Innovators and disrupters discover new things or products by questioning or breaking existing rules. One of the most exciting things about being an entrepreneur is being creative and discovering what works best, even if it goes against what others recommend.
The conventional business rules that are ingrained at most large organizations do not only discourage sustained innovation, they actively stamp it out. Innovation isn’t just for startups anymore.
You will miss all the fun and the discoveries if you follow all the rules. Rules are meant to be broken, break them with pride if you have something great or significant to prove.
If you’re not a risk taker, you should get the hell out of business.” -Ray Kroc, McDonald’s founder
Here are 4 business rules you should break to increase your chances of success.
1. Don’t start a business without a solid business plan. You don’t need a 40 page business plan to start a business unless you are planning on launching a rocket engine. You definitely need to think through your idea, validate it and find proof that the problem really exists.
You should have some sort of business plan, and you can get away with a simple, single-page plan. Yes, it may be simple, but it allows you to shift gears quickly if market conditions change unexpectedly.
An executive business plan can help you achieve your initial purpose. Going forward, you will need a solid business plan if you intend to seek funds from investors. Investors thrive on convincing numbers. If you can’t back your claims up, you will be screwed.
Audry Darrow had no business plan, no business experience and no product to sell when she launched Earth Science Organics. She was a 50-year-old, stay-at-home mom and breast cancer survivor who changed her eating habits as part of her healing process.
Her passion to help others motivated her to open a food manufacturing facility. “Currently we are number one in our niche around the country selling to over 1,300 stores,” Darrow says. Her company makes over $1.5 million in sales.
2. Don’t give away information or product for free. Handing out too many services or products at no cost isn’t very practical, but giving away a little of your time or a few items may draw new customers. Offering clients a free education or sample document can help them get a taste of your company and understand what you can do for them.
Any serious client looking to work with you will be interested in relevant information, for free, to get a feel for the quality that you provide. One of the best ways to take advantage of giving prospective customers something for free is by investing in content marketing.
Educate your customers via a company blog, ebooks, downloadable documents or infographics. You can share industry knowledge with your audience to make it easier for them to stick with you long enough to want to sign on to your product or service.
3. Concentrate on making money or you will go out of business. Concentrating solely on making money can put you in danger of losing sight of other key factors of a successful business. This single focus on money can create a ‘profit at all costs,’ unsustainable imbalance.
Instead, try monitoring important resources including money, time, and energy. In addition to watching your financial resources, watch the capacity of your humans’ time and energy.
You may find that you or your employees have more energy for certain tasks at different times of the day. You may also find projects that take up too much time are best outsourced or delegated to others. You could save money by managing resources instead of a laser focus on just making money.
4. Sell to everybody imaginable. You don’t have to sell to everybody to be successful. Focus your resources on selling to an audience that are already interesting in similar products. Not everybody is interested in what you are selling.
Focused marketing is your best bet. Trying to be all things to all customers disappoints those who are not the right fit for your business, while alienating those who deserve your best focus.
Instead of viewing everyone as a customer, take time to think about your ideal client. Some of the criteria you list could include a customer who pays on time, fits into your business model, presents possible future opportunities, and is easy to work with. Once you know who your ideal clients are, focus all proactive marketing on that target audience.
Image courtesy, Ferrell McCollough (Flickr)