I have been doing business in Kansas City for a long time and I thought I would share some of the things that I have learned along the way. My hope is that it will make you think about how you are currently doing things and potentially make changes for the better.
One of the hardest things in the early stages of a new business is getting the word out. You might have the most amazing product or service, but if nobody knows about it, then it doesn’t really matter.
You spend a lot of time and money getting the word out. Business cards, networking events, flyers, websites, social media and more.
But then what?
I hope you read that again because it is one of the most important things I have learned in my professional career. It takes time to meet people, get to know them and do business with them. It takes time for them to refer you to someone else, even if you ask for the introduction after figuring out they know someone through LinkedIn.
It takes time to build your personal brand or reputation and the brand of your company. Over the months and years you have to figure out a way to stay top of mind with the people that “get it” and appreciate what you and your company are capable of doing.
You don’t want to lose any of the people that appreciated the product or service you provided because they are your strongest salespeople. You don’t want to lose any of the people that like you, even if they were never a client. We blog every week and have been doing it for more than three years. We proactively connect with friends, peers and clients through LinkedIn and Facebook.
We have made a lot of people happy. They tell their friends about us. And now, even though we can’t impress upon you enough that it didn’t happen overnight, Blue Gurus is a recognizable brand.
Be patient, show up consistently, and tell people face-to-face and through social media what you are doing so that you stay top of mind.
The Result: We continue to grow through word of mouth referrals and we are having a blast doing it.
Don’t get me wrong, you should think strategically about the end goal and have a reasonable plan for getting there. The problem is that too many people get caught up in the details before ever taking a step. The interesting thing about this is that you need to take a few steps before you can really understand the best way to do the thing you are trying to do.
In other words, the plan needs to be flexible because there are too many variables to account for. If you know what you are doing, you will find that your “on the fly” answer will be better than the average person that doesn’t know much about the subject.
If you agonize over the details, you may find yourself planning for things that aren’t really worth worrying about. Take a step. See if it works. If not, fix it, learn and do better next time. The age-old mantra still applies: KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).
The Result: We have a reputation of consistently delivering (or over-delivering) on time and on budget. Awesome.
This tidbit is something that I have fine tuned while working with Mic. He understands the value and importance of documentation, not just now, but for the long term as your business grows. When we first started working together, he wanted to document everything while I had always kept a lot in my head (I know, not ideal.)
As we continued to work together, we met in the middle. We document, but we don’t create huge, complicated systems for documenting, and when we do document, we capture the most important things… not all the itty bitty details. We routinely use Word and Excel documents stored in DropBox. Recently, we have been using Google Docs for just about everything. (We love Google Docs because we can both be editing a document at the same time and see the edits the other person is making in real time.)
The Result: We have good, solid documentation that is easy to get to but that doesn’t take a lot of time to maintain.
What do you think? What other thoughts do you have?
I would love to hear your biggest lessons learned in the comments below, or with a phone call or email, or smoke signals.
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