‘Common sense’ is a valuable asset

Nigel Toplis says achieving success in business is 'not rocket science'. It's about hard work, organisation and being persistent.

‘Common sense’ is a valuable asset

Nigel Toplis says achieving success in business is ‘not rocket science’. It’s about hard work, organisation and being persistent.

Common sense goes a long way in business. Yet you’d be surprised how many businesses fail simply because of a lack of it. In many cases, a lack of common sense is sometimes the biggest barrier preventing a business from growing and becoming successful. Over the years I have come across a whole range of impediments to growth and too many businesses come crashing down for the following reasons:

Lack or reduced level of activity

In an activity-based business, you must maintain a high level of activity – particularly in marketing and sales. This does not simply apply to quantity but consistency and regularity as well.

Misplaced resource allocation

It’s easy to get distracted and to waste resources on non-productive tasks. Your business needs you to be 100% focused on the tasks ahead – and every day. You may need to ‘duck and dive’ a little, or innovate, and perhaps change course from time to time. Above all, you must remain alert to an ever-changing market.

Lack of your time

‘Time’ is our most valuable commodity, so don’t waste it. You only make money when you’re dealing with customers. Therefore, sufficient time needs to be spent on building relationships with existing customers, while also seeking new ones.

Can’t plan, don’t plan

All businesses require a robust and structured plan. This plan must be monitored and reviewed on a regular basis and sometimes adjusted. As they say: ‘Few people plan to fail but many fail to plan.’ If you fail to plan, or delay taking action, and do not measure yourself against outcomes, then all you have is a hobby, not a business.

Not getting close to customers

Business-to-business (B2B) is all about relationships. It’s your relationship with your customers that gives your company a competitive edge. Therefore, if you believe that you shouldn’t get too close to your customers – then find another business.

Failure to delegate

You can’t do everything yourself and nor should you try. You need to focus your time and energy on what really impacts the business. The key is to ‘delegate’ and, in particular, this refers to the more mundane administrational duties. If you fail to delegate day-to-day administration, then eventually this is all you’ll find time for.

20/1 mentality

If you want a huge, short term pay-off for a small investment, then don’t start a business. You’d be better off searching for the nearest high street betting shop.

Most businesses are not complex. But to achieve success you will need to work hard, be customer focused, be well organised and undertake a high level of activity. The more active you are, the more people you speak to, and the more people you meet at one-to-one meetings, then this will increase your chances of doing business with them. It’s a simply theory. In other words it’s common sense.

Being organised, structured and consistent, while undertaking regular marketing activity is critical to building and developing your business. You must actively market and promote your business, communicate regularly with customers and, at the same time, make certain that your brand and your products remain at the forefront of a buyer’s mind.

Ultimately, a lack of activity will lead to stagnation, decline and eventually failure.

Business owners are required to juggle numerous responsibilities, within the framework of strict time constraints. Experience shows that owners inevitably end up focusing on short-term goals, which require an immediate response. Yet this approach results in long-term stagnation for the business.

‘Activity’ is similar to riding a bicycle. If you stop peddling, or slow down too much, then you start to wobble and eventually fall off. Worse than that is the failure to climb the next hill, denying your business the opportunity to move to the next level. Therefore remember, and excuse this crude expression: ‘You Don’t Get Business Sitting On Your Arse’.

A consistent level of activity is critical if you want to build your business. The days of being reactive and waiting for business to come to you are long gone. You must be proactive at all times, because your rivals are certainly knocking on doors in their search for new customers. I’d suggest the following:

  • Get in front of customers by making appointments;
  • Continually network via the many UK business clubs which exist, such as the Chamber of Commerce;
  • Ask for referrals;
  • Never stop building brand awareness;
  • Email your latest marketing blurb every month – without fail;
  • Send out awareness cards on a regular basis;
  • Use mailing services to dispatch catalogues, brochures, leaflets etc;
  • Optimise your company’s website (This must remain up to date at all times. And are you available via: ‘Google my Business’?
  • Use social media to promote your business, latest products and new promotions. Don’t forget that ‘PR is free advertising’ and the media love a local story.

Finding business is about getting in front of customers, being organised and having a bucket load of persistence.

Nigel Toplis
Nigel Toplis