"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants."
That was from Isaac Newton back in 1675 at around 3pm I think ;)
Through this new series of blogs, we will investigate the successful things entrepreneurs do and also examine the mistakes of others who have tried and fallen before you. These blogs have been written so you learn from the faults and implement the great things helping you to bridge the gap between failure and an astounding commercial success.
Though focused upon the food and drink industry, the information which we lovingly impart can be applied to almost any sector.
Today we will talking about The Spark, the seed, the spur, the trigger… The business idea!
So, you have an amazing business idea? Well done you.
A good friend of mine from uni had about twenty of them a day and I have to say some of them were fantastic. From potentially life changing concepts or inventions, to commercial twists on already existing products. Last I heard, he was doing a job he never wanted in Plymouth and probably still coming up with amazing trinkets that could (But never would) make him millions.
Over the years he has cursed the world claiming that “Life isn’t fair.” And “Why is it that other people seem to have all the luck?”
I’m here to tell you that luck has very little to do with it. For all my mate has a clear gift for invention, he has created some major obstacles that stand in his way - blocking the path to his potential fortune.
He was never able to take that initial dream and make it reality. This series of blogs is my FREE gift to him and to you.
Before you start a business, the first thing you need is a great idea.
Let’s say you want to start a coffee shop – Fantastic, on you go. I’ll have an espresso. The trouble is, there are a lot of coffee shops out there and only so many thirsty people. What is different or outstanding about your coffee shop? What will inspire people to come to you?
Essentially, I am asking about your brand.
Your brand, contrary to popular opinion is not your logo or your website. Your brand is the perception that people have of your company based on their communication with your business.
As I write this blog, I am sitting in Blakes coffee shop in the centre of Newcastle:
They don’t have the cheapest coffee but it is fantastic quality and the shop is geographically convenient. The staff are friendly and make me feel welcome whenever I am nearby. It is situated with a good view of Greys Street. I can relax here.
If someone were to ask my opinion of Blakes, I would outline the points mentioned above. I would describe their ‘brand.’
Let’s be a bit more self-serving here. What of the Harlands Accountants brand?
There are numerous case studies on our site with comments from our clients, who write about their own personal experience of their time with us. Client testimonials help us evaluate how effective our brand is performing according to the perception that we want to put out there.
Our initial brand idea was as follows:
At Harlands, we want to evolve the role and perception of accountancy. Our brand will be known for helping our clients take control of their finances so that they can concentrate on what they are good at. Knowing that their finances are in check will give them the time and space to build a better business.
It’s a healthy brand image that has served us well and closely matches the desires of the people who work with us.
Let’s compare two restaurant brands that you will probably have heard of:
McDonalds and Jamie’s Italian.
They are both restaurants and people go there to eat. I would argue that as far as public perception is concerned, that is where the similarity ends. If you were to ask people (and I have when writing this blog) what their opinion of those brands were, the following words crop up time and again:
Easy, Convenient, fast food, Ronald McDonald, burgers, unhealthy, cheap, drive through and keeps the kids happy.
Quality, romantic, reasonably priced, Jamie Oliver, healthy because of the work he does with schools.
Now, based on the opinions above, if you were to go for a romantic anniversary meal (And wanted to stay married) which of the establishments mentioned above would you take your dear betrothed?
Let’s look at your coffee shop now.
If you don’t have a brand, as far as your clients are concerned, you don’t have a personality. There is no emotive reason for them to stay loyal and purchase their goods from you.
If you don’t have a brand – you are a commodity.
Now, there is nothing wrong with being a commodity. Many businesses do it, but if they don’t appeal to our emotional side then their produce will have to be very appealing in and of itself.
Perhaps it is considerably cheaper than that of their competition.
Write down what your coffee shop (or other business) provides and to whom.
Is it for example a cheap, conveniently placed shop that tired consumers can visit amid the drudgery of their regular shopping expedition?
Maybe it specialises is the finest in Italian coffee – more expensive but superior quality with décor to match.
From this, you will be able to get some idea of your customer avatar or buyer persona. You will know the type of person they are, their general age range, sex, income and based on their geographical location, to what extent your ideal customer will be likely to frequent your shop.
Now that you have this information in hand you can begin to look at your competition.
Where does your ideal customer currently go to service their coffee drinking needs?
Look at the brand that your competition portrays. Write down your own unbiased perception of their brand then look online. Popular brands usually have no shortage of comments which can help you define your own image.
The chances are you will be likely to see more complaints than positive comments. People are often more proactive when voicing complaints than compliments.
I would even go as far as to visit these establishments. Look at the decor and sample the produce. Become a coffee shop critic whose main aim is to improve upon the weaknesses of those established trading companies.
Hopefully so far, I have convinced you that having a brand is a good idea. But what is the difference between a weak and a strong brand? I offer some guidelines by which you can benchmark your own performance and that of your competition:
A weak Brand
- The brand is not well known (comparative to your desired audience).
- The perception of the brand is either unknown or very mixed in terms of what the brand stands for.
- People can’t remember the company name.
- The business focus has completely changed but your existing customers are unaware.
A Strong Brand
- Your brand is well known (comparative to your desired audience)
- The brand perception from person to person is very similar.
- People remember your name and probably your slogan (Because You’re Worth It).
- People seem to have a good idea of what your brand stands for.
- If the brand changes emphasis then old customers understand your current values.
We can use the points above to think about, then outline a strategic plan for building a powerful brand that will make people want to take notice. If your customers are emotionally involved in your brand, if they trust your company then they will be more likely to recommend their friends and family to join your community of loyal supporters.
Restaurants are a key example of this. How many times have you visited a restaurant based upon the advice of a close friend or family member?
As a business owner, you can stand on the rooftops with a megaphone shouting:
“Buy the food my restaurant makes. It’s really good!”
Right before you are arrested for disturbing the peace, passers-by will internally reply:
Well, yeah you would say that. It’s YOUR restaurant. You’re not likely to say:
“Come eat here. I need the money and the food is okay I guess.”
We love to work with businesses in the food and drink sector and have a dedicated page full of information and resources to help with your business venture.