They are not new but they are all a must watch if you’ve not seen them before: Steve Jobs has an amazing life story to tell which he delivers incredibly well; Guy Kawasaki brings a side-splitting comedy performance, but also insightful message, with his “The Art of the Start” talk; and Richard Branson is very cool on TED.
Archive for the ‘Business advice’ Category
In this follow-up post (click here for Part 1) I explore Brad Rosser‘s ‘Survival Tactics’ from his talk. Remember both Brad’s are Australians who run business coaching companies. Brad gained heaps of experience starting-up several Virgin Group companies. These include the unsuccessful Virgin Cola and highly successful Virgin Vie At Home. He had some useful advice to share:
Brad is a sales and marketing crusader! He’s a no-nonsense straight talker who uses war like Sun Tzu strategic mantra. He’s a survivor. Brad plays heavily on his experiences working for one of the worlds best known entrepreneurs, Richard Branson . I’ve worked closely with two of Branson’s companies in the past (V2 Records and Virgin Radio) so I’m always intrigued to learn more.
Alot of Brad’s survival strategies are built around a strong sales and marketing focus. Having great sales and marketing skills is vital to any startup. The CEO must be the first to sell. As Ed Iacobucci, founder of Citrix said, “Nothing happens until you sell something.”
- Your business idea must be “bullet proof“- Brad’s right an idea MUST be commercial and well thought out. However it’s never really going to be ‘Bullet proof’. Change is too constant especially in the Tech sector.
- Don’t wait for the perfect anything – Excellent point! A idea is only a science project until its out with customers. Brad makes a good point which Rachel Elnaugh also made – get a good product/customer fit and then ramp up sales. This requires a customer testing/feedback loop. We’re very keen to get our new web infrastructure monitoring service in customers hands.
- Wasting money in a start-up is a crime – I agree bootstrappers must become lean mean fighting sales machines! Bootstapping can make fitter startups. I’ve learnt the hard way startups should not waste time. After all, time is money.
- ”Prepare for battle” - The army’s 7P’s saying ‘Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.’ Marketing starts with a Sales Crusader with a good plan.
- Use PR to build credibility -Everyone likes a good entrepreneurial story. Branson famously will go to any length to get free PR. Would you? There are lots of PR opportunities out there they just take time and nurturing.
- Everything is a negotiation – Sales tactics again or used in reverse if your the buyer, employer or need investment.
- Securing funding is not just about getting your hands on any cash you can – The right deal and the right VC!
- Cash is king! -Both sales and cash flow is the lifeblood of any small business. I’ve heard this so many times. Don’t forget Cash is King!
- Don’t waste time, money and effort trying to build a brand during the early days of your business. – Again get out there and start selling. What you waiting for?
- Recognise when it is time to ‘shoot the entrepreneur’ - A hard choice. Not all entrepreneurs can manage a growing business. Recognise this before the VC does and kicks you out. Don’t be afraid.
Another good talk from an Australian with lashings of Pommy jokes and some useful points. You can catch Brad’s full video talk here. Interestingly Brad Sugars uses the franchise business model for his coaching company. Whereas Brad Rosser’s business is centered around the founder (Brad) like many high profile companies including: Steve Jobs’s Apple and Branson’s Virgin. The question is can these companies survive without the founder?
I’ve recently attended two business talks from Brad Sugars and Brad Rosser. They are both from Australia and run business coaching companies. Their talks were entertaining and contained some golden nuggets of advice:
Brad Sugars is a charismatic man and a wonderful story teller. He had the audience in stitches. To get his message over Brad told many amusing tales his farming origins, family life and helping small businesses to grow. His claim to fame is having retired at 24 and then again at 30 after achieving great success.
Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee), Not Brad Sugars,
but there are some strong similarities
Brad’s secret ingredient to wealth is to “sell something many times”, “if someone else can do the work with your company get them to do it” and use then entire sales funnel to get results. Brad’s talk was on How to Succeed in a Recession! He sees the downturn as an opportunity as do I. Here’s what he had to said:
- Strategy (Have one!) – A very good point as many business don’t seem to have one.
- Know your numbers – Rachel Elnaugh also said this at her talk
- Cuts, make them but don’t cut the people – Simultaneously they are biggest cost and greatest asset. Good people are hard to find so keep them.
- Retain, Keep the Grade A & B good customers and sack the D customers - Tim Ferris talks about firing the 80% of the customers who only produce 20% of the profits (point 10). I love the 80/20′s rules!
- Advertise – There are great deals to be had out there – Now is the time to be brave and spend! Your competitors probably aren’t.
- Give stuff away, to entice potential customers in - Free works (if done right i.e. have a strategy)
- Add value, Treat customers special - Customer service is king
- Stop discounting! – The impact goes straight to the bottom line
- Close door sales - time limited offers
- Recruit, good new staff - Now is a good time find ‘cheap talent’
- Learn to train, Staff and yourself - We all should be doing this anyway. Brad seems very keen on learning. He boasted that he’d read over 1400 books in his lifetime.
- Invest – Now is the time to buy – Brad believes a good business should save funds during the buoyant economic times (Summer) and invest during the inevitable downturns (Winter) when prices are low. However I believe this Winter is going to last and be deeper than the usual economic winter.
- Be different, Or you will only compete on price – Excellent point.
- Have fun – Easy to forget sometimes.
- Get a coach – Here comes the sales close – Hold onto your cheque book ;)
- Under promise and over delivery :) – Great customer service again.
I highly recommend Brad Sugars talks for the entertainment value if nothing else. He’ll be back in the UK next year after building his new house in Las Vagas. As I said he is a character.