Fresh off of yesterday’s blog about things not being as hard out here as people say, I wanted to talk about a few of the mistakes I see people make when starting out their business. Yesterday’s post was all about attacking the conventional mindset that hampers people. The reason why I just don’t subscribe to the thinking that “it’s hard out here”, is because there are just way too many opportunities to learn skills and generate money. What holds people back from exploring them is their mindset.
Now, there are a lot of people that are now trying their hand at building their own business and are struggling and are also saying that it’s hard out here. Now, everything we go through, there is going to be a struggle. I am not saying that the transition to self-employment, learning the skills or getting clients is easy. I am simply stating that it’s easier than ever to learn these skills and start these businesses. So let’s get into the things you should avoid when starting your business.
There are about 8 key mistakes that people are making, that are seriously contributing to their business struggling out the gates. Those 8 things are:
- Not doing free work
- Not having a portfolio
- Not working on your SEO or Ad skills
- Not building an engaged audience
- Not using freelance platforms
- Not having a website
- Not providing upfront value
- Relying only on cold calling
Not Doing Free Work
I’m gonna speak very plainly about the Trinidad market. It’s like Trini’s are allergic to doing any sort of free work when getting started. They want to come out the gates and begin monetizing and while it’s absurd, the market hits them slap in the face and simply doesn’t patronize their business at the prices they want.
When I started Droid Island, I did a ton of blogs before I even made a penny. When I got my first sponsorship deal at Huawei, I actually did a few videos on the house for them before I sought the sponsorship and made money. Doing free work, in the beginning, gets you experience and lays the groundwork for you getting paid.
Not Having a Portfolio
Not doing free work leads directly to my next observation of not having a portfolio of work to show potential clients and leverage it to get the money you want. How on earth in 2019 do you expect to make a penny without a body of work (somebody riddle me this)? The first thing anybody does when looking to work with you is Google your business, look for your website and search to determine if you can do the job they would like to hire you for.
If you cannot show your work and show us that you can help us get the results you are claiming, then it makes it much harder for us to spend a dollar with you. Nobody feels comfortable giving money to people who we cannot find a website for or don’t have a portfolio of work at the ready when requested. We are going into 2020 and some of you are still asking if you need a Website…if you are asking that question at this point, chances are your business is probably not doing well or as well as it could be doing.
Not Working on Your SEO or Ad Skills
Well, you need a website to really work on your SEO skills. What people need to understand is that your website is your only employee that works 24/7, 365 and when set up right, goes out and gets you clients online. When people are Googling solutions to their problems, SEO is what is going to direct them to your page, once you have the solutions they are searching for.
Developing your digital marketing AD skills is also going to be key to driving traffic to your website through various means. Learning the basics of SEO and how to create ads view various platforms is a powerful combination to get your clients and also build your audience.
Not Building An Engaged Audience
Social media has definitely become more of a pay to play thing now that organic reach on a lot of the popular platforms is at an all-time low, but you can still build an engaged audience. Learning how to become savvy on social media and use the tools to communicate your message, your value and explain to customers their problems and the solutions you offer are paramount to any business’s success.
If you are struggling to figure out how to go about building an engaged audience, you can take a look at 2 of my favourite local people to watch, Cassia Marina and Jhalisa John. Both give great information on how to build engagement on social media amongst other things. One of the most important platforms to be on is Linkedin! That is where all of the decision-makers are for all of the companies and it is much easier to work from the top down, then trying to get a company’s attention through IG or FB.
All of the work I have done so far with companies has come from the connections I have made on Linkedin.
Not Using Freelance Platforms
I am going to champion using Freelance platforms much much more. The reason being is, you have platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, Indeed, Solidgigs, CloudPeeps, etc. There are so many global freelance platforms that will allow you to make money across the globe, right here in the Caribbean.
For those of you reading from Trinidad, go register with JMMB so that you can get a bank account that links with Paypal so that you can start making money across the globe. Building your name on the Freelance platforms allows you to participate in the global economy and you can start earning revenue that isn’t tied to the economies of just 1 country.
Not having a Website
I almost didn’t want to put this on the list because its like beating a dead horse at this point. You need a website! Websites can be set up for extremely low prices now, hell go hire someone on one of the freelance platforms to build you one and save some money or DIY it. You need a website, its how you are going to get more business and show people that you take yourself seriously enough and puts you ahead of the (sadly) much of the competition.
Not Providing Upfront Value
I believe this is really crippling many people. So many people don’t have a website, nor do they create content on their social media platforms to educate their consumers and show their knowledge. Providing value is a small win for consumers, it also establishes the trust that will then allow them to want to exchange money with you.
If you aren’t providing upfront value via a blog, a video, a podcast, an ebook, etc, you are simply going to compete on price with your competition. As long as you are competing on price, you have a very tough road ahead. FYI, your salesy ads are not CONTENT! Please do not think hiring a local entertainer to make people laugh is creating content or providing value, it’s not!
You are trying to throw money at a problem and while that ad might be good for a few chuckles and get a few people into your stores, it is a 1 trick pony. The minute your competition comes out and starts to educate us on your niche, we will automatically take more interest in your competitor. Valuable content trumps entertainment, every day of the week.
Relying Only On Cold Calling
Now, this is one thing I am not doing! We have all the tools needed to create a website, learn SEO, create content that solves problems and run ads to get that content in the right hands, all to generate warm leads and people interested in doing business with you.
If you are not doing any of the above things and you go out to cold call people and don’t have anything to direct people to on the call, you are going to get fed up with calling people because you will not be converting. This is just not a method you can rely on anymore, why do you ask?
Think about it, put your consumer hat on. When you want to find out ANYTHING, you take out your phone or laptop and Google your problem and figure out, who can fix your problems and who you are most comfortable with. Doing all of the above steps will put you at the end of someone’s Google search and that’s exactly where you want to be, instead of on the end of someone cold calling you trying to ram their unsolicited business down your throat.
So are you guys doing any of the things on this list? Yes, it might be difficult starting out to put all the systems in place and learning all the things you don’t know but I am here to remind you, you have access to all the information you need and the people you need to connect with at the click of a button.
If that isn’t a reassuring feeling then I don’t know what is. Any issues I have, I sit and check out tons of videos on Youtube or read a bunch of articles. I’ve bought a lot of books to aid me and now the next part of my journey is to take some online courses to learn a few new skills to help me continue to grow and provide the solutions for my audience.
So hopefully this article sheds some light on the mistakes to avoid when starting out and I hope you all continue to thrive in today’s digital age.