What would it feel like entering the twenties with a clear vision, rock solid plan and a bullet proof strategy to build the business of your dreams? For all of (us) who are eager to start a new chapter in our professional life, now is the time. There will be no better time.
Well, one little nerdy detail would make this fresh start completely optimal: If you are anything like me, you wish that January 1st was on a Monday, but we can’t get it all, can we?
There’s a popular Chinese proverb that says: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
You are the only person who can build the business — and the life — you desire. I am sure that, if you are interested in this topic, you have already consumed a lot of content on how to self develop for the next century. Maybe some of the strategies I give you here will do it for you, maybe you already know in your head and your heart what you need to do (read: change!). The bottom line is: GO DO IT! Don’t read yet another article without taking action. Or on the contrary — read until you find THAT thing that makes you start doing the work, and then off you go.
So, without further ado… here are some strategies to bring with you to 2020.
Learn what works
We tend to focus on our mistakes and shortcomings. We write down whatever didn’t work for the last year and try to improve that. Let’s think differently, shall we? (that is our job at Creativity House — to teach you to think differently). Grab a piece of paper, a cup of coffee (tea, wine, you get it!) and write down everything that WORKED!
What did you have a blast doing? What did your clients love? What was so fun that you forgot the time? Are those things profitable? Can they be? Then you should do more of that! A lot more, to be honest!
In November I had my focus on making a freebie, a landing page so attractive that I would gain a lot e-mail subscribers for my e-mail list. I asked my existing tribe what they needed and many of them touched on time management and time tracking. So I sat down and created a planner. Initially it would be a free 256 page PDF download, but already from the get go I decided to also send it to print and sell it.
Before you continue reading this, you should know: I LOVE planners. I have tried them all and a beautifully designed paper planner is something I really appreciate. So it was actually about time for me to design my own. Little did I know that this freebie would just take off and become one of the things I enjoyed doing the most during last year! Conclusion: I am now adding book production to my existing business.
You’d be surprised what you learn if you only give yourself a chance to feel what you really enjoy doing. So many of us are stuck with tasks we have taken upon ourselves “because that’s what you should do” but if we are being completely honest with ourselves, there are probably other things we are meant for.
Wanna know a secret? When your clients see how much you love create something for them, they will love it too.
Get crystal clear on who your client is
You can be the best of experts, deliver the highest quality products and services, but if your ideal client doesn’t know it — you won’t sell. The ideal client will know it if they see it. Your job is to find them and make them find you.
Often times we post things on social media, on our blogs etc that are less intentional and more random than they need to be. We talk to “everyone” and hope that someone grabs the offer. It doesn’t get more Sisyphean than that. If you can relate to any of it, this is where you need to start.
You need to find out who your client is. Who your buyer is. And that is completely different from friends and family that cheer on you on social. You need to communicate to the person who will, now or later (once they’re ready) purchase what you have to offer. You need to create your ICA, Ideal Customer Avatar, and every time you produce a piece of content, it should be adressed directly to them.
Jasmine Star talks in her “Social Media Bootcamp” about your ideal client being the nucleus and all people similar to your ICA, the neurons. You need to reach out to your nucleus every single time and the neurons will follow.
Recently I did an exercise to establish my ICA, that I recommend you to do as well. I analyzed in depth the ten people (not family and friends sending smileys) whom I talk to the most on social and who found me based on my profession. I analysed their images and captions on Instagram — I went back one year for each of them in order to really get to know them. Then I collected the similarities and created an imaginary person whom I have in mind every time I’m about to post something. It feels awkward and intruding, but it pays off.
Learn the difference between selling and brand building
Nobody wants to subscribe to ads, and very few of your followers will stick around if you only keep on selling and promoting your services. Don’t get me wrong, you need to sell to have a profitable business, but for every sell you make, you first need to give away value for free. You need to get your clients engaged in your message, relate to your story and then click the purchase button.
Make sure to differentiate all your current and future projects in terms of selling (income bringing) and brand building. There is this common theory that brand building should be 80% of everything you communicate and direct selling 20%. Obviously, you need to create a balance that works for you, but let’s agree upon that you need both to run a successful business.
Although you should always have an irresistible CTA (call to action, I do hope you knew that one!), the CTA doesn’t always need to be about buying. Make them go read more, listen to an episode of your podcast, by all means send them to other places where they can get more value (they will come back to you, I promise!). The more generous you are with what you give away for free, the more you are going to sell.
One more secret: imagine how much your potential clients would value your paid work if what you give away for free is world class?
Outsmart your competitors, wow your clients
The very essence of Creative Business Thinking and something you should make a habit of in the next decade.
I am sure that you have competitors, and that some of them are nothing to worry about, meanwhile others are smart, innovative, creative, quick to execute new ideas, you name it. Worst case scenario: they have a huge marketing budget on top of that. My fellow creator, you need to outsmart them. You need to find those “the devil is in the details”-details that will pull your ideal clients from the competitors and toward you. Whatever that is, you need to dig deep and go look for it.
One smart strategy is — always — to overdeliver on service, customer experience and exceed customer expectations. In everything you do, from the first contact with your client to the last follow up, make sure to add the “wow”-feeling to the mix, because if you do, they will tell their friends. Who will tell their friends. And suddenly, you can pick your clients and charge them what you are worth.
It’s not a coincidence that the TV-show Survivor’s motto is: “Outplay-Outwit-Outlast”. Let’s play the same game in business, shall we? Gary Vaynerchuk says: “Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it all away from you”. He has a point.
Give your brand a fair chance by becoming who you need to be
The last but the most important strategy that I would love to share with you is: make sure to be a worthy ambassador of your brand. Behave. Understand that everything you do, at and outside of the office, affects the health of your business. Get those habits in place that make you the best version of yourself (I am not talking about taking on crossfit or quitting smoking come January 1st, I am talking about developing courage to take actions that will move the needle — kind of habits). Take your self development to the next level. Get rid of personal stuff that are making you worse and, god forbid, less professional. Fire people who bring negative energy to your life.
It doesn’t matter how brilliant your business idea is, it doesn’t matter how fantastic the website is, clients buy based on the person behind the idea, the story on the website. Give your business a fair chance by honoring it daily with the respect and passion it deserves. The rest will follow.
Magdalena Bibik-Westerlund is a Sweden based business mentor specialized in helping people grow their business by thinking differently. Interested in more about Creative Business Thinking? Visit https://creativity.house/ or contact Magdalena at firstname.lastname@example.org