I had a serious conversation with the owner of a home flooring business. The owner was telling me how tough business was and that it wasn't getting any better. I respectfully asked what the owner was doing to grow the business and he said he was working with a not-for-profit and spending a day involved in fundraising for the organization.
I asked was there a special owner connection and was told "it's a good cause." I then asked if there was compensation to the business to which the owner replied (a bit snippily I might add) "I’m building my brand."
Believe me, I understand brand-building and over the years I have raised money for many causes — causes that were very close to my heart. But if you’re a "one man show" there’s only so much time to go around and helping your business grow needs to be the first order of business. The owner had also contacted me weeks before about asking my advice on an article they were writing for the local newspaper. Again, I wondered what the compensation was and the person replied: I’m building my brand in the marketplace.
Is it important to build your brand? Of course it is, but if you can’t stay in business who needs a brand and what brand are you building — that you’re a good writer or fundraiser?
I think the priorities might be out of whack. Remember:
- Your brand will grow if you do good business.
- Your brand will grow if you connect with people who are willing to help you with your business.
- Your brand you will grow if you help others with their business. There is very little fat in business these days or time to lose—you need to pay attention to growing your business and that’s it. Forget the fantasies.
What did I suggest to the owner?
Put 20 minutes aside every day and make a list of 5 people that you know that have your best interest at heart. Can you meet with them, form a coalition and decide to work together? Throw a barbecue, invite your best customers and do some networking? Can you share your skills and build your businesses? Who do you do business with on a regular basis? Have they reciprocated? Let’s look at your insurance company, how much business have you given them over the years? What have you asked for in return? Over the years you have helped keep these people in business by making your insurance payments on time—what about your home and business insurance?
One of my seminar participants told me that their insurance agent had given them a bathroom floor to redo. When I asked if that was the only flooring the agent needed, they replied that they didn’t have any other rooms that needed flooring.
Here’s my point, you do business with people such as your insurance company and you don’t think this has leverage? When I discussed "my investment" in my insurance company with Paul he understood what I was after and offered to introduce me to his networking group. This was the start of great business for my company and a lifelong friendship. At the time we had seven carpet and furniture stores insured with Paul as well as the usual cars and houses.
How many businesses have you"“invested in?" How many contacts have they made for you? How have you leveraged these relationships? This is called building your business and your brand.
Remarkablogger talked about their blogging survey and asked people why they blog. The number one answer was "to get more customers." The next question was a short essay question: What’s the biggest problem with blogging? The answer: not enough time to devote to it.
So a blog is for marketing and no one has enough time to devote to it?
Here we are again; the things that can make you money become an imposition. When do you stop being distracted and do the things that will build your business and make you money?
The importance of knowing the value of your customers was brought to my attention the other day by someone I'll call "Sally," who works at the local laundry. Her business is Sally's Wash and Fold and she has a business card. She doesn’t forget your name, knows your peculiarities — in my case it's my allergies to fragrance in the laundry detergent. The people who own the laundry don’t mind if Sally has her side business — she manages the laundry. A couple of times a month I bring Sally comforters and rugs to wash that are too big for my washing machine. Sally told me on Friday she might have to change Laundromats because the owners wanted her to work more hours for the same amount of money. Her question: would I still be her customer if she moved? Sounds like Sally knows the value of her customers, and the right questions to ask.