We help Independent Businesses grow their sales, and profitability and improve their operations with a focus on Strategy, Tools and Values.

Sales

Attract Prospects

The Internet is providing unprecedented opportunities to target very precisely the kind of customer who would be the best fit for your business. But with so many options, it's easy to waste a lot of time being busy and money following trends, but not delivering results.

We can help you decide where to expend effort effectively, and then either implement for you, train you or your staff to do it yourself, or help you find a cost-effective but impactful outsourcer.

Specifically, we can help you with:
  • Google, LinkedIn and Facebook advertising - either a great way to target your customers precisely, or a way to bleed money away without noticing;
  • Social Media - a great way to build relationships with prospects, or a HUGE suck-up of time for no discernable benefit;
  • Blogs and SEO - the most unpredictable way to find people, but useful once they've found you.

Convert Leads to Paying Customers

Depending on what you're selling, there's often little that can be as effective as meeting prospects and talking to them to convince them of your offering. However, depending on how much your products or services cost, the following may be sufficient. And even if not, they can certainly help nourish a prospect until the point at which you can close the sale.
  • Effective website. These days, a requirement for almost all growing businesses. But effective doesn't just mean that it looks good - it means that it should move your prospect from being interested to actually buying.
  • Using automated emails to build a relationship and trust. If you can start to add value for your prospective customers, they will be more likely to buy from you when the time is right. Well thought-through email sequences, which should be automated, can achieve this.
  • Be in your clients' face! It often takes 6 or 7 times of being seen before a prospect will contact you. You've no doubt seen ads that follow you around the internet. It is one of the most effective strategies for raising awareness of your company and gaining converts.

We can help you decide the most effective uses of your resources to help qualify and close the deal.

Retain and Grow Your Customers

If you are truly delivering value to your customers, and do it in a way that also keeps them happy in interacting with you, you should be getting a lot of repeat business (divorce lawyers and funeral directors could maybe look at another strategy). Much of this will depend on the culture and values you have in place (see lower down the page), but it can be facilitated through intelligent use of automated contact strategies, loyalty campaigns and proper customer analysis.

Operations

Automate Repeat Processes

You'd have had your head in the sand if you've not heard the buzz (and sometimes hype) about The Cloud!

Yes, there is a lot of hype. BUT there's also the opportunity to automate many things that could save your business a lot of time. Or looked at another way, allow you to do a lot more things with the same amount of time. Such as:
  • Invoicing and billing;
  • Sending marketing and sales emails;
  • Connecting systems to each other, such as billing to sales to customer management.
We can help you identify and implement the opportunities that would make a difference to your business.

Improve Backoffice / Admin

You need your backoffice and admin to work smoothly. But critical as it is, it shouldn't take up huge amounts of time from you or your staff. Time that could be spent on building customer relationships and growing your business.

You've no doubt heard about 'The Cloud'. If you haven't, it is a broad term for the ability to do a number of things through the internet that you'd previously have had to do on your own premises (ducks to avoid onslaught of the technology world for whom that was an insultingly small definition).

For example, perhaps you bought software for invoicing, or accounts, or to manage HR. Now that software is available on a rental basis through the internet.

So you don't have to worry about making the software work, glitches, backing up your data, having latest version and so on. All of that is maintained for you (for a fee, of course, though some are free) by the people who created the software in the first place.

We can help you identify and put these in place, as well as looking at the processes you'd need around them just to ensure that your investment is actually used.

Get Your Systems Talking to Each Other

Do you track your sales revenue by product or service? By customer? If so, how do you get the data from your sales systems into somewhere you can analyse them?

Do you maintain a blog? When you post a blog, how do you publicise it? Does it automatically go out to your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or other social media outlet? Does it go straight to an email to your customer and prospect list? Do you have a customer and prospect list?

Connecting systems to each other, such as billing to sales to customer management, can now also be automated thanks to Cloud software.

The benefits to you? Less time spent on tedious tasks, allowing you to focus on tasks that generate revenue. And reduced error rates associated with copying data from one place to another manually.

Strategy

Strategy Workshops

The companies that succeed most, whether independent or corprate, usually have in place two things:
  1. A vision of where they're going, a strategy of how to do it, and a plan to get there.
  2. The ability to execute that plan.
There is a huge amount that hides below each of those two points. But without that holistic view, they will lurch from one sale to the next, delivering a product or service, at best without realising their potential, or at worst going out of business because they couldn't respond to what was happening with their customers.

We can help you through guided workshops to get your vision in place (if you don't have it at the moment), then crucially to translate that to a strategy and a realistic plan that you can execute on.

We believe strongly in Agile methods (capital 'A' because these are formalised methodologies), which allow you to respond quickly to market needs, to safely test new directions, and not set anything in stone that doesn't need to be.

Then we can help you put in place a light-touch method to track how you're doing so you can do more of what works and change what doesn't.

Deep Dive into Opportunities & Issues

There may be specific areas where your business is falling short of your expectations, or its potential. For example:
  • Are you losing key staff?
  • Are your existing customers not doing as much business with you as you'd like?
  • Is a certain product or service not selling any more?
  • Are you able to track your business data to identify issues and opportunities?
In these instances, we can do a "Deep Dive" with you and come up with a plan to help resolve the specific area you're looking to improve. This would be through workshops and/or interview with you, and then a facilitated plan which we'd deliver with you in order to make sure it's realistic, and that you believe in it!

Scaling your Business

Are you looking to grow your business significantly? Not everyone is, and it's not the only way to be fulfilled. But if you are looking to scale your business out, and aren't sure how, or indeed what's available to help you, we can help you plot a plan, and identify tools and/or services to help you get there.

Here again, there are a variety of tools that you can use to automate and/or outsource tasks which will at once have your business doing more, while allowing you more time to ensure you're steering it the right way.

Tools

Cloud

You'll have no doubt seen the huge hype surrounding 'The Cloud'. Is it hype, or is there something useful in there to help you manage and grow your business?

The answer is yes to both. There is a lot of hype and fluff for sure. But behind it is a real technology advance that has made much possible for small and independent businesses (and indeed even for the monolithic coprorates) that wasn't there before.

Fundamentally, the change hinges on providing the ability to do things on a shared platform in the Internet which you'd previously have to have bought for yourself. Think of it in terms of getting food for your family. You could grow all your own food in your own allotment, buying the seeds, planting, watering, taking responsibility for keeping the foxes away, weeding and so on. Then harvesting, cleaning, cooking, and so on. This is effectively the traditional way of building technical systems for your business. It needed you to have your own army of developers and support staff, and for that reason, kept many technologies firmly within the confines of larger companies that had budgets to match.

Or, you could got to a grocer or supermarket (local and independent, of course!), where you could get it without having to spend all your time tending it, get more variety than you could possibly have on your own plot, and get it cheaper than you would have if you'd done everything yourself. This is the equivalent of the cloud. The systems are built and maintained by a company, and its customers rent the ability to consume those systems. This has dramatically reduced the entry cost for many types of application, and allowed the start-up and the smaller independent company to get in on the act and benefit from the use of these systems.

We can help you navigate these waters and determine what may be useful (i.e. high ROI) for you to be using in this new world.

Integration

Too much time is lost in moving data from one application to another. CRM to sales. Blog to Facebook. Sales to Invoicing.

There are now many options to integrate these disparate systems without investing the money you've put aside for your child's education, freeing up your staff (or your own) time to add real value to your business. Depending on scale, some are even free.

We can help you identify where time is being spent on manual repeated tasks like these, and find ways to automate them so you can do something more valuable instead.

Marketing

Whether it's social media, Google, LinkedIn or Facebook advertising, or even old-fashioned mail, there are now more options than ever with regards to how you can get your company in front of your potential audience. Doing this cost-effectively (both in terms of money and time) hinges on getting the message in front of the right audience, as this is a key benefit of the internet over a magazine or radio ad which may hit more people who are NOT in your target audience than that are.

For instance, Social Media can be a great enhancement to growing your client base, or it can suck up a lot of time for nothing other than vanity and the dopamine high of getting a 'like' or a 'favourite'. But we can help you:
  • Decide if social media is right for your business;
  • Determine the best channel for you - is it Twitter? LinkedIn? Facebook? Pinterest? Snapchat?
  • Put in place processes and automation to reduce the amount of time it takes you to keep your social media profiles up to date.
There's also much fuss made of SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimisation. This the application of a number of methods to try to get your site to appear at the top, or in the top few, Google searches. Sounds great, no?

Well, kind of. There's no way to guarantee it. Nor even to give you a comfortable probability of making it. And there's also no way to be sure you'd stay there if you achieved it. In addition, you may be on a quest for fool's gold, as there's no guarantee that those doing the search that you've topped are even looking to buy anything.

The best way to increase your chances of being noticed by the search engines is to have great content, structured well usually with a blog. This may well be worth doing for your business at any rate, but depending on it as a strategy to get noticed is a big risk. If that's something worth doing, we can help you get there.

Advertising, on the other hand, on Google, Facebook, or LinkedIn can be a highly effective strategy if done well. You need to ensure you're targetting well and are primed to convert prospects to customers once they get to your site. But if you can do both (and this is an area we can help), the return can be very significant.

Pay per Click

Google and Facebook advertising are some of the most effective ways on the internet today to drive new business.

Alternatively, without a plan and an understanding of their features, they can bleed your marketing budget dry in stealth mode without you noticing!

We can help you craft and implement a plan to:
  • Target your potential customers with remarkable precision, right down to their location;
  • Measure the return on your advertising spend to the penny;
  • Continually optimise your ads so that you get more business for less investment;
  • Monitor the results so that you only use those ads that are bringing you business.

Values

Culture

Whether you've thought about it or not, your company has a culture. And that culture pervades everything that your company does - from how it treats its own people, to your staff's satisfaction at work, to how you treat your customers, suppliers, and any other stakeholders.

We're not big fans of a 3 month culture survey which either tells you the bleeding obvious, or kills the culture it's trying to document. However, we KNOW there is value in articulating your culture, knowing what's important within it and what you want to keep. It's only by doing this that you can attract the right staff and help shield your business against turbulence.

We've personally seen how getting this right reduced recruitment costs by over 7 figures, and helped companies get the best recruits in their field.

We can help you articulate yours and put in place a plan to keep your culture and values front and centre of your growth plans so that they reinforce each other, rather than feeling like it's impossible to have a great place to work AND make money at the same time.

Contribution

We believe that all companies have a responsibility to add positively to the communities that they operate in. Giving people reasonable employment and treating them well is definitely a big part of that. Building a sustainable business, and we mean not just environmentally, but a business that looks beyond quarterly earnings and is designed for the long term, is in our view the responsibility of every business owner.

But beyond this, there are also ways to contribute positively (and many time, profitably) to a company's stakeholders and community.

If altruism alone isn't enough of a motivator for you (and we won't judge you - not loudly at least!), survey after survey shows that companies which explicitly contribute to their communities are more appealing to staff, and some studies even show a correlation between financial success and a solid contribution strategy.

Now you can decide to give some of your profits to charity, and no charity will refuse that. However, there are always ways to contribute that are more valuable than money, more integrated with your strategy, and may even cost less. We'd love to help you find out how.

Connection

The best companies have built strong connections between their owners, employees, staff and communities. Admittedly, best is by our own highly subjective measures, though we're not alone in this view!

Strong connections foster loyalty, feelgood, and give you more scope for when things go wrong (which they inevitably will, even if for a short while). And they're also built on a strong set of values. We can help you improve this in line with your values and culture.