What you can never stop doing as an Entrepreneur

There’s probably nothing cooler in your professional career than starting your own business. It’s a dream a great many people pursue for all their life. The idea is that you get to be your own boss and you basically have nobody to answer to. (Well, almost. There’s always someone you’ll have to answer to, foremost all your customers.)

Nonetheless, now that you’ve established your independence and ditched the corporate world, you’re free to pursue your dreams and do what you love doing the most; running your very own business in the way you – and only you – see fit.

As much fun and joy as you’ll have though, there are some tasks and chores that you can never stop doing, even when the business is your very own. The following are some of the activities that often fall between the cracks at the expense of others, and which can ultimately lead to stagnant or even faltering businesses.

Marketing

Marketing is a function that is often neglected and only attended to when there’s “time”. But since there’s never enough time at a start-up, there’s hardly ever any substantial marketing that gets done.

This is wrong in so many ways. Whatever you do in life, marketing yourself and your products/ services is always your first priority. Marketing is not only about promotions. It’s more importantly about continuously understanding your market and target audiences through research, designing new products and services that will be needed and wanted, pricing and packaging those so they can actually be sold, and marketing those at the right places through the most effective channels.

To make sure you don’t fall into this common trap, make it a point to set aside a given number of hours per week that you dedicate to marketing activities. Two hours per day is ample of time and should get the job done.

Business Development

This goes hand-in-hand with marketing. Of course, the more effective the latter is, the less you have to do of the former. But working on developing and building long-lasting business relationships that are profitable is a function you will never able to put aside as an entrepreneur.

Moreover, many limit the concept of “business development” to recruiting new clients. This is not the case at all. What’s even more important than bringing in new clients is “retaining” those. In specific, this refers to your efforts in generating repeat business from people who’ve already made a purchase with you and as such – have a much higher level of trust in your brand and its values.

As is the case with marketing, an average of two hours per day is a reasonable allocation of time. Keep in mind that this includes searching for leads, holding meetings and pitches, writing proposals, and negotiating deals. So it’s not all that much when you consider the load of work that comes with this function.

Working on Products and Services

This is why you got into business to begin with; to provide clients with products and services that are better than what’s available on the market. Yes, you probably have a small team of professionals working with you now, but you always have to make sure all are in line with your vision and produce the kind of work that made you go your own ways to begin with.

Do some reading on the late Steve Jobs for example. As large as Apple grew, Steve always spent an enormous amount of time and effort in working on designing new products and services. There must’ve been hundreds of technical people working at Apple that were much more qualified, but the most successful products Apple ever produced (i.e. iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, etc.) were all creations Steve had an ever-lasting imprint on.

This should take about half of your daily time available. Even if there’s no shortage in resources, you need to stay involved so you keep developing and advancing your very own skills in your area of speciality. Amongst many others, your continuous involvement in this area will also shape the direction of your marketing, business development, strategic thinking, and recruitment needs.

Contemplating the Future

This is a trap many entrepreneurs fall into once things pick up and business starts to boom. They become complacent and think it’s going to stay that way. They stop worrying about the future and think they’ve finally made it.

Again, wrong! Just as you came out of nowhere a few years ago and claimed your stake in the market, someone else will do the same and claim a stake out of your market now. This is why you’ve always got to stay ahead in the game and make sure your brand and products/ services remain in the lead.

The best time to do this is during the early hours in the morning as you exercise. Even if you listen to music at full blast, let your mind wander off into new and unexplored territories and unleash your creative thinking juices. The only thing you need to be worried about is not letting your mind wander off in the wrong direction and start thinking about various administrative problems you may be having at work. This is definitely not the right time and place for those.

Looking for the best People

Your most important function as an entrepreneur is to be on the constant lookout for people that are smarter and better than you. This is the only way you will be able to build a substantial company; by hiring the right people that can get the job done and then some more.

A very successful CEO once said – when asked about what he perceives as his most important role in the company – that his sole job was to find and hire people that were smarter than him. Think about it; how can your company grow beyond a startup without smart people? And what’s the point in having an army of people that need to be told what to do and how? It might feed the owner’s ego, but certainly not the company’s profits and value.

If you’re spending enough time on marketing and business development, your path will keep crossing with individuals whom you’ll learn to admire and appreciate. This doesn’t mean that you can go and poach people from your clients, but as you meet more and more interesting people, give it some thought about how they’d fit into your team and the value they can contribute. And the beauty of this is that you don’t really need to slice out any time for this. Constant headhunting is a “default” function just as a heart keeps beating without any intervention needed by the brain.

Keeping the House in Order

This is a really boring part of running your business, but one that has to be meticulously attended to nonetheless. You are after all the legal guardian of your baby (your business), and such the burden of making sure that all laws, rules, and regulations are observed at all times falls on you.

This includes chores such as filing taxes on time, complying with legal paperwork, obtaining vocational and licenses in a timely fashion, making sure social security payments are made in time, and so forth. And since you’re personally liable and responsible for several of these financial and legal commitments the company has gotten into, you’re really watching out for your very own best interests as well.

All in all though, many of these chores are of an annual nature and won’t take much of your time. Plus, you’ll probably have outsourced most of these functions so all you really have to do is remain alert and monitor what’s being done and by when. But to completely rely on external resources may become a fatal mistake that could potentially cost you a lot of time, frustration, and money.


About the Author

Pinnacle Business & Marketing Consulting is a results-driven boutique consulting firm that specializes in providing clients with practical and pragmatic solutions to their business and marketing challenges. Website | Facebook | Twitter


Legal Note

This article has been written and posted by Pinnacle Business & Marketing Consulting, LLC. Distribution, copying, and sharing is only authorized and permissible if no changes/ alterations are made to the content and appearance of this publication. Credit must be given to the publisher at all times by including this paragraph in any distribution. For additional articles, visit our website. To request an article about a specific topic you are interested in, please contact us with your request.

Social Media Marketing: what you can never stop doing once you’ve started …

We’ve written about it over and over, and we see it happening again and again; brands get excited about the concept of social media marketing, fire up a few branded channels, and start posting all kind of stuff about their products, services, and what have you.

What many unfortunately neglect is paying attention to the details. There’s a whole lot more to social media marketing than plastering content all over the web. And this is where social media marketing becomes – as we keep saying – time-consuming, demanding, and expensive.

Here are some tasks that are an integral part of social media marketing, and that no brand can afford to do without. And if these are deemed as excessively demanding, our recommendation would be to forget the whole notion of social media marketing all together.

Read as much as you post (if not more)

Social media marketing is all about sharing quality content. Content that is worth the time your followers will take to read and share what you’re sharing with them.

It’s relatively easy to come up with ample content at the out-start, but it becomes a challenge down the line. The best way to keep getting inspired to write new articles and content is to follow peers, thought-leaders, and similar pages or blogs.

This doesn’t mean that you have to copy and paste what others write. But as it goes with ideas, one thing leads to another and before you know it you have laid the foundation for a fresh article.

Monitor your channels and the web

There’s a group on Facebook called “Customer Service Jordan”. This group is quite active, and open to all who desire to share their customer experiences with particular brands.

While some posts praise the great service users have experienced, the vast majority of posts are real complaints about bad customer service people have encountered recently. And once someone posts a complaint, others are quick to jump in and contribute with their own bad experiences they’ve had with the same brand.

Yet, none of the brands we’ve seen getting bashed seemed to have bothered to monitor this group which has over 1,000 followers. It’s not a large number really, but when you factor in the collective number of friends and followers that get to see the comments made by the common connections, it grows exponentially.

Whether only a few read a complaint or tens of thousands, brands need to monitor all channels, groups, forums, and other mediums they may be mentioned in. Sure, this is a ton of work, but hey, who ever said that social media marketing was easy?

Convert complaints into opportunities

Going back to our previous point and the fact that public complaints are eventually inevitable, the good news is that an opportunity is always present, even in the most dire cases of online bashing.

Some of the brands that have been complained about in the group we mentioned above have been tagged by other users to alert them about a growing discussion that basically focuses on how bad their service was. And we’ve seen some of these taking corrective actions and by that – turning the whole dialogue around toward a very positive outcome with the original plaintiff thanking the brand openly for the excellent efforts and customer service the’ve just received.

Keep in mind, when people complain openly they do so mostly out of frustration. They’re not really after hurting a brand. They just want to enjoy the value of the product or service they purchased, and when in-store complaints don’t work, they revert to online (public) complaints.

So once their problems are solved – which is all they wanted from the start – people are usually not stingy with praise and will acknowledge the attention and care they received publicly. Imagine the impact of such an acknowledgment on all the others that have been following the thread!

Educate and don’t push sales

One thing you can never do on your social media channels is pushing sales. People don’t want to be sold. They want to be engaged, and they want to be educated. Yet, many channels post nothing more than daily pitches about this product or that service. This is the exact opposite of what people would want to read about on your channels.

Everybody wants to sell of course, but you’ve got to go about it extremely subtly. You can for example talk about the particular reasons and benefits users purchase a product/ service category for, and which of course you carry.

The idea is for followers to perceive you as a figure of authority/ knowledge in this particular field, and by that develop a solid degree of trust with your brand. Now once they are ready to make a purchase, they will most probably visit your channel again, click to your website from there, and then make a purchase either online or by visiting your store.

Never lose the human touch

There’s nothing more annoying than these static scripts so many social media channels use to respond to online complaints or comments. The usual reaction of many is to immediately take the discussion to the inbox. (Why? It’s already out there in public. Why not let the other followers see now how you go about handling customer complaints?)

When dealing with customers and their complaints, forget about scripts. People are contacting you through your social media channels to talk to a real human. Someone who can actually help them in resolving their problems. The last thing they want is an automated script that doesn’t apply half the time it’s used.

 


About the Author

Pinnacle Business & Marketing Consulting is a results-driven boutique consulting firm that specializes in providing clients with practical and pragmatic solutions to their business and marketing challenges. Website | Facebook | Twitter


Legal Note

This article has been written and posted by Pinnacle Business & Marketing Consulting, LLC. Distribution, copying, and sharing is only authorized and permissible if no changes/ alterations are made to the content and appearance of this publication. Credit must be given to the publisher at all times by including this paragraph in any distribution. For additional articles, visit our website. To request an article about a specific topic you are interested in, please contact us with your request.

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