Once upon a time, you decided to go into business for yourself. You've got your business up and running. You've joined several affiliate programs. You've signed up with a fabulous network marketing opportunity. Now all you have to do is sit back and wait for the money to flow in. But it's been a few weeks or months, or - heaven forbid! - a year, and there's been little or no traffic to your website. No one is calling you about your product or services. And there hasn't been much cash flowing - at least not INTO you bank account. Maybe this wasn't such a great idea after all.
Then one day you meet a friend for lunch. You haven't seen each other in a while and as you talk, she asks what you are doing. You half-heartedly tell her about your venture. After all, it's not really working that well and you don't want to look foolish in front of her. So you explain how it was just something you took a stab at, not really expecting it to work. And her response? "Really? I had no idea you were in business for yourself! How long have you been doing this? What sort of business is it? Tell me more." By the time lunch is over, you have explained exactly what it is you are doing and discover that she is a perfect client for you. The client is so happy with your services, that she tells others and soon you have a small but growing business. Encouraged that perhaps this really does work, you start to actively tell others what it is that you do and before long, you business is growing and thriving.
Does this sound like a fairy tale? Unfortunately, it's a true story. The business woman was me. The friend was planning her daughter's wedding and was having difficulty finding a place to hold the reception. She became my very first client when I started my meeting planning business. From that first wedding, I built a business that included major associations, multi-national corporations, and even an Internet guru or two as clients!
Now I know you are all asking the same question. Why didn't she know about my new business sooner? We had been friends for years and although we didn't get to see each other as often as we liked, we still kept in touch by email and phone. She should have been one of the first people to know. All I can tell you is I failed to promote myself and my business.
Many new business owners have the same problem. They are either unsure how to go about marketing themselves or they feel self-conscious promoting themselves. Or perhaps they think that they have to be pushy and aggressive to sell their products or services and they just don't feel comfortable doing so. Sometimes it may be they feel they don't have money to use to promote their business effectively. And so they sit and wait and hope that somehow, someway, someone will find them in the vast sea of businesses vying for attention.
Let me tell you one thing I have learned during my journey to become an entrepreneur. A little self-promotion is a good thing! If you don't know how to start, there are books and courses that will help you learn. If you think you have to be pushy, dishonest, or overly aggressive, that's not the case. There are many ways to promote your business in a more "gentle" manner. If money is an issue, I can personally tell you that while you always do need to have a little money to invest in your business, there are many free and low-cost but effective ways to get the word out about who you are and what you do.
I'll be devoting several more posts to marketing your business. I'll discuss various ways to promote yourself and your business that have worked for me. And I'll give you some resources - some free, some not - that I have found helpful in learning how to sell myself and my services. Let's start with one that I have found invaluable.
I'm not an overly pushy person and I hate a hard sell. So when I became friends with Denise Michaels and discovered that she had written a wonderful book designed for all of us that are looking for a softer, gentler approach to marketing, I was overjoyed. I promptly read the book and used much of what she taught to start building my business. I still refer to the book today and I highly recommend it to everyone. I am not an affiliate for Denise and I don't get a time for referrals. I just promote it because I found it that useful - and my number one goal in business is to help everyone achieve success. Pick up a copy of Testosterone Free Marketing, read it cover to cover, and then, most important of all, take action!
Once upon a time, a new business owner read this blog, took the advice, used some of the resources shared, started to really promote their business, made a ton of money, and lived happily ever after!