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Edition 207 – Sowing The Seeds

This week, we’re not sowing the seeds of love, as the 80’s power band Tears for Fears espoused in 1989 (I know, 30 years ago, who’d have thought?). But we are talking sowing the seeds, much like farmers do. Let me explain.

I’ve had a number of family business owners tell me that last year finished slow, or this year has started slow. Even if they’re not saying it, I can well and truly see it in their numbers.

When things are slow, it usually sparks a reaction of panic in the minds of the family business owner. The first question they ask themselves is “what’s happening?”. They’ll listen to the media and hear the doom and gloom of a slowing economy and, in some ways, explain away their current trading position on factors completely outside of their control.

Except, that is a complete and utter load of rubbish.

Building a pipeline of work in your business is a constant process. It’s about establishing relationships and creating connections always and forever. Like a gym routine that shifts aside for whatever reason, or a diet that goes off the rails over Christmas, the simple fact is, that unless you keep working at marketing your family business, the activity in your business will slow down. When activity slows, cash slows. When cash slows, panic sets in.

Can you imagine what it would be like if you were a farmer that was not:

  1. Tilling the soil.
  2. Adding the nutrients.
  3. Sowing the crop seeds.
  4. Eradicating the pests.
  5. Watering.
  6. Then, finally, harvesting the crop.

Even worse, what would happen if, after you harvested your crop, you sat back on your porch and allowed the days and weeks to while away? What would happen if you didn’t get cracking on repeating the process for the next crop?

Thank goodness farmers are not like this, for we’d all starve. Yet, too many family business owners simply stop marketing their business because:

  1. They’re busy.
  2. They’re unfocussed.
  3. They don’t like doing it.
  4. They’re most comfortable playing technician and least comfortable playing entrepreneur.
  5. They don’t structure it into their week.
  6. They equate lack of interest from actual and potential clients as a lack of success.
  7. They forget to play the long game.

One family business owner, when I told him to hit the phones, line up some meetings and start sending emails in early January responded, almost astoundingly, a few weeks later, that there was actually a lot of opportunity in his industry and his business right now. It’s just that he’d stopped doing all those things in the last quarter of last year, creating the perception of a dry patch. Who’d have thought?

So, when you wander into your family business today, take a moment to think what the next three months are looking like. Whether they’re looking quiet or busy, think about what you did in the last three to six months in terms of marketing activity. I’m willing to bet there’s a correlation between activity and results.

Every family business owner should be engaging in a minimum of 3 to 5 marketing touch points each week. Taking someone out to lunch; making a phone call; following up outstanding quotes
– they’re all part of creating success in family business.