One thing entrepreneurs need to understand is that growing anything takes time. Unless you buy those dried sponge animals that expand in a tub of water…no, even those take longer than you’d expect to increase in size and resemble an animal. Many times, I’m still disappointed that the promised giraffe looks more like, well, a long piece of sponge.
I attended a couple of sessions at Digital Atlanta this week, and the idea that resonates is that building brand awareness and engaging an audience through social media simply takes time. Sure, many organizations and individuals exist to offer solutions for earning return on investment through social media, but as far as I have seen, the traditions of starting a business from a vision and following through on solidly stated and attainable goals is the best way. That is not to say brands with some capital can’t make a difference with proper investments. Insightpool looks like a wise idea to consolidate many hours of analysis into a streamlined process. I understand how targeting the Twitter followers of related activities and even competitors can help a business bring awareness to its target market.
Marketing itself is probably the one expense small businesses and start-ups think they need to or can cut. I value well the do-it-yourself nature and entrepreneurial attitude of hard-working individuals, but I’ve also learned many things the hard way in life. That route takes time too. Learning from mistakes seen with 20/20 vision in the rear view mirror means extra mileage on the vehicle itself. As such, I recommend saving not only money for rent and labor costs but also for marketing. How much will depend on how competitive your market is and how fast you want your business to grow. The businesses that fail within the first year or two often fail because they were unwilling to properly budget for marketing activity. Word of mouth is a powerful tool, but the truth is that only a small fraction of social media connections see posts and because engagement is key, realistic goals must be set.
My solution to the destitute families struggling through their private hell realities like on “Kitchen Nightmares” is to start from the heart, with a good education on the business you’re getting into and a marketing plan. When you go into business for yourself, ask yourself if your vision involves something more than simply selling a product. Regardless of who your target market is, every potential consumer of a service or a product will want to know what’s in it for him or her. That is where marketing, public relations and old-fashioned honesty comes into play. What are you adding to your community?
I’m building a business of helping others build businesses. I’m hoping to earn my way through my second degree this way, but I’m certainly not out to trick anyone. I was fairly surprised to learn about my Klout, a platform attempting to categorize and measure influence on the Internet, score. I hover in the high 50s and occasionally cross into the 60s on a 100-point scale, where those with the most “influence” maintain scores above 65.
Just remember that when you start out to learn to play an instrument you shouldn’t be writing your tour rider, and when you begin developing the main character for your novel you needn’t think about how to spend your royalties. Take your vision, your purpose for building a freelance business, and make sure you let others know why you love what you do. Eventually, you can build up to how you can help them, and in not too much time (hopefully) people will choose to pay for your product or service. That’s my advice. Anyone who wants to know more about how I can help build a brand and tackle the time it takes to grow a presence and make others aware of your brand can contact me at Ellen [@] EllenEldridge.com.