Being In The Business Of Business
In this particular chapter, I will use my personal experience as a reference of how some entrepreneurs may not be taking full advantage of the power of B2B (Business To Business) marketing. Most start-ups are focused on sales and driving traffic to their website and rightfully so but being blinded by the number of likes on your post and comments from your family and friends can damage your perspective on the direction your business is really going in.
I am a graphic designer and love it. I have particularly always had an interest in magazine and billboard advertising so me falling into the field of graphic design wasn’t a real shock. What It took me the first few years to learn was that the passion I had for the craft wouldn’t exist without a 9 to 5 job. What I mean is the time I spent learning and practicing graphic design couldn’t have happened if I couldn’t pay the light bill. Which bought me to the realization that being a graphic designer wasn’t the most profitable business for a new entrepreneur. Then I begin to notice how many new people I now know that were business owners and in different industries which got me thinking, maybe I’ve been overlooking the big picture.
I started to rearrange my business module to less suit a graphic design agency and focus more on my clients and how their businesses operate. Not so much on a day-to-day basis but more on how their business operates and interacts with other businesses in similar industries. That research literally shaped my business from graphic design into design consulting and digital marketing. I learned by solving problems for my clients and becoming a resource of information would ultimately reward me with a list of bigger and better referrals.
The reason for that quick story is for start-ups and entrepreneurs to not solely depend on public sales or how many likes you have on social media or the CEO title behind your name but how useful could your product or service be to other businesses. Think about it, why spend all month trying to sell a few t-shirts when you can spend that same time trying to find someplace that’s in the business of selling t-shirts that you can sell to in bulk. I understand that selling in quantity won’t always result in the top profit margins but it will establish you in the industry as a resource for outsourcing products.
It’s probably worth doing some research on what type of businesses may be able to use your product or service to expand their business. Most businesses will view you as competition or an average retailer that’s providing a similar service and not an asset to their development. Having some general knowledge of an industry enables you to find out what issues are most common and how others have solved them in the past. With technology rapidly growing it’s possible that problems that may have occurred in the older days of business now have automated solutions.
Taking advantage of the edge that technology has given us will make the difference between being an average business or an asset to the industry. Selling a product or providing a service is one thing but having a product or providing a service to your industry takes all of your competition and turns them into customers.
Maybe around 5 or 6 years ago I met a guy that was also into graphic design but we had a few mutual acquaintances already so naturally at times some of them rendered his services for one reason or the other.
Not too long after our introduction, he asked for my assistance with a project he had to finish and I agreed. After nearly completing the project, he reveals that the final step is to have all of this different material printed but the budget for the project was set and we didn’t have a printer yet so we didn’t have a cost either. Later that day I hopped online and search for online wholesale printing companies to try and save on some of the cost that a local printer would have charged us. After finding a wholesaler with better pricing than I imagined I immediately started to build a website for printing and only added the products that I knew the other designers would need, marked up the prices, and took them from competition to customers.
To take it a step further, some of those local printing companies are also now my customers where I was able to beat the price that it cost them to print in-house by using a wholesale company. Owning a business or being an entrepreneur with a specific niche does not necessarily mean you need to own a bunch of equipment or a luxury office suite but having access to whoever can get the job done. Construction companies have this method to a science, in fact, the entire industry is based around sub-contracting. Huge construction companies spend millions of dollars bidding on contracts just to get the job and hire 5 other companies to actually do the work. To add to the scheme of things it’s usually only 1 or 2 people sitting in a mobile unit answering calls that are actual employees of the construction company. We see how instead of competing, construction companies hiring the competitors to work for them, which keeps them from needing to hire a lot of qualified professionals or store any overhead, just someone to answer the phone and make the coffee.