Bart Kowalczyk of Automatenow asked Stephanie Robinson, Business Growth Coach & Build-Up Entrepreneur, for her advice.
Stephanie Robinson is the daughter of an entrepreneur father and mother. She achieved her dream of selling her business to pay off her mortgage so successfully that she qualified for an earn out. She did well, but has since reflected that she could have achieved an even better price for the business, at an earlier date, if she had hired a business coach to advise her on a few key steps.
Now she runs her own business growth coaching business, advising entrepreneurs on how to maximise the value of their business.
Bart Kowalczyk asked her for top tips on thriving in a financial crisis.
Take More Holidays
Not quite what you might expect as the first piece of advice from a highly-regarded business coach, but Stephanie’s approach is that each one of us probably started our business with the aim of having more freedom and choosing our own hours. It often doesn’t work out that way, and that’s where a business coach comes in.
It’s about leveraging your time, recruiting people you can trust, etc., so you can stand back from your business from time to time.
A holiday is an excellent opportunity to reset your mind, draw back and see your business from a different perspective, away from the day-to-day minutiae. It allows us to ‘slow down to speed up’, as we return not just energised, but with new ideas, ready to
take the next leap.
Recruit the Right People
Stephanie has a background in HR, so she is very focussed on recruitment. If candidates have to pass a rigorous process, those who are not sufficiently committed will drop out, leaving the strongest and most driven candidates for the employer to engage with. These are the candidates who will become your A-players.
Adopt a Mindset
In every financial crisis, there are those businesses which suffer. Some even fold. But, there are always those who actually grow, despite the difficult conditions.
So, what’s the difference?
All things being equal, the difference sometimes just comes down to mindset.
Being an entrepreneur is all about being flexible; learning, adapting to new circumstances and, crucially, being open to new opportunities.
The Wheel of the Economy
Also, be prepared to wait. If you understand how the economy works, you know that it is basically cyclical. Right now, in certain areas, there is a slump. But, as the wheel of the economy turns, those same areas will upturn.
What does that mean in practice?
Maybe you could invest in sectors currently in depression, with the aim of benefitting in the future. Alternatively, if your business is in a slump, adapt and diversify but don’t burn your bridges: there will be demand for your core product or service again, in time.
Know, Like, Trust
The old saying: People buy from people, is still valid. Take it a stage further: People buy from people they like. But really, People buy from people they Know, Like and Trust.
You can’t wave a magic wand and make people trust you, generally. Unless you’re Derren Brown, perhaps! So, it’s about investing time in building relationships, being transparent and honest about who you are until you reach that level.
This is true on a personal level: attending networking events, meeting people and developing professional relationships with individuals.
But, equally, it is effective at the other end of the spectrum. "Coca-Cola" is famously the second most widely understood term in the world after "OK".
Coca Cola achieved that through relentless exposure and canny brand building. We don’t all have the resources the Coca Cola Company had, but with the reach of social media like LinkedIn, TikTok and Facebook, etc., we have tools at our disposal that they did not have. World domination is within the reach of us all! Importantly, we should target our marketing. TikTok is big with Gen Z. Probably not the place to sell life insurance, for example!
Authenticity is key on social media, just as much as at F2F events. You are building image and relationships with the aim of creating trust.
Mistakes to Avoid
The biggest mistake many businesses make is Failure to Plan. You may have a 5-year plan with clear goals. That is a great start. But do you have the incremental steps, on a daily basis, that you need to take continue moving forward to achieve your goal?
Another error is spending week after week working in the business, rather than on the business. That is, devoting time to the shop floor rather than strategic planning. Then, ineffective, untargeted marketing – wasting perfectly good marketing resources by aiming them at the wrong audience.
How to be Human?
People buy from people, as we’ve seen. The question then, is, how can we be more human, more relatable?
Sharing your company or business values is highly effective. What do you stand for? Communicate that and you become instantly more relatable. Prospects start to draw synergies with their own perspective and identify with you more.
Are you sending out automated emails or messages to prospects and clients? It’s not necessarily the end of the world: you can personalise them via sophisticated CRM packages like HubSpot so recipients feel valued.