Saturday Musings - My Business Continues to Grow!

My new target market

It’s been a while since I’ve written about my new burgeoning business and I thought that it was about time I updated everyone with how it’s going. To say I’ve been busy is a bit of an understatement but first, let me provide you with a quick recap.

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Early this year I set myself the challenge of launching a new venture and it was an instant success with the target market. I had customers flocking in from all over the place wanting to get access to the services I was providing.

I then wrote about the fact that I planned on tackling a new target market. This is quite often a risky proposition for a new business as the expenditure of stretched resources could end up disrupting existing clients and sending the whole venture bankrupt.

I just knew in my gut that this new segment wasn’t being served adequately and with no market research whatsoever I decided to push into the unknown. After tweaking my services, a number of times I’m pleased to inform readers that it’s been a great success!

Of course, the business I’m talking about is about how to attract birds (the flying variety) to my yard and more importantly just out my study window. As can be seen from the above photo I’ve managed to get a flock of cockatoos as customers and one of them even allowed me to handfeed it.

I must admit it was a surreal moment as I slowly crept up to the beautiful bird and extended my hand with some seed in it. It felt like a complete endorsement of my whole business model….and that’s often what success is all about.

So what lessons did I learn along this perilous journey? For a start, when something wasn’t working I changed things up. For instance, the bird bath wasn’t in the right position and my fine feathered customers were ignoring it, so I moved it to a new location. Voila! Suddenly I had customers dive bombing the water in an effort to avail themselves of the service I was offering.

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Wolftalker
...are fab aren't they!
04 August 2018
mgilmour
It was a great experience feeding the cockatoos.
05 August 2018
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My Business is Failing….What Now?

Have you ever had a time when you feel like your helpless? No matter what you do nothing seems to work and yet, those around you seem to be doing incredibly well. This is what it’s like to be in the grip of a business failing.

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Running a failing business is a scary proposition. There isn’t enough cash to pay all the bills and creditors start hounding you for money. You never know whether you should answer the phone or not because you’re not sure if it’s someone about to bring some business in or someone chasing you for an outstanding debt.

The stress levels at work increase dramatically and this often impacts loved ones as the days disasters spill over into home life. Is running a business supposed to be like this? Isn’t the reason why you’re working so hard is to provide a better life for your family?

If the business completely fails, then what is the outcome? Many people (especially males) tie their self-worth to their businesses and they end up getting more and more depressed as they scramble to save what is often unsaveable.

The first thing a business owner needs to realise is their self-worth has NOTHING to do with their business but has a LOT to do with their personal integrity while going through the tough time. The measure of a person is how they behave during adversity not how they act when things are going well.

Over the years I’ve helped a lot of business owners out and without exception they believe either;
1. A big deal that’s just on the horizon will solve their problems OR
2. If that investor just put a lot of money in then all will be good.

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Wolftalker
Good advice.
14 July 2018
Rawgi
I will agree Good advice. Can't ever feel too good to eat some humble pie and roll back to square 1. It actually makes you stron... Read More
14 July 2018
mgilmour
Robin, great to hear from you. I hope your colleagues come through their troubles and that I was able to help out in some small wa... Read More
15 July 2018
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My Business Success!

As many readers already know I’ve been relating my efforts of attracting birds to my yard to starting a new business. In the last article in the series I wrote about trying to develop a new market vertical for my burgeoning bird business. So how’s it going?

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Like any good entrepreneur I tried a number of different techniques to attract clients to my offering. Applying the marketing principles of product, price, placement and promotion I began testing the market and then evaluating the results.

My wife had given me some bird seed (ie. the product) for Christmas as a present and I scattered these liberally across the lawn and in the feeder. The result, pigeons. I have nothing against pigeons but they weren’t the market I was trying to reach and to be frank with you….they are complete pigs and ate all of the seeds.

This is similar to a new business taking a scatter gun approach to marketing to see if there are any bites on their product or service. More often than not, you get a lot of tyre kickers that talk a lot, don’t buy and waste your time.

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Wolftalker
Analogy good. And Lorikeets and Cockatoos - fab!
11 February 2018
mgilmour
I must admit that I'm having a great time watching the birds out my window..... :-)
12 February 2018
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Business 101 - The Inspiration

I’m a firm believer that everyone is born with a spark of creativity inside of them. It’s the energy that spins the dynamo and as children causes them to dream big wonderful dreams. As we age we often start getting “sensible”, stop dreaming and life backs us into a corner of mediocrity when we were meant to soar like eagles!

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How many times have you shared an idea with a work colleague to find you’ve become the butt of everyone’s jokes? Or maybe it’s been your parents that tell you to just knuckle down and get a job as that’s going to be your future…..when deep down inside you want to do something else. I’ve met so many people that have had their dreams smashed before their eyes and they end up crawling back to the weekly grind they despise.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a job, especially if the other option is to not have one at all. The question each of us needs to ask is whether we have a secret desire to do something else? Yes, it may be a business but like Richard Gere’s character in the movie “Shall We Dance” it could be to dance. It could also be to do something quite different.

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Part 4 – Building a Business – Extending the Runway

In this article, I plan to pick up where I’d left off in the series on Building a Business. As you may have guessed from the title we will be exploring the importance of generating revenue and why it should be the fundamental goal for the vast majority of businesses. This may seem obvious, but so many entrepreneurs lose sight of the revenue in the quest for building a better widget.

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Revenue is the first part of the profit equation:

Profit = Revenue less Expenses

Many people look on this equation as being obvious without really understanding it in the context of a startup business. For a startup, the equation is all about runway. The less negative the profit is (ie. small the losses) the longer it will take a new business to run out of cash.

You can achieve this by hamstringing the business on the development side by reducing the expenses. This strategy often defeats the purpose of raising capital or being the first to market in a land grab. If you’re initially committed to your expense line, then the only other option is to generate revenue.

This then raises one of the largest challenges for a startup business. Short-term revenue versus long-term success. It’s often the leadership of the founder that empowers the business to achieve both.

For instance, should you go to the market with a half-baked product when you know customers won’t be enamored with the offering? If you launch into the market will competitors see what you’re doing and eventually eat your lunch? What is the PR implications of going to market now? These are just a few of the questions then plague founders.

On top of all this, focusing on revenue can be a complete distraction from the core objective. As a founder, you’ll suddenly find yourself managing a sales team (their often not that fun) who bring nasty things called clients that demand a level of quality from your half-built solution. This will then cause you to think about bringing onboard support staff. In the meantime, the core team wants to know where you are because you’ve been buried in all the noise.

So what gives first? I can tell you that it’s going to be your personal time which is quickly followed by waving good-bye to loved ones as you spend increasingly more time at work. On top of all this, the next board meeting with your investors will make you acutely aware of your shortcomings and the fact that you’re not hitting targets for what they invested in.

Does this sound like fun still? Remember the dreams you had in the bar with a few friends about building something great? Hang on to them and don’t let go as they are often the only way you’ll get through this patch.

What’s the solution to revenue? A number of years ago I watched an episode of the political drama “The West Wing” and the president of the USA was talking to one of his staff members.

President Josiah Bartlet: You got a best friend?
Staff Member: Yes, sir.
President Josiah Bartlet: Is he smarter than you?
Staff Member: Yes, sir.
President Josiah Bartlet: Would you trust him with your life?
Staff Member: Yes, sir.
President Josiah Bartlet: That's your chief of staff.

It’s a really good job interview for the conditions in building a team and most notably the crucial role of your second in command. Every successful business that I know has been built not by an individual but by a high-powered team.

As the founder of the start-up you can’t be expected to do everything. If you try to then you’ll fail. Get good people around you and delegate the revenue task as the focus of your second in charge. I’ve found that in most start-ups there is low hanging fruit that will unlock some revenue without distracting the core.

Remember, the purpose of doing this is to lower the business’s cash-burn and extend the runway so the core product/service can be released. The danger with this approach is if the founder gets distracted by the revenue and loses focus on the vision….so keep your vision firmly in sight.

In the next article I will continue the discussion on revenue.

Battleframe

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