Possibly the worst advice you could give to a start-up business

This week I want to tell you about something I read whilst I was away.

You see, I read a lot of blogs. I like to keep up with trends in marketing and finance. I find that blogs are usually the best way. But as with most things in life you have to be curious and disregard much of what is written – often by well-meaning writers with little experience and copy to file.

Take this for example: “As the business owner, it’s up to you to decide what your brand personality looks like. Think about what drove you to start a business in the first place, and then think about working with marketing professionals and/or designers to build out your brand strategy, so you can jump into action”.

Possibly the worst advice you could give to a start-up business (unless they want to burn through their budget and go bust in record time).

I had to read it again just to confirm what utter bollocks it is.

You see, if cash flow is the lifeblood of a business, marketing is its heartbeat. That’s why marketing is sometimes called the rhythmic acquisition of customers. Without an effective marketing engine in your business, you don’t have a business – you’ve got an expensive hobby.

The problem is most entrepreneurial business owners go about marketing their business in the wrong way. A way that brings little or no return – because they are not aware of how to do it profitably – as in the example above.

There are two kinds of marketing and only one works if you want to grow your business. If they do any marketing at all most business owners do the kind that’s a waste of money.

It’s called brand awareness; it’s what big companies like Coca Cola, banks and airlines do but it’s a complete waste of time and money for you and me.

The other – profitable – kind is direct response. You want to get someone to engage with you about a specific product or service.

And if your business isn’t generating the kind of results that brings greater financial certainty and freedom to your life, it’s giving you a very clear message: you’re not an effective marketer. And being an effective marketer is the most important activity of all for a business owner.

Because a business lives or dies on the strength of its marketing.

Now despite my expensive education (I lie, the local comprehensive had to put up with me!) no-one taught me what it takes to grow a profitable small business until I started to educate myself (that did become expensive but very good value). No one explained there were two kinds of marketing, only one of which works for small business owners. The same probably applies to you.

Most of the advice you’ve had is most likely from unqualified sources, like the blog above, who know no better themselves – friends, family, competitors, colleagues, web designers, even bank managers and other professionals who are well meaning but, in the end, have no understanding of the challenges you face in making your business more successful.

You’re not alone. The majority of business owners don’t know how to market their businesses effectively for profitable growth.

This lack of knowledge and awareness is one of the primary reasons why most business owners struggle and fail. It’s why the majority of hard-working, well-intentioned small business owners fail to accomplish financial certainty and the lifestyle freedom of the entrepreneurial dream.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. You can learn how to market your business properly as I did. I just takes some investment and a little effort. And right now probably the best deal you’ll see all year is available at https://ecpass.co.uk/nigels-journey. (Full disclosure: this is not an affiliate site, there’s nothing in it for me other than to help you grow your business). There is a half-price launch deal on at the moment but it expires on Monday.

So if you are struggling with your marketing – or even reading blogs telling you the wrong way to do it – take a tip from Eric Hoffer who said “In times of change, learners inherit the earth; whilst the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

So true.

Noel Guilford, Principal at Guilford Accounting
Noel Guilford is the principal of Guilford Accounting a small business accountancy practice specialising in advising owner-managed businesses on current accounting, finance, and tax matters. You can reach him via email at noel@guilfordaccounting.co.uk or by phone at 01244 660866. He is the author of the 'Figure it out - an entrepreneurs guide to understanding your business numbers' which you can obtain by visiting guilfordaccounting.co.uk.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ His latest book, How to Build a Successful Business' will be published in 2018.

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