What I'm about to share with you now might just save you from a lot of frustration trying to find that business success "silver bullet." This is the stuff I wish I knew before I started my business.
There Are Two Sides to Every Business
One of the most important distinctions that you can learn when it comes to running a business is that there are two sides to your business. There is the part of your business where you're fulfilling your promise to customers (performing a service or delivering a product), and the part of the business where you're bringing in the money or systemizing processes.
Take software, for example: without programming, you have no product. However, without creating sales systems, chances are you won't have anyone lined up to buy the software when it's ready.
In the early days of my business, I spent a lot time on activities that did not generate value. I worked on creating content for my would-be products, but I wasn't creating the marketing machine that would bring clients into my world.
While I believe that it is crucial to be able to deliver on your promises and to be excellent at your craft, that's the side of business most people have covered. You know how to do the work inside your business; that's why you started this business in the first place.
On the other hand, you probably don't have a lot of experience in sales or marketing, which are both crucial to running a successful and profitable business.
Without Marketing, You Don’t Have a Business
If you worked with one or two people and did an excellent job you might be able to grow your business slowly through word of mouth and referrals. But chances are you don’t want to grow your business slowly.
Once I figured out that my weak point was getting someone interested enough to buy something through my website, I began learning more about marketing.
Marketing—especially learning sales and direct marketing (as opposed to putting an ad on a billboard to direct people to a generic brand)—can mean the difference between becoming another failure statistic or a success.
How to Streamline Your Business Even if You’re a Solopreneur
Even if you're just starting out and can't afford to hire anyone else to help you run your business, you can benefit from writing down all the things you do in your business.
- Write down all the tasks you perform right now and which ones generate revenue. Eventually, you’ll be able to hire some of the non-revenue generating things out, but for now you’ll be able to see how much you do on a daily basis and how you can streamline things.
- Write down 20 things you could do to bring in new business, clients, and customers. Include things that you’ve done in the past that worked well, because if it worked before you’ll want to repeat it.
- Write down all the things you think you should be doing but aren't doing yet. This list might include things like finding a bookkeeper, talking to an attorney, writing contracts, getting a new website designer, or picking up a marketing book, etc.
One thing to keep in mind is that not all activities directly bring you money, and you need to deliver on your products or services. But chances are that making sales and creating marketing materials are going to be the most leveraged and important activities for you to focus on as you get your new business underway.
Nathalie Lussier got her bachelor’s degree in software engineering then promptly turned down a "stable" job on Wall Street to start her own online business. She's an online business triple threat who teaches people how to get "techy" with their business as a digital consultant. She is a member of The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentoring, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.