Starting a business can be a scary, fun, exciting experience. If it’s your first time, you may have jumped in very quickly with both feet and very little up front research like many new entrepreneurs do. If this is not your first rodeo, you may have learned from your first experience that owning a business requires a bit more leg work than you initially suspected. If you are solving a problem and you are passionate about what you are doing, you will find a way to make it work and succeed.
I believe the fundamentals of business have always been the same, however, the paths to succeed are forever changing, interconnecting, evolving, and emerging. Reading something and putting something into practice are two very different things. If you feel inspired by any of the points made in this article I encourage you to act on it. You don’t have to know where to start – you just need to start. After you implement something, test it and optimize it. If it doesn’t work for you – stop doing it. If it does work – do more of it.
Set a Solid Foundation
Make sure your Values, Vision, and Mission are clear to both you and your employees. You are a representative of your company at all times and your employees are representatives of you. If you set a good base at the beginning, it leaves less room for errors and headaches later in the year. Having someone on the same pages sets the tone and direction you want your company to go in and opens the doors for more Employee Empowerment. Employee Empowerment is a good thing! It takes some of the responsibilities off your shoulders and allows them to make the same decisions that you would have made without taking up your precious time. Trust me – your time becomes very precious and you will already have more than enough on your plate.
The more you can delegate to people, where you can trust the outcome, the more smoothly your operation will run. You will go through different experience and growing pains as the year goes on and this allows you to adjust your operations as you observe the contrast of what you want and what you don’t want. It is crucial to continually optimize every aspect of your business.
When you know your values, vision, and Mission, this will help you figure out who is best suited for your team and who your target audience is. Your target audience is another element that should continually be optimized to be as specific as possible. You will more than likely have multiple target audiences. The more niche and personal you can get – the better! This does not mean you can’t work with clients who do not fit the exact description you have laid out, but it does give you a solid base for your marketing efforts. It also helps set a standard for the type of client you enjoy working with. I’m sure you prefer to work with clients who actually pay you and see the value in what you offer them. As you start to build awareness and relationships – your clarity will help your relationships send you the referrals you are looking for.
When you develop your target audience, build an actual Avatar. Get to know your consumer. Give your Avatar a name and have your Avatar answer questions like:
- Where do you live?
- What do you do for fun?
- Where do you work?
- What is your yearly income?
- What problems do you have?
- What hobbies do you have?
- Which Social Media platforms do you spend time on?
- What do you read?
- Where do you hang out?
- What do you do for fun?
Thinking of an actual person you currently work with or want to work with may help you to answer some of these questions to build your specific Avatar, a.k.a., your Ideal Client.
Create Brand Awareness
The more people see your brand, both online and offline, the more you will be in the back of their mind when they are ready to buy your product or service. Be everywhere! Or at least make it look like you are everywhere. If your time is limited then find out which Social Media platform your Avatar is spending time on and make sure you are hanging out there too. You can schedule your posts in advance using tools like Hootsuite or Buffer but to gain traction you will need to do more than that. Be engaged and interactive. Like posts, Comment on posts, send messages that do not sound ‘Selly’ at all. Just find creative ways to let people know you exist. Find out more about how you can Help Your Startup Bloom.
Plant seeds and start to nurture your relationships. Reach out to current contacts to let them know what you are doing now. They already trust you and know what kind of a person you are They may need your services or will at least be able to send you referrals when someone they know is looking for your services.
Attend as many networking events in your area as possible. There are usually many great options is you check out the Chamber of Commerce or Eventbrite websites. Even if other business owners are not your target audience, they are a great resource to aid in other aspects of your business and learn a lot about what is happening in your community. It can be so rewarding connecting with other like minded individuals. You never know who you are going to meet, what collaborations may evolve, or what you can learn.
Get Involved with Your Community
When you contribute to your community everyone benefits. Besides feeling like a better person overall, you get to meet so many amazing people which can lead you to opportunities beyond what you have imagined. There are so many ways you can give back to your community and get involved. By participating with a local Service Club like Rotary or Lions Club you belong to a bigger entity and get to make an impact without taking on all the responsibility. Clubs like these often allow you to run your own passion projects as well.
Participate online and offline. There are many groups on Social Media that you can engage on and offer your expertise. These groups keep you informed about what is happening in your area and what some of the needs are. Getting involved with your community doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. Just contribute what you can afford to. Volunteer your time or your services, participate in sports or other hobbies you enjoy, and attend town events. The more you give and support your community, the more your community will support you. If you are more ambitious and passionate about a certain organization or local need that you see, go ahead and organize your own event. You will be remembered and appreciated.
Every year at Siva Creative we contribute our time to Coding for a Cause. We started this because we were looking for a way to give back to our own community. We weren’t sure which organization to get involved with or where our time was best spent. Finally it hit us – duh! We are awesome at making websites! So each year we donate at least 1 website to a Charity and now we get to help organizations in our own city as well as all across Canada. It feels really good to be able to give back and put our talent to good use. Other side benefits emerged as a result of Coding for a Cause that we never anticipated.
- Our SEO skyrocketed because of all the people coming to our website to participate
- More clients wanted to work with us after seeing the websites we were creating for the Non-Profit sector
- We got to meet some pretty amazing people!
Get creative and think of ways that you can start contributing!
Maintain your Health and Wellness
This seems to be the first thing we drop when we get busy pursuing our dreams. We just need to realize this is a part of it and we won’t last on the journey very long if we neglect it. This is one that I have definitely struggled with because there always seems to be something more important or pressing. A deadline, meetings, phone calls, networking….the list goes on. There is always something to fill our day and then the day is over before you know it. You are so wiped that you need to go to bed and do it all over again the next day. All of a sudden a month goes by and you haven’t been to the gym, you are drinking more coffee than water, and sleep? What is sleep?
If you don’t make your health a priority, you will continue to go hard until you get sick and at that point you only stop because your body has forced you to stop and recover. Accountability is a wonderful thing. It can work wonders for your business and it can work wonders for your health. Jonas at Go4Fit is amazing at helping you stay on track if your health is something you want to prioritize sooner than later.
Be the Expert
You are offering a product or service because you think you are offering something that nobody else can even compete with. You are the best at what you do….sooooo OWN IT! Show everyone that you are THE expert in your industry and you know what you are doing. You can do this on whichever channel you prefer and using whatever media you prefer. Would you rather be delivering content in a video, blog, or podcast? We already talked earlier about where your target audience hangs out so that would probably be the best place for you to start sharing your expertise.
There is no such thing as sharing too much information. This is not a new fad, but it’s also not going away any time soon. Share everything you know – this helps to create trust with people you don’t know, and who may need what you are offering. Participate in groups and offer answers to questions that come up.
You don’t need to harass potential clients or customers but if they don’t hear from you, they are definitely going to forget about you. Don’t be that person. Put your fear aside and pick up the phone. It’s easier to call while standing rather than sitting and after you make enough phone calls you won’t even have to think twice about it. If you truly believe in the service you are offering and you know you solve someone’s problem then you need to follow up. One of the biggest reasons why your target audience is going to your competitor is because they didn’t hear back from you or….they didn’t hear back from you in time. You can compare yourself to your competitors as a benchmark to see what you like and don’t like about what they are doing. Then do it better. There may be other reasons Why Your Customers are Buying from Your Competition but missing out on follow up opportunities is probably a huge one.
To thrive in 2019, respond on the device or platform that your client prefers. If they initiated the conversation through email, email them back, if they called, call them back, if they reached out to you on social media, communicate on social media. Whichever tool you are using to communicate, be sure to ask for their other forms of contact and which one they prefer.