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Throughout my business journey, I made many mistakes that have taught me valuable lessons and helped me grow. I talk openly about it, so other small business owners and entrepreneurs can learn, avoid it or fix it and ultimately speed up the growth on their journey.
Today I am diving into three mistakes I made and I see small business owners in our community making every day, without even being aware about it.
Mistake #1: Not understanding my ideal customer
When I started my first business, I did what most small business owners do – just roughly guessed who my ideal customer was and moved on to the next thing. Quite frankly, I did not understand the idea behind knowing your ideal customer and thought it did not apply to my “small business.”
Because I rushed through this step, I wasted time on marketing efforts that attracted the wrong people to my business. I encountered a problem with the disconnect between my products and the market’s needs. My marketing efforts were ineffective and didn’t lead to sales. It wasn’t until I got tired of having the same conversations with potential customers who were price-shopping me and hadn’t seen value in my work. I realized I was trying to accommodate everyone’s expectations rather than focusing on what I specialize in and becoming the go-to person for that.
I understood I needed to get clear on who my ideal customer was and who wasn’t. This helped me be more deliberate in how I presented and priced my products. By focusing on the specific segment of the market that aligned with my offerings, I carved out a unique space and became the go-to person for that target audience. Marketing my products became easier when I stopped trying to appeal to everyone. I began to attract people who valued my work and were willing to pay for it.
If you are attracting the wrong customers or no customers to your business, chances are that you are still a little unsure who your target customer is. We will dive deeper into this topic in upcoming episodes. But for now, here are five questions you can ask yourself today to gain more clarity on who you are trying to attract to your business:
- Who do I enjoy working with the most?
- Who I don’t enjoy working with?
- What are the specific qualities of my product/service, and who would most likely appreciate them?
- Who has the budget to afford my product or service?
- Who is my competition targeting?
Mistake #2: Underestimating the importance of branding
I used to think that branding is just the visual part of your business, and when I say visual, I used to think it’s just like your logo and colours. It wasn’t until a spicy experience with a copycat that tried to replicate my entire business and undercut the prices that I understood what branding really is and how it can set you apart, even from copycats.
I like to think about branding, like the vibe around what you sell. From the visual presentation, from the vocabulary you use, the tone of your voice, even the music you choose for your social media content – it is what makes you, YOU. Having intentional branding around what you do is a critical aspect of building a business that stands out from the crowd.
Did you hear that expression that no one does it like you? That’s how you separate yourself from others – by intentionally choosing how you want to show up and present your brand online. It sets you apart in the minds of your customers. There is something that makes them drawn to you compared to others doing the same thing as you do.
If you haven’t created intentional branding for your business yet, fear not! I’ve got three actionable steps you can take today to get started:
- Create a mood board that captures the essence of your brand. Start pinning a collection of colours, typography, images, textures, and patterns that reflect your brand’s vibe. It’ll serve as your North Star when creating social media posts, graphics, emails, and website content and help you to create a cohesive image.
- Let’s talk about your brand voice. Imagine your brand as a person – are they formal or casual, humorous or serious? Define your brand’s unique voice and style of communication. Think about the type of language and vocabulary your ideal customers resonate with. Staying consistent with your brand voice will help you to connect with your target audience online.
- What makes you different? Dig deep and think about the unique qualities of your product or service. Maybe you pride yourself on using high-quality, eco-friendly ingredients, or perhaps you have a unique mission or origin story of how and why you started your brand that sparks intrigue. Whatever it is, embrace it and weave it into your branding with intention. No one else has your story.
Mistake #3: Poor time & schedule management
I feel like many small business owners gasp for time. I did too. The lessons I have learned through my poor time management in the early stages of my business have allowed me to scale my business AND helped me transform the quality of my life.
I would not be here today on the podcast or the blog if I would not learn how to manage my time without working 24/7.
There are three main time-management mistakes I did that helped me to learn and grow:
1. I was spending too much time on low-profit products
Whether you sell digital or physical products, everything requires your time, including market research, marketing, and customer communication. By focusing too much time on low-profit products and non-revenue-generating activities, I found myself working hard without seeing the financial rewards. The time I was pouring in didn’t equal the profits I should earn.
If you are feeling time-stretched, chances are you are making the same mistake. Start paying attention to how much time you spend on which ones of your current offerings and try to divert more of your time towards offerings or products with higher profits. We know where time & energy goes; results flow, right? If you want to sell higher-profit products, you’ll need to start pouring more of your focus that way.
2. I was trying to save money by doing everything myself for way too long.
While it’s natural and essential to be budget-conscious when starting a business, we will run out of time sooner or later. We only have 24 hours a day and can’t figure out and do everything ourselves forever if we want our business to grow.
Investing in help, whether it’s information, resources, professional equipment, or outsourcing specific tasks for your business, can help you to get results faster and get your time back. You don’t have to do or figure out everything alone. If you are stuck working long hours in your business, without moving forward, it’s probably a sign that you are ready to invest to earn time where you lack efficiency.
3. Did not understand the difference between being efficient vs. being effective
Most small business owners are stuck in an efficient mindset, and I was for a long time too. This mindset keeps you busy and helps you to get a lot of stuff done, but it also makes you feel exhausted and overwhelmed from your never-ending to-do list and doesn’t lead to progress in a business.
When we are just trying to be efficient, we are working harder, filling our days with day-to-day and week-to-week business procedures, like replying to emails, posting on social media, replying to your customers, clients, updating your website, etc.
But being effective means prioritizing tasks that move your business forward.
If you feel stuck without seeing progress in your business, you might also be unknowingly making this mistake. The point is to prioritize working on tasks that move the needle in your business and help you to move from the stage you are into the stage you want to be.
If you’d like to learn more, follow along on Instagram at @smallbizbabescommunity for daily business advice & empowerement.