Adapting your business model – Brenda Etchells

Understanding your business model is the first step if you want to grow your business.   When we start, we’ll write a business plan but often we never revisit it. Like most things in life, our businesses evolve over time and that often means your model will need revisiting and updating to reflect the new direction and goals of your business. I’m going to share a simple technique that will help you to map out your business model.

The Business Model Canvas was developed by Strategyzer.com and since attending one of their  two-day workshops 10 year ago I have used the model in my own business and have also adapted it  for my clients to use.    

The model follows nine main principles. Breaking down your model into these categories will give you a clear focus and a thorough picture of what actions you need to take going forward. 

  1. Customer segments – Who are your customers 
  2. Value proposition – Why do your customers use/buy your product? 
  3. Channels – How do you reach your customers? 
  4. Relationships – How do you interact? 
  5. Revenue – What are the main income streams for your business? 
  6. Key activities – What must you do to meet your customer needs? 
  7. Key resources – What assets must your business use/have to compete? 
  8. Key Partnerships – What can you outsource? 
  9. Costs – What are the biggest costs in your business?

 I have simplified the approach to asking Why, Who, Where, What and How: 

How do I use this information going forward? 

Once you have completed the model,  there are several ways you can use the information you’ve gathered. 

Target Business Models 

Use the model to explore various future states. How do these differ to your current business model? Once you have agreed your target business model, this becomes the blue-print on which your planning and actions must align behind.

Competition

Now is a good time to research your competitors in your market. What do their business models look like? This is a useful exercise to help you highlight your strengths and weaknesses and identify your place within your market. 

Disruptors

While it might feel a little uncomfortable, now is the time to put yourself in the shoes of a disruptor. Pick apart your model from top to bottom and start again from the beginning. If you were targeted for acquisition, what parts of your current business model would be stripped out?  Where are the inefficiencies? Would you target different customers? Is there an untapped market/need? 

Creative Thinking

This may be challenging but think about what the total opposite of your business model would look like. Thinking about this will push the boundaries and you might find you come up with some ways to improve your model. Get the creative juices flowing by turning your business model on its head. 

Being clear on your business model can only help you in the future. Sometimes it’s worth going back to basics. Whether you’re a company of 3 or 300, the principles remain the same. I’m passionate about helping businesses maximise the impact of their planning, driving then towards a positive and successful future. 

For help with your strategic planning, you can contact Brenda via her partner profile.

How a professional marketer can transform your business.

As the  world of  digital marketing becomes ever more saturated, it’s easy to see why some businesses get overwhelmed and so end up doing little or no marketing activity.

A few ads on social media on the likes of Facebook and LinkedIn will not cut it. Neither will writing the odd blog. Executing your marketing activities piecemeal will not get you the impact or the efficiencies that your business needs. 

There’s a whole range of on and offline activities that in combination with a highly focused message will create the impact and efficient use of budget you need. It’s a professional marketer that can help you with this. It’s not about spending as much as possible, it’s about working smartly, so that you can take your business and your brand to the next level.

Where to begin?  

Know your focus and create a brand with substance and real values. 

Anyone who has started a business will have done so because they’re passionate about what they do. The longer we’re in business, the easier it can be for us to lose sight of why we started. Your initial purpose for starting your business is your starting point here. This is your ‘why’, your reason for doing what you do with passion. 

Conversations around your why are vital. They are what creates and sets your brand voice apart. This will enable a professional marketer to develop key messages that show off what is unique about you and your business. Once your focus, brand and values are established you can shout about this in a consistent and ongoing way to your target audiences. Be known for exactly what you want to be known for, on and offline.

What’s your story? 

As business owners, our focus is often dragged in many different directions at once. Sometimes, it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. When you work with an experienced marketer, they will get to know you and your story. They’ll help you bring that to life for you through an overarching and cohesive strategy that is right for you and your business. Every marketing plan is bespoke to the business and its personal and unique story – your brand. 

Marketers can also help you hone in on specific campaign ideas with measurable goals against a mixed plan of marketing activities. A business owner that is focused with their marketing can execute activities with ease whilst they keep their attention and strengths on where they are best placed, concentrating on what they most enjoy. 

Connect with your audience

A marketing strategy with a plan creates multiple opportunities to connect with your customers in a unique way. An experienced marketer will work with you to find out where your audience consumes their content, what interests them and what their challenges are. This not only adds focus but also limits wasted time, effort and resources in undertaking individual, one-off marketing activities that don’t gain momentum or achieve consistency. 

A full marketing strategy also needs to include reporting to allow for review and refinements. An integrated approach to marketing is an ongoing journey that builds and improves over time. You learn along the way to make informed decisions around where budget is best placed in driving results that are aligned with your business strategy and goals. You want to know that anything you put out in the future is going to hit the nail on the head; something that’s significantly harder to do without that ongoing learning experience and embracing marketing as an ongoing necessity.

Embracing a full mix of online and offline marketing activities that directly relate to your business goals will elevate your business and drive demand. And, that unique story of yours is the key to what sets you apart. Get the bigger picture around your marketing to make your investment count.

Selling In A Crisis – Pete Evans

We’ve all faced an increased number of day to day challenges since we went into lockdown. Fundamentally, we’re all trying to figure out how to keep our cash flow going to ensure that we come out on the other side. . While we continue to find our way through these unprecedented times, I’ve put together a few useful tools for both sales leaders and sales teams to carry on doing what they do best, no matter what the circumstances. . 

Adaptability is key. 

Take everything you know about your sales process and flip it on it’s head. Sales leaders and sales teams across the country have had to make significant changes to the way they go about engaging their prospects. 

Firstly, fully embrace the technology you have available. Screen to screen selling is the ‘new normal’ for now, whether you’re B2B or B2C.  Consider that for some of your clients, this way of working might actually be preferable even after the lockdown measures are lifted. Therefore, it’s worth getting the practise in now and getting as proficient as possible. Just as you would with any face to face meeting, preparation and practise are essential

Try to create an appropriate environment for your meetings. Consider the background of your video, your clothes and any potential distractions (children, pets, poor connectivity etc.) Particularly for those who are   juggling work and small children, things will inevitably happen during the course of your meetings. There’s nothing wrong with a small disclaimer to your prospect that there may be some interruptions. We’re only human after all.

Communication is essential.

We can often be so focused on where we’re going, we forget to take stock of where we are. In times like these, it’s important to stay in touch with your existing clients, and more importantly, stay in touch on a human level with no hidden agenda. Maintaining rapport with your clients will help you to both effectively and honestly evaluate your positions and make an informed decision about how you move forward. 

Speaking of nurturing your clients, make LinkedIn your new best friend. Sales leaders and sales teams alike should be maximising their LinkedIn presence; connecting with new prospects and developing relationships with existing clients. Get involved in the activities available to you in your network. There are a whole host of online webinars, networking groups and coaching sessions available. Just because you’re working at home doesn’t mean you can’t still get your face and name out in the market. 

Realigning your focus. 

Sometimes it takes a crisis for us to evaluate the big things. In this instance, now is a perfect time to have a reality check when it comes to your pipeline. Where are the winnable deals? Who can you qualify out? Where is your time best spent and which deals are going to actively improve and help your cash flow? 

Take a step back and evaluate your position and where you can bring value to your clients. It might have changed dramatically in the last few weeks. And when I say value, I don’t necessarily mean in a monetary sense. It can be tempting to start throwing out discounts but I would strongly advise against this. There’s ways to be creative when it comes to value exchange – whether that’s through payment plans or through exchange of qualified referrals. 

This crisis could be a great opportunity for businesses to become stronger than ever. I think we’re all intrigued to see the inevitable differences to the working world once this is all over. Staying as proactive as possible will ultimately help us and our businesses. We have to embrace the change and turn it into something positive. Lockdown might just be the route to the continued evolution of your business.  

Find out more about Pete on his partner profile.

The Northern Affinity Open Partners Meeting – Friday 29th May 2020

Our May meeting was one of the biggest turn outs we’ve had since the start of The Northern Affinity. It was brilliant to see faces old and new, ready to connect, share and learn. 

We began with the usual updates from Michael. We’re pleased to say our website has now been updated with a full list of our available services; you can view them here. Secondly, The Northern HQ has (as of yesterday) reopened its doors and we’re welcoming a reduced number of users back safely and comfortably. Following the news of slightly larger groups being able to meet, we’re going to look into putting together a series of local, outdoor events so we can still connect whilst maintaining social distancing measures. 

La Vue Photographique

Our first guest speaker was Angela Higham from La Vue Photographique. Angela walked us through the benefits of using commercial photography in business. First things first, you never get a second chance at a first impression. The average time it takes to form a first impression is roughly 0.05 seconds so you want to know you’ve got it right. Put your best foot forward with professional photography to give your customers a real sense of you and what you’re about. 

Your professional photographs will help you tell your brand story across your platforms; your website, social media and in any PR pieces. It’s a cost effective solution knowing you can re-purpose your images in a number of locations. An added benefit is that these images will help your web developer optimise the images for your website, rather than the hassle of resizing stock images. 

Socialsendr

Socialsendr is an app designed to help those who are short of time to keep their social media profiles standing out. We were treated to a live demonstration from Michelle; showing us how we can all get started and get the most out Socialsendr.

The app is suitable for all desktops so you don’t need to worry about Apple vs. Windows. Users can personalise their experience to suit the needs of their business. You might want to add your own unique hashtags and URLs to fall in line with your wider branding. 

With LinkedIn content on the horizon in addition to Twitter and Facebook, the future is certainly an exciting time for Socialsendr. 

HR Dept, Leeds

Finally, Sarah Bradley took a break from talk of Furlough to deliver an interactive introduction to DISC profiling. DISC profiling is a technique commonly used in HR. A method of matching people and figuring out their preferable working styles, DISC profiling can help build team dynamics, increase self awareness, understand our working motivators and also develop a platform to reduce frustrations in the workplace. 

Having identified our own profiles, we had the opportunity to discuss how we might support people different from ourselves. There were many eye opening conversations and we all definitely took something away from it; how we can modify our behaviour when with people that fall into different categories and possibly why we react to certain things at work we maybe hadn’t realised before!

Thank you to everyone who joined us this month with particular thanks to Angela, Michelle and Sarah for sharing your expertise with us. Our next meeting will be taking place on Friday 26th June 2020. If you’d like any details from this meeting; information about desks at The Northern HQ, details of any of the guest speakers or about the next meeting, please get in touch with Michael. Let’s see how different things are by the end of June!

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