By Malla Haridat
Once you recognize that visibility is a crucial part of growing your business, you'll need a realistic plan that will work for you - and a way to stick to it. These three ideas can get you started.
I'll bet you are passionate about your business. But one of the hard truths about starting a business is that other people aren't always as passionate as you are. It can be really hard to stand out and create visibility.
It's especially overwhelming for women entrepreneurs. While juggling the many hats you wear as a business owner, you also have to figure out where to start. And if you are like many women, the task list is long and the hours and financial resources are short.
So how do you ensure that your future customers know you exist? How do you get others excited enough to recommend you?
I'll share three tips can help you get focused and create the visibility that your business deserves.
1. Recognize that becoming visible is a priority
Whether you are offering a service that grows out of years of professional experience or sharing goods that are born of your creativity, your business is worthy of attention.
Far too often, women entrepreneurs focus exclusively on the production and operations of their companies. Yes, these areas are critical because you want a superior product. However, it's not enough to have a fantastic product or service. You also have to explain to people why you are the best at what you do. And you have to get comfortable with branding - aka "business boasting" - so others realize your value. When they come to your website or meet you in person, will they understand what makes your offerings different from your competitors'? What awards or press mentions would help your business grow? What results do your get clients only from you?
Start a list of ways to increase your visibility. Attend workshops at WE Connect and network with other entrepreneurship groups to get additional ideas and support. Select one or two of the ideas you like best and create a 60- to 90-day implementation plan. Be realistic about the amount of time you can spend. And be comfortable knowing you'll often have to tweak your original plan if it doesn't work on the first try.
But first, embrace the concept that building visibility is a priority. Don't just hide behind your good work. Take the steps to show the world why your business is great.
2. Be consistent and use your plan
One of the first places to start putting your plan into practice is social media. It's easy to check Twitter while you're standing in a grocery store line or spend a few hours on Twitter after the kids are in bed each night. Pick one or two channels where your target customer hangs out and dive in.
But don't get caught up in merely chatting with people or liking inspirational photos or funny memes.
Be consistent and follow your plan.
I saw an excellent example once on a Facebook group of how social media can boost your business's visibility. The participant was super engaged in answering questions. Sometimes she shared blog posts. Or she found related articles and linked them back to the question. In a very short period, all of the group members were familiar with her. When a new group member joined, existing members often recommended her.
I'm sure you can guess who came to mind when group members needed the service she offered. She never sold directly on the group, but her interactions there landed her a list of serious prospects and paying clients.
By being a giver, she built a reputation of trustworthiness.
Most importantly, she showed up consistently. She didn't answer a question once and wait two weeks before jumping back into the discussion. She was there every day responding.
Create a plan that works with your schedule and that allows you to be consistent. It will take time for people to remember your name and your business. But if you show up consistently, over time you will build a reputation that stands out.
3. Be prepared for the haters
I wish this last section weren't true. But when you increase your visibility, you have to expect the haters.
One of life's challenges is that often, when you do something amazing, it causes others who are standing on the sidelines to turn green with envy. And instead of getting busy with their own purpose and business idea, they spend their time stressing over your and your business.
Don't devote too much time to dwelling on the negative energy. Thank them for their "hateradoration" - which is a sign that you are doing the right thing and increasing your visibility - and move on. It is just part of the reality and cost of doing business.
Another way to deal with negativity is to put systems in place that keep you focused on your goals. I find starting and ending my days with prayer and meditation to be a powerful way to help me stay on track. Also, I memorized a list of mantras to repeat when my mind starts turning to negative thoughts. Instead of stewing, I step back, take a breath and repeat the mantra or positive saying until I've reset my thinking. It's a powerful practice that gets me back into the flow and creative space I need to occupy to keep my business moving.
However you handle this, take a moment to remember that the opinions of others do not always make or break your business. Focus on the clients who truly matter and leave the haters to their own devices.