Once upon a boot camp, the young entrepreneur with the growing company and the old advisor with many entrepreneurs as clients came together to talk about building a business successfully. Here’s what you can learn from them to build your business.
Blunder #1: Being too cheap in early stages.
Whether you are a solopreneur or run a company, you need expert advice early to set your business up successfully. A small amount of guidance can save you time and help avoid major problems later. Talk to a CPA, an attorney, your local SBDC and the SBA, and learn the basics. Don’t wait until the government is after you or you are facing your first lawsuit. Being a business owner can be downright scary. Spend a little upfront to reduce your risks – and raise your comfort level.
Blunder #2: Not learning all you can about marketing, branding, and selling.
Selling scares a lot of us. Marketing sounds expensive and branding a little too hyped to be real. Yet every solopreneur and entrepreneur needs to know how to use each of these effectively for their own work and success. Fortunately, the resources to learn about these aspects of promoting your business effectively are easily available. Start with some self-education. There are a lot of great tools online, at your local library and via our services. Once you have a basic understanding, decide what is most likely to work well for you. Define your needs and goals. Create a plan. Develop your materials. Hire those services you need for support.
Blunder #3: Not networking.
Each of them told their friends about their new businesses. But that is not enough! You need to be actively engaging your network. Take all that you learned in marketing and branding above and start actually talking to people about your brand and your new ideas. Ask for their ideas and suggestions. As you build, you can also ask for specific contacts and then referrals.
Get out there to relevant professional meetings and events. Ask questions. Make connections. Go to local business events where your target clients are likely to be and do the same.
Learn about social media and how to use it effectively. This is a great way to build and maintain your networks while also enhancing your marketing. Develop a plan so it doesn’t become a time sink though.
Blunder #4: Not Knowing Your Full Value.
One realized her clients were frequently surprised at her business acumen – somehow they expect her to only know one type of thing. And so she realized she was not effectively conveying her full value to potential clients. The other’s staff recognized before she did what a great evangelist she was and how responsive potential clients were to her ideas.
It is vital that you figure out what makes you different and what added value you offer. Talk with friends, past mentors, and others who know you well. Ask them for the 5-6 words that describe you and see which you can weave into your branding. Research what your potential clients are seeking. Better yet, tap into your strengths and present them as solutions to issues clients face.
These tips are only the top of our list of unforced errors. But they are among the most dangerous to your future success – and the most common! If you are starting out, you can avoid them. If you are just going along or rebuilding your business, take 30 minutes a day for the next six weeks and start tackling them!
Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, HR executive, speaker, and author on human capital issues. She is known for her ability to address organizational goals and issues effectively and to create human resource management practices which support these goals without excessive administrivia. Patricia has advised executives and boards on a wide range of human capital and strategic planning issues. She has expertise in organization development, talent management, process restructuring, compensation, and training. She has worked with technology-based companies, government contractors, non-profits, associations, and retail operations. She advises small to mid-size organizations on ways to succeed and to help their employees thrive. Ms. Frame has given seminars for SBDC in recent years on the basic processes of HR management. Additionally, she generously provides one-to-one HR counseling once a month through Alexandria SBDC.