How to get employees, stakeholders and third parties on board with your business vision.
Starting something big usually takes more than one person.
You’ve had a spark of inspiration, you’ve done your research and tested your thinking. You’re feeling confident that whatever it is you’re setting out to achieve — it’s going to be good.
But even when you’re comfortable flying solo, there will be times when you need to call in some freelance work or engage a distributor to help your product reach your audience.
At times like this, you’re going to need to sell yourself and your vision. And no-one is more qualified to sell your dream than you.
I’ve spent the last 10 years selling in every way imaginable — from hitting the shop floor in my first telecoms reseller businesses, to raising investment in my latest venture, Nolii.
Here are some thoughts that have informed my approach to getting people on board with my vision, helping me build great teams and get things done each day.
I hope they’ll help you do the same!
Make Your Vision Clear, Inspiring and Actionable
Whether you’re hiring a new employee, inspiring action within your team, or pitching to potential investors, effectively communicating your vision will be key.
And how you structure this communication is just as important as the passion with which you communicate.
In my last post, I spoke about Common Projects and how they went against the ‘norm’ of the sneaker industry to build a multi-million dollar, minimalist footwear brand.
By now you should have thought through how your business will strategically rally against the ‘norm’.
Now it’s time to bring that to life for others:
- Whois your audience? Who is suffering at the hands of an inefficient category landscape?
- Whatare the expectations associated with this category, product or service?
- Whyis your product a more compelling option?
- Howare you going to bring about change and successfully buck the ‘norm’?
That last point — the ‘How’ — is a crucial and often overlooked element.
Once you have your direction set, you need to prioritise action.
‘Blue sky’ thinking is fine, but without a clear plan for how you and your team are going to achieve these goals together, people will ultimately feel unmoved or ambivalent.
Words will lose their sheen over time. Momentum is infectious and, with the right elements in place, it will only pick up.
Understand Your Business Better Than Anyone
When you’re just starting out, you won’t have any infrastructure around you to help you move things forward. That means you need to learn everything about your business.
Good. Soak it up.
Along with plenty of luck, your ability to understand each piece of the puzzle is what will allow to you make the right hires, communicate with the right stakeholders, and ultimately make a success of your business.
Demonstrating that knowledge will also communicate to people that you’re confident and competent when it comes to getting things done.
It’s no coincidence that so many startup hopefuls on Dragons Den trip up when a dragon asks whether their product is patented, or whether they have the production capability to scale their business up once they get the investment they’re looking for.
People get so caught up with selling a dream that they forgot how the pieces of their business come together.
All the ‘vision’ in the world can’t replicate the compelling power of someone who knows their business like the back of their hand.
It’s not just good business practice. It’s also a reliable anchor for a prospective client, customer or partner to tie themselves to when you need them to believe in you.
Communicate Based On Shared Values
A lot of the time, people are unsure about who they need to be communicating with, or how best to engage people in a conversation about their business. That’s why my inbox is constantly filling up with cold emails which have nothing to do with my business, or my role in it.
Whether it’s internal or external, you’ve got to consider who it is you’re talking to, understand what values or beliefs are driving them, and build your narrative around those.
If you’re clear in your mind about what your business has to offer, this shouldn’t be too hard.
Say you’re trying to get your products picked up by a national retailer or distributor. You’ll need to engage people at all levels within an organisation to get them excited about what you have to offer.
That way you can build advocacy from within.
For the marketing team, that may be the promise of an exciting brand proposition— something that gives them an opportunity to tell new stories through their existing communications channels.
For portfolio managers, it might be that you’ve identified a strategic product gap in their portfolio — your new products might fill a price range in a category which they hadn’t considered before, opening up new prospective customer groups.
And for the money bugs it might be the margin they’ll make on a reliable sales projection. Simple.
By establishing shared values and demonstrating how your business can deliver against them, you’ll build a small army of advocates from within.
That way, when your number’s up, your name will be the first to everyone’s minds.
Embrace Naivety and Collaborate Openly
Remember; it’s not necessarily your job to own every stage of business success. That’s why you hire good people — for their opinion, insight and expertise.
And when good people are made to feel a part of the process, they will give everything they have to make things happen.
Your team will look to you for vision and drive, but they don’t need you to have the answers to every problem. In fact, you’ll likely find that embracing your own naivety and deploying the talent around you against your business problems will lead to more inventive solutions and better ways of working.
And, as in the cases of forward-thinking companies like Google, your employees may even develop solutions which lie at the core of your business.
In scenarios like this, you can take on the role of ‘champion of the customer’.
With a good team mobilised against the issue at hand, you’re in charge of keeping the customer in mind at all times and driving an agenda of problem solving on their behalf.
From there, focus on creating environments in which the solutions developed by your team can be fostered and implemented successfully.
Thanks for reading!
I’m Asad — a London-based entrepreneur with more than 10 years experience building companies in the mobile tech and fashion spaces.
Currently putting everything I have into Nolii.