Communication with prospective clients online is key. With the onset and ease of website templates, you won’t need to hire a web designer to set up your website for you. Likewise, starting a Social Media presence for your business is as simple as setting up a business page on Facebook and then linking it to other accounts you find to be beneficial for your type of business. Instagram is a great platform if you have merchandise or can snap photos of everyday life and events. Twitter is great if you are able to regularly post in real time. But be careful: one issue with Social Media is the time suck it turns into. Set a timer for 15 minutes and scroll through your competitor’s pages, inspirational pages, industry pages, and then shut it down when the timer goes off. Social Media can become an “escape” for people and end up completely halting their productivity. Once your website is set up and your Social Media presence is established, you can work on your website’s SEO and sharing content with partners, contributors, and vendors (stay tuned for more on these topics, or contact us for advice).
Another valuable tool in your arsenal should be networking. It sounds counterintuitive, but get out from behind your desk! Go through your contacts and reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in 30 days. Challenge yourself to make a call, set a lunch date, or grab a beer with a former coworker or contact. Most importantly, don’t sell your company to these folks. Say hello and ask how the kids are doing. Talk about your family. See what they have been up to and if they ask, share about your venture, but don’t try to sell them. Just reconnect. It’s amazing what will happen when people remember your face, especially when you’re not making every contact a sales call. In this instant-gratification society, we must remember that cultivating relationships is critical in gaining return business. Make someone remember why you are special, and they’ll think of you when they need your services or refer you when they’re able.
Not sure where to meet other business people? Check in with your local business organizations - Chamber of Commerces, Convention & Visitor’s Bureaus, Non-Profits for Small Businesses - and find out what events may fit your business and your personality. Many of these organizations hold monthly meetings and special events that are specifically designed for networking. Even non-members may attend for a small fee.
Start in your own neighborhood. Call the school your kids attend (or would if you had them) and ask how you can become a partner. Many schools will place an ad in their yearbook for a small fee, allow businesses to attend events (may require background screenings) to hand out information, or even allow businesses to act as guest speakers at parent nights or school events. For the cost of a few cases of water, you may be able to set up a table at an event and meet families who live in your area and may be business owners as well.
Starting a business can be a scary prospect. Stay focused, enjoy the ride, reach out, reconnect with past contacts and you’ll be on your way to success!
Tina Acevedo is a founding partner of Branding Alliance. Her diverse experience includes event planning and execution, copywriting for marketing materials, creation of social media campaigns and networking. Tina has worked with numerous clients as a PR/Marketing and Social Media consultant. During her career working with multi-million dollar corporations and small business clients, she has created a unique portfolio of writing and marketing experiences. Follow Tina at @BrandingAllies on Twitter, @BrandingAlliance on IG and on Facebook.