by Tracy Vides | Featured Contributor
It’s a hard life for solo business owners. Nothing comes easy and for entrepreneurs who are out on a limb for the first time (or surprisingly, even after multiple attempts), it’s never an easy task to climb the ladder of success. First, there’s the huge barrier called “mental obstacles” that you need to break out of, as Marc Ecko opines.
Second, there’s the high possibility you think you’re doing it right when in fact, you’re doing it all wrong. Take what Erik Sherman’s tale of two entrepreneurs. One takes the route of “flash in the pan” by moving to a swanky office, hiring highly educated people, and raising millions in funds. Long story short, his company shut down. Then there’s this other entrepreneur who never borrowed capital, stayed frugal, got no buzz, and still survived.
The reason why this happens is that entrepreneurs sometimes tend to carve a path of their own and do things that don’t work. Meanwhile, the successful ones spend time reading, learning, and applying what works. The difference is in “insights” – seeing things most others don’t see.
Here are some of those insights you could be missing out on but you can’t afford to overlook…
Self-employment is not business
You can call it a business if you like, but technically you are self-employed if you own a one-person operated business. You don’t have what most businesses have, and that’s called leverage. You’ll continue to work on your business and wear multiple hats. All entrepreneurs multitask; however, you’d only be doing more of it.
Real business is about growing, scaling, and working with teams. If you are working through the day and only accomplish what your workday allows, you are self-employed.
Now, don’t get me wrong: it’s not at all bad or second-rate to be self-employed. I just hope that this is what you want to do. If not, you’ve got to think about hiring teams and bring in the leverage.
Self-employed or not, you still have to promote your business. None of the hustle will be discounted. You don’t get holidays. There are no vacations.
Marketing is everything
Ok, this one is not much of an insight. Take it as a reminder, if you will. Nothing works for your business if you don’t put in the hard work to haul your company up to succeed. You’ll need to oodles of marketing for that. Night or day, no matter how easy or hard it is for you to launch promotions or other marketing activities, you just have to do it.
Your excuses won’t cut it. Lack of funds is an excuse. You have no right to do anything with business if you can’t market your business. Period.
No one gives a damn about you until you provide value
Think of it this way: you show up with a website and an offer. It won’t work. Try getting on social media and post 43 updates all about yourself, and you’ll see more unfollows than replies. If your blog posts talk nothing but how excited you are about your product, business or brand, the graph showing you number of visits will tank southwards.
Now, more than ever, no one gives a damn. Here’s the biggest insight of the century: do something for your potential clients and you’ll get it back eventually. No, you won’t know when! So stop forecasting and doing financial plans based on whatever you’ve invested. There’s no ROI in ROI.
It’s about making great products or creating awesome services, getting the world to know about it, letting your target customers try you with minimum risk, and then delivering your best. Of course, you’d then wait to support those who paid up for your products. Moz gives away plenty of information on inbound marketing best practices before it seeks subscribers for its flagship product – SEO software. Unbounce.com has a full content deployment available free to users before they sign up to use its landing page service.
Using technology is mandatory
If “there’s an app for that,” you have choices too! Mobile apps, online services, web-based apps, cloud-based solutions, software, platforms – all of these make you think that you’re spoilt for choice. However, at the basic level, don’t forget that you have just two options: to do or not to do. Then, the choices multiply: this or that, paid or free, upgrade or not, and so on.
There’s no way you could possibly run a business today without meeting technology somewhere along the way. Even if you choose to remain self-employed (and not run a business), you’ll need technology to help you run the course.
In fact, technology is a more affordable and easier alternative to hiring too many people or maybe hiring too fast. In some cases, technology alone can plug in to do the work of a couple of people, and it can do the job well. A single web-based app such as ZenDesk can actually replace a full-time customer support team and allow you to work with fewer people.
It’s never about the business plan
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that well-made business plans aren’t worth it. They are. It’s just that they aren’t etched in stone. Your business plan will need some wiggle room. You are very likely to, and should be ready to, change course if it doesn’t come out the way you expected it. You’ll meet marketing challenges, your target market will demand more, and these demands will probably change.
Solo business owners tend to be vulnerable. If you aren’t prepared, any changes in the market conditions, impending shifts in regulation, new competition, or anything unforeseen can hit you badly.
What’s important for an entrepreneur is to hustle, work hard, get the right customers, communicate the offer well, and repeat these steps. Meanwhile, tweak your approaches, marketing campaigns, and learn as you go.
Let none of these factors affect your business. Prepare for the long haul. Tell yourself that it’s up to you to make it happen. You have to build your business to where you want it to be.
Have you overlooked any of the things described here? What could have been a few lessons you might have picked up on the way? Share your entrepreneurial blues with us in the comments!
Tracy Vides is a content marketer and social media consultant who works with small businesses and startups to increase their visibility. Although new to the digital marketing scene compared to her illustrious She Owns It counterparts, Tracy has started off well by building a good online reputation for herself. She’s now a “serial blogger” with posts featured on Sprout Content, Steamfeed, Soshable, and elsewhere.
Connect with her on Twitter @TracyVides for a chat any time!