Business is, for the most part, highly competitive. There are so many different providers of virtually the same services and unfortunately, not all will survive.
However, when you focus on comparison to others on a regular basis, you're on a sure-fire track to go right off course. It is important to measure your own progress and run your own race. My dragon boat coach used to say "momentum goes where attention flows" and he is right!
If you're so busy looking around at what everyone else is doing, it's impossible to concentrate on running your own race. Your efforts become sloppy because your focus is elsewhere - I've seen this happen a zillion times in both dragon boats and in business. Excited new teams/business owners often feel they have to "watch" the competition to beat them!
It's your own race/business. Unique. Once you've got your race/business plan bedded down, the focus should be on how you/your business is progressing against your plan.
What to compare
Compare where you are today to where you were 6 months ago, a year ago, 5 or even 10 years ago. These are the statistics that are meaningful as they are very specific to your own journey/business development.
At the end of each dragon boat race, the coach would review what went well, where we could tweak and improve. That would then be written into the race plan. It's the exact same with your business - move towards those goals/milestones.
Keeping on course
As you reach each goal, stop. Check how you are tracking. Decide where you may want to tweak a strategy.
In order to run your race, you need to be paying attention. In the dragon boat, we paid attention to each team member, to what each was bringing to the team in terms of commitment and effort in order to win the race.
In the business realm, this translates into a focus on what you are offering your audience - whether it is on social media, a blog, via email or in person. It’s about how your staff are handling customers or in a volunteer-run organisation the level of skills each volunteer has. All of this is your front window – it is how you show your business to the world.
The quality of your content, your presentation and your service delivery are what leads to ongoing success. It is never a case of set and forget.
The little touches
Thank you. Two little words. Two very powerful words. Of course, it is good manners to say a verbal thank you and that's pretty standard. But take it a step further. Make it more personal. Send a card (maybe even a gift if appropriate). It's always a delight and a surprise to receive personal and unexpected thank you notes.
Think about this.....it's a rarity these days to receive snail or hand-delivered mail or even a follow-up phone call after you’ve completed a transaction. Online surveys are the norm as is an email. Be different. It’s these little extra thoughtful touches that differentiate one business experience from the next.
When you manage to touch the emotional side you are separating yourself from the pack. It’s good old fashioned manners and service at work – but it’s not commonplace.
None of these things takes very long and nor are they particularly costly. But they are what sets your business apart from the next. These little touches demonstrate that you actually care about their experience and not just the $$ you’ve been paid.
Protecting your investment
As a business owner, you’ve spent time and money acquiring customers/clients. Making the effort to protect your initial investment of customer/client acquisition makes good business sense. It costs a lot more to keep bringing in new clients. It makes sense to nurture the ones you already have. Don’t discount them as repeat business or word of mouth referrals.
From a personal perspective, as a business strategist, I’ve had clients come back to me as much as 7 years later for additional support, and it’s all because we’ve got a system in place to keep in touch in a non-salesy way.
You can use special occasions like holidays, business anniversaries etc to keep in touch. For example, it’s the 12th birthday of Dragons Sisters on the 23rd of October, so we’re using this as an opportunity to reach out to our audience with birthday gifts.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and confused when it comes down to your business, remember that comparison is indeed the thief of joy. Stop comparing and if you need help getting crystal clear on the steps to take to achieve your goals reach out to us.
Until next issue…
Michelle Hanton firstname.lastname@example.org 898082 www.dragonsisters.com.au
Michelle Hanton OAM is a multi-award winning international business strategist, the founder of Dragons Abreast Australia and former CEO of Lifeline Top End. Her business, Dragon Sisters, specialises in actionable, momentum-building support to help move businesses to the next level.