When people ask me, "What's the secret?" to running and growing a business, I usually chuckle because there isn't a big secret that all successful entrepreneurs are holding on to and having secret meetings about. Really, there isn't.
But ready, I am going to share the big secret I do know works with you, right now, totally for free.
Have a great product, great customer service and work your butt off for years and years and years and years and years...
Mix in a few mistakes and a dash of dumb luck and you just might have some success. Unfortunately, a lot people will fail as entrepreneurs. That's the cold, hard truth of running a business.
I think one of the biggest mistakes young entrepreneurs make is focusing way too much on the digital presentation of their product instead of their actual product. They jump from having an idea or product one day to selling that idea or product the next day, instead of taking time to focus on perfecting that idea or product so that it sells better in the first place.
I like to call them "instant businesses". It's the photographer that has never taken a good photo, or the calligrapher who just bought their pen last week and took a 30 minute online class. The examples are endless and I am sure you see them all of your newsfeed. Honestly, I totally get it. Starting new things is very exciting! We get all pumped up with an idea, we put on some T-Swizzle, click around on a website creator for 30 minutes and think to ourselves, "Okay there are 7 billion people in the world. If only 1/2 a percent of the entire population buys my $10 product I will make $350,000,000. Wow! That's going to be so easy! I am going to be so rich and buy a boat, or pet Elephant! I HAVE MADE IT!"
Let's pump the brakes for one hot second though. While that logic is air tight (😂), I don't think it's going to be as easy as you think! I get that it's easy to think about the theory behind who is going to buy your stuff and what you are going to make, but again, it's just not that simple.
Instead of letting excitement be the only thing that drives you, which will fade by the way, let's focus on part of that secret to success I shared earlier.
Your actual product or service.
Imagine if you just focused on your product or service all next week, or month, and not on how it looked on Instagram. Would you make changes to how you do something or find a better way to do it? Would it open up your mind to how it fits, looks, smells, etc? Would you realize that there is something you say or do with a client that makes them uncomfortable? Just imagine how much you would grow as a business owner if all next week you called up old clients and asked them how you could improve. You think that would help more than posting 30 Instagrams about how "busy" you are? I'd bet my pet elephant that it would.
Now, I know that I am always talking about how important social media and interaction is today to grow a business, but it's not the most important thing. That would be the actual thing you are trying to sell, your goods or services. Focus on that, have a little patience, and you will see your business grow.
For the past few months, Brooke and I have been having some work done in our kitchen. We had a wall removed, a dishwasher installed, a new island put in, some electric work fixed and a new backsplash installed.
We hired Josh Strayer, owner and operator of Home Improvement Services. The work he did on our house was incredible. HIRE HIM. He was so easy to work with and very detail oriented. He kept our house clean while working, kept us in the loop and never made us feel dumb when we didn't understand what in the world he was talking about.
Now if you look at Josh's social media "presence" it is basically non-existent, which is not good. I know he is working on a website to improve that presence, which is good! But even with a lacking social media presence, Josh is awesome because his product is fantastic! So, every time someone comes into our house and comments on our kitchen, Brooke and I are quick to sing his praise, and that's not because of his social media, but because of his product!
Seriously, if you live in the Lancaster area, hire Josh! He's fantastic!
Now, let's say Josh had a great blog and social presence but did a crappy job on our house. I would never recommend him and his business. Your social "prestige" will only take you so far. If you have a bad product people will start talking about it.. and at that point, the jig is up!
There are far too many entrepreneurs or wannabe-entrepreneurs out there who are so focused on the presentation of what they are doing without having the actual skill, service background or quality product to back it up.
Never stop focusing on your product and service. It will do so much more than having a million followers ever will. Once you have a great product, then yes, start talking about it and focus on growing that following. But, growing a following with out a great product is like building a house on a crappy foundation. It's going to fall apart at some point.
My challenge to you is this: to spend all next week focusing on your product, the very thing it is you sell. Call up some past clients, e-mail several customers, run a survey online or read your reviews and comments. Find out where you can improve and spend next week improving. If you are just getting started, then spend next week and the next 100 weeks after that, perfecting your craft.
I have been selling t-shirts for 10 years and just last week I ordered a handful of new samples of tees, because I wanted to see if they were softer, more comfortable or would work for what we do. I always want the walk in love. product to improve because that is IT -- the "BIG" secret to growing your business.
Brooke will be posting a complete before and after on her blog when she gets around to it, so I will just use two Instagrams to show the great work Josh did!