Learn from My Mistakes: 3 Business Tips from a Developing Entrepreneur and Author
Following your dreams ain’t easy. Neither is launching a business. They both take time, blood, sweat, tears, a ridiculous (borderlining psychotic) belief in what you’re doing, and more tears.
Although many of us love the adventure and wouldn’t change paths for the world, we sure wouldn’t mind a little advice every now and then on what to avoid. Am I right? I sure love the advice! That’s why I listen to several business podcasts, have gone through multiple trainings, and keep up on the blogs of gurus.
With that in mind, I wanted to share with you three pieces of advice that I’ve learned from and wish I would have known sooner in my journey as an entrepreneur. Hopefully they can help you avoid the very same pitfalls!
Mistake #1: Thinking everyone will be as excited about it as I am.
This is one of those business tips that can be hard to swallow at first glance. In the beginning, this reality hurts, especially if it’s your loved ones who aren’t as excited (see this previous blog post 3 Tips on How to Follow Your Dreams Even When Loved Ones Don't Support You). However, I once worked with a very smart businessman who helped me see things differently. We were talking about his business and his seemingly crazy level of enthusiasm about it. I think I asked him how he maintained such passion, especially in times when no one’s buying.
He said, “Samantha, how will anyone be excited about your business if you’re not? They have to see your passion for it before they’ll get excited.”
Truer words have never been spoken. So even when it may seem absurd to others or like it’s steeped in delusion, I have to keep belief and excitement about my business if I ever want others to be excited about it. You and I will always be the ones who are most passionate about our dreams. So if we want others to be 100% excited about them, then we need to be 200% excited. Make sense?
Mistake #2: Not knowing my target audience.
Later on I’ll be doing a whole blog post dedicated to this point alone. Know this above all else: your family and loved ones are not your target audience. Yes they are a great place to start. Yes their support is priceless and should be treasured if you’re lucky enough to get it. Yes they can initially help spread the word about your new endeavor. However, they are not your end game.
Here’s an example. I’m an author and I write books. Plenty of people read books, right? I had an incredible amount of support from my friends and family when I wrote and published my first few. The number of friends and family who bought my books astounded me, and to this day I am so grateful and touched by their support. However, many of them purchased the books to support me; their interest didn’t necessarily stem from the books themselves. I write fiction fantasy and supernatural horror. Not many people in my family read such stories.
So while friends and family made purchases to support me and get a cool signed book from the author herself, not many of them actually read the book, and even fewer of them left reviews (which authors desperately need). In whatever endeavor you’re pursuing, make sure you figure out who your target audience is as soon as possible and cater to them.
Mistake #3: Not listening to the advice of those who had gone before me.
I published my first book six years ago, in 2012. I have always been someone who strongly disliked anything to do with the status quo, normalcy, or being average. So when I published my book, I made the decision to do so on my own. I didn’t need the help of a stinking publisher; I would do it myself.
And do it I did. I did the research, found the necessary services, established an LLC, applied for vendor accounts, and did everything else needed to bring my story from a typed manuscript on my computer to a printed book in my hands.And let me tell you, back in 2012 self-publishing was not a big thing. Every YouTuber and her sister weren’t making videos about how to do it, printers certainly weren’t advertising themselves as being self-publisher friendly, and the major distributors like Amazon and Barnes and Noble did NOT have user-friendly self-service available. In fact, unlike today, Barnes and Noble didn’t even acknowledge self-publishers and Amazon didn’t let you easily create a paperback version of your book that they’d sell on Amazon Prime.
What I achieved by doing all this on my own was monumental and nearly unbelievable. I was just a 23-year-old first-time author who had just made the impossible happen and brought her dream to life. It was irrefutable proof to me that I definitely didn’t have to follow the traditional route. This was both a blessing and a curse.
Once I had the finished version of my book in hand, I researched advice on how to get sales. I read an awful lot of mumbo jumbo about spending time on online forums and getting my name out there.
Booooring! I thought.
I didn’t need to do any of that nonsense, because I had clearly just proven that I was the exception to the rule. But six years later, I wish I had taken some of the advice I had found. No matter how innovative, out of the box, or experimental you like to be, don’t be afraid to follow conventional wisdom from time to time. After all, it’s conventional wisdom for a reason.
When you’re just starting on the journey to making your dreams a reality, it’s ok if not everyone around you is as excited about your idea as you are. In fact, it’s normal if initially you have to be the main source of excitement and passion until your idea catches on. Even then, make sure it’s catching on with the right people.
While having our friends and family excited and supportive of us sure gives us wind under our wings, they likely aren’t our target audience. Spend some time figuring out who exactly your dreams or business can serve as early in your endeavor as possible so that you don’t waste any time focusing on the wrong peeps. No matter how unique your journey, product, or dream is, don’t be afraid to listen to the advice of pros. While not all advice is good or will even apply to you, try not to dismiss recommendations just because they sound boring or arduous.
Oftentimes, the things that move the needle the most in a business are just that—behind the scenes without a hint of glitz or glam.
Are you making any of these mistakes right now? If so, quickly make a note on paper, your phone, or wherever you keep important reminders, and brainstorm some ways where you can adjust course. Don’t forget to schedule a time and place to implement them!
Join the convo! ;-)
Have you ever been guilty of any of the above, or do you have a cool example of a different one to share? Or just feel like raving about how funny Peralta is? Comment below!