I was invited for an Entrepreneurship workshop in Bangalore this week.
I was asked to conduct a one day seminar and workshop as part of a corporate training for a group of young entrepreneurs who were starting their own business across industries, cities and few even across countries.
They had quite a few common questions, which even I had when I started my Digital agency venture in 2010.
Since there are a lot of entrepreneurs following my blog list, I thought of sharing these insights (this was just a one day session) with all of you and at the same time, learn from all of your experiences through your comments in this blog post here: Their common queries were:
- How do I get started
- How do I manage my business since I have a technical background and no idea about management
- How do I decide where to buy or rent my office and how much to spend
- What investment do I need to keep aside for Social media marketing and digital marketing
- How to use digital marketing and social media to help my business venture
1. How do I get started?
Well, the right time for anything in Life is “NOW”. There really is no tomorrow in the real-world. Once you have made up your mind, planned well and thought about the consequences of starting a business venture, about how it affects you and your loved ones, there is really no point in wasting it by over-thinking.
So the first rule of business you need to accept when you start is:
“Accept that whatever happens from now on, irrespective of how, when, where, it will always be your responsibility. No one owes you anything. You owe it to yourself.”
Having said that, the first step (especially for those of us who did not have funding or support to start a business is) get your first CUSTOMER and then focus on the other things.
The moment you have a customer with you, your approach towards everything changes. Your zest, peppiness, impact will be simply fantastico. The energy will be boundless. The first sale you make, the timing of that sale will define your journey (within).
So to get started, focus on ‘getting your first customer‘.
2. How do I manage my business since I have a technical background and no idea about management?
Well, since you have a technical background, the most probable assumption is that you would have a product with you in your mind ‘to sell’. Never beat yourself up working for the perfect product. There is really no such thing.
Rather, create a product that your prospects and customers can CUSTOMIZE and PERSONALIZE, which will give them flexibility, ease of use, comfort to decide on the service or product and for you to ensure that your product is on its path to perfection, eventually.
The biggest mistake many entrepreneurs make most of the time is spending too much time on ‘making or creating the perfect product’. This would eat up too much time, money and resource. None of it which an entrepreneur has when they start. Keyword here is “IMPACT through Customization”
3. How do I decide where to buy or rent my office and how much to spend?
Let’s say you have completed step 1 (Got your first customer) and step 2 (are geared up with a product that your prospects can personalize) the next step should preferably be, ensuring your talent pool, i.e. your colleagues, peers and team member(s) are clear on what and how things are to be done. If you have lots of money to spare then go for a swanky office with a fantastic set-up. That would help for sure to bring prospects to your office.
But the fact remains, unless you have a product that addresses their pain areas and a team that can deliver, none of this will matter. So, rather than investing huge sums as a start-up (unless you have massive funding) focus on your team and coach them to blend and work with technical teams and management team members.
Today we are living in a digital world. As a start-up you won’t be billing (very high operational costs) your customers like a company that has been around for decades for sure, so if you explain this to your customers and if they are convinced that your product and or services coupled with your exceptional team can help their business achieve their goals, ‘the right client’, please mark my words here, the right client, will not bother about a swanky office. Technology lets your team telecommute, work from anywhere, especially if you have clients across countries. This technology will help you use the right set of tools and deliver across time-zones too as per commitment and deadlines.
4. What investment do I need to keep aside for Social media marketing and digital marketing?
There is no denying that social media and digital marketing play a vital role in the field of business today. For eg, as a business, my company Techdivine Creative Services got our first six clients (four of them were international clients) through social media only. Digital marketing helped me as a start-up in a great way to establish a brand name and sign-up wonderful clients across countries who clearly understood what they could expect from us and what we could deliver as a team for the coming years.
There is no rule as such for “the right amount to budget” but on an average, based on my experience, I would say, budgeting at least 10-15% of your total Sales target as a start-up towards digital marketing and social media investment would be a wonderful way to start. Which also means, even as a start-up you need to have a Business GOAL in mind of what to achieve as an organization in terms of sales and revenue.
5. How to use digital marketing and social media to help my business venture?
It’s very simple. Social media and digital marketing is not about posting a facebook message, or sharing a video or a tweet and just tagging people across. If that was the case, kids and teenagers would be doing it for a living.
There needs to be a clear sense of understanding about marketing, branding, analytics, data / metrics, consumer research analysis, product life cycle, SEO, content-marketing, online advertising, tech-marketing integration etc to be able to use social media and digital marketing to “GET REAL ROI”. Or you will end up as one among the million brands existing online but without real ROI. Which as a start-up can be extremely expensive and a waste!
As a brand marketing for reach, branding etc is fine, but to sustain as a business, revenue is a must.
So ensure to do the following:
- Have a team or an agency, specialized in digital marketing and social media take care of these services for you. You can budget based on the idea shared above in point number 4.
- Be sincere while having expectations from your hired or specialized team. For eg. If you are investing millions in traditional media and investing less than half of it in digital medium, you have already made a decision about your marketing strategy. There is no point in expecting great results out of such a strategy.
- Also, if you don’t want to hire specialized services or an external agency to do this then don’t. But ensure you don’t negotiate to pay 1/10th of your traditional marketing budget to your agency and expect thrice the results. Remember, you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
- In case you have an external team, ensure you understand the various aspects that I have shared above. Or you will end up just sharing content and links and get no results.
- Learn about social media marketing, attend workshops on digital marketing that will help you grow as a brand and business. Remember, the learning curve never ends.
- Be sincere when you use social media and digital marketing.
- Create content that your prospects will find to be a real value-add. Keep sharing over a period of time. Good things take time!
- Use blogs as a powerful medium to help prospects reach and engage with you.
- Use social networking sites based on your target audience presence. Social media is not about apps, websites, hits or likes. It’s about people. People buy from people they trust. Humanize your brand.
- Use power tools across platforms, use their premium versions if you are using these as a brand.
- Invest, constantly measure metrics, keep improvising and keep implementing better ways based on results that you can see.
- Create a simple and clear Landing page and ensure your CTA i.e. Call to Action is very precise and easy for your prospect / customer to understand.
- Focus on redirecting your customers to your landing page so that they get easy way to enquire about your services.
- Be responsive. Immediately respond to queries on social media. Delay of over 8 business hours in social media to respond is equivalent to a week’s time in the real world.
- Have a clear back up plan of once your customer enquires, what can you offer, what level of customization’s will you offer, how do you design your proposal and showcase your skills, value of your services and at the same time ensure your prospects who have taken their time out to enquire with you to see real value in your costing / investment.
- Use digital marketing and social media to not only promote your services, but also share resourceful content from your readers and interesting news and articles from others from time to time.
- Whatever you do, be SINCERE!
Well, these are just few of the highlights (with case studies) that I discussed at the entrepreneurial workshop.
There is really so much more that goes into building a business. I am sure there are lot of entrepreneurs in my blog list.
Did you find my points valuable and resourceful? Which point can you relate to the most?
Do share your views, comments and feedback. As always, would love to hear from you.
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