Guest Post: What I Wish I Knew a Year Ago About Being a Digital Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurship is on the rise again — and I don’t think it will be slowing down anytime soon.
I’ve been an entrepreneur for about a year now, and I have found out a lot about myself and the industry in the past 365 days. I wish I would have known at least half of what I know now back when I started — it would have saved me a lot of time, money, and stress. At the same time, those lessons are what have shaped me into who I am, and given me the grit to keep on striving. Though every entrepreneurial journey is unique, here is what I wish I would have known a year ago — maybe you will see some useful parallels?
Marketing is Harder Than You Think It Will Be
Marketing and business development are two invaluable skills for any new entrepreneur, but it can take time to come up with a good marketing strategy. And after you’ve decided on a strategy, you need to build up the confidence in order to implement it effectively! Take marketing seriously and devote time, energy, and effort into raising brand awareness.
- Direct Interaction is Always More Effective: Whether you’re speaking to someone over the phone, at a trade show/networking event, or even chatting over Skype, you’re going to have a much bigger impact on them than any form of non-face-to-face marketing. Posters, social media, emails and so forth, just don’t yield the same business results as human contact (though they are still useful). Don’t delay picking up the phone and getting in front of people in real life
- Focus on What You Can Do for Them: When speaking to prospects, it can be easy to start talking about all of your achievements, why you’re so great, and what you do for your other clients (and everyone babbles on like this when they’re nervous). However, all of these things mean nothing compared to what you (or your product) can do for others. The psychology behind selling is actually about listening, reflecting, and problem-solving, not talking about yourself!
Slow down and open your eyes to the world and other people — it will make your marketing more long-term and effective. I found that making my own moodboard helped me stay focused on the sort of business I want to run — which included working with clients I love and trust!
It’s Important to STOP
I definitely ran the risk of burning out during my first year, running around from networking events to conferences and lunches. I always had this irrational fear of missing out on the next good bit of business or useful contact, but the truth was that I wasn’t giving anyone or anything (including my business), my best self. It’s important to factor in breaks and periods of ‘down time’ — they help you refocus on what matters the most. Often new creative ideas come to you when your brain is resting, so if you’re always ‘on’, you will struggle to be creative.
As an entrepreneur you can’t let your work-life balance capsize. If you’re not finding time to do things that are completely unconnected with your business — rethink your routines and change things up. Play and rest are just as important as work — this is something else that is all too easy to lose sight of as an entrepreneur.
Get Help Sooner, Rather Than Later
It’s tempting to try to do everything yourself ‘to save money and time’…but realistically you will just be wasting money and time if you attempt to do stuff you’re not good at!. Use digital tools and the creative marketplace strategically to help you run a saner, more profitable business.
- Outsourcing is Easy: Or at least, it’s a lot easier than it used to be! From virtual assistants to bookkeeping apps, I definitely recommend getting some help with business and financial admin. Just make sure that you ask around for recommendations, and never give someone external confidential or sensitive business data without proper vetting
- Know Where to Look: In the early days, I was spending a lot of time hunting around for good domains or merchants willing to sell on their stores, but now I know that there are plenty of ways to automate and simplify the process. From signing up to free alerts on Exchange to setting myself up with relevant lists on social media networks like Twitter, now I can just sit here and wait for amazing business opportunities to come my way! Have the same approach to running your business and get set up with relevant alerts and incoming information, rather than having to go out ‘hunt’ for it
- Music & Images (For Free): You can find swathes of copyright-free music online. It saves you from the high price of producing your own music or paying to use copyrighted tracks. Music can really help your marketing videos look and feel more professional. A good content marketing campaign also needs striking images. Generally, finding images can be expensive, unless of course you decide to head to one of the many public domain image repositories online. (Disclaimer — I would still get some expert branding or design advice to set your brand on the right path)
You Can Do It (Even If Things Change)
This is probably the most important lesson of all. No matter the hardships, I managed to come out on the other side, and so will you! It’s important to stay motivated and believe in yourself and your vision, even if you find that the business (or you) are changing. Change is only a natural reaction to the marketplace — even in 365 short days you can feel like you’ve done a full 360 degree turn.
It’s important to be flexible and adaptive, rather than rigid. Learn how to ride the wave, rather than swim against the tide.
So there you have it — you’ve got a hard but endlessly rewarding path ahead of you. What was it that made you decide to become an entrepreneur? Let us know.
Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer.
I love being an entrepreneur, but it has taken me a full year to really ‘find my feet’. I recommend speaking to other entrepreneurs and getting them to share their tips and knowledge with you. Never underestimate the power of positivity (and coffee)…