The F-words your business needs most

Updated on 6 January 2015

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The F-words your business needs mostIn the 2014 SME Survey, South African entrepreneurs said that the thing that kept most of them awake at night was managing finances. The media outlets also often report that a major challenge experienced by small businesses is difficulty in accessing funding.

Neither of these are the F-words that I am referring to here. They can frequently be resolved through two other F-words: friends and family.

But fundamental to the success of your business are the customers that buy (and pay for) your products or services. It’s great that you have wonderful products or services, but without money coming from customers, you don’t have a business. How do you ensure that you have paying customers? You use three F-words.

1. You need to FIND customers.

The easiest way, initially, is to go out and get them: Its time consuming but door-to-door, face-to-face contact builds connections and trust. That includes friends and family. Hand out flyers. Let everyone you know about what you have to offer.

It’s easier and cheaper to keep existing customers than to attract new ones. People are naturally loyal to a company that they know and are reluctant to change to someone that they haven’t used yet. But a bad experience can lose you customers – both repeat and referral business. So look after your existing customers.

2. Your business needs to be FOUND by future customers.

How will people know that you have what they are looking for? Typically, they will find you through (1) word of mouth, and (2) advertising.

Happy customers are your most effective ‘salespeople’. They are not paid to promote your business so they are credible. Look after your customers by giving great service so that they will tell others about you.

“When you have enough paying customers, you might 
find that you don’t need that funding after all”

When advertising, ask yourself: who are my potential customers? Not everybody. Knowing who they are helps to narrow down, to target your advertising. Are they near to your business, what do they read, do they use the internet, public transport?

Then “fish where the fish are”: advertise where your customers read or live or work.

3. You need to FOLLOW-UP on your potential customers until they buy, and then keep following-up.

Do you know the names and contact details of all the people who have shown an interest in your product or service? List them (your ‘leads’) with the first contact date and the product or service they asked about.

If you can record your prospects or leads in a spreadsheet (e.g. MS Excel or Google Sheets) or a Customer Relationship Management program (e.g. Base), all the better. Then you can easily include reminders for follow-ups and notes about what they said.

When you have enough paying customers, you might find that you don’t need that funding after all.

About the author: Rick Ed at age 60 Rick sold his business to a younger and more energetic management team. He now educates entrepreneurs on strategic decision making and sales. Rick is also the founder of the InnovateMy.Biz website.

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