Staying True in Business
Staying true is the key to survival
in today’s precarious small business market.
Your truth – who you are and what you stand for – informs every choice you make as a small business or entrepreneur. It influences your communication, your marketing and digital strategies; it will inform the service you provide and even who your customers are. It will determine the experience people have with your business – and if they come back. That’s why it’s important to invest time into figuring out what’s authentic and true for you: it affects everything.
Customers today want to know who you are and what you stand for.
As Leon Gettler puts it, “…values are not window dressing. They can attract customers and quality staff”.
Why not let that be true for you?
― Alexander Hamilton
So who are you? What do you value?
If you can’t put that into a single sentence, then you don’t have much of a chance of being able to articulate that to anyone whether it’s online, through social media or to a developer trying to create something for you. If you don’t know at this point, don’t stress. Just sit down with a cup of tea or your team (if you have one) and get it down on paper. You can draw up something yourself, use a template like this Business Plan from Small Business Victoria or read an article on the importance of values in business to inspire you.
It doesn’t matter how you do it, just start. Now.
To turn the tables on myself as an example, I am in the business of helping people succeed. That’s how I put myself across when I’m networking, it’s the first thing I’ll say to a client and it’s the underpinning of the work I will do with them. After careers in youth work and freelancing in media, spending years talking to people about their goals and what they want to achieve, and then supporting them to create the life that they want to lead, I’ve combined the two passions to form Brave New World. I personally value people and so use a person centred approach. I hate when people push things onto me or talk in technical jargon, so I don’t do it to my clients. I hate when people take advantage and try and sell people what they don’t need, so I work hard to create online solutions that fit individual businesses. When I help a business succeed, that is how I’ll get repeat business or referrals – by staying true to that. So what about you – what are you about?
Okay, I know who I am – now what do I do with it?
Once you have a strong idea of who you are and what you stand for it’s easy to begin to transfer that to your business - in recruitment, strategic direction, marketing, ambition, self belief, production, innovation, communication… the list is endless! What about the bottom-line? Well it works that way too – operating in this way will make networking easier, open you up to more leads, help with conversion and securing repeat business. When you’re on message, so is your business and it will equate to profits over time as people choose to trust and engage with you.
If someone has a great experience with your company,
what are they going to do?
Tell someone about it.
Erik Qualman states 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations. That’s why your truth needs to be ingrained in everything you do. When their friend recommends your business and they look you up on the Internet – and they will – your website needs to be clear as day; your branding should leave no doubt of what your about. When they read about you on social media it should reflect your message and what you’re about. The person who deals with them should come across as passionate and knowledgeable and treat them inline with your ethos.
Being online: making it work for you
The online domain is set to become central to your business if it isn’t already, with the rollout of the National Broadband Network in Australia and more people buying online than ever before. But how do you know which avenues to invest in? You come back to your truth, of course. You need to figure out (or find someone to help you) what is the best digital strategy for your business. One size doesn’t fit all but it’s important to get right. Perhaps you work a combination of facebook and websites, perhaps you present yourself as an expert and blog or make youtube clips to increase your credibility and traffic to your business. What ever strategy you choose, make sure it’s in line with your truth and core business and that you exist wherever your target audience is.
It’s never easy at the beginning, but invest time and energy into getting it right. The closer you align to your values, who you are and what you stand for, the bigger the reward, personally and professionally. It can actually save a lot of time and headaches if you use it as a guide – you can quickly tell whether something is right for you or not, or how to implement something your way.