The Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS aims to honour, benefit and uplift South African business owners with a specific focus on small and medium enterprise (SME) owners. In celebration of this competition, I am sharing some of my thoughts and experiences with you as an entrepreneur.
Your success as an entrepreneur is based on your ability to find solutions, but ultimately many of us are providing the same solutions and we encounter competition. Therefore our ultimate success is reaching our potential customers and turning those connections into invoices, and then trying to make a profit so that we may remain in business.
To keep growing as a business, you have to be able to sustain your sales. The sales process starts with making your potential clients aware of the product or services you offer, this is called marketing and one of the most efficient ways of marketing is online.
I started my Blog in 2011 and began building my online presence, then only in 2014 did I start seeing the results. Today 8 years later, almost 100% of my income comes directly from the online presence I have created and I have global clients, most of whom I have never met, and less than 20% that I have even spoken to on the phone or via Skype.
If you are not online you virtually don’t exist, yet so many entrepreneurs I meet don’t focus enough on their online presence (marketing) and I believe they are missing a golden opportunity.
Let’s assume that you currently have no online presence, so I am going to give you a few basic guidelines.
Before I go any further I need you to give you a word of caution.
Website: You need a website, it is a non-negotiable. Websites form the basis of every contact made. A website can be simple to start with and doesn’t have to cost much money, but you need to start establishing your presence.
It is a good idea to have photo galleries and a blog site so that you can record milestones, allow people to have access to your previous projects and customer stories. This is really your silent salesman and you should at least update your website with some information every week.
Product Landing Pages: If someone needed a specific service you offer, how would they find it quickly? Product landing pages are the way to go. You will, however, need a registered domain and a design platform like Wix to have the landing page facility, but it is worth it.
Just having a website is useless unless you promote it. This is where Social Media plays a big role and actually the reason why platforms like Facebook and Twitter were created in the first place.
Personal branding plays a significant role in the success of your business, think of Apple Computers and you think of Steve Jobs, personal brands are part of your success as an entrepreneur.
Let’s look at how you can utilise the various platforms to effectively promote your business. I cannot explain everything in one article so I will just give you a few tips. My Blog is full of articles that drill down into the specifics. Here are a few pointers:
Facebook: Don’t over promote yourself or your product, remember people don’t want to hear from you unless they have heard of you. So establish your presence by interacting with other people in conversations. You need them to be inquisitive about who you are and they should ask you what you do before you tell them about yourself.
Facebook Pages: Create a Facebook page for your business if you are committed to posting at least three times a week. If you don’t have presence people may think you have gone out of business. Advertising on Facebook helps you reach more people, but like all advertising, it can become costly and you need to use your money wisely and ensure you get the results you looking for.
LinkedIn: Most people use LinkedIn as an online CV service, you are an entrepreneur and you probably want to become successful. My advice for starting out, LinkedIn can wait until you are more established.
Twitter: Use Twitter if you plan on giving plenty of information to people, remember you will need to grow your follower base and this is done through interaction with other people.
Instagram: Don’t get fooled by the idea that if people like your photos on Instagram, that you have a good online presence. Instagram is simply a visual entertainment platform. The only value that Instagram really has is for big brand names that are recognised. Otherwise, you will need to establish brand presence first and that could take 1000’s of photos and a great deal of your time.
CONSISTENCY is key to success and if you want to establish your business and online presence you will need to be more consistent than you have ever been. Success never happens overnight, and your consistency will be tested because people trust people that are consistent.
I wish you every success in your endeavour to build your online presence.
Let us work towards even more success as entrepreneurs. I know you have stories about your journey as an entrepreneur, your experience may even be significant enough to win you an award in the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. Winning an award will surely help you achieve the recognition you seek and deserve, and will catapult you and your project higher than you imagined was possible.
I encourage you to share your experiences using the #CelebrateEntrepreneurship so that we can all learn and become successful entrepreneurs. As they say, ‘The rising tide lifts all ships’.
Entrepreneurs interested in entering the competition can download or complete entry forms online at www.eoy.co.za or http://www.facebook.com/EOY.SA