started to go through some ideas of what she may need. After a few minutes I stopped, pulling myself back to the golden rule of any new business- does she have a business plan?
There are many businesses that have set up and done great without needing a business plan. But we all know that the 80/20 Rule applies to business, where 80% of new businesses fail. We don’t set out to fail, but it happens for any number of reasons. So what is a business plan? A business plan in its most simplest form is a road map for your business.
How A Business Plan Is Like A Road Map
1. Written document– Planning a road trip involves working out a number of variables. The best way to plan and to record all these decisions is to write them down. A business plan is exactly that, a document outlining your goals, strategy and actions to deliver the outcome you want. I discussed the importance of working on your business in “Work On Your Business, Not Just In It!”. This goes triple for a start up business and should be done before anything else. Invest in research and writing your business plan to prove to you and potential investors/financiers that your idea for a business has commercial reality and you have a plan.
2. Destination– When we start a journey we always start planning with an end destination in mind. We should do the same thing for a business plan. This is our ‘Exit Strategy’. Look at what you want to achieve with your business and what you want to do when you get there. Do you want to sell your business after 5 years or after achieving turnover of $5m? Do you want to pass the business onto your family or sell out to existing partners? What if there is the unforeseen death of one owner and their share of the business is then owned by their spouse? Starting with this in mind can help plan for the day it happens. I just recently had a client being several partners who, as part of their business plan, are speaking with their solicitor about buyout agreements.
3. Fuel stops– At some point in time your business is going to need financial input to keep the business going. This could be as a personal contribution, loan borrowings from family and friends or third parties as a bank, share investment, or sale of assets etc. Knowing how much and when you need before starting out will ensure you can prepare and be ready for when you need to go looking.
4. Route to Destination– When we set out on a trip we have a planned way of getting there. But like all great plans, they are susceptible to changes and variations, such as roadworks and road closures etc. So we have to find an alternate route to get there. A Business Plan is no different. We may start out with an idea of how we are going to reach our destination but events occur that change our strategy and action. For this reason a business plan is something we must review periodically and reassess with changes in our circumstances. These could be our personal or economic changes. For this reason, a Business Plan is known as a living document. It is always open to change and variation and should always be reviewed and assessed periodically.
5. Resources– So an important resource for a road trip is a licensed driver and a car. What about clothes, fuel, a service before leaving, organising passengers who also help with the driving etc? A business will also need resources at start up and along the way. For example, a business structure, a business name, insurances, an advisor to assist with planning such as a consultant, accountant or solicitor, website, bookkeeper etc. All of these things need to be planned for and considered. As a result you may realise you cannot run the business on your own. You may need a business partner to do some of these things where you have neither the time, money, skill or expertise to do yourself.
6. Decide To Proceed– Finally, while you have the great idea to go on a trip, when you start to plan what is involved you may realise it is not realistic to do. We would all love that around the world year long trip but can we afford it both with our time and money? A business is the same. You may have a great idea but realise that it isn’t going to happen for any number of reasons. But you have worked this out in preparing your business plan and doing your research. You have lost some time and money but not nearly as much as you could have if you went ahead with it. Alternatively you may realise that the business has greater potential then originally thought and you can sell your idea with a business plan to investors to raise capital.
So a business plan should always be written down. We should always start with our exit strategy from the business. We need to work out how much money is needed now and later and what resources we need to make the business work. Finally, we then decide if we should proceed to start the business. Do you have an idea for a business you want to start? A business plan is a worth while investment isn’t it?
~ Damien Foley
Below is a link from the episode “South Park- Underpants Gnomes”. It brings to light some misunderstood ideas about business and the importance of a business plan.
8 Secrets of Success
Ever wondered what it takes to be successful? Richard St Johns was asked this question. As a result he has condensed 7 years of research into a presentation that explains it in less time than a TV ad break.
~ Damien Foley
Many big businesses began as a micro business. The owner in this small business did everything- take calls, do paperwork, find sales, and finally the work to make the product or service sold. As a small business owner you can relate to the long hours and the small pay! And if you don’t work you don’t get paid!
So how did these big business owners become big? how did they turn their small business into a big business? They no longer do everything, they employ people to do it for them. They still work hard, but not the same as they did when they started. Many big business owners became big, because they planned to become big. That is, they not only spent time working in the business, but took time away from it to work on it! this is an important part of any business growth story. You have to plan for your business to grow and start putting milestones in place to work towards.
- Commit Time– Block out a few hours per week to work on your business. This means no interruptions or doing it here and there.
- Jot Notes– Keep a diary or book that is dedicated to your Business Development. Then when you reach your Block Out time you can review your notes. This could be anything from identifying ways to improve production, a new supplier, a possible new product line or offering, new business alliances or venture opportunities- anything. Write it down!
- Experts and Mentors– Many entrepreneurs who grew their business will tell you how important it is to have the input of others. Be willing to ask for advice and guidance. Experts such as accountants, solicitors and business consultants are a valuable resource. Mentors are a good sounding board for any challenges you have, acting as both guidance and support. Input and ideas from outside the business brings diverse thinking and new opportunities.
- Self Sabotage– Sometimes the thing preventing your business from growing is you! A business owner can, mostly out of comfort and fear of the unknown, be the biggest hurdle preventing the business from growing. They could prevent putting in management or taking on new investors, seeing them as threat to control. They could view business growth as too risky when the business is fine the way it is. Fear is a big component of self sabotage! Be open to change.
- Plan Ahead– Use your business development time to set goals and milestones. It is important to put when you want to achieve a goal or milestone. “A Goal not written down and without a deadline is a wish. A written goal with a deadline is a commitment!”
- Personal and Professional– Not only plan for your business goals, but also your own personal goals. These could impact on your business goals. Making money is not the outcome, it is what the money can do for you that is the outcome. On a deserted island or in death, money has no worth.
These are just some of the ways to work on your business. In order to grow your business, you must dedicate time to achieving the outcomes you are wanting. Use experts and mentors to guide and support your business to grow. Don’t be your own enemy to success, be open to the change that will take place, don’t fear it. Plan where you want your business to be in the future, but also plan where you want to be personally so there is no mismatch in goals.