We all follow some of the big names in our industry; those online gurus and experts who have gone on before us. I have a few big names I follow too. These experts typically will share business strategies they’ve used to get where they are and I follow them because I value their knowledge and enjoy hearing how they’re making business and life work together. Often I pick up tips from them too–ways I can better organize my day, work with my clients, shift my mindset, or market my business.
But one thing I’m well aware of is that what these big names do won’t necessarily work for me too. It takes some real picking and choosing to find the right tips and tricks that work for me.
Other people would call these tactics, but I really try to avoid using that word. To me, tactics has a negative connotation–it implies that you’re trying to pull a fast one on someone. That’s not what we should be doing in business. Instead, we can use tips, tricks, strategies, plans, blueprints, etc to help nurture our business.
So why won’t the experts’ business tips work for you, the small, growing micro-business owner? Well of course, some of them may. But you have to be careful about choosing the right ones to try in your business.
Too Far Removed
Let me start with a story that is truly the catalyst for this post.
I was an elementary school teacher for 13 years. Teaching was my second career and I went into it at around 27 years old after working in nonprofit public relations for five years. One of the things that frustrated me about teaching is that the decisions that were made about how we teach and what we do in the classroom were made by non-teachers. Sometimes, in the case of the state legislature, they were never teachers. But often, at the school and district level, decisions were made and forced on us by people who used to be teachers.
This should have given them the insight they needed to make solid, quality decisions in the best interest of the students. However, decisions were often made based around finances and bad policies. Too often, those decisions were not in the best interest of the students we were supposed to be supporting. Sure, some of the people making the decisions used to be teachers, but they were too far removed from the classroom to know what it was really like there.
They’d lost touch and forgotten what it was like in the trenches.
I think the same is true for the gurus we all go to for insight and wisdom. I’m not knocking them at all. What they’ve done to build their businesses is inspirational! They’ve done the hard, grueling work and now they’re able to bring on team members to help them continue that growth.
Sometimes, that’s where the disconnect comes from. Because they’re no longer in the trenches, they forget what it’s like. They don’t see the struggle–especially as the marketplace gets more crowded.
That is reason #1 that the experts’ strategies won’t work for you. They’re too far from where you are to have the right answers for you and your business. They’ve forgotten what it looks and feels like in the trenches and are often sharing ideas from where they are now–not where they were.
Unique Business Strategies for You
Blanket solutions don’t work. It’d sure be nice if the same strategies work for everyone, but they just don’t. Every single business is unique and every business owner has his or her own way of doing things. Some strategies feel better than others and it’s important to recognize that and do what works for you, your business, and your customers.
For example, video and podcasting are the things to do right now. But if your audience isn’t listening to podcasts (which is often the case in B2C businesses), it doesn’t make sense to start one. Instead, find what works for you and go to where your audience is!
If one person is doing it, then everyone is doing it. This goes for just about everything. If a big name recommends a specific strategy and everyone jumps on the bandwagon, how will you stand out? You won’t.
I remember being on vacation the week that Anchor hit it big. It was a fun, new way to produce micro podcasts–a really easy and free way to get your voice out there. Everyone was jumping onto Anchor and I’ll admit, I set up an account to make sure no one stole my name. (I was dedicated to NOT working during my time away, but I felt like I was missing out.)
People used it like crazy… for a week or two. And then just as quickly, people stopped using it. Although it now seems to be making a resurgence in the true podcasting world, for a while there it felt defunct because people hopped on and off so fast. This is why you can’t rely on bandwagon business strategies to build your platform.
Budget Size and Reach
Their budget is so much bigger than yours. Their list is bigger, their team is bigger, everything is bigger! And that means they’re more capable of reaching more people quicker than you can. It doesn’t hurt their pockets as much to put out that big ad spend for a new product or offering. It’s easier for them to get more traction, more quickly.
There are different strategies that work with smaller lists, limited budgets, and tiny teams. These are strategies that the big names may or may not be using anymore.
Yes, it’s going to be more time out of your day or week. Yes, it might mean hiring a contractor to help you with some things. But your wallet will thank you for not diving in head-first to a strategy that’s going to suck a bunch of cash out of your business. Do ads work? Sure. But if someone with a larger ad budget than you is promoting at the same time to a similar audience, chances are that you’re not going to get much traction. So tread lightly!
Listening to the gurus talk at events, on podcasts, and online is so motivating and helpful–as long as you take what they say with a grain of salt. If you need help from someone who is still in the trenches with you (I’m talking about me, folks), head to my free resource bank for business owners. You’ll have access to all the freebies and some of the training I’ve created over my years of business ownership.