What I learned about business in 2017

Well, it has been a busy start to the year here at STO Consulting. From obtaining a new client on 2nd January to retained work with ongoing clients. But it’s also worth taking time out to stop and review.

2017 was a decent year for STO. Not world domination just yet – there is room to grow. But good, sustainable growth and a bunch of nice clients with whom I like working.

For completeness it must be said that there have been some negatives, but overall the positives outweigh these many times over.

My observations on what this means are as follows:

  • Consistency is important. More than 5 years in business representing a clear and (I like to think) distinct offering makes a difference. A bit of longevity helps your audience to remember you. Work comes your way without you having to knock on as many doors. Some client wins take years to cultivate, and that’s where the cumulative effect of your effort pays off in the long run.
  • A good and well ranking website is not an option, it’s a necessity. This channel is just too important not to do as well as you possibly can. Cutting corners here will not pay off. Finding a trusted expert to deliver this part of what you do can be invaluable. Ongoing effort to adapt to new opportunities and keep ahead of the game needs to be built in to your marketing plan and budget.
  • Time management. The skill of being able to focus on one thing at a time without cluttering the mind with other things is very valuable. But not everything can be completely structured. My solution has been to have some days working on one thing exclusively. Then there are days when you have to work across so many things, you think you’ve done nothing, but it takes off the pressure. Planning by the week rather than the day is best. A good early start also helps to get the projects started prior to the networking and the meetings.

And the negatives (look away now if you wish, but acknowledging these and moving past them is my preferred method).

There will always be someone who wants to try to scam you. Why people try is a mystery to me. The ones I’ve come across have no chance of succeeding. A narrative that makes such little sense only a fool would take them seriously. But try they do. I don’t mean the emails from far-away places offering to fill up your bank account either. There are some dodgy sales people, dodgy ‘collaborators’ and dodgy buyers much closer to home. A phrase from my early career in direct sales ‘buyers are liars’ springs to mind. It’s impossible to be successful without a level of trust. Cynicism will stand in the way of business growth. But some care is required to reduce exposure to major risk.

That’s it really. The rest is just normal business. But you can’t be distinct from the competition, an expert at what you do and also be friends with everyone. That’s just a fact unfortunately.

So, to those valued members of my network whose business relationship is of great worth – thanks for being part of it.

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