During the 80’s married life with my husband began living on his family’s farming property. I enjoyed immersing myself in learning how to do things around the home in an old fashioned farming way.
I had grown up in a home where both my parents had worked full time and never seemed to have a lot of spare time to spend with us as children. This lead to a yearning to provide a nurturing environment within my own home and soon enough I was baking bread in the wood stove, collecting eggs and picking fruit for jams and learning to spin wool.
My only business skills had come from helping in my parents’ businesses, but before long there was a need for me to help supplement the meager income from our farm. My home cooking together with bearing three children left me with about 20 excess kilos of weight. I knew I needed help to overcome this problem and when I went looking for it – there was none to be found in our local community. What I did know was that there must be other people in the same situation as me.
So I did what I thought was a natural thing to do and I began a support group based around healthy eating and exercise. It took off like wildfire and in no time at all I had a regular weekly group of 120 women (and some men) paying for me to support, motivate and encourage them to achieve their health goals!
I would prepare weekly discussion topics and exercise routines. It was so gratifying to know that while I was achieving my own weight loss goals, I was also a source of inspiration for others who so desperately needed support. Their progress and change in outlook became a huge encouragement to me!
Quickly I discovered that my clients wanted more of anything I had. Journals, diaries, trackers, exercise tapes. This was great. One client and they kept buying from me over and over and spending more and more money with me through the products.
As my clients got great results, released weight, got happier and changed their lives, word continued to spread. This was the birth of my first business that would lead me on to so many other opportunities!
I was absolutely passionate about imparting the knowledge and skills for every one of my clients to achieve success. It didn’t take long for me to realize that if we help others achieve their goals, we can achieve our own so much more easily. My groups grew to several per week and I also opened up new groups in nearby communities. I studied more in the fitness industry and added more fitness opportunities.
Some 21 years later and several successful offline businesses later, I have now been connected to the online business world for several years. Many times I see people struggling to get more clients. It is during these moments that I realize that the good old fashioned ways to do business is what has been key to keeping me profitable (and client filled) all these years no matter what business I have been in.
Here are just a few tips from the farming days that can determine the profits you will make in your business:
1. Your reputation always counts- This might seem really basic, but it’s not. If you are trying to make money selling products you don’t believe in, or making outrageous statements about false results, your reputation is always at stake. Your reputation preceded you so be sure to honour your obligations and agreements. Not matter how much money is at stake, be sure you can sleep at night with the decisions you make. As farmers, we were only ever as good as our word. Nothing has changed!
2. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – Love, care and respect your clients. When you enter a farm kitchen you expect to smell the free bread, the kettle whistling and the fires burning for warmth. Create a caring and nurturing environment where your clients feel like you really care about them and you will always be profitable. People love to feel like they ‘belong’ and that they are a welcome guest, rather than a pest. Your clients should feel this way too.
3. Go the opposite direction competitors are headed – you’ll stand out and make more money. Be prepared to take calculated risks to stand out and do what others dare not. When everyone else was increasing their sheep numbers we knew that was the time to diversify into cattle or some cropping for a while. You need to have something different to get noticed. If everyone is charging heaps of money for every little piece of information they give you – go ahead and do the opposite – deliver masses of value for no cost. People will respect you for that and stay connected. Then when you have something to sell, they are more likely to be happy to spend money with you because they have already got such great value.
4. Systemize a high level of ‘stay in touch’ marketing- This is a simple old fashioned business principle that many people nowadays are reluctant to implement. Given that their clients are bombarded with some much marketing materials today, there is hesitation at sending anything more. The secret lies in making your ‘touches’ in a mixed way. Email, social media and blogging are great ways to ‘touch’ your audience on a regular basis. If your clients are complaining that you send too many emails, are you writing them like an old friend dropping by that does nothing but talk about themselves non-stop then leaves? If you view your customer as a friend or neighbour, then staying in touch becomes a joy rather than a burden. You take the time to find out what their needs are and how you can best serve them. You give the relationship the attention you know it needs to survive.
5. Do whatever it takes, even if it’s uncomfortable- During our farming years I was also running half ironman triathlons. I would be up at 4am in the morning, rain hail or shine to do my training. Swimming in the chilly waters or riding for hours in the rain and wind – it all happened before the sun came up or the children or animals needed tending to. If the training program said it needed to be done – I did it! Does this mean that everyone should be up at 4am in the morning to be successful? Absolutely not, but if you take this attitude, you will do what others are not prepared to do, even if it’s uncomfortable. While most people are wishing and hoping their dreams were a reality, you will be out there making it happen.
Basic, solid business principles will never let you down, and have always seen me in profit. While there is massive evidence that Joint Ventures, Affiliate marketing and creating connections can be extremely successful ways to market your business, there is no substitute for the basics. This can be a huge relief for many business owners who don’t feel they have what it takes to create these bigger types of deals. At the end of the day you cannot rely on others to build your business. You are your business and these time tested basics will see you create a strong foundation on which you can continue to grow.
Learn from these early lessons and your business will be outstanding!
I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on “Back to Basics” business principles. What do you see in today’s culture and marketplace that bothers you? What do you think is most important? Please comment and share your thoughts!