When I work with and speak to coaching and creative ladies who are new to the world of online business, some common struggles come to light, and in the early days of your business journey it’s useful to know how to set yourself up well, to enable you to build a following, showcase your business, and start the ball rolling with sales.
I share below three ‘good to know’ start-up tips to help you gain clarity about the best way to show up right from the get go, to maximise your chances of early success.
Let’s dive right in.
1. FIND YOUR SOCIAL SPACE
I see many female business owners show up on social and try to run their entire business from the platform. It’s a mistake to do so, and can cause your journey as a business owner to be a much harder one to travel.
I always encourage the small business owners in my tribes to use social for its intended purpose – which is like a window display for your biz. Social is a place you can be visible for free, and showcase what it is you do, to build a good following, to connect with your ideal audience, to go and find people who are a good fit for your niche, to build relationships, and to give people an insight in to how you can help them.
Many small business owners use social as a place to sell. But in reality, your focus on social should be to show up and help people fall in love with what you do, so that you can then lead them to other places in your business where you’re then much more likely to sell.
You should see social as the top of a funnel. A way to get eyes on you. It’s a place where your goal is to encourage people to go to other places in your business (deeper in to your funnel) – and the most important place you should be driving people from social is over to your mailing list.
There’s this common message online that you need to show up on as many social platforms as possible, to help get as many eyes on you as possible.
Whilst this is true, the reality for many of small business owners working alone from home is that trying to consistently and professionally post to lots of different platforms can very quickly become overwhelming to the point where you start to fall out of love with your business and your passion, and certainly with social media.
I always encourage the ladies in my tribe to just choose one social platform at start up. It’s ok to do that. And then to learn how to use that platform really, really well. That means showing up consistently every day, posting content that aligns with the audience you’re trying to attract, and making sure you use all of the bells and whistles available to you on your chosen platform.
Instagram is where I started my social journey. I have grown a profitable business off the back of a small but loyal group of followers who have travelled from Instagram into deeper parts of my business (my mailing list and my products/services).
It’s worth doing your due diligence. Go and take a look around the platforms that are available. Search for the type of products you’ll be selling. Go and find competitors who have significant followers on those platforms, and see how responsive their followers are there. You’re looking for clues on these platforms to identify the best place for you to be visible to start.
My advice is to choose one platform, learn everything you can about that platform, have a great strategy for posting valuable content, and use the platform for it’s intended purpose (to be social and build a loyal following), rather than to show up and do nothing but try to sell.
It’s vital you use the bio inside your social platform to provide information about who you are, what you do, and how you can help. All too often I see businesses using their bios to talk about how they love reading and dog walking. Whilst that is lovely, it doesn’t tell your audience how you’re showing up to serve and help them. On another note – if you want to use social to showcase your business, you should not have your account set to private. You’ll be impacting the opportunity to connect with people through the platform if you do this.
Inside your bio you should ALWAYS have a link to your opt-in to drive people to your mailing list (something that’s commonly missing from many social accounts). That link should be over and above a link to your website or marketplace platform. I explain why in step 2. below.
2. GET YOUR AUDIENCE TO YOUR SAFE PLACE
Probably one of the things I see missing the most with small business owners, is they don’t have a mailing list set up.
This can often be because the biz owner doesn’t understand the value of a mailing list, or finds the tech hard and has therefore avoided creating one, or simply feels they can set up shop and run their entire business on social and with a website/marketplace platform.
Your mailing list will be the single most important asset you own in your business. Ignore it at your peril.
Your mailing list is a ‘safe place’. It’s where you drive your audience to from social, it’s the place you pop your customers when they purchase from you, and the place you encourage everyone to join as a priority.
Any social account, any marketplace platform can be shut down and taken away from you without notice. I’ve seen this happen to six figure Etsy sellers, and social accounts with more than 30,000 followers. When it happens it can be devastating, especially if you don’t have your customers’ contact details in a safe place – that place being your mailing list.
Accounts being closed down on martketplace and social platforms happens more often than you think. Whilst I don’t wish to alarm you, the best way you can safeguard your business is to set up a mailing list and encourage as many of your fans, customers, clients, followers, audience, to jump on that list.
You own your list. It’s an asset in your business. And in the event that your social or website/marketplace platforms are taken away from you, you have the ability to contact your tribe via your mailing list to let them know what has happened, to confirm that you’re still in business, and how they can find and buy from you.
In addition. When someone gives you their email address to be added to your list, they become a ‘warm audience’. It means they’re already demonstrating their interest in you, your products, your services.
They are the people you’re most likely to sell to, and who are more likely to become your loyal customers.
So when someone joins your list, it’s your responsibility as a business owner to continue to engage and nurture and build relationships with those mailing list subscribers.
I do this with my own mailing list VIPs by sending weekly emails full of business success tips, tools and resources only they have access to.
3. SHOWCASE YOUR BUSINESS
I beg you not to try and run your whole business from social. Instead, make a commitment to set up a marketplace platform like Etsy, an ecommerce store like Shopify, or a website like WordPress, and use one of those platforms to showcase the products or services you sell.
Etsy is always a great starting point for creatives, because you can get set up for free. No charge unless you sell.
Shopify is a great ecommerce platform that has more functionality, personalisation and the ability to grow with you and your business. It has a monthly fee, but it’s a well known and trusted platform for ecommerce businesses.
WordPress is still one of the most popular platforms suitable for small business owners. You can set up a very basic website for free. To start to sell products and services you’ll need to upgrade to a paid account, but it is affordable. And if you want to start a blog, hands down WordPress is the best place to do that.
There’s no one size suits all platform, and neither is there a perfect platform. So do your due diligence to find the best place for you, for now. Understand the pros and cons of each platform so you can make the best decision for your business.
The three elements I’ve briefly talked about above should form the foundations of every small business in the online space.
Having these elements in place will automatically put you ahead of many of your competitors who will fail to put in place one or more of these critical steps.
I know that many of the ladies in my tribe struggle to understand how to use social well, the best way or place to set up their website, or how to create a mailing list and then start driving people to it. For some tech is the thing that stops them moving forwards. And perhaps that’s the case for you.
But I’m here to help you.
I share many tips about growing a successful business in my weekly Newsletter digest – The Friday Fempreneur. Join hundreds of female small business owners making use of the information inside the Friday Fempreneur – Simply CLICK HERE to join. You’ll receive my Friday Fempreneur each Friday at 9am GMT.