The title above is a statement you’ve probably seen before and you nod your head in agreement knowing that attention to details is a fast way to success. You’d be surprised how many people actually skip over crucial details and it leads to the death of their business.
Someone’s about to open a new business. They wanted to begin last year but there have been many delays. In the time frame from September 2014 to July 2015 one would think that all the details have been worked out – even though there were delays in other areas.
I’m writing this blog post because I am very, very worried. I worry about people using savings to seed a new business and not employing a mentor to consult on business practices. I worry about the fact that many older, newly retired people are looking for their sense of worth to continue and with all their knowledge over the years they delve into turning a hobby into a business. I worry that this new business will literally suck the life and money out of these wonderful people. They have no idea.
This is more like a journal entry than a blog post. I feel compelled to do more than just a website and a few marketing ideas for these nice people. The business person in me wants to run over to the building as they tinker about and shout out “let’s get this moving! – here, I made you a 3 ring binder of 115 things that must be done before you open – let’s go!” – but this is probably not a good thing to do. They will do what they want to do. They are going at a certain pace. Things will get done, but I suspect the opening is going to be pushed back another month.
I think it’s fear.
Fear of success? Fear of failure? Either one of these scenarios will imobilize you into putting off decisions and letting someone else “handle things.” Remember the phrase “Success is in the Details?” – if you don’t pay attention to the details, your customer service will be horrific and then – people don’t come back. You often have a one shot deal with the public.
I think I’m worried. Don’t let this happen to you. Be prepared for greatness and greatness will come. Don’t prepare for anything, and nothing at all will happen.
Here are some general tips on first starting your business:
1) People are searching on you to find out when and if you are opening. How are you handling these inquiries? A “coming soon” landing page? Are you collecting emails to send out to announce the opening? No? Lost opportunity – the guy who opened last month did it and his first week was killer. Yours will be meek.
2) WIFI at the business. If you are providing wifi to your customers will you password protect it? If so, use the street address if possible. Why? It helps your customers to remember exactly where you are located – especially if you are paying cheap rent off a side street less travelled. “Hey Travis, where’s that new place you guys were at?” “It’s at 124 Side Street right off of Main.” Make it easy for people to remember – use the wifi password for marketing. Change it every once in a while to a product you sell.
3) Signage. Get that going right from the start. You need signs so people know you exist. Are you opening with a cheap vinyl tie down sign? People are mentally noting that even YOU think you’ll close soon – so why invest in a real back lit sign? Major no-no.
4) Google Maps. You’ve got to be on the Google Map and Navigation System. People are used to letting Google guide them into places. You need to have and be a legit business with a real phone number, address and website address. If you don’t have these things Google assumes you are in Russia trying to fake us out and lead people astray into wierd vape bars…..(hmm, you get the idea). You won’t be LIVE with Google until you are verified and that can take 3 – 4 weeks. Shall we start now? Yes!
5) Graphics person. You need someone who “gets” you and the business. If your graphic person doesn’t take your directions and ideas and whip up something freakin’ amazing the first time – go find another graphic person – they are easy to find – hundreds milling the streets. A really good graphics person should ask you 3 – 4 key questions and then BAM! they are throwing you emails of amazing brilliance. If not, be bold and cut the ties. Tell them you’ve moved on.
6) Hire Slow, Fire Fast. It took me a while to realize how important this statement is – please check references on new possible employees that are in your cash drawer handling your cash and credit cards. Hire smart thinkers. Give them a scenario. What would you do if _____ ? Listen to how they would handle different situations. Just don’t take everything as fact on that pretty resume.
7) Marketing. How are you telling people you exist?Just telling friends and family does not work and you might be tempted to give them discounts and such (don’t fall into that trap). Have a solid marketing plan. With no plan, you will just throw money away. Every sales person that knows you are a new business will pitch their advertising and it sounds awesome. Most of it is not good – newspapers, random print magazines, coupon books, ads at the movie theaters – these types of ads will drain your budget with little result because you’re casting too wide of a net. Narrow things down. Involve a marketing person or agency to map out a plan and stick to it. With no road map you will be lost and so will your money.
8) Did you previously work in a job with a boss? Are you a manager now? Have you ever been totally responsible for money in and money out of an entire organization? A good leader understands the numbers on a monthly, daily and even hourly basis.How much do you need to break even? When can you start taking a salary? Every decision you make affects the expense or the asset of the business. Be decisive and make decisions. Making no decision is effectively making a decision to do simply nothing. That’s a recipe for disaster.
9) Are there things you can buy that are not brand new but will do the job until you make more money? This is crucial in stretching your dollars. If you are used to buying brand new you could literally chew up lots of money when buying used items would do the job. If the customer doesn’t see it and it works fine – buy used or repossessed items from other businesses just like yours that failed before you. Ouch! Yes, the lesson is to actually talk with a banker that is sitting on equipment from other similar companies. They will be chatty and tell you what went wrong with that other company, you will exclaim “not me – I have my act together!” and the banker secretly hopes you do . . . offer them some low-ball numbers on the equipment and put all that information in your brain. You will not end up like so-and-so. . . . you will not end up like so . . .
10) Every day you should move forward. If you find you are not making progress you need to work on things that move your business to opening day in a prepared state. If one thing goes wrong and you sit and wait for that one thing to resolve itself before working on other parts of the business – that is very wasted time. Keep something happening. Can’t speak to the woodwork guy – talk to the sign people. Marketing ideas not coming – don’t feel creative – call business insurance reps and get liability insurance in place. Just move forward.
These were just 10 ideas I decided to share this evening thinking about this new company at the beginning of their business. I am optimistic, but also a realist. Be honest with yourself and put in 110% and you will be successful. Sweat the details – literally.