Grow Your Business by Learning from my Mistakes
As a homeschool mom running a business from home for 15 years as of this June, I have learned some lessons the hard way. I have spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out how to design a website. I have taken many courses online and off to master difficult software, such as Photoshop and Illustrator. I have set up countless autoresponder sequences, created multiple mobile apps, and tried my best to keep up with all of the social media platforms, especially Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, in order to grow my business.
And what I have learned over the years is this… running a business doesn’t have to be this difficult. In fact, it is easier now more than ever before to employ shortcuts in your business so that you don’t have to figure everything out yourself, nor do you even have to do it all yourself.
While there is no magic pill for overnight success and no method to escape actually doing the work, I have learned some tricks and techniques that can shorten your learning curve, especially in the areas of product creation, marketing, and sales.
Today, I would love to share with you 5 shortcuts especially suited for the homeschool mom who is working hard to grow her business with limited amounts of time.
The first strategy is this…
1. Know your ideal customer. Running a business is all about serving your ideal customer and providing her with a solution for her problem. Do you know who she is? Do you know what she wants, needs, and hopes for? Do you understand where she hurts and what causes her pain? Have you ever asked her?
This may sound elementary, but too many times, we forget to ask. Or we are afraid to ask. We assume we know what the problem is. We assume we know what the solution would be? It is easier to assume than to ask.
But when we step outside our comfort zone and we ask questions of our potential customers that will draw out the answers, we unbury golden nuggets of insight and we expose opportunities to bless our ideal customers through the business we are creating.
This is truly a shortcut because you can save yourself boatloads of time creating products or services that nobody wants or needs. You can pinpoint exactly what the problems areas are for your ideal customer that you can solve through your products or services.
Talking to as few as 7 potential customers will give you insight beyond your wildest dreams. Phone calls and surveys gather golden intel for your business. This is treasure.
My next shortcut is this…
2. Make plenty of deposits before you ever ask for a withdrawal. What exactly does this banking metaphor mean, you ask? If your ideal customer was a bank account, you would need to make several deposits into that account before you ever withdraw funds, or your account might become overdrawn. And that’s not a good thing.
In this metaphor, the “deposits” are ways that you can bless your ideal customer without asking for anything in return. You might bless her by writing great blog posts with helpful, meaty information. Or you may bless her with downloadable checklists, style guides, instructions, or royalty-free images. You might bless her with a free phone consultation or free samples through the mail. Only after making several deposits into her account would it be appropriate to ask for a withdrawal.
Which brings me to shortcut #3…
3. When your quality products or services provide a solution to a problem that you know your ideal customer struggles with, you don’t have to sell them. Your products sell themselves as they become recognized for the problem-solving solutions that they are.
I’m not suggesting, “build it and they will come.” But I am suggesting that great products that solve real problems and provide satisfying solutions don’t need a hard sell. What your ideal customer needs more than anything is a person she can trust. Once you have gained that trust by providing amazing free content, then your paid content, service, or product becomes a no-brainer. So, here is your order of steps for rapid growth:
give. bless. earn trust. offer solution.
When you are offering a solid solution to a problem or pain point that you know exists for your ideal customer, selling becomes much easier for two reasons: 1) your product does the convincing for you, no hard sell necessary; and 2) when you believe your product or service will be a great blessing for your ideal customer and you can paint the transformation for them when they have it, the resulting sale is a win-win for you both.
4. Wow your customers by over-delivering. How can you provide extra value, above and beyond the purchase price your customer has paid? What can you do to ensure fast delivery, exceptional packaging, and an amazing overall experience?
Some companies pop into my mind that do a great job of wow-ing their customers, companies such as… Disney, Apple, and Zappos. But you don’t have to be a big company to deliver exceptional service and great value to your customers. Think about the little touches that go a long way to surprise or delight a person. What can you do that will delight your ideal customer? Delighted customers will absolutely come back and buy from you again.
And last, but not least, shortcut #5…
5. Quality tools are the cheapest employees you will ever have. Invest in them wisely and they will pay you back tenfold.
I started out this article talking about the countless sleepless nights I have spent learning how to design a website, write an autoresponder sequence, master Photoshop, create a magazine template, and tackle each social media platform. At times, I have felt so exhausted and tech-challenged that I have collapsed in tears. With only a few precious hours to devote to growing my business each week, the technology learning curve could eat up 90% or more of that time. And that would leave me feeling like I was barely making progress, spinning my wheels, and stuck in my tracks.
But why take the long way around when you can just take the shortcut?
The great news is that there are now some amazing tools out there that have made my life so much easier. Some of these tools are free and some have a price tag, but when you compare that price to the time you will save, it is usually worth it. Here are a few examples:
- You no longer need to learn Dreamweaver, html, php, or css stylesheets in order to have a beautiful website for your online presence. In mere minutes, you can set up a WordPress, Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace site that will look stunning with no coding on your part.
- While you can spend hours coding and designing all of your landing pages from scratch, you can also choose to save tons of time by using a tool such as LeadPages. LeadPages provides you with a large number of pre-designed landing page templates that offer customization options using drag and drop functionality.
- Tools such as Canva and Typorama mobile app have made image design a snap. You don’t need to spend hours in Photoshop to create an image with a quote overlay. Now, you can access a free or inexpensive program, such as Canva or Typorama, that have thousands of images, fonts, and layouts for you to choose from. Choose an image, choose a font, and type in your own words. Image creation for social media has never been easier than it is today.
- Employ tools that will keep you organized and on track; tools such as Evernote, Dropbox, Scrivener, and Mind-Meister.
Most of these tools are free, some have a price tag, but all of them will save you both time and money. These are the cheapest employees you will ever have. It’s like hiring a marketing team whose mission is to grow you business and set you up for success.
So, there are 5 of my shortcuts to rapid business growth with the limited time of a homeschooling mom. If you would like to read about more of my favorite tools that I use to grow my business, download this special report: 8 Favorite Tools to Grow Your Business.
Question: Do you have 3 minutes to take a survey? I would love to know what your biggest struggles are when it comes to growing your business. Is it marketing? Is it technology? Is it traffic? If you could wave a magic wand, which of these results would you wish for… (the list of results is in the survey). 🙂
The survey is quick and easy. And your answers will really help me to provide you with excellent content that is custom-designed JUST FOR YOU to help you start and/or grow your business!
Thank you! And God bless!