Five Things that 5 Years in Business has Taught Us
I can hardly believe it. Data Bubble is 5 years old! And what an amazing roller-coaster ride it’s been. As we all know, running a business can be truly hard graft. It absorbs all your time, energy and capacity – especially as a fledgling business finding its feet.
This week I have been in introspective and retrospective mood (most unlike me!) I have been looking back over those 5 years in business and have been considering what I have learned about running a business, some of which I would like to share with you.
First, a bit of background ….
My area of expertise has always been in Direct Marketing and data buying services. I was employed within other companies and completely enjoyed my positions. However, there was always a niggle at the back of my mind – always a belief that I could improve on “industry standards” – together with a desire to cut loose and be independent. Looking back I think the decision was a long time coming, but I can still remember the immense pride I felt in designing my logo and striking out as a business owner.
Steve’s background experience was in banking, ultimately as a senior recoveries manager and his attention to the finest detail, inherent knowledge of many industries and capacity for organisation is perfect for all aspects of Direct Marketing and Data Management (and frankly mind-blowing). Steve also got ‘the niggle’ though, and it didn’t take me long to convince him to bring his considerable skill-set to Data Bubble.
Running a business certainly has a learning curve attached to it, but Steve and I put our feet up in Tallulah (our motor home) last week, enjoyed a beer, and mulled over the most important lessons we have learned.
Being good at it doesn’t guarantee success
Yes it’s true – just because you are skilled at a thing, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you are going to be good at running a business in it. It requires a different skill-set. Michael Gerber makes this point forcibly in his book; ‘The E-Myth’. Even while you are doing what you are great at, it serves you well to take a step back, maintain an overview of all facets of the business, and most of all, bring in outside support or expertise for the areas that you get stuck with. It’s an investment that will pay dividends in the long-term.
Strategy and Organisation – Always
The best way to grow a business is to strategic about it and above all, be organised about the systems that help you run your business.
Steve is always a man with a plan, and he’s right to be. Make your strategy, set goals, review often. Shift your goals if need be, but having a strategy means you have the overview.
The more organised you are the more time you can spend working on your business growth rather than just servicing necessary daily tasks. It takes time to set up organisational systems but it really is time well spent.
Good Business = Good Marketing
It doesn’t matter how fabulous you are, or your product is, if you don’t have the effective means of communicating this to your target audience. Marketing is a task that tends to get put on the back burner when busy with day-to-day tasks. It really shouldn’t be – it’s the one thing that will help your business survive and grow. Jay Abraham makes the point brilliantly in his book ‘The Sticking Point Solution’ – If you spend time getting your marketing right, sales will follow. Two-way communication is key.
Existing customers grow your business
Excellent customer service. Full stop. Need I say more? If you truly offer a trusted and quality service, your existing customers will:
- Come back for more
- Tell their friends
- Be willing to give you testimonials for your marketing campaigns
- Be understanding and forgiving if things go wrong
All very important things when it comes to growing a business.
A very private matter
Yes, it’s all hands (and possibly just your hands) to the pumps when you first get established, but 5 years in business has helped us appreciate that a healthy work/life balance is crucial in running a successful business. It means we have more energy to be productive and our businesses can then serve our lives rather than the other way round.
It’s very important to Steve and I to get time on the bikes, walk the dogs, take Tallulah on a trip, get fresh air, see friends, go to the pub, go out to dinner, go on holiday. These things are so important. Don’t forgo them for the sake of your business – if you are, take a minute, take stock, get help with a strategy that will help free up your time.
Sharing the lessons learned
It occurred to us that the lessons we have learned we use constantly to help our clients with their Direct Marketing Campaigns. Yes we can source a high quality Data List, but our real value lies in our ability to help our customers strategise, organise and make the most of their data for the best ROI on their marketing spend.
So…here’s to the next 5 years in business and beyond!!!