Here we are in a new year! It’s hard to believe 2016 is over and a new year is already here—and we’re a month in! As small business owners, we are always setting new goals for our brands. But before you set your next big intention, pull out your calendar and recap all the different things that you were involved in over the year. The first part of a new year is a wonderful time to review and reflect. Do an in depth inventory and determine the wins, the losses and everything in between.
This is an exercise that I do annually. After nine years of being in the photography and branding industry, I have participated in all sorts of business tools from courses to conferences. I have learned that sometimes you have to spend money to make money and move the needle of your business. From my experience, I have discovered these following investments were the most critical in growing my business.
One to One Mentorship
Be it with a strategist or coach, the opportunity to work one to one with a business expert is super valuable. This year I hired a business strategist to help me with my business model and marketing plan. I met with her virtually every other week and loved having access to her help, knowledge and experience. She dug into my business, asked questions about my process and my vision. She helped me refine my offerings, my pricing structure and create a plan for 2017. When you work alone most of the time, having another person on your team who is invested in your success is a complete game changer.
We all need support and accountability to succeed. A group mastermind is an exclusive community where you are all working together toward your own personal goals. This year I participated in a group mastermind led by a coach. It was another worthwhile business experience because the group provides meaningful feedback, helps you brainstorm new ideas, encourages you when you are stuck and helps keep you focused on the end goal. I felt part of a team and always had someone checking in on my progress. This helped keep me feeling inspired and on track.
In-Person Local Networking
Inquire about local networking groups or meetups. It is healthy to get out of your office and meet people in the flesh. This face to face interaction is huge for establishing trust and building relationships. It also enables you to practice public speaking, networking skills and sales. Plus, you may encounter new opportunities to collaborate or develop partnerships at a local level. I have found huge success from meeting people offline. I have made strong friendships and built a strong referral network.
Yes, I am a photographer and obviously believe in visual storytelling. But as a business owner, I see the power of images and how it can communicate your brand story. We live in a visual world and strong, impactful photos can help your brand rise above the noise and connect with your ideal client. Brand photos can share not only what you do but how it feels to work with you. Plus, when you invest in your photos, you are sending the message that you are a legitimate professional and an expert in your industry.
Content is king! It is so important to communicate your voice and message in an authentic manner. Our world is a noisy one so to attract the right people, we need to be compelling and persuasive in our pitches, launches, presentations, etc. As solopreneurs, sometimes we can’t wear all the hats in our business. Sometimes we are just too close to our work and have trouble communicating our services effectively. Hiring an expert wordsmith to either write your copy for you or teach you how to tap into your unique voice is a valuable investment that has long term effects. After investing in a copywriter for my website, I felt so much more confident that my message was clear and unique to me.
As you work your way through 2017, think about what you want to invest in to build your brand. How do you like to learn? Where do you see gaps and room for growth? Where do you want to take your brand in the next five years? Then consider these options mentioned above. Depending on if you’re new or seasoned in business, you may not be able to participate in all of these ideas. But I encourage you to try one or two. In any case, any investment in YOU and your business is a good one.