I can still remember the day I started my business. I had just been retrenched and was desperately needing something new, exciting and profitable to sink my time and energy into. Digital marketing made sense to me and it just felt right at the time that I take this passion and turn it into a business vehicle.

It did however dawn on me that no matter what I decided to do I needed some sound business advice, or else my great business idea that I was so passionate about was doomed for failure. I embarked on an intense learning exercise in business. I read every article I could find, met with every successful business owner who would let me buy them coffee and a few pearls of wisdom rose to the forefront of my business strategy.

Address the immediate cash flow crisis
Almost every single budding entrepreneur buys into the idea that it will take time to see the money come into their business. While it may take time to realise profit, it should never take long to drive some good solid cash into your bank account. Cash is what counts, it will make or break your business so its worth spending the time developing a strategy to drive cash into your business quickly.

I did this by creating quick sellable services like presentations, workshops, and ‘out the box’ services that I could sell to people. This made it easy to get cash in quick and give me some stability to begin thinking strategically about my business growth.

Inbound marketing is better than outbound
In describing inbound marketing, Wikipedia puts it best: “Inbound marketing is promoting a company through blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, eNewsletters, whitepapers, SEO, social media marketing, and other forms of content marketing which serve to bring customers in closer to the brand. In contrast, buying attention,[1] cold-calling, direct paper mail, radio, TV advertisements, sales flyers, spam, telemarketing and traditional advertising[4] are considered “outbound marketing”. Inbound marketing refers to marketing activities that bring visitors in, rather than marketers having to go out to get prospect’s attention.”

I found that by adopting an inbound marketing strategy I had fewer conversations with more people who actually wanted to hire me. This saved me so much time from chasing after dead-end leads. In most cases the sale was made before I even went for the first meeting. Inbound marketing helped my business connect with like-minded people who already thought like we did. This meant that the rest of the discussion was easy. It made it easier to sell and easier to impress the client and deliver on their targets.

1 + 1 must be greater than 2
I see a lot of people partnering with each other to form businesses and in essence they take both their skills, add them together and get twice as many skills. This usually means they can get twice the results, which doesn’t really make sense. Why share your decision making power in the business if your return on investment will be the same as that when you are the sole owner of your business.

When looking at business partnerships, one partner plus another partner should equal more than the output of two partners. My first business partnership helped me focus on the things I was good at and my partner handled the other work (which he was much better at). Together we more than doubled our turnover and lowered our business costs dramatically. Meaning much higher returns. My next business partnership then added a new service to our portfolio. Adding 15% to our cost base and over 30% to our revenue that year. In every single partnership the business grew bigger, stronger and more focused on delivering better work. Our clients always benefited from this and we were able to keep all of them happier.

I wish I took a lot of other advice I was given, but these three pearls I did follow-through on and my business has benefited because of it. I hope you find them useful.

Article first appeared on www.smesouthafrica.co.za