Congrats on making the decision to turn your passion into a career. Whether you want to kick up the level from hobby to part-time/full-time work, the first and most important step is to make the decision to commit to start. Many business ideas never get off the ground because we spend too much time thinking about the perfect plan, and often get discouraged or forget to actually START taking any sort of action towards achieving our goal.
While having a framework is critical to building any successful and viable business, the plan doesn’t have to be ‘perfect’ for your to start. Please note there is a difference between tactical (the actions that you take, i.e. social media engagement, advertising in industry magazines, guerrilla marketing) and strategic (focusing on the vision, the brand: to be thought of as an industry leader, luxurious, green-friendly. Think Volvo = Safety, Cadillac = Luxury). This article will give you a snapshot and examples that cover both, helping to turn your hobby into a part-time or full-time profitable venture.
1. Be positive; ignore nay sayers
Nothing is more demoralizing than hearing all of the ‘reasons’ your idea will not work. But please remember, if there was a magic formula, everyone would be in business and profitable. Take advise with a grain of salt (this article included) and remember, why can’t YOU be he next ____ ? (fill in the blank)
2. Define your goals
Often times a major detractor and roadblock is an entrepreneurs/businessperson’s lack of tangible and measurable goals. Define what it is you want to reach. a 500 page views monthly, 5 sales a month, 50 new followers/leads quarterly? Write it down, define your goals, and see where your leads are coming from. Then and only then can you REALLY measure your marketing progress towards that goal.
3. Draft a plan
You do not end a degree in business to come up with a plan. Put pen to paper, jot down some ideas, and begin annotating a strategy. Who, what, when, where, why? Your Marketing plan (look up the 4 P’s of marketing) is part of the business plan. Your direct question deals with this part of the plan. Here you can specify specifics such as networking at local events, chamber of commerce meetings, industry showcases, allocate time to network offline as well as online (LinkedIn, Facebook). There’s a few podcasts that talk about network marketing. While it’s a different industry, the prospecting, selling, and building a market through passive or active marketing is the same. Search Ray Higdon, awesome network marketer.
4. Start/execute your plan
If you put off taking the first step until you have the ‘perfect’ plan, I am willing to bet argue that you will ‘miss the boat.’ Most successful businesses start as rough ideas and plans. Waiting until you have the ‘perfect’ plan in place can lead you to lose focus, passion, and TIME! While I suggest that you establish a plan, you can improve your plan as you go along and learn the ropes of said business.
Your plan can be structured as such:
i. Build traffic towards your site/business
ii. Capture leads by adding a sign-up option. If possible, find out how the prospective client heard about you and your company/product/service.
iii. Convert your leads into clients. Follow up with a phone call, text, email, etc.
iv. Retain your existing clients. Seek to understand their satisfaction level.
v. Increase Revenue/Client by analyzing what your customers want, how they want it, and see if you can provided added value through cross-selling/up-selling, bundling options.
vi. Increase referrals by asking them if they know anyone else that can benefit from your product/service. Then convert those referrals into leads and refer to subparagraph iii. above.
5. Measure your progression towards your goals
In order to ensure you are progressing towards your goals, you need to measure your status. This means setting and measuring those realistic goals, tracking data (how many followers you have, how many sales, how many inquiries or quotes, how effective are you at creating your product or service, how many repeat customers do you have, etc.) Measuring your metrics/stats is important as it can help you identify where your most successful activities are.
6. Invest In yourself
Do not sell yourself short, after all, this is your idea, your baby, your brain child. NO ONE knows better than you what your vision is. What you CAN do is invest in developing yourself to a level that allows you to have confidence in your abilities for the task at hand. Know your weakness(es) and work on them. If you love to create but hate to be a ‘salesperson’, invest in some public speaking, persuasive writing/speaking courses. Many are free online, and many affordable options exist in your local community centers and/or colleges. Attend seminars, participate in industry groups (LinkedIn, Chamber of Commerce), seek out a mentor.
7. Stay positive
Don’t get hung up on any challenges you may face and fail to overcome. Every challenge is an opportunity to learn, so cherish it, and make an effort to not make the same mistake twice. We started the list with Being positive, now I ask you to Stay positive and look at the benefits of each experience and challenge you may encounter on this journey.
8. Do the work!
Simple enough… Having the best goals, plan and knowledge does not a successful business make. You will have to put in the work (or get someone to do the work for you… of course you’re reimbursing this person somehow) and hours to ensure your brand is recognized.
Following these steps will quickly turn your freelance opportunity into a structured, duplicable part-time or full-time job. Once you find something that works, you can repeat and enhance it.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear any suggestions and comments you may have. Write a reply below or contact me through social media. You can always tweet me under the handle @ajros02 and use the hashtag #AskAj should you have any questions I may address.