3 business growth tips from the ancient Roman Empire

Rome wasn’t built in a day … nor would anyone building an empire of that size expect it to be. If you want to see real results — real success — in your business, you have to start with realistic expectations and actionable steps.

If the Roman dignitaries expected their rise to power to occur spontaneously overnight, they would have been sorely disappointed and, likely, would have given up before ever beginning. (The Celts would have thanked them for that.)

The Romans knew something that many entrepreneurs struggle to accept: Success is a meticulously planned event. No amount of wishing or waiting will attract success, money, or recognition. The Romans knew that merely “waiting for something to happen” was fruitless.

Lucky for you, you aren’t trying to conquer the world or (we hope) trying to shove Roman ideologies down everyone’s throat. You’d be on your own with that one. No, you’re simply trying to establish yourself firmly in your industry and market. In other words, you have it pretty easy. You only need to begin (and begin again, and begin again).

By this point, you know the reality: You’ve done your market research. You know where you stand in the industry, where your competitors stand, and how you are different.

Here’s what you need to do next:

Commit to your end goal

Commit to the giving of your company’s resources, talent, knowledge, product, and services — not just as a startup or on “giving Tuesdays” — every day. Give through strategically chosen charitable events, through giveaways, through your everyday marketing — the more value you give to your followers, the faster your followers will evolve into a tribe.

The most difficult portion of this step is not the giving but making the commitment to give. Businesses can give, give, give, and never actually commit to giving. It shows. Their audience senses the half-hearted commitment and, in return, gives them half-hearted loyalty. You don’t want this.



Start paying rent

The world owes you NOTHING. Your audience owes you NOTHING. If you want their attention, you have to create something worth five seconds of their time. Your product or service isn’t doing anyone a FAVOR, so silence that patronizing mindset. Know why? Because there will always be someone out there who can do what you do, but better than you — and that makes them a better investment, a more worthy object of attention.

You don’t own your audience. You merely rent it for seconds at a time. Handle it with white gloves. Have a reason for everything you say and two reasons for everything you don’t say.

Divide and conquer

Your target audience contains sub-targets and small nuances that, if listened to, could conceive the new service or feature that creates an industry edge. Pay attention to these small details. Seek them out. Satisfy the smallest needs fully and completely before tackling your market as a whole.

Susan Thomson is a partner and licensed business and executive coach for ActionCOACH of Madison.

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