Making the decision to start your own company is not an easy one. People are attracted to this business for countless reasons, like being your own boss, making more money, doing something you enjoy, spending more time with family, etc.
That’s not always how it goes though, but that’s a post for another day. This post, is about common mistakes made after you make a decision to work for yourself, whether it is as a freelancer or starting your own company.
In this post you will learn:
- How To Use Your Website as a Business Asset
- Why You CAN’T Ignore SEO or Digital Marketing
- How To Create a Marketing Strategy That Works
- Why You Need to Budget and Re-Invest in Your Company
- Why It’s Important To Tap Into Your Existing Customer Base
This business can be very rewarding, and very profitable. It’s not easy though. Very few things in life that are worthwhile, often times you’ll find that they aren’t easy either.
However… I hope to make things a little bit easier for those of you getting ready to start the journey.
Your Website Is One of Your Best Assets
Mistake #1 – Not Using Your Website Properly
In the past year that I’ve been running this blog, and connecting with many readers and those that have purchased my Ultimate Blueprint To Start Your Own Web Agency, I’ve noticed that many times people that are struggling, aren’t really utilizing their website.
Some people don’t even have a website they’re using for their “company”!
More often though, it is the people that struggle that aren’t using their website properly. They aren’t able to leverage their website, because it isn’t really much of an asset.
Think about how hypocritical it seems, to be targeting business owners for web design, SEO, web presence, etc. without really maximizing the benefits of their own website.
Some of you are more concerned with “building a portfolio” than you are with working on your own website. Your own piece of internet property. Your own real estate. You’re ignoring the fact that the best part of any portfolio in this business, is your own, controlled property… your website!
Imagine if Income Bully was just a website with an about page, contact page, products and pricing. What benefit would you get from it? Why would you come here? If you were wanting to buy something from me, and you wanted more information, you wouldn’t find it here. You would have to go somewhere else.
Your customers or prospective clients are the same way. Why allow them to search somewhere else when you can guide them through the entire process?
If they have a need for what you’re offering but want to learn more about you, why you can help, more information… can they find it on your website?
Your website needs to be informative, and authoritative. You don’t need to follow guru guidelines, you just need to provide content that will be helpful to business owners.
There’s a lot of ways you can do this, such as:
- Having a blog on your website
- Having a FAQ section
- Explaining your process
- Giving examples of what works and what doesn’t
Having a blog should be a no-brainer, but doing it the right way is a little more difficult. SEO and web design companies often make blog posts that would attract other industry insiders, instead of the average business owner.
It doesn’t matter if your blog posts aren’t ranking in Google, because your focus is not search traffic, your focus is to assist your prospective clients and implement a lead nurturing strategy to increase your conversions.
Your website is a 24 hour a day representative for your company. Every day of the year, it’s there for you, ready to help you. Put some time and effort into it, and it can be a lead generating machine for your company. Ignore it, and you’re fighting an uphill battle.
SEO and Digital Marketing Should Be Your Strong Suit
Mistake #2 – Ignoring SEO and Digital Marketing
It seems silly that I need to bring this up.
Talking to a bunch of marketers, and people that want or have their own web design/marketing company already, that this would be a subject well understood and something that should be common sense.
Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense. – Gertrude Stein
Unfortunately, a lot of people think that since they have a few clients already, or they’re generating leads from more traditional, offline methods that they can ignore SEO and the digital side of things.
It’s not difficult to rank yourself locally. If you’re in a super competitive area, then pick a long tailed keyword and rank for it. Even if you don’t care if you get traffic from SEO, you should be able to practice what you preach and show prospective clients that you can do what you’re advertising, by doing it for yourself!
Not only is it good to show clients, but you can get some benefit from it as well.
Some of the best things I’ve learned to do to help clients, were things I’ve tested, and been able to do for myself.
I recommend the same for you.
Ignoring the same methods that you’re hoping to sell business owners on, is both hypocritical, and lazy.
How To Create a Marketing Plan That Works!
Mistake #3 – Not Having a Real Marketing Plan or Strategy
You’ve heard it before, failing to plan is planning to fail.
We all have thoughts on how we’re going to accomplish things… maybe even plans on how we’re going to do it. How many of you actually have a professional marketing plan though?
It’s understandable this would be a mistake a lot of beginners fall for and I was no exception. Knowing that you need a marketing strategy is one thing, but producing a professional marketing plan is something rarely discussed even by the more notorious people in the business, marketing, entrepreneur niches.
Maybe it’s because people don’t really know where to start, and usually a professional business, or marketing plan isn’t required as often as it used to be unless you’re seeking venture capital in a VC hotbed like silicon valley. Even banks will issue loans without seeing a professional marketing plan.
Just because it isn’t as typical as it used to be, doesn’t mean it isn’t useful, and just because it is a plan, doesn’t mean it can’t be adjusted over time!
Here are some things you should be mapping out in your marketing plan:
1.) Identifying Your Target Market or Target Audience
It’s always talked about but what do you really know about it?
Identifying your target audience or “buyer personas” will consist of taking a look at the ideal customer you want. Demographics like age, location, interests, and other information like ideal industries or niches you should be targeting will play a role in your market identification.
This is important so you can better relate to your target audience.
The better you relate to your prospects, the better your ROI will be with different marketing efforts you implement. The better you can map content or use existing content for lead nurturing purposes.
To get a better grasp on buyer personas, hubspot has a free template you can use and customize.
2.) What Is Your Unique Selling Point / Proposition?
Most people in the field of marketing, SEO, web design, ORM, etc. are supposed to have the marketing stuff down pat. Luckily for those of you that don’t, the majority of your competition also isn’t using or incorporating a unique selling proposition.
So what is it exactly?
It is a competitive advantage. What separates you from your competition? Why should your prospective clients choose YOU instead of web.com, or Yodle, or yellowpages/dexx?
One of my USPs was the fact that I took the work out of web design. A lot of my competitors would require content, pictures, all this stuff that business owners would have to not only pay for, but provide in order to get what they paid for. I took the effort away from them, and created content FOR them.
This helped in multiple ways:
- Set me apart from the competition
- Made it easier for business owners to buy (instead of wait for them to get things together)
- Easier to complete projects instead of having multiple sites waiting to be complete because I’m waiting for content.
What can you do to set yourself apart from the competition?
3.) Competition Analysis
In order to construct AND implement a solid marketing plan, you need to identify your competitors, whether it be locally, nationally, or in a niche market.
Evaluating, analyzing and understanding what your competitors are doing is going to give you more opportunity to expose and benefit from their weaknesses, while also piggy backing on areas of success they already are having.
For example, competition research can benefit you in SEO, PPC and other areas. Especially in PPC, if you see someone spending a lot of money on ads, you can safely assume that their ad copy has been decently tested, and not a bad place for you to start out.
4.) Formulating a Pricing Strategy
Pricing seems pretty basic, doesn’t it? It’s a complicated topic, and I’m not going to address how you should price your product or services, just the fact that this needs to be well thought out.
Are you wanting to compete on price or do you want to compete on something else? Do you want to be known as a higher end solution or do you want to be more affordable? You need to figure that out.
This is an area often overlooked by beginners. They think they can just custom quote absolutely everything but it leaves you with lower conversions, more time consuming “busy work”, and less scale.
In my Ultimate Blueprint, I suggest creating multiple packages from people to choose from. I still stand by that suggestion and recommendation.
Your marketing plan should list every service and plan you have created, along with the price. In a more extensive business plan, those numbers would be used as part of a sales forecast, and estimation when calculating the risk and return of certain marketing activities.
5.) Outline Your Customer Acquisition Strategy
You should have a plan for how you intend to acquire customers. Outline the methods you will use, along with the mediums.
If you’re using cold calling as a way to generate leads, then you need to include an estimate of how many calls would be made on a monthly basis, your prospect to lead conversion, and lead to customer conversions along with an estimated value per acquisition and cost per acquisition.
If you’re using social media, include the mediums you will be using, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and your estimated return.
Outline absolutely everything you will do to generate sales. This will allow you to go back later on and reflect on your estimations and look for areas of improvement.
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Budgets and Re-investments in Your Business
Mistake #4 – Not reinvesting money into your business.
How many of you have a personal budget? You need one of those… but you also need a budget specifically for business.
If you’re going to do this full time and you’re serious about wanting to grow a company, it’s an absolute necessity.
A lot of people don’t take the time to create a budget for their business. Even those that do, struggle with following that budget to ensure they’re at the maximum profitability.
One thing I’ve noticed with a lot of people is if they enter this industry and they never had a job that paid a decent income, they tend to be extremely conservative with their money.
I think it’s smart to be conservative, but in business, you have to view money as a tool. If you have it and aren’t spending it wisely, it doesn’t help you as much as it could.
Investing money back into your company allows you to focus on growth, outsourcing tasks that aren’t revenue generating, allowing your money to work for you and bring in more money.
This is a pretty simple thing, so I’m not going to be too detailed here. You just need to understand that your money needs to work for you. Don’t be afraid of investing money back into the company. If you want growth, and more money, it’s what you have to do.
Sometimes you will lose money. It’s part of business. Not every activity is going to give you great return on investment, but you will never know which activities provide great ROI unless you try it out.
Tap Into Your Existing Clientele For Referrals
Mistake #5 – Ignoring Your Existing Client Base, Thinking They Can’t Get You Sales!
There’s multiple reasons this is a common mistake.
1.) Your existing client base consists of people that are proven buyers. Great opportunity for upselling additional services or brand new services.
2.) Your existing client base, as long as you did a good job, will usually be willing to refer you to other business friends or colleagues.
This doesn’t need to be complicated.
This doesn’t involve some complex process.
It doesn’t require advanced marketing or sales skills.
But still… for some reason this is an area overlooked by beginners and veterans alike. Why? I’m not really sure.
How do you get referrals? How do you upsell?
Simple as that.
“Hey John, I just finished up my queue of projects and looking to work with some additional businesses, do you have any friends or people you do business with that you could connect me to?”
9 out of 10 times they will think of someone and help you. They don’t need extra incentives. They don’t need an expensive bottle of wine, gift cards or commissions. You helped them, they will usually be happy to help you as well. The only catch is, you have to ask.
Hopefully outlining a few of the common mistakes people make can help you avoid making those same mistakes.
There’s a lot of things that will go wrong for you. Not everything is going to be perfect. You’re going to have a lot of learning experiences along the way, but hopefully this gets you a little bit ahead of the curve.
Have you made any of these mistakes? What was the biggest mistake you’ve made in your business?
Let me know in the comments below!