Entrepreneurship is for the ambitious, aspiring, and renegades among us. When you start a business, you take a leap of faith, you start walking into the unknown, and you’ll prepare to face whatever is going to be thrown your way.
But despite that positive thought, did you know that over 50% of small businesses fail past the 5-year mark of starting a business?
Those businesses fail more so due to the “entrepreneurs” and “founders” themselves and not so much for the lack of opportunities, capital, technology, venture capitalist funding, infrastructure, legal support, or for the lack of talent worldwide.
In short, your business mostly fails because of “you”.
You know that you’ve already been ushered into the new age of entrepreneurship and that the ever-changing technology is here to radically change the way you do business.
We’ve come a long way from barter trading and constricted local business models and we had eased into a free market economy .
You could start a business for less than $100 today, and that’s a fact. We’ve also established that the future implications of technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, machine learning, virtual reality, and augmented necessitate the push for the survival gene among all of us.
Starting a business is as easy as designing a website for the whole world to see.
Running your business to profit from it sustainably? Not as easy as it’s made out to be.
While you are out on the path of entrepreneurship, there could be a few non-critical things that you might be excessively focused on.
All of that energy, time, money, and effort you put into anything non-critical, unimportant, or absolutely ridiculous could cost you opportunities. Money spent on something that’s no so important could better be spent elsewhere.
Time wasted on anything that doesn’t matter for your business is time better used up for something else.
Here are a few tips for entrepreneurs who could be wasting time, effort, money, and other resources on things which you shouldn’t ever do:
Website Design: Let professionals handle it
Given that it’s been more than a decade since the Internet has been around, a Clutch 2018 Small Business Survey reveals that more than 36% of businesses still don’t have a website.
We are in the business of web and app design along with strategy & marketing and it’s almost embarrassing for us to write this.
This is one end of the spectrum.
Then, there are all those websites that businesses do have. More than 74% of businesses in the United States do have websites.
Guess what? More than 80% of all those existing websites suck. As we explained before, your website is bare bones, cold, and uninviting. Your website could be making people think too hard and leaving them clueless as to what your business is all about.
As Steve Krug — web usability consultant and author of the popular book Don’t Make Me Think — puts it:
“You are making your potential customers work think harder. It’s hurting your business. “
Don’t get us wrong. You might have a beautiful website. But the prettiest of the websites, all by themselves, won’t make money.
The issue: You don’t have a website. Or you end up building websites that won’t work for your business.
Validate ideas before going full steam
Ideas mean nothing if they can’t pull in a single dollar from your prospective customers.
You could be a home-based entrepreneur or a large enterprise, but you’ll fall flat on your face if you don’t validate your ideas.
Validating ideas — in the age of instant, flexible, and controllable advertising platforms such as Google and Facebook — doesn’t even involve market research, focus groups, and mystery shoppers.
To validate an idea, all you need is to put it out there for the market to tell you if it’s demand or not.
Create a simple landing page or a one-page website, launch a Google or Facebook campaign with anywhere from $50 to $100 to know if there’s demand for your products or services (even before you go full steam ahead to launch them).
It’s called “pre-launch marketing strategy” and it works like a charm.
The issue: Falling in love with your own idea. Jumping off a cliff with product and service ideas without getting a feel for market demand.
The solution: Validate ideas with a simple and straightforward paid ads campaign using Google or Facebook by sending people to a landing page where you make an offer.
Branding is overrated when you are just starting out
You need a great logo. A catchy name will certainly help. Corporate branding helps make you come across as you mean “business”. Developing the marketing materials based off of all of this is a no-brainer.
This doesn’t justify spending thousands of dollars or years or both getting it all right.
There are business owners who don’t even start their businesses until their logo, stationery kits, and corporate branding are ready.
The near-perfect-logo-signed-off-by-God-himself with the rest of the branding paraphernalia (brand kits and design handbooks included) are a tall order for a business that’s just starting out.
You need a logo and marketing materials, but it’s not justifiable when you spend 2.5 years developing those. Fancy logos and spending thousands of dollars on branding (even before you start out) is an overkill.
To succeed, you need the right brand strategy. Start your branding efforts as you start your business.
However, Understand that branding is a continuous, ongoing, collaborative, and iterative effort.
On top of branding best practices, it’s for you to be original which is to have a voice, stand up for what you represent, have a Unique selling Proposition (USP), and not to just do what your competition does.
The issue: Spending too long (or too much money) for branding.
Solution: Instead, focus time and resources on getting those first few clients. Everything else can be work in progress and a continuous and involved process.
Old tactics are expensive (& you don’t know If they work)
Rolling out ads in newspapers, magazines, and during prime spots on radio or television has its place. The effectiveness of that kind of advertising is quickly dying faster than it takes for you to read this paragraph.
Seth Godin — author of several popular books such as Tribes and Purple Cow once said:
“You run $100 in tv ads, you made $110 in profit. And this was true for 35 years. Mad Men was not about good ads, it turns out if you just ran a lot of ads — of any kind — they made more money than they cost. And just in the last few years, it all fell apart … the underpinning of our entire economy went away.”
You now need the modern day marketing and advertising strategies to help bear you fruit. Your business won’t be able to afford to ultra expensive traditional marketing strategies.
As such, you’d need a healthy and contemporary marketing strategy that includes content marketing, paid advertising, online sales funnels, and marketing automation.
The Issue: Traditional advertising is expensive (and might not even be the right fit for your business)
Solution: Aim to cut down on traditional advertising or marketing spend and make an impact with contemporary marketing strategies such as digital marketing, online paid advertising, and marketing automation.
Marketing: use what works (not this or that)
Contemporary marketing is much like a super-powered V12 engine. All those cylinders have to fire for the engine to work.
You can’t do marketing with just one cylinder firing away all the time.
Deploy your content marketing efforts (Content marketing and paid advertising), get the data (analytics), and then make decisions as to what works and how well each of the digital marketing channels bring in the results.
Instead of getting fixated on any one kind of marketing strategy (such as SEO or paid ads) at the exclusion of another, do everything that your resources allow you to do and then make decisions as to which marketing channel you should be focusing on.
To get everything to work for you properly, you’d find that it’s often a mix of various web properties, marketing strategies, and other elements working together. At the outset, you’d need:
- A fantastic website designed with purpose (to get you leads and sales). Depending on the kind of business you run, you might need a mobile app too
- Websites hosted on a hassle-free, fast, and reliable web hosting platform.
- Lead generation elements built on your website (to get you leads, for sales, or for potential clients to reach out to you)
- Well-optimized website architecture suitable for optimizing for search (SEO)mixed with strategically created content that helps you to educate, teach, inspire, and to invoke trust amongst your visitors.
- Bilateral social bridges connecting your website (and all the content you produce) with social media networks and vice versa.
- A semi-automated way to grow your email list (because the shelf-life of a social media update is less than an hour on average, people often forget your domain name, and because email marketing fetches you with a whopping 4300% ROI).
- A healthy mix of marketing channels — organic content marketing best practices, digital paid advertising (along with traditional advertising, if your business needs it), and marketing tools to make it all happen.
The Issue: Entrepreneurs and business owners getting fixated with a single marketing strategy: such as using only SEO or paid advertising exclusively.
Solution: Start with what you need to (including content marketing, social media, email marketing, and paid ads) and narrow down on channels that bring you results based on data acquired.