Your Business Success Lesson From a Milkman’s Failure

Work Harder On Yourself, Than You Do On Your Business…

The famous life-coach, Jim Rohn, says that “you need to work harder on yourself than you do on your job”. 

This might just be the most important business success lesson that you can learn.

When you’ve got a business you want to grow, working on yourself means getting smarter at business. 

That means understanding more than just the product or service that you sell.  Let’s be honest – that’s the bit you probably find interesting.

So that makes it the easy part.  But it’s also easy to get wrapped up in just that.

To really win at business, you must also get to grips with other things…

marketing, selling, financial control, business processes, people management, leadership and so on.

A Business Success Lesson You Can Learn From A Tiny Struggling Business

So how does this relate to the milkman?  Our milkman is under pressure. 

The supermarkets undercut his milk prices because of their bulk-buying capacity.  Over time his fuel costs have gone “through the roof”, in his words.

Last week he dropped a note through our door explaining that he’s going to switch deliveries to alternate days.

He will deliver the same amount of milk but in fewer visits.  This cuts his fuel bills and and it’s also fine with us.

About six months ago we got another letter telling us the price of milk had gone up to cover his costs. 

Where To Focus When Business Gets Tough…

It’s obviously tough in the dairy delivery service.

He really works hard to deliver for his customers, but if he wants his business to thrive he needs to look beyond milk!

He needs to invest time on himself, especially his marketing skills.

There are thousands of books, videos and courses he could choose from. 

Each would give him more knowledge than he has now and eventually that knowledge will pay off in the form of more sales.

So let me pick from the top of my head a few things that I know he could try…

  • Sell milk bottle holders – especially insulated ones to prevent over-heating in summer or freezing in winter
  • Sell organic cheese, butter, eggs and bread – quality, staple items we use everyday that could easily be delivered fresh
  • Offer freshly squeezed juices or smoothies during the summer from local growers
  • Promote a premium type of milk – like charcoal-filtered, organic or raw milk.
  • Barbeque charcoal & other bbq accessories
  • Artisan breads and baked goods

How Can You Make Your Business Special?

All of these are just extra sales ideas.

The other thing he could do is make his milk special by crafting a unique selling point

He could do this by telling us about the farms it comes from. 

He could describe the way in which the cows are cared for and how fresh it is, because we’re getting it within hours of bottling.

There’s lots of ways – you’ve just got to find the story.

It’s worth reading the small business marketing blog entry about Obvious Adams for tips on writing great marketing.

He could easily use the milk as his foot in the door and then offer all sorts of extra things that he can really make some profit from.

Unfortunately he keeps worrying about the effect of adding 30-40p a week to our bill.  To be honest, how many people would really notice?

He should be looking for ways to dig deeper into our wallets!

Shift Your Thinking And Apply This Business Success Lesson For Yourself

If Richard Branson or Duncan Bannatyne took over your business today, do you think they would put up with it working like it does now for you? 

Not on your life! 

They would very quickly grow it into something special or get out.  So what is it that makes them so easily able to achieve such success?

They think differently about business.  They can do this because they have worked hard on themselves for a long time and they “get it”. 

If you don’t get it, you’ll always be stuck doing things like you do now. 

Don’t live life in the slow lane, decide to do something different today.

Read a great book – I heartily recommend Double Your Business – but of course I might be a bit biased, since I wrote it for Financial Times Publishing.

Because when you try ideas out for real, you discover all kinds of magic can happen for your business. Like has happened for so many of my clients in the past – including those who feature in my business success case-studies.

Just do something different to get out of your comfort zone and take your business to another level. 

That’s the most important business success lesson of all.

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Lee Duncan

Lee Duncan is the author of "Double Your Business: How to Break Through The Barriers to Higher Growth, Turnover and Profit", from Financial Times Publishing. He teaches the owners of small to medium businesses how to make more profit and enjoy more free time.

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