Tag Archives: market

Where Do I Start?

“I really want to have a business, but I’m not sure how to start.” That’s the most common phrase I hear from women who are considering a home business. It’s a phrase loaded with confusion, overwhelm and paralysis. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Starting a business is actually a simple, 6-step process that anyone can follow:

1. Convince your mind that you can do it. That you’re gonna be a great business owner. That even though your brain says otherwise, you will be able to find the time and you can succeed at this. Because believe me, the minute you tell your brain that you’re serious about making a big change in your life, it will fight back and try to convince you not to do it. It will try to tell you that it’s better to stay in the comfortable little zone you’re in right now. To beat your brain at its own game, here’s what you need to do: write down all the objections your mind is giving you. Get them out of your mind and onto paper. Then write a counter-argument for each objection. For example, if you mind is telling you, “I can’t do this because I don’t have time,” write that down. Then counter that by also writing, “I don’t have muchtime, but I can find a little bit each day to work on my business.” 

2. Evaluate your idea. You want to find out if your idea for a business will work before you invest time, energy and money into it. This means doing some research.  Conduct surveys with your social media followers. Type a relevant hashtag into Instagram and see how many times it’s being used. Join Facebook groups in your niche and see what problems people are talking about. Will your product or service solve that problem? Check out Udemy.com and see if people are teaching courses about the problem you hope to solve, and how popular those courses are. Visit farmer’s markets or swap meets and give out samples of your product. All of these things will help you know if the market actually wants and needs what you plan to sell.  

Need a little help with your market research? Click here to get a sample survey I made for you on surveymonkey.com using their Product Testing Template. SurveyMonkey.com let’s you make surveys of up to 10 questions for free, and will even post it to your Facebook account for you! 

3. Niche down. Usually people either have a bunch of good ideas and they want to do them all, or they have sort of a vague idea for a business and need to get more specific. Either way, here’s what I want you to do: doodle every word or idea associated with your main business idea on a blank sheet of paper. Then group those into themes. For example, let’s say you’re a teacher. You plan to sell lesson plans of some kind. But if you just put yourself out there selling “online lesson plans for teachers” your business will die a quick death! You will be totally drowned out in the noise of the internet because there is nothing that sets you apart. And it’s pretty unclear who you’re serving. So you do this brainstorming activity, and you write down all the grades you’ve ever taught, and all the subjects. You jot down your favorite themes that you use each school year, words that remind you of some of the unique ways that you teach, things that other teachers ask you for help with, or that students really respond to. As you’re writing all this down, you see a theme emerge around reading. You’ve had a lot of experience teaching kids to read. And you start to think about the unique way that you have handled reluctant readers to motivate them to get more reading done and to enjoy it and get better at it. So you decide that lesson plans to motivate reluctant readers will be your business. Then, because you’re smart, you narrow it down even further and focus on reluctant male readers in 2nd– 4th grade. Now you have a niche!

4. Once you have your niche, you can identify your core customer and how you will serve her. Sticking with our example, there is more than one group of people looking to motivate reluctant male readers in 2nd– 4th grade to read. After some thought, you decide that you’re going to market these lesson plans to homeschooling parents. Not that others aren’t welcome to buy and use your stuff, but you’re going to focus on marketing to homeschooling parents. It’s this focus that allows you to move past the overwhelm you’re feeling and take action. It’s overwhelming to feel like you’re trying to serve a huge audience. It’s like being a waitress with way too many tables. You’re trying to please everyone and so you end up pleasing no one.

5. Once you have the basics of who you will be serving and how figured out, get your product or service ready to go. Find your suppliers, make your goods, create your courses, get your horse-boarding stalls cleaned out!

6. Finally, figure out where your core customer is hanging out and how you can get your message in front of her so she can buy from you. There’s no one size fits all answer here. The best way for you to connect with your customers might be a website, an Etsy store, through social media, with a booth at a farmer’s market or flea market, on craigslist or a neighborhood Facebook page, or somewhere else. Take some time to figure out where your core customer is hanging out. Are there conferences or pop-up shops where you could get a booth or teach a class? Are there influential bloggers in your niche who would give your product a review or even sell it as an affiliate? Be creative!

Once you’ve followed these six steps, you will have a functioning business!! Yes, it takes work and time, but if you follow this basic formula you can start a business, and I’m rooting for you all the way!

Love ya,

Lecia

Marketing Revisited…

Marketing in the current environment needs to focus on what is happening in the moment—old traditional marketing is stale —you have to be talking where people are listening, although social media is not a place for “selling” it is a place to talk to people about what you are offering and when and how—many people now ask their Facebook friends for thoughts on where to eat, where to vacation and what brand of something to buy—anyone with a smart phone is immediately dialed in to their personal network of friends.

A website is essential for your business to operate in this economy and you better have a good site, one that has the ability to interact with your target audience.  Video of real people using your product or service is a great, authentic way to market yourself.  Video of customer testimonials is also a worthy marketing tool as are good facebook posts about your company or positive tweets.

The best way to recruit customers is with other customers.

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks says, “The rules of engagement in traditional marketing are over.  Whether you are creating a brand, building a brand, or running a big one, you’d better understand social media, because there is a seismic shift in how people are gaining access to information and, as a result how they are behaving.”     http://www.amazon.com/Howard-Schultz/e/B000APBK72

No longer can we disseminate information down to the customer or consumer, we now have to approach them from an equal platform sharing information with them and making them feel included.  People naturally want to be ‘in relationship’; they want to be a part of something…social media allows an opportunity for this to happen. It allows a company to create a collection of enthusiasts for their product or service by conducting an ongoing relationship with them.

One concern with social media is allowing employees of your company to interact about your company on social media outlets—the fear here is about controlling ‘message’ and not knowing what an employee may or may not say about company culture or company practices.  Here’s an important point:  if you are running your company the way it should be run and treating customers and employees the way that they should be treated then you have nothing to fear.  If your employees are happy and you have your pulse on what is happening in your business then you won’t get any surprises.  The companies and people that fear social media as a way to market are the ones with something to hide.  I’m not saying that you will never get an unexpected derogatory post, however if you are doing it right the sporadic unfavorable post will be easy to resolve.

Culture is the next big playing field and Jeff Bezos (http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/chapter-and-verse/2012/1119/Amazon-s-Jeff-Bezos-as-Businessperson-of-the-Year-Can-the-book-world-learn-from-him) understands this which is one of the reasons he paid so much money to purchase Zappos (http://mashable.com/2009/07/22/amazon-bought-zappos/ ).  Zappos has created an incredible culture both within the company and with its customers.  You know that you have an incredible customer experience when people will pay you more money for a product or service that someone else is selling for less.  This was the case with Zappos and Amazon, Zappos was outselling Amazon in some non-footwear categories that Amazon was priced less in.  This kind of consumer behavior is indicative of a company that creates an incredible customer experience and with all the ‘noise’ and competition that is out there in the marketplace today only companies that are creating a culture that results in this kind of experience will be winning.  Zappos is that kind of company and Jeff Bezos being the visionary that he is recognized that and was willing to pay a high price to have it.

A perfect blend is to use traditional media and social media to keep the conversation going with potential and existing customers and clients.  A smart use of marketing dollars is to create ads in traditional media that require some jump to social media to deliver the complete message.