When you launch your business and start your journey into the world of professional word nerding, positioning for success and communicating your value to your ideal clients is mandatory.
If you’re anything like me, though, the exhilaration of setting out to make a living doing what you love best will trump a lot of rational thoughts in your first couple of months.
Here are three potholes to avoid when you’re starting, complete with a blueprint on how to turn them into stepping stones towards sustainable business development.
1. Not being crystal on the problem you solve:
All successful entrepreneurs are, in effect, well-established professional problem solvers. They bring value to their clients’ table and communicate that value to the people who need it in a smart, authentic way. Defining your area of brilliance and matching it to the issues your potential clients are facing is essential when you’re setting up shop.
You think your value lies in your stellar translation skills, A+ copywriting, or a hawkeye for false friends and grammar mistakes. But that comes later. First, understand and cater to the specific problems your clients are looking to solve. They may struggle with a company blog that’s outstandingly unpopular, website content that lacks finesse, or sales copy that doesn’t, in fact, sell.
Your clients want to know: Are you the best person to solve their problems? What value do you bring to the table? Can they trust you (with their business)?
Change your perspective! What’s your forte, THE obstacle you specialize in? The conundrum you love solving? Define it, translate (see what I did there?) your special skill number one into the remedy your clients are looking for. There. You’ve just mastered step one of
a) being found online
b) charging your value
c) setting off a marketing avalanche
Also: Word-of-mouth is the major factor behind 20% to 50% of all buying decisions. For B2B, the numbers are exponentially higher, says B2B News Network. A clearly defined area of brilliance means your network knows what you do and who you’re serving. People are 4 times more likely to buy from someone referred by a friend and the lifetime value for new referral customer is 16% higher than non-referrals.
2. Not having a business plan.
No matter how you plan on turning your word nerd talents into a business: profit comes first.
You don’t HAVE a business until you’re making money, and it’s hard to make money in terms of continuously generating a noteworthy amount of net profit if you don’t have a business plan.
Noteworthy: Feeding you, clothing you, paying your bills now and in your retiree future, money in the back to spend on creature comforts, re-investing in your business, CPD and networking events … I’m sure you can think of more.
Net Profit: After taxes, debts, and fixed and variable expenses associated with operating your business, such as rent, utilities, etc.
You need to get 100% clear on how to generate revenue and build a sustainable, nourishing business.
If your eyes start watering when you think about turning your thoughts and visions into black-on-white numbers and accountable goals, listen to our colleague Sarah Henter talk passionately about her way of setting up a coherent, clear, vision-strong and inspiring business plan: Here’s the link to last week’s free coffee hour on the topic.
Do you need more input, someone to help you tackle business planning at its core? We hear you. Sarah will be teaching a 3-hour workshop on business planning and CEO tasks this November for the 2018 Canary Translators Conference.
You’ll walk away with your custom-made business plan, the know-how to revisit and update it and to align your business with your vision, your dreams, your five, ten, fifteen-year plan.
3. Not defining your niche and audience.
You can NOT be all things to everyone, and if you’re marketing yourself to everyone, you’ll be selling to nobody. No matter where you stand in your career: Strive to become a niche specialist.
You’re the boss! That puts you in an excellent position: You have permission to pick your clients. You get to cater to and serve people you’d L.O.V.E. to work with.
The sooner you pick your niche, your 1 square inch of the market, the better you can target your marketing efforts and align your business with your audience’s values, needs, and communication preferences.
Your copy and content, your tone, your branding: Communicate with a defined audience in mind.
Imagine you’re the client. Adjust your tone, message, and the channels you frequent to your clients’ values and ways: If your target audience realizes you’re talking to them, cater to them, specialize in solving their issues, they’ll respond to that. Your appeal grows with the level of insider knowledge and customization you bring to the table.
For more thoughts on the riches in the niches and positioning yourself, we have two free coffee hours that’ll help you gain clarity on who and where your prospective clients are and how to connect to them: Find the recording to our coffee hour on niches here, and sign up for our upcoming coffee hour on positioning here.