Report back on the business assessment

In tornado method, marketing, work-life balance, getting things done by neville

Last week I sent out a quick questionnaire asking you pick the top three areas where your business is struggling. In the process, I’ve learnt some things about email lists and newsletters and gained some insights into what you’re struggling with.

Here are the results of the assessment – together with some insights you may find useful.

Open and completion rates

Of the subscribers I sent the email to, just under 40% of you opened the email, 6% clicked through to view the assessment form and 3%, or 18 in total, completed the form. I’m mentioning these numbers to give you an idea of what happens in the back end of managing a list of subscribers – getting people to do something is a lot more difficult than it may seem!

Summary of the results

Although the number of responses are not necessarily statistically significant, the results are very much in line with my experience working with small business entrepreneurs over the last six years. A full 61% indicated that you are struggling with Marketing – generating enough leads for your business. Following very closely is Getting Stuff Done – a full 50% indicated that you’re struggling to get enough of the right stuff done.

Here’s a graph showing the number of people (out of a total of 18) that indicated where they feel their business is not performing well enough:

What I didn’t quite expect was the number of people that feel they don’t follow up with previous clients enough. A full third of you feel that you’re not doing this well enough.

I also provided an “other” column where you could indicate where you’re struggling outside of the nine categories I provided. There were two responses here; one wondering which business idea to pursue, and the other listing getting paid as a problem.

While I can’t provide detailed advice on how to solve these problems in this report back, I would like to provide you with some insights and point you at other articles that may help.

Marketing is a problem (but there’s more to it)

Generating enough leads for your business is one of the most common areas where small businesses struggle. The results above (61% of you feel that marketing is not working well enough) is very much in line with my experience working with entrepreneurs.

The most obvious cause of the problem would seem to be that we don’t know enough about marketing to do it well. However, my experience is that this is just part of the problem.

If you’re not helping your customers solve a problem, no marketing in the world will help you sell your stuff.

For your marketing to be effective, you have to start by identifying the problem that you’re helping people solve. That problem can of course take many forms – a real pain (“I need to eat”) or aspirational (“I want a great dining experience”). But until you identify that problem – and reflect it in your messaging – your marketing will struggle.

Once you’ve clearly identified the problem you’re helping your customers solve, you can reflect that in your marketing. You will have to figure out where to find your customers, what the words are that will trigger their interest and entice them to connect with you in some way (sign up for a newsletter, visit your store, contact you directly and so on) after which you can start the nurturing and selling.

So to fix your marketing, you will have to:

  • clearly identify the problem your customers have;
  • express it in terms they will understand and connect with;
  • create awareness that you can help them solve it (awareness marketing); and
  • entice them to connect with you.

There’s a lot more to it of course, but that’s the essence. For more on marketing, you may find these articles useful.

Overwhelm is a problem

I built my business to help entrepreneurs build a more successful business faster – and still have a life. That last bit, about still having a life, is a lesson that I learnt the hard way and I see so many other entrepreneurs struggle with.

And yet, we still struggle with getting stuff done – we’re overwhelmed, we don’t know where to focus next and even the best-laid plans get run over by emergencies.

The good news is that you can get better at getting stuff done – and having a life. There are however some things you need to know:

  • building a business takes time, and no matter how fast you run, it’s still going to take time to get there;
  • having a life while you’re building a business is a lot about saying no – you have to say no to distractions, no to letting work take forever and no to the things that are not directly helping you build your business; and
  • you have to keep practicing at getting more of the right stuff done – it’s not something that is going to happen overnight.

If I had to choose the top three things that will help you deal with overwhelm, they are (together with links to relevant articles):

  • getting really clear about what you do;
  • planning more – we try to deal with overwhelm by running faster, but we will actually get where we need to be faster with more planning; and
  • getting rid of distractions – turn off all notifications from everything except your calendar (email, social media).

There are many more articles on my blog about productivity and getting things done – you may want to take a look at some of them again.

Thank you

I would like to say thank you to everyone who took the survey – I really appreciate your time.

The survey helped me understand where you’re struggling better. It’s difficult to provide specific advice to each of you in this article, but I hope I’ve provided you with some insight and some things you can do now to help you solve the problems you’re dealing with.

Over the next weeks and months you will see more articles on how to solve these problems. If you have any specific comments or questions, I would love to hear from you.