By Emily Webb, the youngest person to enter the Dragon's Den!
RHG Tutor and entrepreneur
On a recent ‘Start Your own Business’ Workshop, I was asked by one of the delegates about the mistakes I had made and what I had learnt from them. Well here are my top five out of the many that I made…..!
1 - Mates' rates are great – but……
Everyone likes a good deal or a freebie. Mates rates are great because not only do we get a good deal we are also belonging to an exclusive 'mates' club, the 'I know someone who can get you a really good deal '….club. When you first start in business you will naturally look to your family and friends to be your first customers and the chances are that they will want 'mates rates'. You will happily offer discount because a) you want to sell your products and services and b) well, after all they are your family and friends!
You hope that your family and friends will promote your products and services and this can be an excellent source of free marketing; however be wary of friends of friends or those distant relatives who only want to buy at the same discounted price. Soon you will find that every customer wants mates rates.
My advice - save your mates rates for those friends and family members who have already bought and promoted your products and services. Let them know it is a very special deal as a reward for their loyalty.
They will soon realise that they belong to an even more exclusive club, the 'I know someone who gives only me a really good deal…' club
2 – Decision making - are you using your head or heart?
Decisions in business always come with an element of risk. When we are passionate about our business, our emotions can sometimes cloud our decision making and we see things through a rose-tinted lens.
Emotions and gut instinct all have value when it comes to business decisions, but always refer first to the hard evidence (which is usually financial). This will give you a strong basis and help you to take those rosy specs off and make the right decision for your business.
3 - Get comfortable talking about money
When we start out we can often feel sheepish talking about money. We can feel anxious stating our selling price, opening a negotiation with a supplier to get a lower price, or when a customer asks us for a lower price. Do not let this 'elephant in the room' embarrass you or cause you panic attacks. Business involves money and money is part of business.
Do the maths and know your walk away point, hold your nerve and never reveal your profit margins.
Remember you are selling something that somebody wants, if they don't buy from you they will buy from a competitor. Ask people "How would you like to pay? Cash or card?"
Getting comfortable talking about money is like swimming, you have to do it and practise it to get confident!
4 - It’s not always personal – but it feels it
You will get more no’s than you get yes’s. That’s the law of selling. As long as you have a strong and relevant offering, you will get some yes’s, however the no’s come thick and fast. There are also the 'sympathy' yes’s that actually mean no! You’ll soon spot these after a few let downs.
Now, the trick is not to take things too personally all the time. Sometimes the market isn’t quite right, sometimes our customers are working to their own agendas and to their own budgets. Think of the no's as not yets and find out how you can change them to a YESSS…
5 – Connect to the entrepreneurship community
It can be a lonely world building our businesses, so reach out to other people doing it too!
Personally, monthly networking groups and social media aren’t for me, but they do work for many people. Meeting people in the same situation, sharing stories and tales about their business journeys helps new entrepreneurs know they aren’t alone. The situation you are losing sleep over will undoubtedly have already been encountered and solved by a member of your network.
Podcasts, books and audio books work for me. I enjoy listening, without the need to share. Most smart phones have a podcast app already on there. You are just a quick google away. Just type in business podcasts into the search bar, and plough through!
We’ll put together a list of our favourite podcasts and books for next time!
So there you have it, remember you’re not alone, have confidence in your product/service and your own ability and when you get some no’s, don’t take them personally. And also remember, no one knows your Business like you do!
To book on to the fully funded two day ‘Start Your Own Business’ course, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
RHG Consult offer Start Your Own Business workshops, as well as Life & Work Skills workshops, Junior Management Consultant, Events Management and Leadership and Management apprenticeship programmes. Not forgetting Mindfulness, something we all need in our everyday endeavours!
See the full and current list at https://www.rhgconsult.co.uk/courses
AND read about Emily’s experience in the Dragon’s Den here http://www.bbc.co.uk/dragonsden/entrepreneurs/emilywebb.shtml