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What the X Factor teaches us about entrepreneurial growth and sales development? Rupert Chislett MD commented recently in a recent media release, on the lessons the X Factor has for  business development targeting for SMEs. What does the X Factor teach us about entrepreneurial growth and sales development? At London Olympia, spending two days on our stand, talking to a range of entrepreneurial businesses, it was amazing how many people were offering advice, much of it contradictory. So when I was around X Factor one Saturday, it struck me how the show exemplified all the lessons for developing our businesses. So: the top 10 lessons that X Factor teaches us about business: 1. The X Factor is just like the sales funnel - a lot of contestants in, but in the end only 10 really count.  First you just have to find then and identify them. The same with your best prospects and clients. How many business targets do you need to put in to get your finalists? 2. If the best don't always win - what's the point? For X Factor it's about the volume mass market.  Niche or highly talented but niche aren't its market.  It's the same in business. You can waste a lot of time and talent / expertise going down the wrong route to market if you need only an audience with 10 people that’s very different from requiring 1000’s a month!  X Factor works for mass appeal. 3. Find and develop your audience. The singer or group that wins is the one that has engaged with their key (mass) audience. Have a fanbase that is willing to support and buy you. Whether your target market is Teenage Screamers or Downright Divas, it does not matter providing that audience knows you, likes you and buys into you and there are enough of them.  Same with sales. 4. Having got past boot camp (start up) and you're a good singer doesn't mean you'll get anywhere. It the same with business. The world is littered with good singers / innovative companies bumping along not making any money or getting anywhere.  They are talented but the market doesn't see need for them, or they have not engaged with their audience.  The average often win because they have developed the market properly and they have made enough people think it is easy to buy from them.  Innovate yes, but mix it with solid contact business development and sales. 5. Packaging and lights are great, but real talent matched with ambition will rise.  Even after the competition is over the talent (real businesses) use competition to focus on a market sector that will buy from them and they have enough fanbase to make that worthwhile. Niche works outside mass market delivery. 6. People decide on whom to vote for based on multiple information sources not just the effect of one hours viewing.  They talk at work and school, they tweet they interact on forums and follow up programming.  In other words multiple communication platforms form the opinion that results in a vote.  The same for business: exhibiting, networking, PR, marketing communications, social media.  7. Take advice.  Mentors and Advisor’s make a difference - Each of the X Factor mentors has a different style and that can affect the outcome for the contestant. In business pick your mentor for your type of business and growth stage. Accept that there are different types of mentor for each stage of growth and that may well mean growing out of one as your needs change.  Audition / interview them and check they have the business experience proven to support your business, not just an ability to stand on stage! 8. Multiple income streams.  For the X Factor, the business behind the business, is where the money is made.  Make sure you understand your distribution cost, but also look out for opportunities to partner, to get more PR and coverage using your story to support other people's objectives.  Partner & co operate, support multiple revenue routes through packaging or supply chain affiliations.   Or... be so valuable as a brand that people pay you to be associated with your brand - Sponsorship. 9. It's not the only way to success. Remember it's your business and your voice. Take ownership.  If you have a vision and people are buying into it, you don't always have to change, just because it's convenient for someone else's requirement or short term need. 52 weeks of the year the top twenty is filled with other artists who are making a good living. So can you be in the top ten another way?  10. Having got to the final - is just the start - You may have a Christmas no 1 but where will you be in 12 months? Don't be a one hit wonder, develop, innovate and learn how to improve. In the end whether your business is One Direction, Olly Murs  or Ryland it not important, as long as you are making progress with communicating to and holding onto your fanbase and then selling to them.  What you don't want to be is the equivalent business of the sad and delusional howlers that populate the early auditions and fail to take the well meaning advice to choose another career.  Take advice from those you trust, but not always friends and family, because they love you and don't want to hurt your feelings. Sometimes painful honesty can save a bad business idea as well. The author Rupert Chislett is MD of 'the UK's all you can eat data and business sales prospecting solution'.   He can be contacted directly 07799 343253
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