No, Virginia, this isn’t your mama trying to crash the glass ceiling any longer. The times have changed, business climate is restyled, and the growth of business has morphed into whatever you want it to be; whether a multi faceted corporate entity is in your future, or a one man band operation, you have the ability to adopt what suits your interests best.
How does a business sprout and grow?
Here’s where a heavy dose of fear is likely to either build an empire, or have you retreating to the unemployment office or your current employer’s cubicle.
Do what you do best and be the best at what you do
Let’s start with some golden advice. The secret is there is no secret; don’t do business that you can’t do well. In other words, don’t take on clients, cases, or opportunities that you don’t have every reason to expect will add value to the growth of your reputation as the best.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you should take on anything that comes your way, but looking at the long term, not every client or opportunity is worthy of membership in your club! Develop your talent to discern who is worth spending your time and energy, rather than just creating a quick stream of income. Create an assessment for the benefit of a potential client, and for yourself. Use the information provided, do your preparation, and be sure you can handle the job, not just on a professional level, but profitably as well.
In the end it’s your reputation and credibility on the line, so protect it at all costs. Decide on an individual basis that you or your company are the one who is compatible with that potential client, only because you already know you can do a good job for them, not just maybe.
Keep up with the internet
In just a few quick years the internet has come to be recognized as the first stop for any shopping trip, and it’s amazing how many businesses still have no consistent web presence.
We’re not talking about a website and a Facebook page with less than 100 “likes,” but a marketing strategy that combines traditional practices with a positive social media experience. If your business isn’t in the social media game you can rest assured it will be sitting at the gate for a while.
It’s crucial that you have a professional website. Look around at other businesses in your industry, then look again at business outside of your industry for inspiration to create something that doesn’t look and feel just like every other website in x, y, z industry. If you don’t have the skills to create your own website, invest in a website building professional and get what you deserve.
Number one on the list for sprouting a new business, and new website, is a blog. This is the key element in your website which will expose you to those beyond your personal friendship circles, as well as the mighty search engines.
Think of your blog as you would the showroom of a brick and mortar store. This is the first place where your clients will meet you and learn about your product or service. As you bring them deeper into your blog, just as you would your local showroom or office, you are expressing your opportunity to go into detail about what you have to offer, and within each post you’re using your sales skills and call to action.
Go beyond your backyard
There’s no reason to think you only have to be in your own city or town to perform certain service oriented businesses. The best perk of a business which heavily uses the internet, is you can be anywhere and still work.
So even if you’re considered a small business it doesn’t mean you have to be small in one location. With e-commerce and social media marketing strategies, you’re free to find clients and income from around the globe.
Don’t set yourself up to look like “small town business” but develop your plans around expansion to other areas, how to accomplish that should be included in your business plan. (*if you aren’t working from a plan, go back to step 1)
Network, network, network!
The Washington Post says,
“Networking is not a mere exchange of business cards at a cocktail party nor is it bragging about yourself or begging for help from people you barely know. According to most experts, networking is building relationships on the basis of trust that involves a give and take.”
Gaining trust and reputation in your industry will be the crucial thing to learn in order to flourish, sometimes one client at a time. Figure out where to find and meet prospective clients, and nourish the relationships.
Local events are great for meeting new people, exchanging ideas, and becoming customers, but don’t stop there. Social media steps in to expand the local meetings, and exposes you to another world of potential business.
Connect with others who are “in the know,” meaning those who may be in the capacity to introduce you to others outside of your own circle. These second and third tier connections will broaden the scope of your networking exponentially.
Always remember to reciprocate in networking, and never burn bridges.
Go outside your industry for inspiration
Don’t be just like every other business in your industry in terms of look, style, branding, and practices. Figure out a way to stand out from your competition, and one easy approach is to turn around and look at something new. Stick your head into a totally different environment, you may be surprised at what excites you.
Look outside your own industry for ideas. What you may find are practices that are easily adaptable to what you’re already doing, just take the time to be creative in your thinking and planning.
Search for a branding tool that makes your business easily recognizable, instead of the same corporate looking logo, go for something either more elegant, or the other end of the spectrum, something edgy and modern, just make it your own and own it. Often your logo is the first impression folks get about you, so make your statement right up front. As an example, if you’re a plumber, see what lawyers are doing to attract new business, after all you may want to appeal to the same people, right? What can you adapt from a totally different industry into your own emerging business?
BONUS: Know who you are
You can have the best education, product, marketing plan, and strategy a business degree can buy, but if you don’t know who you are, everything falls like dominos.
Learn what it is that you do best and just do it. It’s too tempting to want to have fingers in several pots, after all we are in the age of multitasking, but ask yourself what is it that you are doing well. If there are a hundred business practices, which one, and only ONE, are you really, really good at doing?
It doesn’t mean you choose and stop, but know the path you’ve decided to travel at this moment in time, and be acceptable to change.
For information about how to best increase your potential by using social media marketing and management, contact us for a complete assessment. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms!