My business coach, Renae Bechthold, is particularly skilled at working with the holistic health and wellness set, who often have a strong vision and tons of passion, but not a lot of business savvy, and who may struggle with the very concept of charging for service. She is all about establishing systems and structures - the building blocks of a business - and getting clear about, and charging for, the value you put out into the world. In this first of two articles, I share with you some of Renae’s hot tips for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs in the world of health and wellness.
What are some of the most basic questions that people often overlook, when launching a business, and why are these questions important to be answered early on?
Lack of money is the #1 reason why businesses fail. So the most fundamental questions are “How much will it cost to get my doors open and service my first clients, customers, or patients?” and “How much will it cost in operating expense, to get me through my first year of business?” The answers will tell you how much you need to generate in revenue, during your first couple of years.
Answering these questions thoroughly also will inform you of other important things, such as how many production or service hours you need to have available for working with customers, and who is going to do the work. Will it be you, or will you need to hire employees, to generate some of the service hours and revenue? Realizing how much time you will need to devote to the work, in order to generate the revenue to pay for your costs, can also be a reality check. It can help you be less naïve about getting into business, before launching your business.
Many new launches in the wellness industry are started by people who simply love what they do, but have little or no real entrepreneurial experience or skills – particularly in the area of finance. The most overlooked costs, in my experience, are marketing, advertising, promotion, and PR budget. You need money set aside or budgeted monthly, for these types of expenditures. To come up with some sort of basic budget projection for all things marketing, you need to have developed at least a basic marketing plan or platform, so that you know how much needs to be invested for that purpose. Like Russian nesting dolls, one needs to exist before the other can exit or fit.
All of the above presumes that early on, way before an anticipated launch of the new business, you have thought through your business model; you have ensured there is indeed a market or need for your services; and you have a general, if not detailed, idea of who your primary market is.
Entrepreneurs can easily get overwhelmed by the multitude of options available to them for promotion – speaking gigs, social media posts, search engine optimization, and so on. What do you find is hands-down the most effective strategy for generating business revenue, and why is this strategy so effective?
If you are launching a personal-services-based business, which is my coaching specialty, then Word of Mouth marketing is king, queen and jack. “Word of mouth” equals “relationships, trust, and familiarity.” Hands down, the most effective strategy for generating business revenue is getting face-to-face in front of people and interacting on a personal level: talking, listening, discussing.
Local speaking gigs, for example, produce an enormous opportunity for establishing credibility - that is, if you know how to speak and craft a compelling and effective presentation. Since speaking in front of an audience can often terrify most people, the very best word-of-mouth opportunities lie within your own sphere of influence: friends, family, colleagues, any human beings you are currently interacting with - whether people at your place of worship, your gym, the dog park, the bank, a charity organization you are involved with, etc. You have an unlimited number of opportunities for interacting and developing relationships with your fellow humans. If everyone you know doesn’t yet know what you do, get busy informing them.
It is my experience that for a majority of small business owners, direct personal contact leads to better, faster, and more sustainable growth than internet-based, social media connections. Why? Because you are right there in front of people who need a solution to their problem. You are real, authentic, and genuine. You have immediate presence, and you have the opportunity to spend time building rapport, listening to people and finding your affinities. People do business with people and companies they like. It’s that simple. Having real, live conversations provides the environment for likability faster than anything else.
Most people consume formats such as Twitter, Instagram, and Faceboook on a very casual basis. Posts tend to be visible, then gone in a flash. You can have a digital conversation via social media, but that’s about as personal and deep as email communication can get. And if you don’t stay right on point with what interests the other person, they just stop responding.
If you, as business owner, need fast, effective lead generation, but have no budget allocated to spend on marketing, then word of mouth – cultivating relationships – is the most effective method. It merely takes commitment, intention, time, and opportunity. If you do have a budget but are not skilled in marketing, hire the best help you can afford. Ideally, find someone who understands and implements a strategic approach to marketing and lead development, instead of hiring someone who is expert at a tactical piece but who has no regard for an overall strategy. For example, you don’t want to hire someone to do your social media, without first having mapped out your overall strategic goals/brand/platform for your company or the service you want to promote.
What can be overwhelming for new business owners are all these moving parts. You easily can get ahead of yourself or get in your own way. Trying do everything at once doesn’t work; doing nothing at all doesn’t work. Knowing what to work on when, and how much time or money to invest, can also be daunting, with all the trial-and-error being too costly for the new business owner. A good professional will help you know what comes first, so you can have a solid, quality platform for what comes 2nd, 3rd, 4th and so on.
It is important to note that marketing does not generate business revenue. It can generate attention and interest that can lead to a sales opportunity and conversation. An effective conversation is what generates the revenue. This happens best through established relationships.
Getting into top media and generating revenue are not necessarily synonymous, although media coverage provides credibility, a greater audience, and an SEO boost. What do people need in place, in order to optimize the attention they get from media? In other words, what is the path from status to sales?
Some professionals or entrepreneurs who have garnered media coverage were able to take advantage of this attention in a way that caused them to catapult their business forward at lightning speed. It wasn’t media coverage alone that had anything to do with their growth. Media caused attention. They already had the necessary foundation, business systems, in place – enabling them to capitalize on this special kind of attention in a very real and active way.
Media attention does not equal increase in sales, necessarily. If a company’s sales and conversion systems are weak or ineffective, no amount of exposure will compensate for that. The bridge that takes status and turns it into sales is your conversion systems. Put another way, your structures, processes, methods and conversations are what cause interested prospects to decide to purchase from you. If you rely on massive media exposure to be your sales system for generating customers and revenue, you may be waiting a long time for that revenue. Marketing is not sales, just like your car’s steering wheel isn’t the engine.
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