What does growing your business and Bonfire Night have in common?

It’s fantastic to see the look of excitement on the faces of young children (and many “Peter Pan” syndrome adults!) as they head off huddled up in warm coats and gloves to the local firework display.  Even cool teenagers start to shake off their cloak of indifference and “whatever” attitude as the time gets closer.

With the roaring, crackling and smell of the burning wood, the lovingly made Guy Fawkes starts to disintegrate on top. You can feel the anticipation mounting as the time gets close to the start of the display.  Then, as the first fireworks go up and explode into stunning cascades of bright colours and light, there are gasps of excitement accompanied by a chorus of “oohs” and “aahs”. These build to a crescendo for the beautifully choreographed finale.

There are so many practical lessons that can be applied from the professional (or even home-based) firework display. There are two factors that could make a real difference to your business as the year draws to a close and we start to look forward to the new year.


Growing Your Business

1. Planning

The first is planning – the date for Bonfire Night in the UK  is 5 November every year though there are many displays around the weekend of that date.  Every detail has to be in place for that day. The venue was sorted, the right local authority approvals arranged, publicity organised, volunteers found, wood donated for the fire and a myriad of other details before you even get to the display itself.

Now is the time to take stock and plan. Do this before you become too embroiled in the day-to-day of your business and next year just slips away. Think and dream about where you want your business to be in the next 12 months.  You need to have clear goals and, like the firework display, then take the time to plan in detail how you are going to achieve them. A great step in planning is to give yourself a deadline. Like the no-choice date for Fireworks Day, one that you have to commit to.

2. The WOW Factor

The second lesson that the fireworks display can teach us is the WOW factor!  Zappos.com is an online shoe retailer. Tony Hsieh, as CEO, helped them grow from almost no sales to over $1 billion in gross sales annually in just 8 years. This was all through repeat customers and word of mouth.  His book, Delivering Happiness, has some very powerful lessons about how to grow a business. All without spending huge amounts of money on marketing.  Zappos.com is committed to investing in customer service and their customers’ experience.  They decided to take the exact opposite approach to most online retailers. For example, they put their phone number at the top of every single page of their website rather than burying it at least five links deep. They want to talk to their customers!

I recently met an estate agent, Elizabeth Valda Estates, a profession not renowned for good service.  They have adopted the same philosophy as Tony Hsieh. They developed their approach based on all the things they disliked about how they had been treated as a customer.  Just a few examples of the customer experience they offer:

  • they arrange to clean the house once you’ve taken out all your furniture before the new owner moves in;
  • they have flowers and a welcome card for the new owner;
  • they’ll even do the washing up before a viewing if you didn’t have time to do it that morning!  (I may have to have a house viewing every day!!).

How different is that from the usual offering from estate agents?

So focus on growing your business in the next year and see it skyrocket to success.  Do this by planning and making sure you offer your customers a real WOW factor!


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