These days it can be really hard starting a business. Wait, who am I kidding, it’s always been hard. OK – these days, it is hard for different reasons. Back in the day, you’d enter the market with your brand new business, and perhaps there’d be a handful of competitors. You’d all know each other and there would be more than enough work for everyone. You focused on providing a solid product or service that could be relied on, repeat business was a given if you did a good job, you put flyers in mailboxes, and you had a 150 word ad in the weekly newspaper.
Fast track through the years, and suddenly we have buzzwords like content marketing, inbound marketing, added value, landing pages and social media ruling our businesses. Not only are we working on perfecting our product or service, we’re also giving away free value, we’re writing blogs, curating content constantly for social media. And to top it all off, our market has had an influx of newbies playing in our space. Business got a whole lot busier.
Take the fitness industry for example. Just five years ago, you would see perhaps 10 well-known gyms/studios in Hamilton. Now? There is a studio, centre, club, gym, facility every few hundred metres! They’re popping up all over the place in varying sizes, shapes, specialties and packages. We’ve got Personal Training Studios, Yoga Studios, Crossfit Gyms, Boxing Arenas, and the big chains like Les Mills, Jetts, Snap and City Fitness.
So how do we stand out when we’re new to the market, new to business and a little one-man (or woman) band? How do we make our mark, and be heard amongst all the noise? How do we compete with those big players in the industry, with massive marketing budgets, and nationwide known brands? Let me give you the lowdown…
1. Know your position in the market
First off, let’s get something straight. If you’re a one-man (or woman) band, are you actually in the business of competing with those big chains? If you’re a massage therapist who works from a home studio, do you even compare to the day spas with ten locations across the country? I’m going to go out on a limb and say no. At least not right now. Your capacity is limited to what you can provide since you are the only one working in your business, so accept that and use it to your advantage.
One of the things I love about the home studios is the intimacy and love that therapists often put into their space. It’s not your sterile, white walled room. When I go for an appointment, there aren’t ten other people waiting for their appointments alongside me.
Own the fact that you see one person at a time, and creating a comfortable, peaceful, beautiful environment.
2. Know your marketing budget – and spend it wisely
Mistake #1 I made in my first months of business. Spending over $1,000 on print advertising. Yea guys, I can hear your shock horror gasping from here. Inexperience little old me, used to working in a mega gym chain that has a mega marketing budget, that is spent on a multitude of channels, thought – yea let’s go with print! What I didn’t think about, was when my marketing money was gone – it was gone. And that money could have been invested in a whole lot of different places. Any number of the below:
- Facebook ads;
- Training and upskilling;
- Business mentoring or coaching;
- Website development; and
- Financial planning.
And many more. All these things would have been so much more useful to my business, than the ad in the paper. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great little momento to have, it was cool to have family members ring and say “Hey! Cool photo in the paper, awesome work!”, but actually it didn’t benefit my business in the way I needed to at that time.
But I don’t beat myself up about it, because we just don’t know what we don’t know! And when I started in business, I was naive and did not know a lot of things. Working in corporate is not the same as running your own business. What I do know now is that when you are a small business and you are starting out with limited funds, you do need to set some aside for marketing, but you need to be super wise about how that is spent. Which brings me to my next point.
3. Get help, get support and outsource
I can’t stress this enough. They say it takes a village to raise a child. Guess what, it takes a big group of people to build your business too. So now is the time to drop the “I will do it all on my own” mantra, unless you are complacent with it taking a lot longer, and potentially wasting a lot more money.
You need to create your support network, and these are the non-negotiables that I recommend:
- An accountant – if you can’t afford anyone else, please at least invest in an accountant;
- A business coach and/or mentor;
- A lawyer; and
- A bank manager.
You know the benefits of your accountant, your lawyer, and your bank manager right? These guys are key to business. And then there is your business coach and/or mentor. These guys are gold. And I’m not just saying this because I am one. I have used both in the past and present, and they just add a whole different perspective to your thinking. They’re there as your sounding board for you as a person, for your business as a whole, and the relationship between the two (because yes – you are seperate to your business!). I’ve used business mentors to work on specific areas of my business, from sales to financial planning. And I’ve used a business coach to help gain direction and clarity for my business. They’re the difference between you reaching your goals in 3 months time, and 12 months time. They’re there for accountability, for support and for guidance.
On the flipside to all these guys, I recommend you outsource! Those tasks that are mundane, that you’re not good at, or you just don’t have time for? They’re the ones you need to hand over to someone else. Things like:
- Administrative tasks;
- Marketing strategy; and
- Social media and content creation (blogs, videos etc).
When they’re not your area of expertise, why waste time you don’t have on them? Instead of you spending ten hours on a blog post, why not outsource it to someone who will get it done in one hour? If you find yourself forgetting to send appointment reminders, bring someone in to do that for you.
As soon as our clients outsource their marketing and event management to us, they feel an enormous sense of relief.
Because they know it will be done, and they just don’t have to think about it anymore. It’s about finding someone who understands your business, and handing over the reins to them. So you can focus on the work you love most. Working with your clients.
I could go on and on about each of these areas in more depth (and maybe just keep an eye on the blog – perhaps I will!), but you get it right? To truly stand out as a business, amongst all the other “amazing wellness professionals”, you need to get some solid support in place, have a marketing budget that you know how to use wisely, and know where it is you fit in your market.
Get in touch today about our upcoming packages and programmes that will ensure you start up phase rocks, with the best possible set up for success! email@example.com