Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Turn Any Idea Into A Business in 7 Steps

How to Make More Money with Less Time and Effort
by David Krock, President, Krock Business Development
Copyright (C) 2005 All Rights Reserved.

Wham!

The idea has taken you, and there's nothing you can do about it. You aren't cynical enough to talk yourself out of its brilliance, so here you are, wondering how to bring it to life.

Assuming you're onto a business idea, let's examine my suggestion for creating it in reality:

1. Clearly articulate the problem it solves, or the value it brings to those who may want it.


2. Determine how the business model will work.
By "business model", I mean the method via which your idea can be delivered, and the compensation that will be received for it. This step involves such things as determining the costs to bring your idea into the world, the monthly overhead to continually deliver it, the profit margins it could produce, and whether it is likely you could sell enough of it to meet the aforementioned costs, plus reasonable net profits.


(Assuming you have reached a positive theoretical outcome to Step 2, continue...)


3. Create your idea a 2nd time.
The first creation was theoretical, conceptual. Now, make it real. A.k.a, produce a prototype. Make it tangible, usable. Make sure other people can hold it in their hands, try it out, download a free trial, etc.


4. Determine whether those people would actually take real money out of their wallets, and hand it to you.
This is KEY! This is called "proving the business model". Far and above any other intagible "possibilities" for success, by proving people will pay you for your idea, you can now:
a) Win key business partners,
b) Raise capital,
and
c) Actually sell the stuff (people like to know that someone else has bought before they'll test the waters).
This step also helps you hone in on WHO your market is, who's pain or desire is great enough to pay good money for your idea. The goal here is to determine whether the pain your idea solves is great enough, among a large enough group of people that it is worthwhile to undertake.


5. Develop the sales system.
This is the flashpoint of your business. The transaction itself. This is where all of the thinking and planning you've done will prove to be either wheat or chaff. This sales engine will drive you if running properly, and it will stall you if not fiercely protected.


6. Focus on developing the systems to deliver your idea.
Think of your business as a pipeline. In goes the need/order/parts and out comes the fulfilled promise. Inside the pipeline are the order taking processes, the customer service processes, the fulfillment processes, the marketing processes, the management process, and so on. These all need to be articulated and possibly delegated, or your business will run you. (Special Note: If you'd rather not develop the entire business yourself, this step can be bypassed if you effecitively acquire business partners, or license your protoype to an existing organization.)

7. Run the business.
Maintain the systems, lead your people, and create an environment for new ideas to flourish. Periodically tweak your business model (running through these 7 steps to see how you're measuring up wouldn't hurt) to become more effective at delivering on your answer to Step 1.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Target Marketing To The Long Tail

How to Make More Money with Less Time and Effort
by David Krock, President, Krock Business Development
Copyright (C) 2005 All Rights Reserved.


Special Note: If you have not heard of The Long Tail, or simply haven't gotten around to figuring out what it means, here are the quick links:

1. The original Long Tail article in Wired magazine

2. The current Long Tail blog
- Awesome stuff!
3. The Wikipedia definition of the Long Tail

The basic gist has been summed up by Seth Godin this way:
"Give people 1,000 channels to watch, and they won't all watch the same thing. Give people 1,000,000 books to read, and they won't all want to read a bestseller."
The reality is, people have varying interests, most of which they'll support with their disposable incomes, and in many cases, their indisposable incomes.

Consider the music industry (which is near and dear to my heart):

It's been long known among the progressive minds in the music industry, that the current distribution and promotional models are dinosaurs, due to become extinct, not through a catastrophic meteor impact (like people stop wanting music or to pay money for it), but by simple attrition.

In fact, people are still spending money on music. In fact, the amounts are still
growing each year. Where they are spending the money has shifted. It's shifted down the Long Tail.

David RD Gratton shows in his blog post "What's Really Happening To The Music Industry" the following graphic explaining how the industry has typically operated:


With the leveling of the music production playing field, and the proliferation of the internet, musicians can now create, promote, and distribute their music to their target markets:


How is this meaningful?

Let's say you play the theremin in a psychedelic middle eastern band out of Lake Havasu City, Arizona. While your local fan base may not be very large, the global market for your music could be in the hundreds of thousands, or even millions. My Google search on the topic returned 202,000 results.

By leveraging the power of the internet, and with some sound internet marketing strategies, your group can reach its potential fan base like never before.

More on how to use target marketing to reach
your global marketplace in an upcoming post.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Elevator Speeches for Fun and Profit

How to Make More Money with Less Time and Effort
by David Krock, President, Krock Business Development
Copyright (C) 2005 All Rights Reserved.


"So, what do you do?"

When you meet someone on an elevator, how do you answer that question? You've got about 10 seconds to make an impression before the thing hits the ground floor.

What do you say?

Utter a single "I'm an attorney" or "I buy houses", and the other person is free to decide what that means, using their own pre-judgements. When they do, who takes control over your marketing message? That's right, THEY do. That won't garner you new business.

What if I told you that, in 10 seconds, you could grab the attention of the person who needs your service most? What if you could control the conversation from word 1? Would that save you a TON of time at that next networking mixer?

It's simply a matter of thought and preparation. Here are 4 easy steps to building a great "elevator speech":

1. Start with a question that triggers a problem.

Take the single biggest problem your product or service solves, and turn it into a "You know how..?" question. Example: "You know how most new businesses fail in the first year?"


2. Wait for an acknowledgement.

This usually comes as a nod or a verbal agreement. If you get a "what do you mean?", you'll have the opportunity to elaborate, but this is usually because you've not articulated the problem well enough, or worse, that person doesn't really see it as a problem! Go back and re-craft your opening question until you get a nod the first time out.


3. Solve the problem.

Example: "You know how most new businesses fail in the first year? Well, I help business owners not only beat those odds, but make more profits on less and less of their own sweat each year after."


4. Shut up.

Believe me, the person who can benefit from what you do will ask to hear more. They may even add their own anecdotes, etc. If you've got a likely candidate for your solution, they won't let themselves go quietly into the night. If they aren't a candidate, you've wasted no more than 10 seconds of your time. No muss, no fuss, no cleanup.

Crafting an elevator speech is part of developing an overall Unique Selling Proposition (USP for short). Your USP is the thing that sets your business apart from the rest, the benefits you can give that your competitors can't.

More on USP's very soon.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Update: Massive PR

Update!

On my Massive PR post from yesterday:

It seems that the esteemed Jeff Jarvis may have been a little weirded out by my mention of his blog post on captioning and metadata as a form of PR for a client of mine. Sorry, Jeff!

To further clarify what I meant in my post:

The interchange exemplified a main tenet of PR. By providing someone in a position of influence and newsbearing with something of interest to them, he got a nice mention in a blog with a pretty decent circulation, something like 8,500 hits a day. A link to his website was provided, and a good bit of constructive dialogue ensued. At this point, several thousand people are now aware of what "vlogging" is capable of, and how closed-captioning may soon allow you to find the movie you just can't remember, but heard that great line in.

Obviously, Jeff had not blogged about the topic with the intent of giving Steven any PR! It just worked out that way, in this transparent web atmosphere.

For more about online social networking, and how to put it to work for you, you might want to check out Scott Allen. I was on a recent conference call with Scott about social networking, and boy did he open up my eyes about how big this concept is!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Massive PR!

Jeff Jarvis, creator of Entertainment Weekly, Sunday editor of the NY Daily News, and former tv critic for TV Guide and People just made my day.

He dumped some massive PR on one of my clients this afternoon.

A few hours before our scheduled consultation today, I got the following IM from Steven Knoerr, President of Chicago Captioning Corporation .

"David, we just got about 8 inches of free PR. Check it out."

This happy circumstance illustrates one of my Keys:


1. Position yourself as the expert on a main solution your business provides the market.

By taking the initiative to give a free service to a person who is a market influencer, Steven positioned himself to become a major source of information about a sweeping new trend. As a leader on the bleeding edge of a new trend, he becomes an "expert" in the minds of people who follow that trend.

When they are ready to make a move on that trend, whom do
you think they'll ask for advice?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

On driving traffic to your blog...

By the way, if you don't already have one of these:

How to Make More Business Income with Less Time and Effort

...you're missing out on an excellent way to drive traffic to your own blog.

You can get one for yourself here.

Wisdom from DaVinci's Notebooks


Innovation requires expanding your mind to include even that which does not yet exist, Posted by Hello

Closing On 20% More Sales: A Case Study


How to Make More Money with Less Time and Effort

by David Krock, President, Krock Business Development
Copyright (C) 2005 All Rights Reserved.


Looks like the Sales Accelerator system we put into place at Competitive Lawn Service is doing its job, so the owner doesn't have to.

Background note: Competitive Lawn Service originally came to me in February of 2003 for help in designing a system for hiring new and seasonal employees. Our solution involved a basic qualification and interviewing process, combined with Day 1 training that allowed each employee to reach top-level performance and better serve the company mission.

This January (2005) we were again contacted to help increase profitability and sales closing rates.

Some of the core problems:
  • Estimates weren't being completed because of lost information, resulting in lost sales to competitors.
  • The volume of estimate requests was so high, sales reps had little time to follow up with prospects, resulting in more lost sales to outside forces.
  • Key sales data was not captured, crippling management decision-making ability.

Following some basic exploratory research, we crafted a system to aleviate each concern, as well as some hidden sales obstacles.

The recipe:

  • Business process documentation and redesign to target areas for improvement and innovation.
  • A custom database designed to capture, analyze, and act upon prospect, sales, and marketing data.
  • Actionable coaching to empower daily employees to become more efficient and engaged in the business' objectives.
  • Copywriting and design of several direct mail and promotional marketing pieces that significantly increase prospect inquiries and purchases.

As of today, we're 2 weeks into the implementation phase of the project. I'll post results as they happen. So far the feedback from Competitive Lawn is good:

"I just like working with Dave. He is so energetic and packed full of ideas to make our company more efficient, effective and profitable. The Estimate Systm he put in place is working like a charm, and now we're so much more organized and on top of the sales and marketing programs."

Sarah Sallee, Office Manager, Competitive Lawn Service, Inc.




Thursday, February 24, 2005

WARNING: How your business is plotting to overthrow you.

How to Make More Money with Less Time and Effort
by David Krock, President, Krock Business Development
Copyright (C) 2005 All Rights Reserved.


You find yourself in your office at 11pm on a Friday night, desperately trying to locate a customer's file, so you can type up an invoice, because you need to get paid for the work you did for them, because you don't want to go to jail for bouncing payroll checks.

Seems like a simple lack of organization, doesn't it? As we take a closer look, it becomes obvious that there's a deeper issue here.

When you first start a business, oftentimes it takes everything you've got, emotionally, mentally, and physically to get it started. You've got to get those key first customers, and you've got to serve them well.

At the same time, unless you've bought a franchise, you've got to put some things in place to help you run the show. You need a way to keep track of whom you need to serve, bill them for the services, collect on the bills, and account for the books. You also know you need marketing materials to attract new customers like bees to honey, ways for them to learn about your company, and ways for them to reach you, to sign up, request more info, etc.

Once you start to grow, and the laws of physics prevent you from handling all of your new customers at once, never mind having to manage the business side of things, you begin to realize you need help. You need an employee.

By this point, unless you document your every thought, you've probably lost the grip on the finer points of your business, like what happens where, who handles it, at what time, for how long, and all that jazz.

All the while, your customers are expecting solid performance from you. Will they care if you weren't able to get them served because you needed to be at the office when the GeekSquad needed to come put out your smoldering hard drive? Not likely.

Welcome to the wall most entrepreneurs almost inevitably hit:

The "Your Business Is Running You"
Success-Proof, Titanium Barrier


Congratulations! You've arrived. You're a grizzled veteran.

Ok, not really. You're frustrated. You're brain-fried. You can't take a day off without your entire business screeching to a profitless halt. You've reached the point where most of the 90% of businesses that fail, do.


How Do "The Other 10%" Survive?


First off, realize that you're already doing what you need to do to solve the problem.

Huh?

Yep. You're already doing what you need to do to solve the problem.

Let me explain.

Every morning when you wake up, what do you do first? Shower? Grab coffee? Go to the bathroom?

When you get dressed, which sock do you put on first?

Studies have shown that people generally follow the exact same routine EVERY morning!

They do things in a specific order. Whether by careful design or aimless ambling, people do things the same way. They have a system.


sys┬Ětem (sstm) A repeated way of doing something.


In your business life, you probably have dozens of systems, even hundreds of systems. Most of them, you aren't conscious of. The way you answer the phone. The way you store your electronic documents. The way you pitch your business to prospective clients. The customer database you use. And on and on.

All systems.

The businesses that succeed are the businesses that examine the reality of their systems. They ask themselves whether what they do works. They seek better ways of doing things, ways that allow them to gain more customers. Ways that allow them to better serve the world. Ways that allow them to leverage other business' and people's time and effort.


Krock's Key: Business is a team sport.


Remember that the next time you find yourself wondering why you eat cereal in your underwear.