If you’ve noticed on this blog, I like to talk about the business lessons that I’ve learned the hard way being a boot-strapping entrepreneur. (And there are a lot of them.) I like to share them with you to (1) reassure you that we ALL make mistakes and get tripped up on our path to success, (2) help you avoid some of the common business mistakes, and (3) show you that even though you might make a TON of mistakes along the way, you can always bounce back and keep plowing forward.
When I started my first full-time entrepreneurial venture after I quit my job and opened up a clothing boutique, I made the big mistake of thinking my job title was “boutique owner”. Boy was I wrong.
Truth is, I wanted “boutique owner” to be my title because everything that this title described was what I liked to do—I like ordering the clothing, displaying the merchandise, balancing the books, creating the website, taking the photos, etc. Here’s the problem though—I can create the most wonderful and fantastic boutique the world has ever seen, but if no one knows about it, then it’s not going to be successful.
So WHATEVER you think your job title is right now—photographer, blogger, programmer, life coach, graphic design, etc—SCRATCH IT OUT.
YOU ARE A MARKETER.
When you work for yourself on your own small business, you should be a marketer first and foremost. As I said before—you can have the greatest product or service of all time, but if you’re not marketing it, it’s like a tree falling in a forest with no one around. *Silence* And trust me, it’s painful to be in the situation where you put your heart and soul into your business and no one shows up to buy from you.
Now, you might be thinking that you’re not good at marketing (and that you’d rather take back your original job title), so you should just hire it out. Don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE fan of delegating, but I find that no one is going to sell my product or service like I am. In fact, I did hire a PR agency in town to promote my boutique and worked with them for over a year. In the end, to be really honest, I felt like I wasted my money. They might have had all the information about my boutique and could write a good press release, but they couldn’t portray the passion I had for my business and my products.
The mistake I made was not getting really good at marketing my business from the start. I could have delegated many of the other to-do’s—website design, photography, merchandising, etc—and focused my energy on the tasks that actually brought more money into the store. Alas, I did not and definitely learned this lesson the hard way. (So it goes.)
Don’t fall into this trap!
This is why you need to get good at marketing in the beginning stages of your business. Embrace it instead of resisting it. Read all the books you can on marketing your type of product or service. Listen to marketing podcasts. See what your competitors are doing and find out what’s working for them. Join a networking group. Constantly be putting yourself in front of other people. Talk about what you do to everyone. Take the first few years of your business to figure out exactly what marketing strategies work the best for your business and then do those same things OVER AND OVER again.