This is a relatively simple book with a very straightforward proposition: follow each of the exercises presented in a systematic fashion and you will grow your business and make significantly more profit. The book is directly aimed at professional practices but many of the principles followed would be applicable in a range of owner-managed firms.
Davis is a management accountant and certified management consultant who has worked with hundreds of small businesses and says that he has turned every loss making business that he has worked with into profit. His claim is that clients he has worked with in the professional services field – solicitors, consultants, trainers, coaches – have achieved fee rises of up to 274 per cent.
Moreover, clients also report feeling in more complete control of their business and no longer have to work crazy hours to keep the business going and Davis say the ingredients for this knowledge come from 10 years assembling the various tools and techniques available to professional firms.
Defining your personal values and getting your vision right is key. Businesses grow through passion and a sense of purpose so it is vital to know what yours is.
Visions grow and change too. Pádraig Ó Céidigh of Aer Arann is quoted as saying that his initial vision was to become a safe, reliable, profitable service to the Aran Islands, then it grew to being Ireland's internal airline and then being the best regional airline in the world.
Identifying your unique strength is another vital exercise along with a comprehensive SWOT analysis. In targeting markets for growth he suggests looking to the industry sectors that you most enjoyed working with in the past.
Pick just one sector and sweat this one is the advice. Define your ideal client in some detail and imagine the ideal customer that you would like to spend the day with. This will focus the search.
Focus is crucial as you need to build a reputation within a specific field. Don’t worry too much about competitors. If you are good enough and have chosen your niche well, you will attract sufficient business to make the niche profitable.
It’s important, however, that the niche has sufficient scale as you need to build a sales funnel to ensure that you gain sufficient critical mass. If you want to work with 10 clients, you may need to have 100 prospects that you talk to on a regular basis.
Davis suggests that to think bigger, you should add a zero to these figures. The psychological effect of this is to open up your mind to fresh possibilities. This might involve a partnership with others, building joint ventures, delivering your service in a different way and/or choosing to build your service in a new geographic market.
A classic mistake small businesses make is putting together a list of all the services that they can provide in the hope that some clients will want them. Instead, you should do your research and find out what companies want. Your prospects are not really interested in how great you are and what you provide. They want to know the benefits they get from engaging with your services. Crucially, you need to find out what your clients “pains are wants” are.
No matter what niche market you want to reach, there is always a watering hole where the people in it meet. A key tip is to find where that watering hole lies.
Once you find it, you need to be there. Davis adds that being there is not enough, however, you also need to leave a trail of bird seed or in other words, provide some tasters of your professional expertise. Apart from personal presentations, this can also include elements such as ebooks, videos, podcasts, special reports and CDs.
Among the other tips the author suggests that your first sale to a client should ideally be a low-priced one. This allows the client to test the waters and to build confidence in a supplier that they have not worked with before. Too many service providers don’t have a low ticket offering, however.
Davis has put together a clever, easily digestible guide here for service providers that should be useful to those wishing to grow their businesses.