It’s tricky being a business owner.
Nobody tells you when you start out that there is SO MUCH to consider. When you plan your business and start out, you probably expect to spend most of your time doing the *thing* you love – the *thing* that made you want to have a business around it, whether it’s crafting or singing or coaching. And it’s not until you’ve taken the leap that you realise that’s not the full story.
Most of us spend much of our time NOT doing the *thing* we’re in business for.
We’re too busy trying to get our head around marketing, legal stuff, tax and accountancy issues, spreadsheets, forecasts, social media and more. That’s not including the fact we’ve got other stuff going on in our life – when you add children and their social life into the equation your time shrinks alarmingly.
When I left corporate world in 2005 I felt the same. I had no idea what I was getting into. I made so many mistakes, I’m surprised I even had a business at the end of it. I’ve been looking back at the mistakes I made and the mistakes I see other business owners making all the time that make it so much harder for them to grow a sustainable, profitable business.There are SO MANY, I had 15 written down but I only gave myself an hour to write this so I’ve picked my top 5 and I’ll do you a ‘part 2’ blog soon 🙂
1.Trying To Market To Everyone
Yes, I know I go on and on about this but it’s a BIGGIE! You can’t market to everyone. You’re a ‘micro business’ owner just like me. You have limited time, money and energy to spend on marketing and so you may as well target those people who are most likely to buy from you – why wouldn’t you do that?
Why would you waste precious marketing resources on people who AREN’T likely to buy? Who aren’t a good fit? It just doesn’t make sense, and yet so many people don’t know any better so they just throw their marketing out into the world, willy nilly, and hope some of it works. But you know better, right? You are going to focus your marketing on the people who are a great fit for your business, who love what you do, who are most likely to buy out of everyone, who keep coming back, who tell their friends. Agreed? Good.
2. Not Thinking Like A Business Owner
When you ARE your business it can be really tricky to separate out the business from the personal. Let’s have a look at some of the symptoms of not thinking like a business owner:
- A criticism of your business is a criticism of you
- A nasty comment on your Facebook page feels personal
- You cave in every time someone asks for a discount because you’re ‘just little old me’
- You hate chasing late payments because your clients might hate you and never come back
- You undercharge
- You take everything personally, to the point where it’s affecting your home life
- You actually don’t HAVE a home life…
Do any of these sound familiar? If so, don’t fret because most women business owners feel like this at some point. Our business is our baby and our products and services are created with our passion, enthusiasm and energy. It’s understandable that things feel personal. But you’re a business owner and you need to think like one. Thinking like a business owner looks like this:
- Taking the higher ground
- Not getting caught up in ‘little old me syndrome’
- Not being bullied into giving discounts
- Not being afraid to chase up YOUR money that you’re due
- Rising above nasty comments on your FB page (they don’t know you!)
- Taking criticism constructively rather than personally
- Putting boundaries in place
It’s easier said than done. I’ve fallen foul of loads of these. But you live and learn. I’m still here and so are you – and the sooner you start to think like a business owner, the sooner your business will start fly
[Tweet “The sooner you start thinking like a business owner, the sooner your business will fly #tgmb”]
3. Pricing Based On What Your Competitors Charge
No, no, no! Stop it! Do you know how your competitors set THEIR prices? I’ll tell you. They most likely looked around to see what everyone else what charging and then benchmarked themselves against them – I’m better than them so I can charge more, I’m new so I can’t charge as much as her because she’s been around for 10 years…. sound familiar. This is NOT the way to price. No.
Remember in #1 when I said you can’t market to everyone? Well, here’s a chance to put this concept into practise. Figure out who your ideal customer or client is. Work out why they love you. What problems do you solve for them? How do you make their life better, easier, happier? How do you save them money, help them lose weight, make their lashes thicker?
[Tweet “Figure out what VALUE you bring to your customers, what DIFFERENCE you make to their life and then work out what that’s WORTH to them #tgmb”]
Figure out what VALUE you bring to them, what DIFFERENCE you make to their life and then work out what that’s WORTH to them. This might mean you’re 3 times the price of your local competitors but so what? Customers always need a choice, some people (me included) will always choose the most expensive option if it represents better quality and value. You don’t have to compete on price – it’s time for you to step out of your comfort zone and change the way things are done around here!
[Tweet “You don’t have to compete on price – it’s time for you to step out of your comfort zone and change the way things are done around here!”]
4. Not Being Yourself
I can’t tell you the number of times I read ‘about’ sections on social media or websites and I’m yawning before I’ve got to the end of the first paragraph. “Our business is the foremost provider of blah blah services in the North East region of the UK”, “We are proud to be the current holders of the blah blah award for blah blah”, “Our team is professional and highly qualified blah blah blah”. Yawn.
How does that make you interesting? How does that make you stand out from the competition? How does THAT entice anyone to work with you?? IT DOESN’T!
Stop being sterile! Just because the big corporates sound like that, doesn’t mean you have to. In fact, it’s exactly why you shouldn’t! They probably feel like they have to have a certainly level of sterile professionalism in their marketing if they’re a multinational conglomerate thingy but you’re not. You’re an awesome, fabulous micro business brimming with passion, purpose and personality. There’s nobody like you. You’re one of a kind. So STOP BEING BORING.
Avoid ‘boring’ like the plague.
[Tweet “Your marketing should have your personality running through it like a stick of Blackpool Rock #tgmb #bizitalk”]
Stay away from ‘sterile’. You can still be professional and be YOU. I’d much rather see a business talking about an award like this “WE WON! We won’t bore you with our acceptance speech but we were voted the totally most awesome supplier of knitting needles in the Universe. Ok, maybe we’re exaggerating a bit – we actually won ‘haberdashery supplier of the year for the North East region’ but our version sounds funkier. We wouldn’t be here without you so we want you to share our award too – here’s a picture you can print off and stick on your wall’… Do you see what I mean? I’d MUCH rather buy from them than someone who says “We are proud to be the current holders of the blah blah award for blah blah”.
It’s time to infuse your personality into and through your business as if it was a stick of Blackpool Rock. The BEST news is that when you do this, your competitors can’t touch you. They can’t copy, they can’t compete because you’re not just selling products, you’re selling YOU, your TEAM, your PASSION, your PURPOSE, your ZING. It puts a whole new spin on all of your marketing and I’m telling you it’s your time to shine. Today! (I can see you glowing already.)
5. Not Being Consistent And Persistent With Marketing
You’ve tried that idea once, it didn’t work, so you gave up. If I had a penny for everyone who told me something similar in the past month I’d have at least 24p by now, which would nearly buy me half a Curly Wurly.
Marketing takes time.
Lots of time. Marketing is an ongoing process. It’s not something you do once and then give up. So stop being flaky and start marketing like you mean it!
I teach my clients that they need to give their marketing 3-6 months before they really see the results. 3-6 months and that’s AFTER you’ve sussed out your ideal customer and started focusing all your marketing on them. It’s ages. I know. And that can be quite depressing, especially if you’re short of money and desperate for sales but I don’t want to build your hopes up.
Don’t get me wrong, if you get your marketing approach right then you’ll sell stuff during that 3-6 month period, of course you will, but if you carry on marketing, and marketing, and marketing some more by the end of 6 months you’ll REALLY start to see the effect.
Think about it.
How long does it take you to properly take notice of a new business out there? Maybe you see them posting a bit on social media, maybe you walk past their shop occasionally, maybe you see an ad in the local paper.
Eventually, when you’ve got time in your busy life you might check out their website or pop into the shop. And you might even buy something, but you’ll probably just take a look around and file it in your head for ‘when I need it later’.
People buy when they are ready to buy, not when you need them to. Your urgency is not their urgency. And if you stop marketing in the meantime and they go searching for you and can’t remember your business name, they might not find you.
Whereas, if you’ve tempted them onto your subscriber list with a juicy offer, you send them lovely deals and show off your wares in a monthly e-newsletter, you post every day on social media and you blog every couple of weeks to keep your website content fresh, you stand a MUCH better chance of being found (and you’ll probably find that people spend more with you because you’re showing them stuff they love all the time).
Phew! So, how many of these mistakes have you made or are you still making?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments if these struck a chord! Don’t beat yourself up about them but DO look at them from a new perspective and fix them going forward. I want your business to be the best it can be, you deserve it after all the hard work you’ve put into it so don’t let these 5 silly mistakes hold you back!
Your business Facebook page can be a fantastic marketing tool. Used properly, it can build relationships, build your brand, build trust and credibility and drive enquiries and sales. However, there are some common mistakes you need to avoid if you’re going to get your Facebook page really working for your business. If you are doing any of the 5 things below, you’re at best wasting your time on a Facebook page that’s just not going to do you justice and at worst heading for trouble, even getting your page shut down.
Here’s a list of the 5 biggest mistakes I see on Facebook pages – there’s no excuse to fall foul of them now.
I know, it’s so tempting to vent your anger/frustration/opinion of your competitors on your Facebook page but it’s the equivalent of washing your dirty linen in public. It doesn’t look good and doesn’t help anyone, least of all you. It looks unprofessional and all you’ll do is create a pity party, which is a total distraction from your business. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no angel, but I think I’ve ranted just once on my page in 3 years (in response to a spate of really rude emails) and I regretted it almost immediately. It’s just not worth it. Complain to your pals, vent to your family but keep it OFF Facebook and other social media. Better to maintain a dignified silence and let karma take care of the rest.
2. Other People’s Memes (Rather Than Sharing The Original Post)
SHARING other people’s memes or posts is fine, in fact it’s a brilliant idea. When you share from their page, they benefit from the shares which helps their page engagement. This is called Ethical Sharing. The great thing is you benefit too as Facebook seems to give greater weight and reach to popular posts shared from other pages. It’s a win win. If you do the opposite – in other words you just save the image to your computer and post it on your page, rather than sharing then that’s just not cool. Not only that but if the owner of the meme or artwork finds out, they can legitimately report you for stealing their intellectual property. Ethical sharing is the only way!
3. Sell Sell Sell Posts
Nobody wants to be sold to. Everyone wants to be helped. If all you post on your business Facebook page is pushy sales message after pushy sales message, pretty soon you’ll end up with a page that’s as flat as a pancake. Nobody is going to engage with that! Instead, think about the people you want to attract to your page and think about what they want to see. By all means post offers and deals, but put a bit of YOU into the page. Record some videos showing your products, talking about your suppliers, telling a story about your business – anything to inject some personality into your page and start to build relationships with your page fans. Ask questions, share tips, HELP people. You’ll get a much more engaged page and remember, people buy people!
[Tweet “Nobody wants to be sold to. Everyone wants to be helped #tgmb #bizitalk”]
4. Like & Share Competitions
They are against Facebook’s Promotional Guidelines (See E.3) which means YOU SHOULD NOT USE THEM and Facebook can and will shut down your page if they catch you. I’ve seen it happen more than once – it’s just not worth the risk. And apart from that, they are a huge wasted opportunity – it’s much MUCH better to use a dedicated competition app that lets you collect email addresses of entrants, that way you grow your list while you’re promoting. Even if the app charges you a small amount to add the ‘collect emails’ feature, it’s definitely worth it because you NEED to start building your email list.
5. Anything NOT Aimed At Your Ideal Customers
By ideal customers, I mean people who are a good fit for your business and are most likely to buy. If you’re not clear who you’re trying to attract to your page then you’re going to be wasting a ton of time, money and energy and getting lukewarm results. Instead, figure out who is most likely to buy from you and target all your marketing at them – including your business Facebook page. Work out how you can add value, how you can help them, what sort of stuff they are likely to love and share. The more ideal customers you can attract, the more engagement you’ll get on your Facebook page. The more engagement you get on your Facebook page, the more likely people are to stick around and take up any offers you put in front of them.
I’ve added a sixth ‘no-no’ to the list even though I feel like this shouldn’t even need to be said. DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT EVER swear on your business facebook page unless your audience is full of sweary types themselves, and even then think twice. I know a couple of people who can get away with this because it’s totally part of them and their brand but even they do it in a considered way.
So, there you go. I’d love to know what you think and if you’ve got any more to add!
Every day on The Girls Mean Business Facebook page I see the same mistakes coming up time and time again.
The thing is, with everything else we need to do to keep our business running, marketing is often a last minute, hurried affair in the same way that when we’re busy we grab any old food to keep us going, regardless of how unhealthy it is.
Last minute marketing isn’t necessarily all bad but as a long term marketing strategy, it’s not ideal!
In the spirit of helping you to make every minute you can spend on marketing count, here are some of the top mistakes I see women business owners making every day.
The great news is that they are all easily and quickly solved – you just need to put on your big girl knickers and make the changes.
Trying to market to everyone
This is the number one mistake I see business owners making every single day and yet, if you get this right, the rest of your marketing becomes easier, quicker and more effective.
What am I talking about? Trying to attract anyone and everyone – because any customer is better than no customers, right? Well not really. The thing is, you can’t marketing to everyone.
You are a busy business owner and you have limited time, money and energy to spend on marketing so you may as well market to the people you’d really like to attract – your ideal customers. What makes them ideal for you? You tell me! What sort of customers are a perfect fit for you? Here are some thoughts to get you started:
- They love you and love your products/services
- They pay promptly and never quibble about price
- They are easy to find and easy to market to
- They keep coming back and tell all their friends
Once you know who they are, where they hang out and how you can help them, ONLY market to them.
You’ll still attract other people and you don’t have to say ‘no’ to anyone – this isn’t about turning away business, this is about clever marketing and using your scarce resources to attract people who you love to work with and who are most likely to buy.
Doing too much, badly
Another mistake I see women business owners making all the time is trying to do too much. Whether it’s trying to be on EVERY social media platform, attend every networking event in your area, running 5 businesses because you’re hoping one will strike it lucky – these are all symptoms of trying to do too much.
The trouble is that the more you try to focus on, the more you have to spread your energy and your attention.
The more you spread your energy and attention, the less time you have to do anything, the more mistakes you make and the less you end up achieving. Resist the temptation to do everything – pick one or two things, whether it’s one or two social media platforms, one or two networking events, one or two business ventures and DO THEM WELL.
Stop hedging your bets, success comes to those with the sharpest focus.
Focusing on the competition
Hands up if you’ve ever spent an hour or two in abject misery and worry, heart racing, feeling indignant and frustrated because you’ve been checking out the competition? And let’s be honest, it’s probably more than an hour or two, isn’t it?
It’s oh so tempting to keep looking at what everyone else is doing – are they copying you? Are they introducing new products or services? How is their marketing looking? Are they doing better than you? Who’s liking and commenting on their Facebook page.
Now let’s think about something. When you’re sitting there focusing on their business, who’s taking care of YOUR business? Nobody. Instead of putting all that energy and time into watching what someone else is doing, focus instead on YOUR business and making it even better.
Never mind what they are up to – think about how you can improve your marketing, build relationships with your customers, build your database, sell more stuff. What your competitors are doing is, frankly, nothing to do with you.
Put your precious energy into identifying and marketing to your ideal customers and they will come, and they will tell their friends.
It might take a month or two but it will work, I promise, if you keep your focus and keep your faith.
Expecting Immediate Results
I’m an eternal optimist and of course I know that some people can launch a product or service into the market and it will become an immediate hit. In reality though, this is a fairly rare occurrence. For the rest of us, consistent, persistent marketing is the only way to get results. What do I mean?
Well, you have to remember that the world hasn’t heard of you yet. Your friends and family might know that you’ve been in business for ages, they know exactly what you do but how about your ideal customers out there in the market? It takes time to get known.
Even when you know your ideal customer and market to attract your ideal customer, yes even then – it’s not an instant fix. People are busy, there’s a lot of ‘noise’ out there and you have to shout to be heard. Marketing to your ideal customer means that you stand a better chance than most of attracting fantastic people but you still need to drip feed your marketing, consistently, a few times a week, putting your marketing messages where your ideal customers will see them.
You also have to expect that it will take 3-6 months for your marketing to properly gain traction, EVEN when you’re marketing to your ideal customer and marketing consistently and persistently. Even then.
The great news is that most people give up way before then. But you won’t will you?
You’ll stick at it and in a few months you’ll really start to feel the benefit and all that hard work will have been worth it. If you stick at it.
Listening to Mind Monkeys
Do you have little voices in your head that put you off trying new things or tell you off when you’ve made a mistake? Don’t worry, it’s just your mind monkeys. We all have them and the great news is that they are wrong.
The biggest mistake most women business owners make with mind monkeys is to listen to them. Mind monkeys appear when you’re about to step out of your comfort zone. They will tell you that you’re going to make a fool of yourself, that no-one will listen to you, that no-one will pay those prices, that you’re not a proper business woman or my particular favourite, along side all of the above, you’re a bad mum. I get them too, particularly the bad mother ones. Luckily I know how to deal with them.
In all of these examples I’m delighted to tell you that your mind monkeys are talking absolute rubbish, in fact they are total liars. You see, they are basing their opinions on the past. On things that might have happened to you at school. On things your parents might have inadvertently said to you as you were growing up. On things you’ve read, watched or listened to. And all of these things have formed into ‘beliefs’ in your mind. And the mind monkeys will choose their moment and chuck these beliefs at you, ready to stop you making mistakes or humiliating yourself.
The thing is that you can listen to them. Of course you can. And those old beliefs that don’t really serve you will just continue to rule your life.
Or you can decide to say ‘buzz off mind monkeys’. You can decide to ignore them and do that scary thing, step out of your comfort zone, take that leap of faith. Because without doing that you’ll never grow as a person and your business won’t reach its potential.
And just you see what happens (it’s never as scary as you imagined and when you’ve done it you’ll feel SO good!)
So, gorgeous girl, I want to leave you with this thought. You’re already awesome because you run a business and most people aren’t brave enough to do that. If you now choose to avoid these 5 big mistakes, you will be armed with knowledge that most other business owners don’t have.
What are YOU going to choose? I’d love you to leave a comment below if this resonated with you 🙂
Love, Claire x