There’s never been a better time to start your business. There’s never been a worse time to start your business.
Yep, we’ve heard both these statements a lot recently. And who the heck knows which one is right?
What I do know is that if Covid has made you redundant or hastened your realisation that working for the man isn’t the life you want for yourself, then now may just well be the best time to start a biz.
And to get you started here’s few tips I’ve learnt and shared with fellow newbie entrepreneurs (pre and post Covid) to help them kick start their business, build their confidence and create something new.
Get out there
An obvious one, but posting on social a few times about your exciting new venture isn’t going to cut it. You’re going to have to go out there and make some connections.
In the pre-corona world, I was a big fan of start-up events and entrepreneur networking. (I know networking makes a lot of people feel urgh but reframing it as a chance to learn from your fellow ‘preneurs really does take the ickiness out of it)
At this stage I’d just left corporate-land, I knew I wanted to help small business owners with their marketing but that was all – I didn’t know what kind of marketer I wanted to be (it’s a big discipline and in my corporate life I was jack of all trades) or what kind of help small businesses needed.
So I went along to all the free events, drank way too much coffee, collected a ton of business cards and asked biz owners what ticked them off about promoting their business, how they got new clients, what social platforms they loved/loathed or where they got their marketing advice from. And pretty soon I had an idea of their struggles around finding customers and raising their visibility. They didn’t know how to explain their business, sporadically posted on social and lacked the confidence to put themselves out there.
As my knowledge of their struggles grew, so did my confidence around how I could help.
Errm, we’re in lockdown. How can I meet people?
Aha, I hear you say, ‘how can you achieve the same when you’re can’t get within shouting distance of your audience, let alone share a flat white with them?
Try this. Reach out to your network. Your friends, family, ex-colleagues. Ask them if they, or anyone they know is looking for help with… (insert service you offer here) then schedule a quick zoom chat to find out more. Or, be brave and ask advice from those already doing what you want to do.
Like with networking events, You’re on a fact-finding mission to understand a little more about how to build a business that works; aka HOW TO CREATE A BUSINESS THAT HELPS PEOPLE! So, be attentive, make notes, listen and when you hear something that makes your ears tingle, dig a little deeper.
If you want to know what sort of questions to ask, click here.
OK it may take a little bit more effort, but I promise you the time spent upfront on understanding why people need you and how you can help will save you months and months working out your business model, core messaging – plus marketing £s & a heck lot of frustration.
Most newbie business-owners skip this stage in favour of creating the fun shiny stuff; the Pinterest boards, logo, business cards, website….my advice, save this until you have the basics worked out.
Don’t build a website*
*unless you’re a web designer or selling products online
I know newbies love to have tangible things, you want to show those doubters, nay-sayers that we’re bona fide business owners. But hold on a sec, listen to this tale.
In the early days I spent oodles of cash and many hours writing copy in the pursuit of creating the coolest website ever! I was chuffed to bits when my website went live – I’ve made it, I have a business owner! But within nine months the words were out of date, the offers redundant and the design just wasn’t ‘me’
My business and I had moved on.
I’m all for having an online home; it’s the place where you can express yourself, welcome your people, help them with their struggles and, importantly, make connections. But when you’re just starting your business a website can be an expensive, soon to be out-of-date, piece of digi real estate.
Try this instead. Yes, create a website….but a very basic one, limit your time and energy spent on it. Or better still create a landing page that includes basic info – who you are, what you do, how you help, plus contact info and links to your blog or active social accounts.
Wanna know what to include on a landing page, click here.
And channel all that creative energy you would have spent writing your About page and fussing over photography into creating content (blogs, social posts, videos, lives) that you know solves problems, answers questions and demonstrates what you know.
Share what you know
Hello, imposter syndrome.
It’s the curse of us ex-corporates. Take us out of the safety of the office with our neat job description, KPIs and weird, overlong job title and we feel like we know nothing!
Not true dear reader.
Now unless you’re starting in a totally new field, in which case I’d recommend reaching out to other experts and apprenticing yourself pretty darn quickly, YOU KNOW AN AWFUL LOT. In fact you know so much you’ve forgotten that most people don’t know what you know which is why you feel like an imposter.
I guarantee you, if you are at least two steps ahead of the people you want to help then you can help. You are an expert (at least in their eyes) and if you’re you are an expert, you have a responsibility to share your knowledge.
Let go of the pressure to create beautifully crafted words, or the most useful bit of info ever and create casual content.
Casual content = content shared with the expectation that no one will see it, no one will comment and no-one will care. I know this sounds harsh, but when you release this pressure you can be free to experiment, get creative and write about things you enjoy.
So write on topics you know, the things you like, the things that p*ss you off about your industry, share your point of view. Think about the conversations you’ve had with those you’ve met networking or in zoom rooms (see tip one of this article) What kind of questions did they ask and what answers do you have?
Reframing content like this takes the pressure off and gives you space to discover your voice and learn what is valuable to your people.
*And when you do share content that people care about, gets shared or commented upon, think about why? Experiment further with similar topics and see the reaction.
Don’t niche, yet.
There’s a huge pressure from online gurus to push, push, push – make 6 figures in 6 months, build a funnel and find your niche NOW.
Ignore it, it’s BS.
This is your chance to create something you’ve always wanted; a sustainable, growing business that fulfils you in all the ways – spiritually, financially, professionally. And that can take time.
Finding your niche and becoming a specialist in (insert discipline here) is a continuous process. As you grow and build confidence, as the market matures and as new opportunities arise you’ll evolve too.
When you’re just starting it, especially coming from corporate-land with its structures and processes and ways of working, it can be almost impossible to who you want to help, what sort of things you’ll enjoy doing the best and where you can be most impactful.
So experiment, work with as many people as you can. Yes, work for free or in a skills exchange. (I received free reiki, yoga and music lessons for my son in the early days) Build your confidence and courage by;
- making connections
- asking Questions & listening to the answers Wanna know what Qs to ask? Click here
- sharing content, consistently
And soon you’ll realise who it is you’re attracting, who you love working with and what bits of the process you dig.
Figure out what works for you and number 1, trust yourself x
I offer messaging help, marketing strategy & a whole lotta love for new business owners. Click here to find out more.