You may have a couple of months under your belt in business. You may be new at this ‘entrepreneur’ thing and are still navigating the endless (sorry to break it to you) ups and downs.
I have learned heaps from the stories of incredible business owners and entrepreneurs who devoted their efforts to make an impact in the world.
In this piece, I look back at some of these lessons through the conversations I had the pleasure to host for the Make an Impact Show, talking to experts and creatives showing up online day after day, growing their brand.
Here are five simple things you can implement at any stage of your business.
Not knowing your market
“If I was going to go online with some of my offerings, I couldn’t just do what I was doing offline and take it online; I had to create something new.” — Ceri Jones (Make an Impact Show, ep 72)
The best way you can know your market is to start to collect data on it. If you have no data to go off, then start by asking people in your area about what they use them for. Research some products similar to what you need to make your business successful, create a survey to test your upcoming product and see how people react. Build this relationship with these people first, and then ask them what you can do to help them.
You need to understand your market before you work on any new product or service or even getting going in any way. I have grown as an individual from the feedback I have gotten from my clients and audience. I kept asking and adapting to give people exactly what they wanted, not what I thought they wanted.
Being afraid of changes
”Whether that is a global pandemic, whether that is an economic meltdown, whether that is political change, there will always be something that is out of our control. At the same time, there is always something you can go back to and is about focusing your energy on what you can control.” — Simon Alexander Ong (Make an Impact Show, ep 64)
Change is good, needed, and, most days, inevitable. The businesses that are open to change are the ones that will be able to survive.
As a very famous example, Kodak management’s inability to see digital photography as a disruptive technology, even as its researchers extended the boundaries of the technology, was the demise of the company.
Steve Sasson, the Kodak engineer who invented the first digital camera in 1975, remembers the first response to his discovery:
It was filmless photography, so management’s reaction was, ‘that’s cute — but don’t tell anyone about it.’” The New York Times (5/2/2008)
Entrepreneurs can learn a lot about resilience and grit, as everything in life is an opportunity for us to learn and grow. Make time to reflect on what works and what doesn’t, and be open to trying something new if you feel stuck. Checking the ego at the door is one of the hardest things for most entrepreneurs.
Marketing to everyone
”Be courageous enough to be someone’s Marmite” — Debbie Clarke (Make an Impact Show, ep 49)
I know that you may intuitively know this. However, this mistake is one that so many people still make, no matter how many years they have been in business.
How can we approach and connect with more people? By trying to market to every single person out there? Wrong.
You may want to narrow down your audience via demographics (location, age etc.) or psychographics (beliefs, needs, values), yet the sooner you accept that, the sooner you will attract the right people to your brand.
It also teaches us the importance of embracing rejection as a reminder that people buy from people. People may love your energy, or it may just terrify them. Once again, keep that pesky ego at bay and learn from every experience and NO you are faced with.
Trying to do it all
“To be productive, you don’t always have to be producing.” — Jonelle Lewis (Make an Impact Show, ep 39)
Some entrepreneurs have huge ideas and a lot going for them. Many great companies have emerged out of the wreckage of smaller businesses. However, to truly succeed, it is essential that you also focus on doing one thing and doing that one thing well.
Learn everything that you can about the field you hope to enter. Don’t just throw money at a venture because your friend offered you an exciting offer on an online store that he is getting going with. You may be starting with one product and genuinely honing in on it or developing expertise in one specific niche, industry or industry pain point.
By doing less, and doing it better, you can set boundaries and a workflow (and culture) that will become an integral part of your company from now on. The shiny object syndrome is what stirs us away from our path.
Following the trends instead of your gut
”Tune in and really pay attention to how you feel, whether something is a yes or a no for you.” — Chloe Brotheridge (Make an Impact Show, ep 70)
Many people make a common mistake of overthinking a situation and changing everything about how they deal with it.
The idea is that a market has an established trend, you can adapt it, and it will make everything more manageable, and that’s the mistake many people make.
They try too hard to create the exact trend they thought would be successful without listening to their gut.
When you are approaching an upcoming trend, a new direction or simply a new venture, you have to be open to what you see has worked for others, but you also need to learn how to listen to your gut.
That, my dear reader, is your superpower right there.
Entrepreneurship is a journey of resilience, growth and evolution. Running a business is not easy: it requires persistence and a hell of a lot of patience.
Being aware of these sneaky traps can help you make better decisions in the long run. Your business, no matter how successful you are, is still going to face a lot of obstacles.
You have to be all in — if it were that easy everyone would be doing it.