'The Art of the Start' Helps Business Owners To Succeed
Business has always excited me. I love the competitive nature and successes that come from out working, out lasting and out thinking my competition. I am your typical “persuader” business person. I like to roll up my sleeves and make things happen. I learn the hard way by trial and error, and I have about as much patience as my three-year-old daughter.
That is why I have always enjoyed Guy Kawasaki and his no-fluff and no-nonsense style of writing and doing business. He started as a marketing professional with Apple and helped pioneer evangelist marketing. He has been writing for about 30 years and has founded and sold three different companies. He currently runs a venture capital firm that has invested in companies such as Pandora Radio and Tripwire.
His book “The Art Of The Start” is a raw, bare-bones essential guide to starting your business. In the beginning, he offers five steps to set you on your way: Make Meaning; Make Mantra; Get Going; Define Your Business Model; and Weave A MAT (Milestones, Assumptions and Tasks).
If you follow these steps you will not waste time constantly over-thinking and over-analyzing your business, and prevent becoming the barrier to actually getting out there and “making it happen.”
Later, the book covers several important lessons in sales and client retention that every building service contractor should know.
For example, Kawasaki talks about “making your value proposition personal.” In the janitorial industry, you can try to differentiate your company from your competition, but in actuality, your prospective buyer will still see you as a commodity. Most times when we win a business proposal it’s because the clients say they trusted or had the best rapport with us, not because we have superior cleaners or processes.
Kawasaki also makes excellent points for maintaining good relationships with clients. One of the most important is the idea of “suck down.” This is a broad term he uses for things most BSCs learn the hard way, such as befriending the secretary or not going over someone’s head. I have certainly learned in this industry that if the receptionist is a fan of your company, life will be easier. Receptionists are also the gatekeepers to your big prospective clients, so treat them like the signers of the contracts.
Another example is not going over anyone’s head in regards to contract disputes. The person who is your boss at a facility usually has a boss themselves, and regardless how ridiculous or egregious your contact is being, going to his or her boss to settle a dispute will never end well for you.
“The Art Of The Start” will only take a few hours to read, and it gets straight to the point for anyone running their own business. Kawasaki sometimes goes a bit too quickly and leaves some room for elaboration, but he holds the book together with quick wit and real-world examples.
Director of Business Development
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