This week I drafted a blog post about how to deal with a quickly growing business.
I was trying to figure out whether to take several new clients that want to hire us, knowing full well that would mean choosing to grow the client side of my business rather than our own brands.
But while I enjoy working with clients because it’s challenging and helps my team and me learn, I know the better way to reach my long-term goals is to invest in my own work, growing both this site and the network. Not only is there huge financial potential in offering offline and online services and products to our communities, but building our own sites means more freedom in the long run.
So I was trying to decide whether to work with these potential clients, using the process of writing to organize and think through my ideas. But I kept waiting to press publish on the post because I knew it wasn’t good enough. It offered too many questions and not enough answers, a reflection of what was going on in my head.
Then I saw something in my own backyard that set off the light bulb, and made me scratch that blog post and start over.
Voila' moments live where you least expect them
What I saw was a bean plant, one I’d rooted into the soil just a couple of weeks ago. During a break from writing the blog post, I walked outside to see the progress in our garden. And wow, has this bean plant grown. It has grown taller than I thought bean plants were supposed to grow, far surpassing the bean plants beside it, and now looks more like Jack’s beanstalk. As you can see in this photo, it’s growing up and twisting itself around the stick making its way up to the top of the stick fence!
But here’s the thing: the plant hasn’t produced any beans. The plants beside it are smaller, but they’re already boasting small green stems (more like flowers), ones I imagine will grow tall and green by the end of the summer.
And I thought, what good is a bean plant if it doesn’t produce any beans? Who cares how tall it gets if it never produces beautiful green beans, never reaches the true goal of the plant, the whole reason I planted it to begin with?
And BANG, it hit me: that’s my business.
We get a lot of requests from people who want to hire us for various business service needs, which gives us the opportunity to grow quickly if we want to. But what good is a quickly growing business if it doesn’t yield quality fruit? Not to say client work isn’t green and lovely and even fun, but it’s not helping me reach my end goal: complete freedom to choose where, when and how I work and live.
Scaling a business isn’t what I set out to do when I started this lifestyle company. Sometimes our goals change, and that’s OK. But the key is ensuring we make decisions because our goals have truly changed, not because we’re lured by the fast-growing beanstalk.
You could argue that beanstalk will produce beans over time. I’m hoping the one in my backyard does just that! — and that’s the approach some quickly growing startups take. But I’m in this for quality, not quantity. For the challenge and the freedom. For the beans, not the beanstalk.
When you take the time to remind yourself of your true goals, it’s easier to move in the right direction.
At the South Pacific Tourism Organisation's (SPTO) Local IT Support Partners Workshop for e-marketing of small scale tourism accommodation outlets in Nadi last week, 18 August 2014 - the internet providers and trainers believe hotels, resorts, lodges, and guests houses should take advantage of online bookings.
The project is one of SPTO's important initiatives to provide support to the private sector in the region and is carried out under the PacificRegional Tourism Capacity Building Programme (PRTCBP) and funded by the European Union.
I was excited to get a window opportunity last Saturday 23 August 2014, to talk with our very own local Tonga business; Pasifika Technology Ltd; Operations Manager - George Tonga, (Managing Director - Sosefo Sime), who've represented Tonga at this Trainers Training Program Workshop. Thank you George for taking the time to chat with me.
From a Small Business perspective - can you give me a short feedback on your experience with this IT Trainers Training Program Workshop that you've just returned from in Fiji?
Thanks Lusia. The experience I had is that we are far behind from the rest of the world regarding technology. But the training help me to see what we can do to help our country expose using this amazing system that is in place. It's a matter of making our local Tourism Related Provider understand how to use it and what makes it more attractive for tourist to visit Tonga and their accommodation or service.
[In a statement made by the Managing Director, Sosefo Sime, he said Tonga needs more international exposure and take advantage of the internet through online bookings. He said, only 15% of small medium enterprise accommodation providers in Tonga had yet to take advantage of the system. However, he was optimistic that lessons learnt from the SPTO workshop would be vital in providing support for accommodation providers in Tonga].
Who else from Tonga attended this IT Trainers Training Program Workshop in Fiji?
It was only myself (George Tonga) and our Managing Director; Sosefo Sime from Tonga.
Would you recommend this program with SPTO to other IT Providers and related industries if it becomes available again?
Yes, I would love to send more IT participants to the same program, if not similar program in the future.
What did you like and enjoy most about this IT Trainers Training Program Workshop?
I enjoyed most when we start using the system to go live into health check hotels and accommodation using live hotels....and I can already see hotels and accommodation in Tonga that need help. We need more open-minded people like you Lusia to help push this through if not - we will be get stuck and the training and system will be useless (he laughs).
If I could recommend you and your company to the Tourism industry and other businesses - how can they get in contact with you?
PASIFIKA TECHNOLOGY LTD
Post Office Building
Telephone: +676 26 469
Thank You Tonga Daily News!
I wish to acknowledge TDN today. I am very grateful for the opportunity and their on-going support and recognition of my contributions and write-ups, given by the Editor Mr Iliesa Tora, Director Mr D Tohi, and the Team at TDN in a marketing-collaborative approach for the past years now. It is an excellent opportunity to learn about each others businesses and purpose, to build partnership, to foster effective business relationships, and to network with recognized local (and global) media, businesses, and entrepreneurs.
When you become a small business owner, or a new start-up it is important to the success of your trying to surround yourself with positive and influencing group of people. Not only you'll gain new skills, and learn from each others' strengths and weaknesses, but you would also find that you are starting to develop a strong foundation of positive friendship, partnership, and network. From my experience - this has made the business relationship flourishes and success follows. So build and grow on that.
Starting small Thinking big.
You can start reading more about the Tonga Daily News that is brought to you online [here]. You will find my contributions on the TDN Business Column and frequently on the Editorial Column. Also, subscribe to TDN to get their latest updates - daily and online.
1. Grow your small business and start-up with local partnership
Let's face it, as much as we all wish it was so, starting out really isn't as easy as becoming an overnight sensation out of nowhere. That doesn't happen. When it comes to getting your name out there, start-up and small business is a huge deal. But what can you do when you just don't have the budget for it? With so much to do, sometimes it seems next to impossible.
Today, let's look at how you could leverage every opportunity you can to get the word out there about your business and get your marketing moving in the right direction. One of the best ways to do this is to partner up with local (or overseas) complementary businesses and pool your marketing budgets. Have you included this strategy in your marketing plan for this financial year 2014-15? Here is how it works:
You promote them, they promote you. Or you offer their customers a special deal and vice versa. There are so many ways to get creative cross promoting with other companies. You simply must do that if you want to make the most of your marketing effort.
If your small business or start-up is local and your depending on foot traffic from the other businesses around you in order to grow your customer base - you could be making a huge mistake.
Take the case of a small retail business recently opened in town next to really big grocery stores. I went in and met with the owner. He told me; "it's been really slow getting going. I have been working for days without any customer coming in - they just looked through the windows". Just because a small start-up lands in the middle of the town and surrounded by big stores doesn't mean that they can grow on those coat tails. Just like any new business - it is really critical that they let their target market know that they are there. If you build it, they will come, they will look for you, and is truly a pipe dream.
Every small business owner must let their prospects know, repeatedly, what they have to offer. If you are local based small business, one of the easiest ways to get the word out there is to partner with some of the other businesses in the area or community that you are located in. you can pull your marketing budget and make a much bigger impact, and you can set up some cross promotion too. A really good thing to do is to sit down and talk together and see where you have commonalities in your target market, and then devise a strategy so that it will work for each one of you.
Now here is a hint for you: this approach will work for just about any type of business. You don't have to be a PhD/MBA holder, or multimillion dollar business for it to be successful. All type of businesses can benefit from cross promotion too.
Who can you cross promote with to make it worthwhile for both of you? Brainstorm a list of those businesses and then put it into action. I would love for your to share your ideas with me.
That's it for today, we'll continue with marketing approach2 on the next edition. If you know a small business owner who could use the tip I shared here with you - please send them the link to subscribe to my weekly dose on 'Help You Grow Your Small Business'.
Create Your Business Goals For The Future
So, to recapture what we have gone through in the last 3 weeks; you've spent time writing down important information about your business. You've identified where you are now as a result of this new financial year actions and where you want to take your business. You have also identified what has gone well, and what might be holding you back.
Now it is time for you to create some goals if you have not done so. This is really the best part of the exercise. You are actually going to turn your good work into something that will be a road map for you to follow and achieve those things you've been dreaming about. So here is how you do it.
Sit down in a quiet room - plan on spending at least an hour. Go through what have you written down. Do you see any themes, stuff you can group together? That is what you need to do.
Then take those groupings and see if they align with what you said you wanted for this new financial year. If they don't - you need to seriously consider doing away with them or modify them to fit where you said you wanted to go.
This time you've narrowed it down a bit. Now you need to take those groupings and turn them into goal statements. Do not create more than five goal statements, two or three is even better. Anything more than that just turns into something that will boggle your mind and cause you to put all your good work on the back burner - it will be way too overwhelming.
Not sure how to write a goal statement? Here are some examples:
* Find a product that provides passive income fro my business.
* Develop strategies win / win partnerships and promotion.
* Get more clients without increasing face-to-face billable time.
* Move into the new niche with my current products and services.
That should give you some ideas - get started. If you have any questions - please feel free to send me a message. I would love to hear from you.