Do what you love doing
“Passion” is perhaps an over-rated word in business, but it can take hard work to succeed — and sustain — an enterprise. Things go wrong and when things go right, competitors quickly appear to steal your thunder. If you can’t wake up most mornings truly looking forward to your work, you won’t be able to sustain the effort, or (at best) you’ll just get by in bare survival mode.
If you can’t do what you love doing, make what you love doing as much a part of your work/life as possible and find ways to get other individuals (or technology) to help you out.
If you are part of the crowd, you will never gain a marketing edge. You need to be the “only one” in your potential clients’ minds. This means narrow, focused niches are more likely to be successful than broad, all-encompassing goals. Redefining your niche can appear at first to be risky, because it means you will turn down work (or more accurately, the opportunity to bid for work) which doesn’t match your niche. But you need to differentiate yourself to earn more than bare-bones commodity prices for your work.
Uniqueness can be in many ways, it can be in the specific service you provide, the geography you work within (for example, a ‘handyman’ business could thrive within a single condo tower or a few urban blocks) or your level of expertise.
Put your clients’ (and community’s) interests first
The more I observe successful business leaders, the more I see that they spend a truly significant amount of their time and financial resources on improving their client experience and (even more significantly) their community involvement. In fact, I will go out on an unscientific limb and suggest that the most successful businesses put 25 to 40 or 50 per cent of their efforts into client and community service/relations.
If this seems excessive to you, consider the difference in relationships between a business with pushy sales reps, and a business whose sales reps sit on the boards of relevant associations and community groups and volunteer for activities which provide real value others. Somehow, it seems, the successful businesses get more by giving, but they aren’t giving to get.
Do these rules work? Well, take a little time to observe the most successful businesses in your field or area, and see if they apply. You may not see the passion and the marketing uniqueness may be so natural to you that it doesn’t seem obvious, but you will undoubtedly notice the community involvement. Of course, you can also find exceptions as brute power and lots of money can allow a degree of success even when these rules are violated. But do you have that kind of money to waste?