Most owners set up a business doing something they believe they are good at. For many, they are fed up with working for somebody else – working hard to line another person’s pockets.
Once they start their own business, they realise they were mistaken.
Suddenly, you are doing what you are good at for just a fraction of the time, if at all. The rest of the time, you are firefighting and trying to tackle areas where you have limited or no expertise – finance, HR, marketing, sales, operations. And the list goes on.
Along the way, the chances are you will have learned that some of those hats fit quite well. You have taken to certain areas of the business, and discovered you have a flair for it, whilst other areas are quite clearly never going to be your bag.
I believe the first big transition comes for both the business and the business owner, when they realise they are not good at everything.
And that’s the time to bring in the experts.
Initially, that might be employing people. When you recruit you will inevitably look for people you like. People you can imagine working with and getting along with. Often that can mean a series of “mini me” staff, although not always.
However, there is a common area of business where owners are reluctant to recruit, even if they know it is not their strength – marketing and sales. Not to be confused with each other, as they are two distinct disciplines – and both are challenging.
When it comes to either of these disciplines small companies often struggle. They don’t know how to recruit for roles, because they don’t know what they are looking for.
From a marketing perspective, I see business owners making expensive mistakes as they “dabble” with different tactics and ideas. They are persuaded to try different things, either by members of their team, or enthusiastic sales people.
Eventually, you recognise that you need some external expertise. So, you start the search to find marketing help.
The thing is, when you are looking for an expert to help and support you, you need a different skillset and personality to what you might look for in a member of staff.
Undoubtedly you need trust.
You want to can get on and be able to talk to each other with ease.
But you also need someone who is not afraid to challenge you. To ask you the pointy questions that nobody in the business is likely to do.
And, I believe, most importantly, you need somebody who is prepared to say “No”. That’s not about being argumentative or difficult, but it is about having confidence that they know their stuff, and they want to steer you the right way.
Now, of course, we have all been guided the wrong way by people at some point in our lives, but sometimes you need to take that leap of faith.
If you don’t want what you have always had, you need to do something different. You need to be brave. You need to be able to trust the expert you have chosen, and give them time to demonstrate their worth.
As I say so often, marketing is not about pulling rabbits out of a hat. There is no silver bullet. It is about consistency, customer focus, communication, planning and time. And it’s the last one that’s the killer… you HAVE to allow time for marketing to work.
So, if you are ready to get some outside help with your marketing, I want you to reflect…
Are you prepared to listen? Are you comfortable with being challenged? Are you serious about growing? Are you happy to invest in your marketing?
If you have answered yes to all of these questions you have already made a big step forward.