How to Build A Business From Zero to $700,000 in first 12 Months
The global financial crisis had an impact on most of us. Hundreds if not thousands lost their jobs, some lost their life savings. An unlucky few lost their lives working on the pink bats insulation program of the former Labour government.
As for me, I lost one of my favourite jobs as one of the top executives of a Global Company I worked for with 5000 staff. I worked for one of the smartest men I knew, the No. 2 of the company, Ben Ezzetta. Ben ran Rolta’s international business from Atlanta. I ran the Asiapac business for Ben as President for Asia Pacific.
The GFC meant the board had to make some tough decision and had to scale back on many of its operations including its Asia pacific business. I was very disappointed, having lost a job I loved but also working with the likes of Ben and other world renowned colleagues likes of Rich Niemic and Brad Brown, both best selling authors and Oracle / Tech gurus.
My wife in particular took my job loss quite hard as my role in the family was to be its bread winner. She has always been a superbly supportive wife but I felt I had let the team down, and perhaps in my eyes, some respect of hers now having to look for work. It was tough times to navigate through.
A few months passed deciding what to do when an old friend I considered a wise man, a global telco executive who I met at his home in Beecroft in Sydney, told me I should go back to my roots of being the entrepreneur he knew me to be, and start a business. This was contrary to the advice of my executive coach (the one my Global company had provided) who said I will lose my employable currency If I don’t go for a senior position. In March 2010, I decided to start a business, a tough decision. But my intuition rightly or wrongly pointed me in that direction.
Zero – $700,000 in 12 Months
I started on 10th of March 2010 to build NexGroup. These are the steps I took that I believe anyone can take in this internet driven globalized world and succeed.
Step 1. Decide on what you are passionate about
This is fundamental. It keeps you ticking at all times especially so in tough times. For me, I was driven by one challenge. Research showed in only 30% of all technology projects are completed to client satisfaction. Hence most projects are over budget and or over time. I felt this 70% rate of “failure” was crazy so I wanted to run a business to be 100% world class. I ask all my business owner friends and clients to do the same, dig deep, get in touch with your inner being and see what your greatest passion for service is. This is the secret.
Step 2. What customers or customer segments do you want to serve
Be clear and Be targeted. This is about laser focus and not a spray gun approach.
For me, I was sure if I want 100% success in projects, I need to work with people who shared the same passion as I did internally as well as externally, not just lip service but for real . For me, it was working with high quality Service Directors, Program Directors and project managers who had the same vision and who would commit to practices.
It is important to talk to as many in your target market before you start and spend any money building a business, and ask them re the solution you are trying to resolve. Don’t ask them directly I got this product will you buy it, often the response you get may be because they don’t want to disappoint you.
But ask them around the problem you are trying to resolve, see how painful it is for them, how much they will be willing to pay if someone fixed it for them. The more people you talk in your target market the more insights you will have.
Step 3. Position Your Business
How you position your business to be attractive to your target market is unbelievably important. I have fortunately done this for many companies, hence this is a big strength for me. If you need my help, give me a call. I will only be too glad. NexGroup was positioned so big global companies CA North America, CA Australia, AXA, Woolworths and ANZ bank would feel comfortable working with us. This is tough to do when you are a new company and have no customers. But we did it well. Here is a snapshot of our approach.
Elements of Positioning :
Website: A world class website was really all we had to position our business like a business that can be trusted by any big company to work with us.
Get your positioning strategy right before you start getting a designer involved
This is the most important step. Lots of people design a pretty website and most web design companies can do it. But the “secret sauce” is getting the “position strategies” right. I was lucky. Years of doing this for multiple customers during my lifetime has blessed me with this innate skill which I love helping as many businesses with. This is what I now do mostly and love doing, working with business owners on how best to position their companies and their competencies in winning customers.
Get Your Design Right
Once your positioning is right, get your design right. We did this well. Our website gave a sense of trust to our customers from the very beginning.
Do your SEO
Do Your Social Media
Do Your Email Marketing
The above three are vital arrows for any business, we did this pretty well to ensure we were top of mind for our clients.
Step 4. Get Your Product/Service Right
This is fundamental. Don’t start a business if you can’t deliver high quality products or service 100% of the time. 99% is simply not good enough. This is your commitment to yourself. We delivered 20 projects in our first 12 months because our customer loved our 1st project. We got a 2nd. They loved every one of them 1st to 2nd to the 3rd to the 4th.
We deliver our passion of making “every engagement a good one” 100% success record defying industry standard of 30% success. Someone told us it was impossible. We told them we can do it. We did it. Being told it was impossible to do was the biggest motivation we had.
Step 5. Get your people right
Spend all your time in making sure you have the best people. If you can’t afford to hire them full time, get them on job by job basis, part time, offshore where ever. The Internet driven world allows it. I spent nights until 3am some nights sourcing the best people for my work from around the world. I called the US, UK, India, South Africa, Ireland. My first expat I got from Qatar of all places. He was unbelievable.
Our client who was a ASX top 50 firm loved him.
Step 6. Visit your Customers
Be close to your customers, have lunch with them. It is not costly, just a sandwich is ok. But get to know them. Ask questions, listen, listen & listen.
Step 7. Be close to your people
These are the guys who are your champions doing great work achieving your vision. Buy them lunch dinner whatever is convenient. Always talk about the focus. For us it was to ensure every client was delighted, how can we make the engagement they were working on at that time a success. We celebrated every win.
This is an internet driven world. All we had was a website that customers trusted. Even word of mouth, customers first go to your website before they have the confidence to work with you. They often need approval of their colleagues, bosses, and business partners to work with your firm so your website is that ticket to the dance.
If you have got your positioning right, you will get your design right. Positioning strategies is fundamental. My new passion is to help as many small businesses to get their positioning strategy right. If I or my team can help you give me a call / email. I am also on twitter @dineshdesilva but don’t DM me on twitter.
Feel free to talk to one of our digital strategists today. We are more than happy to help! Contact us now.