I work for myself, which means I work for everybody else. Generally, it’s a fine way to spend your waking hours though it can have moments of dread and terror as well as exhilaration. While the exhilarating moments can vary widely from one entrepreneur to another the dread and terror often have a common root cause — revenue.
These feelings come and go and it’s hard to predict. First you have none so you go out and sell, sell, sell until your book of business is heavy with commitments. Then a funny thing happens. Like many small business people at that point, I take off my sales hat and put on my work boots and do the thing I really like and the process regenerates itself. Before I know it, there isn’t enough new work or revenue coming in and I need to restart the sales engine yet again.
No matter how I have tried to change my business model these two extremes seem to run my life and I have gotten to the point where I just think it’s normal. But does it have to be? It might have been true in earlier decades but I don’t think it’s true today — not with social media, analytics and mobile technologies.
Even if you’re a solo worker, a micro company or, my favorite, an outdoor dog, there are plenty of things you can do today — and technologies you can use — to sell when you are too busy. If you get the hang of it you can make the phone ring without much effort, but here’s the awful truth, it takes time. Think of it like a big locomotive. It starts off slowly but as it gains momentum it becomes a powerful force.
So how do you get from Point A to Point B? First understand that the momentum you build is the quantity and quality of information you post on the Internet through social media and that it can take many forms. For instance, your business might lend itself to blogging. You can post short pithy statements that demonstrate your expertise that also help people solve problems. Before long you’ll be thought of in your circle as an expert, someone people go to for answers. And some of those people will realize you’re the right person to go to when they have to spend money to solve a problem.
Generally, this is called content marketing or inbound marketing and there’s one more thing you need to know. Lots of people are already doing this and the way to get noticed is through search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is just an easy way to tell the search engines what your content contains through the use of key words. In a way you’re telling the search engines how to store and retrieve your information when people are looking for it through their key word searches.
The neat thing about social media — and this works for blogs, websites, video and social networks — is that it’s always there giving your message and never taking a break.
I know what you’re thinking. I am not an expert! Well, you don’t have to be. You simply need to be able to tell the truth about something you already know about. Think of it like a bank account. If you add a little every week pretty soon you have a lot. And whatever you do, don’t think of this as a chore. Think of it as sharing valuable ideas with friends — here’s something I just ran across that I thought was cool. More often than not you’ll be right.
Denis Pombriant is Managing Principal at Beagle Research Group.