Strategy

My Mum kindly purchased this book for me as a gift, and she thought it would inspire me knowing that I am self employed… and she was right!!

James Caan is the Author of Start Your Business in 7 Days, which is a great book for prompting all the fundamental questions for making your business idea a reality. The concept of the book is based around a 7 day cycle, and throughout these 7 days James takes you through all the essentials, including:

  • underst anding if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur;
  • underst anding if your idea is really a viable business model;
  • underst anding how important it is to find out if there is a dem and for your product/service;
  • underst anding how important your costing’s are;
  • underst anding the importance of research and knowledge.

He structures this around his time as a ‘dragon’, his experience as a business investor and his success as an entrepreneur.

The book is pitched form the idea of minimising the risk in a business start up. James encourages the asking of questions and the full proof testing of your business idea. He strives to find reasons as to why your idea will fail, and by doing this your idea receives a good thorough workout. This helps you to underst and if your idea can really be a business, and if not, at least you find out early enough, prior to invest any money and a significant amount of your time.

A client recently asked me if I could help him with a business idea and I used this book as a resource and as part of our analysis. Therefore, I have put together a list of questions and pointers that are directly from or have been inspired by reading the book. This summary will hopefully help and encourage others who either run their own business or are thinking about starting a business to get a grasp of the fundamentals.

Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?
  • Are you prepared to work 7 days a week?
  • Are you prepared to make tough decisions?
  • Are you ready to learn?
  • Are you prepared to o whatever it takes and take on the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur?
What is the business idea?
  • “Is your idea really a business? Check that the idea you have generated is one you can feel passionate about and committed to, but don’t fall so in love with it that you are blinded to any weakness.
  • Analyse it and define what the compelling selling point of it is. Determine whether it is a hobby, a commercial hobby, a lifestyle or a scalable business idea, and decide whether that is what you want. Share your idea to get feedback and improve it.” (p45, Day 1)
What are you going to sell?
  • Describe your products and services.
  • What is it that your business is going to be doing?
What are the core benefits and value of your product/service for your customers?
  • James mentions that “The concept of starting a business is that it should be customer-led, and shaped by customer response. It should never be the business pre-empting everything and then having to undo it all.” (p52-3, Day 2)
  • This comes down to underst anding what you are offering and that you underst and your market and your customers needs. Research is discussed next.
What research do you need to do in order to become knowledgeable?
  • “To analyse your idea you have got to do your research. It’s fundamental.” (p55, Day 2)
  • “The principle of research is not that it’s useful to know. It is critical to know.” (p56, Day 2)
  • Think about your customers and the market – how much do you know about them?
  • What about your competitors? do you know who they are? How much of the market do they have ownership of? How do they compete?
  • Do you really underst and the numbers? Do you know the costing’s, gross profit and net profit? Do your research to find out how much is will cost to operate.
  • How much does it cost you to generate one customer?
  • Make use of Google for this. You don’t have to leave your house to do most of this research!
What will you name your company?
  • “Having a name brings your company to life”
Have you made sure that there is actual dem and for your product/service?
  • James Caan makes his opinion very clear in his book. He encourages you to go out and talk to a potential customer and attempt to sell your product/service very early on.
  • Try and get an order based on a concept – “People buy people first, before they buy the product – [based upon your] passion and focus”. You will then start to underst and more about what your customers want, and if there truly is a dem and for your product/service.
  • Can you get an order? Is there a market out there? Will somebody buy your product/service? Will they buy it again and again? Are your customers prepared to pay you for what you are selling?
Do you fully underst and your costing’s?
  • James Caan makes this seem simple – calculate the money coming in as revenue and the money going out as costs.
  • It is vital that you add in your own time; treat yourself as you would any other employee. Not including your own time will distort the selling price and is a false equation.
  • Think about what margin you are looking for.
  • Remember that if there is no profit, then there is no business.
  • “Double check the costing’s. Then double-check them again. And then get someone else to check the,.” (p111, Day 4).
  • “Does your costing’s work? Go though all the income assumptions, all the costing’s. Is there profit in there? Have you added in the cost of your own time?” (p111, Day 4)
How will you market you idea?

The purpose of this summary is to give you a flavour of the main parts of the book, and the sections that I think really matter. James Caan brings forward and highlights the likely risks and how to make sure your business idea is viable before you put your life savings into it!

If you want to find out more, please buy the book!

Please feel free to leave comments or points for discussion below.

Thanks for reading!

Chris.

Buy The Book

Comments and Feedback

Detailed below are 6 simple questions that you should ask yourself when thinking about starting to promote and advertise your product and services.

If you can I would advise that you get your team involved at this early stage. I’m certain that they will have some fantastic ideas and this will be a great way to get them involved in, and bought into, the marketing process.

These questions will help you think about the what, where, why, when and how  of your marketing campaign  and also how you are going to measure the success of any marketing campaign, which is VERY important.

I advise that you use a brainstorming technique that you are comfortable with when asking these questions so you can capture all your thoughts and ideas in one place.

Why will someone do business with you and not your competitors?
What makes you different? What is your Unique Selling Point (USP)?
Who are your market?
Paint a picture of you preferred customer – think about the demographic, their interests, and how you can appeal to them.
Where are your target market?
Find out where your market are, which will help you when delivering your message. How can you get your message to many people at once?
What kind of message do you want to send to them?
What will appeal to your audience?
How will you deliver the message?
What media appeals to your market?
How will you know that your marketing efforts have been successful?
What can you put in place to measure the success of your campaign?

It would be great to have some input from you. Please leave comments for discussion below.

Thanks,

Chris.

Marketing is the single most important aspect of your business that will improve your success rate, improve results and keep it growing. It is vital that you have a few things in place to create new clients, retain the ones you have and remind people that you exist.

I have made available to you, for FREE, 20 great marketing ideas to help you to grow your small business, which I hope you find useful and thought provoking.

Most of these ideas can be implemented without too much cost, and occasionally for free. Our advice would be to just get started on something right away; just pick one thing and get going. One of the most vital things that you must do is to build in a way to measure the performance of any marketing efforts, so you can measure the success of your campaigns (Return On Investment/ROI).

It is worth noting that your marketing efforts should be based on a foundation of good knowledge of your clients, which will help you market your products and services in the correct way. These 20 tips are mainly promotional activities, so it is key to underst and what your clients are most likely to react to.

Hopefully these 20 tips will inspire you to do something different and think of more great ideas.

Thanks in advance for subscribing to my mailing list, I really appreciate it!

Twitter – @chrismarr101

At the start of the year I put out a post about business environmental analysis, which provided an insight into some basic, although timeless strategies and tools, including ‘Porter’s 5-Forces’.

Michael Porter created the 5-Forces strategy about 30 years agao and it is still used widely today.

In this HBR article Michael Porter provides an insight into the application and implications of the strategy.

There is a video that summaries the article, which can be viewed below and further reading can be found on the HBR website.

Check it out and take advice from Porter himself!!

Thanks for reading.

Chris.