Updated: Dec 12, 2019
These are seven of the most Frequently Asked Questions nearly every new small business owner asks as they begin their journey to building their businesses.
Q. Should I tell people I am a new business owner / I am new to my chosen field? A. The short answer is never lie, but you don’t have to volunteer information. There are some fields where being new can give you some "sympathy" points and even get people to go out of their way to help you; there may even be fields where "new" can be leveraged into meaning at-the-cutting edge of the newest technology and not held down by old-fashioned ways. On the other-hand, there are fields where no one wants to hire or take a chance on a first-timer.
Interestingly, it may happen if you are starting a second (or third or fourth) career at an older age, many potential clients may assume – by your age – that you are not new to the profession, but rather highly experienced and may not even ask about your track-record.
What is important to understand is that no one wants to use a first-time makeup artist as their bridal makeup artist because the bridal look is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and no one wants to be the first guinea pig. Of course, if you are young and just starting out, your friends (who are basically your age and are themselves 'just starting out') and family may be more understanding and open to hiring you.
Keep in mind that your attitude, self-assurance and ability to present yourself as a professional will all have an deep impact on how you are regarded and treated.
Q. How do I get experience without having experience? A. I have been asked this question for over 30 years and I always have the same answer: don’t give up. This question is just as applicable to salaried employees as well as to new business owners. Part of the answer can be found in the first question – do I tell people I am new in the field. Consider getting experience through an internship or working as part of a team, where less experienced people are given easier tasks and can learn from more experienced team members. Do you feel that no one wants to hire you? Go out there and bang on doors! Appeal to friends on social media, ask friends and family to ‘take a chance on you’. Most importantly DO NOT GIVE UP!
Keep in mind that being new is not the same as learning new skills and acquiring new abilities, which you should be learning and acquiring every single day of your life.
Q. How do I find my first customers? A. Another one of those questions that sometimes worries me; it can sometimes be a sign that you have not invested the time needed to identify and understand your target markets before opening your business. But this is not always the case. You need to ‘hang your shingle” out your door – which in today’s world means start to get your name out there through social media and create two of the most important marketing tools of your business: business cards and a website.
Q. How much money should I invest in marketing? A. Nothing stirs up a hornets nest like this question. I am going to stir things up even more by saying that small business owners should begin their marketing efforts with the absolute minimal outlay of money and then add services and the corresponding budget as they develop their business and an understanding of what they need.
How does this work? I believe that the internet was born to help small business owners generate the widest possible exposure of their products/services to the widest possible audience. Begin at the beginning with the usual social media outlets, investigate forums, develop your database and email marketing. While you are at it, don’t forget traditional marketing avenues such as print (as both print ads and fliers). As you develop and analyse your marketing efforts you can begin to build and allocate a budget and then begin the search for more professional marketing service providers.
Q. Should I rent an office/office space to appear more professional? A. Obviously there are businesses that must be in a professional - not at-home - setting: a restaurant, medical clinic and the like. Many, many other businesses can live and prosper in a room in a private home or a separate area with a separate entrance in a private home. The most important point to remember is that renting an office requires a large outlay, many times in advance, of money from rental fees, electricity, water, gas to municipal taxes and more. In essence you begin your business with operating expenses, even before you can bill your first client. Co-working space rentals such as WeWork, Regus and so so many others can be a viable option for small businesses, offering not only high quality office space on a very flexible basis, but also a sense of community that many small business owners lack as they begin the hard road to building a company.
Q. How do I identify my competition? A. First of all everyone has competition. An investor once told me that if a start-up owner told him that their company had no competition there was only two possibilities – the owner didn’t know what the hell he was talking about or his business wasn’t worth investing in because (a) there was no way to measure his success or (b) his solution/technology was probably not in sync with the applicable markets to have any real market value in the foreseeable future.
Everyone needs competition – it keep us on our toes, with our eyes on the ball and on what our competition was doing. The internet is the easiest place to begin. But to get a quick sense of what is going on in Israel in almost any given market - go to Dapei Zahav (Hebrew Yellow pages) – not only will you find listings of your competition – in any city in Israel - but you will also find a treasure trove of information on price ranges, applicable articles and so much more. Remember that this is also one of the first sources of information your potential clients will search. (See more about how to use Dapei Zahav at the end of this blog.)
Want to get some real information about your competition – true BI? Ask a trusted friend or family member to contact your competition and get information. Make sure they have a plausible story and know what they should be asking. In one short phone call recently I found out that a client’s competition, who advertised an impressive list of services, was in fact a company that provided a very limited catalog of services. Their pricing helped my client to better understand how she should price her services and what made her business far better than the competition.
Q. What are the initial and most important marketing tools any new business needs? A. Begin with these five tools:
(1) Website (2) Business cards: It’s no secret people throw them out, in fact over 60% of all business cards are thrown out nearly immediately; but some 40% or so are kept. Make sure to have business cards with you at all times and give them out to everyone. Your business cards should include the following information: name, business name, address (if you need a physical location), email, phone, website, social media and include your logo and branding. If your audience is international consider having a bi-lingual card. (3) Create business pages in social media.
(4) Register for every free business listing available both online and off.
(5) By the way, you also are eligible for a FREE listing in the Yellow Pages, click this link and complete the form and their rep will be in touch to complete the process. https://www.d.co.il/LandingPage/AddBusiness/
Do you want to open yourself to a more successful business? Are you lost in the social media jungle? Let me help you re-energize your business and rediscover your passion in your profession. We’ll work together to improve your marketing strategy and online exposure and find the perfect target markets for your business. Contact me today to schedule a free introductory meeting.