If you're like many people, you often fantasize about handing in your notice at your corporate job and starting the business you've been dreaming of for years. Although the life of a successful entrepreneur can be fulfilling and exciting, it also typically involves negative aspects with the potential to seriously decrease your quality of life. For instance, you'll say goodbye to evenings, weekends, holidays, family outings, sleep, and the security that comes from having a steady paycheck and a traditional routine. In return, you might just make it as an entrepreneur and join the ranks of those who believe that the sacrifices they made on their way to the top were worth it.
No one should start a new business without considering everything that may possibly go wrong and without giving the matter a substantial amount of serious thought. Following are just six of the many questions you should ask yourself if you're thinking about starting a business.
Are You Willing to Take a Significant Financial Risk?
Those who quit their jobs to start their own businesses run the risk of ending up with nothing. Sometimes, just the thought of losing it all paralyzes fledgling entrepreneurs to the extent that they can't effectively manage their new businesses. If you aren't temperamentally suited for the inherent risks involved in being an independent business owner, you may be better off sticking with the security of a corporate job.
Do You Have Trouble Making Decisions?
Private business owners need to have superior decision-making skills. If they don't, they run the risk of being left in the dust by the competition as industry trends evolve and change. Those who have trouble making decisions often end up doing nothing and causing their businesses to stagnate as a result of their inaction.
Do You Suffer From Depression or Anxiety?
Those who suffer from depression or anxiety don't necessarily have to cross starting their own business off their bucket list. However, if you experience one or both of these conditions, consider getting therapy for the purpose of developing the tools you'll need for managing them while simultaneously dealing with the emotional and mental demands of owning and operating a successful business.
Do You Shoulder Substantial Personal Obligations?
If you've got a mortgage to pay and a spouse and family to support, you may be better off waiting until the children are out of the house before moving forward with your business plans. Starting a new business involves considerable financial risk, but it also takes precious time and energy away from family life. Keep in mind that the time business owners must spend to find new customers takes time away from all other activities.
Do You Wear Several Hats With Ease?
Starting your own business means you'll need to be prepared to handle every role involved in business operations. Sometimes, this means mopping the floor, washing the windows, and cleaning the bathroom. At one time or another, you'll find yourself pinch-hitting for every cog in the wheel of your business — often on the spur of the moment when an employee fails to show up for work.
Do You Often Act on a Whim?
If you have a tendency to act on impulse, you should work on learning how to curb it before making a solid commitment to owning and operating your own business. Many entrepreneurs have lost everything as the result of acting on the wrong whim at the wrong time.
Keep in mind that even though starting your own business may not be in the cards at this point in your life, it still may be a viable option at a future date. For instance, perhaps your children will be grown and out of the house in a few years, and you'll have more time and money to devote to nurturing your business. It could also be that you're emotionally and mentally ready to go out on your own right now but need to save up enough start-up cash to ensure that your business has the best possible chance of thriving.
Another scenario is that owning and operating your own business really isn't the best option no matter where you're at in your life. Although being your own boss definitely makes good daydreaming material, the reality is often quite different from the dream.
The end goal of the sales process is not to make the sale. The end goal is to inspire people who do buy to come back and buy again. Loyalty is what it's all about. From first contact to repeat buying, the customer lifecycle involves six distinct "ages" that make up the funnel design.
This is the act of finding good leads. You do solid research on the demographics who want your products. That kind of research involves scientific sampling. You could set up questionnaires, arrange for digital surveys, and all manner of other data-gathering techniques so that you can learn from the people in your statistical sample, who have already told you that they are interested.
Not all leads will pan out. Some will be gung-ho for your product or service, but some might just be "along for the ride." By qualifying your leads, you find out the people to whom you should be marketing. Here, you move from the general to the specific. You need to find out what specific things the customers actually want. During this stage, you will interact with the customer directly for the first time, which might be face-to-face or virtual.
When your prospects turn into customers who either come into your establishment or log into your website, you must evaluate their needs correctly. Ask them pertinent questions. Listen intently. Once you know what the customers really want, you can make an offer of a product or service with confidence. As an example, if Joan wants blue pants, you do not want to offer her red pants.
You have suggested a product or service to the customer, and the customer seems to be thinking about it. You can almost hear the objection before the customer even begins to speak. "It's too expensive." "I have to talk to my spouse." "I'll come back." You have heard them all, right? Have the rebuttals ready if they become necessary. While speaking with the customer, always redirect the conversation back to ways that the product or service meets one of the customer's needs. If you highlight the value of the product or the service to the customer, you may not need any rebuttals.
5. Closing the Sale
Your sales techniques worked! The customer has purchased the item or the service. In a way, this is where the sales process truly begins. Follow up with the customer. Ask the customer, "How did things work for you?" or, "Is there anything we can improve upon?" If a customer feels like part of the team, that increases the value of the item or service the customer purchased. Never forget about the customer once the money is in the cash register.
Repeat customers are the best customers. Sale completion is just the beginning of the next sale. Always provide value. That doesn't just mean giving the customer deals the next time around. Asking for customer feedback and acknowledging that feedback is as important, if not more so, than providing "a deal." Always be honest. Respect the customer's time. Do what you say you will do. Customers are savvy, discerning, and particular in the 21st century. You have to stand out in the crowd.
We're Rubberneck Society, and we know and understand the customer journey. We can help you implement these steps to drive your profitability and help you build loyalty in every single customer. Contact us today to find out more!
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