There are two times you find yourself getting started in business and struggling: 1) When you are struggling with what to do because you have too many ideas or, 2) you have started a business and have income, but feel like you cannot grow. There is a lot of advice on what to do in both of these situations. But, I have found that often the advice is overwhelming. So instead, I like to focus on the simple next action that can propel me (and you) forward.
Getting Started – Overwhelm of Information | Photo courtesy of Flickr/Creative Commons/CR Artist
Over the next few episodes I will address simple orderly steps you can do to start or grow. Simple things focused on the main problem you will have in business – getting the word out and getting known.
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Getting Started in Business – Start with a Web Presence
Every business needs a website. Some of you may have one, and you may even be paying some company a monthly fee. But for most of you, you either have no web presence or you might as well not have one because you have no content of value on your site.
Here I will outline some simple steps to start a website and start generating valuable web content for less than $100.
If You are Exploring Business Ideas, Start Here
1. Start with a Web Presence. If you are exploring ideas, this gets you moving. Remember, this step should cost you less than $100. Really. Do not go hire a developer or sign up to some service that does it for you with a monthly fee. Just start with a simple website. The way to do this is a self-hosted wordpress blog (even if you do not really want a blog, this format is perfect.)
The following link shows you how to do this!
How to Setup a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog
And since you likely do not have a domain name (such as dalecallahan.com) then I would suggest using your own name. The video above will tell you how to do this.
2. Start Writing Ideas. If you are exploring, start writing and posting about what you know and possibly about what you would like to do. Do not worry about how many people are reading it – just get thoughts formatted so others COULD read it. This forces you to think through your idea. For this, just start answering your questions.
Example – If you are thinking about doing something to help others with diabetic kids, start by listing out all the questions people ask you and then answering them. Simple.
3. Focus on Adding Value to Others. Keep answering the questions. Keep talking. Share with others. Again, you are not trying to make money now, you are trying to get ideas out of your head and onto paper. Then the next time someone asks you “how do you make sure your diabetic daughtier is eating right at school” you can point them to a blog post where you addressed this question.
4. Do Not be Afraid to Write About Other Ideas. If you are also considering a vintage dress shop, then write about those things also. It is your blog, do whatever you want.
5. Share Your Content. Here is where magic starts to happen. When you share your posts, you will get feedback. Those posts that are totally ignored might be duds, but something you write about will hit. So, either on Pinterest or Facebook, share your ideas.
If You Have a Business and Need to Grow – Start Here
If you already have a business with income and need to get more attention and grow, the following strategy will work for you.
1. Create or Modify Your Website. If you do not have a webpage, create one! How to Setup a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog.
If you already have a site such as www.joeslawncare.com and you have one of those paid for sites, then you could just add the site blog.joeslawncare.com. You can call the hosting company of your choice and they will talk you through it. For details, see How to Setup a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog.
2. Answer Your Customers Common Questions. Suppose you are a pest control company. Start writing content that answers your common customer questions. For example, I had a termite inspector at the house the other day and he took me to his truck and showed me a piece of interior molding that had termites. From the front of the molding, only a crack and some small holes were visible. But, from the back, it was destroyed. What a powerful photo this would be for a website where you tell your clients how to spot termites.
No matter what you do, answer every common customer question in so much detail they do not need you.
Yes, you read that right, in so much detail they do not need you. This might be scary, but instead of working on the hard sale, you are building trust. When a carpet cleaner writes posts telling me how to clean my own carpet, I might try it once, but soon I will be calling that person who educated me.
A great example of this kind of giving attitude and how it can help you grow your company can be found in Crush It!
Note some of the examples below might make you nervous because you might think you say too much. But fact is, you offer a great service. If they trust you to show them how, when they do call, they will call you.
- Carpet Cleaner – Develop website that teaches customers how to clean stains, deal with pets on carpet, and how to pick carpets that clean easily.
- Software Consultant – If you are often helping clients with software issues, pick those common questions and answer them. Also, review products your customers might like to have. Look for affiliate or partner relationships where you review the product and get a cut of any sale. (Make sure you REALLY believe in the product first.)
- Human Resources Consultant – You know most companies that hire you have no idea what to do. Teach them. Even show them how to do what you do. What steps must employers do as they hire people? What does new healthcare law means to them?
- Reseller of Appliance Parts – Here is an actual site I love. Repair Clinic. They provide videos to help you diagnose your household appliance issues.
- Manufacturer – Teach people how to use your products and common issues with your products.
Warning About Getting Started in Business with a Web Presence
Content before Beauty - Do not worry about the look of the site – just create content. For now, skip the headers, artwork, etc. Just start creating relevant content for your customers. Cleanup can come later. Just go for a clean enough look and make the content usable. Once you know customers like it, then start moving to a more polished site.
Use Equipment You Already Own – Do not think you need a better camera, recorder, etc to make this happen. Use what you have to create image, audio, video, or plain text. Getting sidetracked into waiting on better equipment is a mistake at multiple levels.
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