How To Increase The Market Share Of Your Business

In business, profit goes to the company with a sizable chunk of the market. In most cases, this is usually the companies in the top 3 position; first, second and third. This position is not determined by a regulatory body, but by their market size – the number of customers these business serve on a consistent basis. Market share is a numbers game. You are only as profitable as the number of client/customers patronizing your business.

I have often said this, if your business is not a force to reckon with in the particular industry or niche you belong, you are as good as dead. When your industry or niche is being mentioned, which companies come up as reference points? Is your company among them? Is your company a threat to your industry or niche? If your answer to this question is NO, then there’s much work to be done. Let’s get down to business!

What is a market share?
In very simple terms, market share is the number of loyal customers your business or company has been able to retain over a long period of time.

The key word in this definition is LOYAL.

Without this word [loyal], you can’t say you’ve got any market share. After all, a share of anything is that portion which you can confidently call your own by virtue of title. Meaning, you don’t own a share of something without an evidence or proof of ownership. In the business world, your proof of market share ownership is the number of repeat [loyal] customers patronizing your business per time. When it comes to market share, first time customers are irrelevant.

The criteria is not how many people who bought from you, but rather how many people regularly buy from you. The focus is on retention and not attraction alone. It’s about bringing them and keeping them. In other words, market share is about creating fans, followers, believers or addicts of your company, business, product or service. These are not just people who buy from you, these are people have bought into you. Meaning, they have been converted from mere customers to disciples of all that your business represent. Your proof of ownership is their continuous patronage [loyalty].

If you have ever seen a football fan of a particular club, say Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester, you’ll better understand this concept of market share. These fans don’t just like football, their love for football has transcended from the general game of football to a particular kind of football -the games played by their favorite club. This level of interest is not accidental, it is not coerced, it’s a choice. Market share is all about preference; choosing to give your money repeatedly to a particular company or business over a long period of time based on certain factors that appeal to you personally.

Market share is intentional, people choose you instead of others because there’s something SIGNIFICANT [unique, unusual, extra-ordinary, different, special] about you. Market share is people identifying with your business, company, product, or services. It doesn’t come by chance; it can only be intentionally created.

Creating Your Own Share of the Market
You are not going to have them lining up behind your business as followers, so don’t bother waiting for them. Your best bet is to create followers by becoming a leader yourself. Here is how to achieve this;

1. Differentiate your business
The first step to creating your own share of the market by becoming a leader people want to follow is to differentiate your business. Differentiating your business means being able to clearly define the specific value creation processes of your business and deciding the particular area you want to specialize on.

For example, all automobile companies manufacture cars, but not all specialize in particular areas. Volvo for instance focuses on safety by ensuring their cares are made up of strong body parts capable of protecting the occupants in the event of accidents. The impact of limiting a Volvo car will not be as that of limiting a posh car.

A posh on the other hand, runs faster than a Volvo as the manufactures focuses on speed. Two car companies; both in the same automobile industry, but doing different businesses. One is in the business of manufacturing safe cars, so they invest more on body parts. The other is in the business of manufacturing fast cars, so they invest more on high velocity engines.

This simple distinction is how leadership is being created in the market. This is how loyalty is formed as different people prefer different things per time. As result, safety conscious people choose Volvo cars instead of posh cars and speed lovers, prefer posh instead of Volvo. At the same time, some customers prefer both and so they buy from both manufacturers.

It is very erroneous to think all companies in the same industry or niche do the same business. As I’ve always emphasized, no two businesses are the same even though they operate in the same industries, just as no two siblings are the same even though they are products of the same parent.

So, your first task in creating your own share of the market is to carve out your own share of the market. As I pointed out in the football analogy earlier, there is a general love for the game, but fans of a particular club don’t just love football, they love a particular kind of football, the kind played by their club.

In essence that, all clubs play the general game of football but all clubs don’t play the same way. In the same manner, all automobile manufacturers make cars, but they don’t make cars the same way. The distinction lies in the value creation process. In other words, “how” you create value is what matters and not “what” the market generally perceive as value.

Therefore, creating your own share of your market begins by creating your own unique kind of value that is different from the general kind of value currently obtainable in the market. This simple distinction is what differentiating your business is all about. Its realizing that you all may be in the same industry or niche but don’t do business the same way. You’ll find this distinction by breaking down the value creation process and deciding on which area to specialize on base on your core competencies and available resources.

2. Know your target customers
Every leader attracts their own kind of followers. That you are a leader doesn’t mean everyone is going to line up behind you, certainly not. So, it is your task as the leader to seek out your own kind of followers.

How is this done?

By narrowing your search. This is what the term target customers mean. You have to be able to clearly describe the profit of your ideal follower as a leader.

How does he/she think? Where does he/she go to? Where does he/she live? How does he/she behave? What challenges or problems does he/she face? What does he/she perceive as value? What are their dreams ambitions, goals, desires, or needs? How do you get across with them? All of these questions are not obvious; they are hidden sometimes unknown to the customers themselves.

This is where market research becomes crucial knowing your customers is about getting up close and personal with them. You have to be prepared put yourself in their shoes. You have to be prepared to be patient, attentive and compassionate. Their fear must become your fear, their problems, your problem, their needs, your needs you must become a servant in order to lead them. You must be will to put yourself second and put them first.

Knowing your customers is about understanding the human nature. You have to familiarize yourself work stuffs, like motivation [what moves people to act] psychology [why do people do like they do], perception [how people receive and spread information and other areas of human natures].

I know all these can be intimidating, but believe me when I say this, they are all common sense. The best way to go about them is to become like the target customers. Put yourself in their shoes, think like they do, go to the places they go, do the things they do, value what they value
To attract them you have to be one of them, period.

3. Promote your business
You cannot attract the right kind of followers you want for your business if they don’t know about your existence.

After all is said and done, it is the business, company, product or service that is known to the target customers that will gain a large market share. This is a very vital element of the steps needed to increase your business market share. It’s just common sense; people buy from those they know. So here is the question, how many people know about your business, company, product or service?

Like I said earlier, market share is a numbers game so it calls for a lot of marketing efforts from you. You have to constantly put your business, company, product or services in the public’s eye. If you operate on a local level you have to think going to the state level, from the state to the national level, from national to global.

Why Every Small Business Needs A Website

It’s safe to say that we live in a world where it’s assumed that pretty much anything can be found online. Whether it’s to figure out where you’ve seen a familiar looking actor in a movie, check out the menu of a new restaurant you’re going to or just to find out general information about a company, most of us turn to the web. Let’s face it, many people don’t even a copy of the Yellow Pages anymore and the ones that do aren’t running to find it when they need to find out about a business. These days when someone is looking for something or more like looking for you and your business, they go online.

So does this mean all businesses should absolutely have a website? Yes, whether you own a business, work for yourself in any capacity or provide paid services to the public in some shape or form, you need to have a website.

Common misconceptions determining if a business needs a website

First off, the size of your company doesn’t matter. Regardless if you’re a one-man show or a have hundreds of employees, size truly has no bearing when it comes to the benefits of getting your business online. Many small business owners often think that since majority of their business comes from local clientele, having a website isn’t really necessary. Some of these small, local businesses have been in business for a very long time and have been doing extremely well without a website. In many cases that’s absolutely true and I can’t fault them for thinking that way, but I can only imagine how much even better they could be doing if they actually did have a website.

Another prevailing thought is that it doesn’t make much sense to have a website if your business isn’t actually selling something online. Whether you have an actual tangible product that you plan on selling online or not is irrelevant. These are all huge misconceptions because the bottom line is that it comes down to exposure. Developing a website for your business is the easiest, most efficient and affordable way to get your name out there. Let’s take a look at how having a website for even the smallest business can be beneficial.

Benefits of having a website for your business

For any business, staying relevant among today’s tech-savvy consumers is paramount. Not only does a website help promote your business but it serves as a means for you to be found by customers. Once you have a website you immediately stop being invisible to all the potential customers trying to find you online. And whether you know it or not, being invisible as a business in this on-demand, information age is costing you money.

Here are some key benefits to having a website for your small business:

You create another marketing tool.

Do you have a business card for your company? Obviously that’s a no brainer, of course you do. Just like how you would make sure you get business cards made for your company, creating a website should also be an obvious must-have. A website will be one of your most powerful sales and communication tools for your company, allowing potential clients to quickly and easily find out more about the products and services you have to offer. Think of a website as a brochure for your company that is constantly kept up to date and always available to anyone and everyone.

You create a place for information and communication.

Besides being a sales vehicle, a website is your company’s home turf so to speak for everything having to do with your business. It’s the primary place where people will go for trusted information about your business, to voice concerns and have their questions answered. Whether it’s your current customers, the ones you hope to attract, potential employees or even business partners, a website is your business’s greatest communication tool. Even if it’s two o’clock in the morning, if someone wants to know something about your business, they will look for answers, and your website will be the place they go. Also, any information about your business read directly from your own website is valued more as opposed to information ascertained about it from somewhere else like another website.

You add legitimacy to your business.

Having a website automatically creates legitimacy and validates your business in the mind of clients. To the public this creates confidence that you’re a real, functioning company that is currently doing business. Conversely, if someone looks for your business online and sees you don’t have a website their confidence in your business will wane to say the least. This might imply to the average web user, that you’re not a serious business, can’t afford a website or that your company is old-fashioned.

Allows you to keep up and stay ahead with your competition.

If you’re a small business and you’re competing with other small businesses in your local area, many of them might be in the same boat as you and don’t have a website. That’s all the more reason for you to get one and stay a step ahead. But if any of your competitors do have a website and you don’t, you’re losing business to them plain and simple.

Having a website though can help level the playing field between your business and with the bigger companies that you normally wouldn’t be able to compete with. One of the nice things about the internet is that a potential customer can just as easily find your small business’s website as it can with a website belonging to a huge national chain. Imagine you’re a local hardware business that is a few miles away from a Home Depot. Now, if a local customer searches online where in the area they could purchase a certain home improvement product, wouldn’t you like your chances that they might stumble on your business if you had a website?

Best bang for your buck advertising tool.

A website provides more exposure for your money than any other form of advertising. For the average small business owner, the cost of a local radio or television commercial is just not affordable unless it is aired when vast majority of the targeted audience is sleeping. Local newspaper ads can be reasonably priced, but doesn’t have the reach or impact they once did. Print news is an industry that’s been on the decline since most people are getting their news for free online. With a website, there are no space constraints in detailing and marketing your products, and you are able to interact and truly engage with your customers something that really can’t be done with these other forms of advertising. Also in terms of cost, after the initial investment to design and build the site, the annual expense for hosting and maintenance is a fraction of the outlay many small businesses throw at local advertising throughout the year.

Conclusion

So after all that, does it still mean every website should have a website? And the answer is still yes! But it doesn’t mean that it has to be an expensive undertaking. A website doesn’t need to be big, highly technical, or break the bank in order for it to benefit your company. Even the simplest website that is professionally designed and contains well thought out content can easily benefit any business. But before you can even think about designing your site, you have to take the first step, which is realizing that your business does in fact need one.

Rethinking Business Strategy: How To Use The Principles Of Farming To Grow Your Business

As a young entrepreneur who has been in the world of business going to 5 years now, from my little experience I can categorically tell you this – business is not a 100 meters dash, but a marathon. If you are one of those survival driven entrepreneurs who hope to hit it big in business over a short period of time, then I am afraid you’ve chosen the wrong path.

In my opinion, the major cause of many business failures is because of the short term get-rich-quick mindset a lot of entrepreneurs bring into the business world. When business is approached from the viewpoint of making it fast [quick] rather than making it last [thrive], then failure is inevitable.

When as an entrepreneur your focus is on how soon you are going to cash out rather than how long you are going to stand out, then failure is inevitable. Business I say to you again is not a 100 meters race, but a marathon. It takes time to mature and will never happen overnight.

The funny reality as have been proven time and again is that only those few entrepreneurs with a long term view of business finally end up accumulating the wealth short term thinkers often focus on more. The very ones who go into business to cash out quickly [fast] end up being the ones disappointed. Why? Because business is just like farming – you reap only what you sow!

Why Business is like Farming

Before the advent of industrialization, there existed only two types of business; hunting and farming. Hunters are known to kill what they eat, while farmers are known to grow what they eat. In the short run, the hunter may seem smarter than the farmer, since their efforts seem to yield faster results – point and kill. But on the long run, a farmer’s effort pays more even though it may appear slower because their efforts tend to yield longer lasting results.

For instance, when a farmer plants a seed, it grows into a tree that continues to provide food for the farmer over a long period of time so long as the tree is properly nurtured. But when a hunter kills an animal, the meat cannot sustain him for long, so he constantly needs to be hunting for animals to kill every time he needs to eat.

Rarely do hunters hunt today what they will eat tomorrow. Why would they want to do such a thing, when they can just readily kill another animal and have a fresh supply of meat as the need arises? Just knowing that there are always animals in the bush completely dissolves the hunter’s need to plan for the long term. Why bother storing meat, when you can get it fresh whenever you need it? In other words, hunting is for eating.

This is not the case with farmers. You cannot hope to eat today the yam or apple you planted today, or even yesterday, or even a month ago. Why? Because crops unlike animals in the bush takes time to grow and are not stumbled upon, but rather are cultivated. Unlike hunting, you cannot walk into a farm with the hope of harvesting a crop you didn’t plant.

In farming, to harvest [reap], you must plant [sow]. You get only as much as you’ve given. Therefore, to eat well tomorrow, means you must have planted what you intend to harvest a long time ago. This is the same principle on which successful businesses are built.

The Farmer’s recipe for business success

To succeed in the world of business, as an entrepreneur, you must get rid of every get-rich-quick mindset of a hunter and begin to embrace the grow-rich-big mindset of a farmer. Hunters are more into business for the immediate gains it can bring, while farmers are in it for the long haul. Success as it ironically turns out, comes only to the farmer and not to the hunter.

In business, just like farming, you don’t build to reap fast [quick], you build to reap large [big]. You want to reap what will sustain you over a long period of time while you are waiting for the next harvest to come. Because you know how long you must wait to reap, you make sure what you sow is of the best quality so that it doesn’t wither and die before the next harvest season. This is why every farmer only sows their best seeds.

How much [quantity] and how well [quality] you harvest [reap] is dependent on the quantity and quality of the seed you planted [sow]. Farmers have discovered the secret of success; they sow as much as they want to reap. They spend the majority of their time planting and cultivating rather than hunting, because they have realized that what you grow [plant and cultivate] yields a far greater returns than what you get [hunt and kill].

To tap into this secret, you must consistently apply the following principles in your business;

1. Cultivate BEFORE planting:
You cannot walk into a piece of land and start planting without first cultivating. For every kind of crop there’s a totally different kind of cultivation. In fact, it is the sheer art of cultivation that transforms an ordinary piece of land into a farm. You cannot cultivate a piece of land to plant oranges then suddenly change your mind after cultivation and started planting corn. No, you would have to cultivate the land all over again to accommodate the corn you now want to plant. Different crops require different cultivation.

How Are You Cultivating Your Business?

The cultivation phase of every business is the pre-market entry stage. This is when you go into detailed planning of what your business is going to be about. Cultivation is the preparation phase of every business. Like farming, the kind of business you want to go into is the crop [product/service], while the land itself is the particular market you want to serve.

This is where you define your business and define the kind of market offering and target customers you want. This stage cannot be hurried. Like in the case of farming, every business requires a different form of planning. The survival of the business is dependent on how well you plan before hitting the market [cultivate the land before planting].

However, what I have noticed so far is that many entrepreneurs simply stumble into business without taking out time to think through and plan how they really want to succeed. The surprising thing is that they often don’t realize that a plan is a preview of what their business will be like in reality. So they skip this phase and head on straight to planting, which can only be successful based on the kind of cultivation done and the kind of crop being planted.

2. Focus on growing NOT hunting:
To grow means you plant and cultivate, which obviously takes time. To hunt means searching and killing, which obviously doesn’t take as much time as farming. As an entrepreneur who wants to build a successful business, you don’t want to hunt down your customers; rather you should focus on growing them.

A customer that you hunt down and get money from without first ensuring that a perceived superior value has been provided would only do business with you once, and then like a hunter you will be back in the bush searching for a new customer to kill [sell to].

But those you spend time growing and nurturing a long term relationship with based on your consistent delivery of superior value will continually yield more returns over the long haul. In fact, they will turn into trees that will keep bearing you more fruits through word of mouth referrals.

Therefore, focus on developing long term relationship with your clients and not on making the sale alone. Always remember, every customer is a potential seed that has the capacity to grow into a tree if properly nurtured.

3. Always select and ONLY plant your best seeds:
A farmer doesn’t eat their best crops; they are specially reserved for planting. Your best seeds are your best ideas. They are not the best because they are get-rich-quick schemes; they are the best because they possess the potential of yielding long term returns on investment. They are the ideas that will separate you from the pack and help you stand out from the crowd over a long period of time.

They are the ideas that can stand the test of time. They don’t wither and die before their harvest time. Meaning, your best ideas are long term in nature may often seem like a waste of time in the beginning because their results are not immediate.

How do you know if an idea is the best or not?

Your best ideas rely on your core areas of strength. That is, they are dependent on what you are most passionate about. Be careful not to follow the bandwagon just because an idea promises fast short term results, they are dream killers. Focus and pursue only the ideas that leverage your passion, gifts or talents and are long term in nature. They cannot be destroyed easily or quickly by competitions because they are uniquely created from your ingenuity.

4. Don’t expect IMMEDIATE returns:
The farmer knows better not to harvest a crop until it is fully ripe. The same principle must be applicable to business. Every idea, project or business is like a seed, it needs time to germinate and eventually become ripe for harvest. Never expect to reap loads of profit from an idea, project or business that is not fully matured.