- Do not nail your branding to the mast.
- Hard work does not get results.
- Marketing matters the most.
- Shiny object syndrome will make you bankrupt.
4 Years in Business Here is What I Learnt
Some of these lessons may not surprise you, however when I started my business exactly 4 years ago, I wish my present-day self could have had a quiet word in my rather naive shell-like ear.
Ultimately I would be saying just do not get hung up and get on with it. Starting a business is tough and you will have to overcome pre-existing fears. However, it is all massively rewarding as you continue to learn and grow every day and you should ensure you never stop learning. So I hope my relatively small amount of experience in running a business can help you along on your own business journey.
Tip 1. Do not nail your branding to the mast.
Honestly, it really matters less than you think. I spent 6 months preparing for the grand opening day of my business. I rebuilt my website twice in that time. I think I have rebuilt it and changed my branding twice since. I have leaflets and business cards and banners dotted around, that are now completely irrelevant. As my business evolves this year it will all change again. You see that is the key here, you may spend so much time trying to figure out what or who you are, you completely miss out on opportunities that you should be taking. Or even worse shoehorn your business into some fake identity that you think you should be because that is what everyone else says you should do. There are far too many should’s in that sentence. Truth is
In practical terms done is good enough and never order printed stationery in bulk until your business has found its place. Your brand is your story and often this will come with experience.
Tip 2. Hard work does not get results.
Oh dear, now I am really being controversial. But unfortunately, this old chestnut that makes us feel better when we are pulling 90 hour weeks (oh and you will in the beginning) just does not ring true. You can put hours, weeks, months and years into something and there just is no guarantee of success.
Now I am not saying you should not work hard, but what I am saying is that you should replace this with working smart. Smart working is focussing on things that have the biggest impact. It might be nice to spend 20 hours working on a new product or service that you are going to bring to the world. But will it make any money? Will it bring any reward?
We can all do busy work and often it only serves to make us feel better when there is something scarier that we are procrastinating about. BUT if we
Focus only on those things that create the biggest impact we can often achieve more with less. My advice is to start with the end in mind and focus your time on only the things which give you the optimum end result. Click To Tweet
Tip 3. Marketing matters the most.
When I began I got business start-up support, but it mainly focussed on the business plan and cash flow forecasts. Other than some training in networking skills it told me relatively little about marketing. When I did get some advice about marketing I felt like I had been on the wrong train to where I wanted to go. My problem was I would do a bit of marketing, get some work, go all out completing the work, then have to do more marketing before I got more work. Peaks and troughs in my marketing efforts meant peaks and troughs in my sales. When all is said and done you need to consistently let your target audience know you are open for business and able to solve a massive problem for them, every single day, not just when you are having a quiet spell. I really think this makes a bigger impact on your bottom line than a business plan or cash flow forecast ever will.
Tip 4. Shiny object syndrome will make you bankrupt.
Yep, I am a serious gadget addict. In my first two years, I listened to and bought into every promise, made by every course and piece of software on the market. I just simply had to have it in order to change my life, make my business grow and deliver a better service to my clients. How did I an educated woman so easily allow influencers and sales pages have such a great pull on me? But I did because they were good. The sad part was when a promise was not delivered on often because it was a digital product there was very little that I could do.
I have no real solution for this as I am still an addict. However what I do now is reverse engineer their sales techniques. Delete their tracking cookies or pixels from my computer (or scoff at the ad dollars they are wasting on me) then I use the knowledge I gained to genuinely further my business by mimicking what they have inadvertently taught me to do.
Branding – Your business will become what it needs to be by serving your markets and customers well. Your brand will emerge naturally in line with your strengths. Your true purpose and place in the marketplace will be revealed as your business grows. Your customers and testimonials will highlight what your good at and these should become part of your brand and its story. This is very hard to do at the beginning. Unless you are trying to fit your square peg into someone’s idea of a round hole. I will bet that in 4 years time your business will look different from how it does today, regardless of how long you have been trading. The business world is ever-changing and you must adapt to survive. Your brand has to evolve and should not be set in stone.
Hard Work – Focus only on those things that create the biggest impact we can often achieve more with less. My advice is to start with the end in mind and focus your time on only the things which give you the optimum end result. In his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen Covey talks about beginning with the end in mind. In his website, he summarises this with this great comment;
Begin with the End in Mind means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen. Stephen Covey
If you can discipline yourself in your business, you will learn to work smart and not hard.
Marketing – You need to consistently let your target audience know you are open for business and able to solve a massive problem for them, every single day. Not just when you are having a quiet spell. Consistency and staying top of mind is key here.
Shiny Objects – Sales pages are designed to convert you into buyers. Be strong with your budget and only buy the product if it fits with your business direction. Do not go off track stay with your goals and be strong. If you do succumb, take it easy on yourself, you live and learn.
If you are thinking about marketing or web design for your business, I specialise in making it easy to make the most of the web. Get in touch with me for a friendly chat anytime.