If you feel like there’s something out there that you’re supposed to be doing, if you have a passion for it, then stop wishing and just do it.
I chose this famous quote as the motto of the year in 2014.
I always dreamed about some kind of online business, which won’t stick me to the place where I live and help me to migrate to my historical homeland — Poland.
I was a co-founder of a distribution company, had 6 years in B2B marketing, often helped my friends with marketing, and finally decided to share my knowledge.
Nearly half of the year, I spent learning in-depth inbound marketing and SEO while working on my positioning and content strategy and scheduled the launch of my blog on the 1st of September (the Day of Knowledge in Ukraine 🙂 ).
But I faced two challenges:
- My second son was born in August, so I needed to help my wife
- My main business stagnated due to the economic crisis (we imported goods from Europe and sold in the national currency with the determination o payment) and the war in Eastern Ukraine.
We were living on $500-$700 per month in the rented apartments. At the same time, all day I spent working on the main business, in the evening — helping my wife, and in the night — writing the content for my blog.
I had to get off that hamster wheel.
As we were making losses, my business partner, who was the investor and invited me as a co-founder, started to pressure me.
These days made me crazy.
When I woke up, the only thing I dreamed about was the evening when I’ll close my laptop and turn the phone off.
As you bet, I didn’t make any money from the blog, had 0 consulting clients. The devil on my shoulder told me to quit all this stuff, forget about my dreams and focus on the current business.
As a result, before the New Year and Christmas, I was stressed, had problems with health, and was utterly despaired.
Few days before the New Year, I visited a doctor with my newborn. While my wife went to the doctor, I opened Tina Seelig’s book What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20.
I accidentally opened the book at the page where she shared the Steve Jobs’ Stanford speech.
If you never listened to it, just stop here and listen.
Jobs shared how he was fired from Apple, but this was the best thing ever happened to him.
That was an answer!
After the New Year, I met with my co-founder and told him I’m leaving.
I had no clue how I’ll earn money, but I was sure I can’t live anymore like I was living, and will figure out what to do.
My confidence was reinforced by 2 facts:
- I dropped out of college and started to work as the sales rep, and this was the best decision I ever made.
- I left my job as a trade marketing manager in my home city. I relocated with my family to the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv, taking 2 jobs. This led to a great marketing career and to the proposal to become the co-founder.
But this time, I had literally 0 savings, had 2 children, rented apartments, and needed quickly to find an income.
The first half of 2015 was really crazy.
Almost immediately I left the company, I signed a first consulting contract with Celltex s.r.o. It is a hygiene manufacturer from Slovakia, who produced the same assortment as Kimberly Clark (my first employer where I worked for 5 years).
The traffic for my blog grew from 1.000 visitors per month to 16.000, and I got more clients, which helped to migrate to Krakow, Poland, in the fall, 2015.
I was the happiest person in the world!
Before Christmas, I was writing in my diary, the key learnings.
What I realized is that all my life before this year, I was focusing on the monetary goals.
I was pursuing a better job with a better compensation plan. I wanted to make money to migrate and then find my passion.
But I really never loved what I was doing day today.
The second takeaway was that when you stop making money and don’t love what you do, you start slowly poisoning and killing yourself.
It took me 2 years to grow my consulting practice, create one of the most popular marketing blogs with 35.000 unique visitors for Russian-speaking audience, and grow one of the most popular business media CEO Club.
I had a stable income but felt I’m not reaching my full potential.
I always dreamed of working globally, but my inner critique stopped me.
I thought I wasn’t experienced enough, I’m not a native speaker, I’m literally Noname — who’d listen to me?
I decided to create a Facebook community called B2B Marketers&Founders, which once more entirely changed my life.
I found my co-founder Ricardo Ghekiere who helped to grow this community.
I got acquainted with the best marketing minds as Matt Heinz, Sujan Patel, Gaetano Di Nardi, and met like-minded people everywhere in Europe.
I launched my new blog (this time in English) Getleado and was involved in several long-term consulting projects.
That last fact made a significant impact on my life.
After growing B2B marketers&founders to 3 000 members, I got a question.
What you’d say yourself at the beginning of your career while knowing everything you know now?
Nowadays I can confidently answer:
If you feel like there’s something out there that you’re supposed to be doing, if you have a passion for it, then stop wishing and just do it. Start doing it as early as possible!
I hope my story will give you a little bit of motivation during a pandemic.
How to Stand Out As a Solopreneur by @DONNAAMOS
by Donna Amos | Featured Contributor
Building a business as a solopreneur can be fun, yet overwhelming. The most important job you have is working to stand out among the competition. This requires the right amount of focus so that you are continuously working toward more leads and sales inside your business. Here are tips that will help you build a larger business year over year.
Stick to the plan you’ve laid out for your business. Get ready for being challenged on your journey and understand that a business owner’s path is never a continuous upward climb. You’ll encounter difficulties and challenges on your way to the top. There will be times when it feels as though nothing is working. That’s when you need to be consistent in your effort to identify what works and what doesn’t. Course correct and continue onward from there.
Develop New Skills
Work hard to develop new skills that help build your business. For example, you need to become good at the following skills as a business owner:
- Content creation
You’ll discover that your business profits will increase the more you broaden your skillset.
Attend Networking Events
When things return to somewhat normal then get back out there. Attend local events to meet and network with future customers. Use your Chamber of Commerce to find out about the various events happening in your local area. Many virtual events are available now. Check out Meetups and begin building your network. Practice your what you do dialogue and get it down to 30 seconds: who do you help, what is the problem you help them with and what are the results after working with you.
Would you rather build your business entirely online? Try the hundreds of Twitter chats that occur each day. As your Twitter account grows, start your own chat and get conversations going that eventually end up with bringing new customers on board.
Use Testimonials Effectively
Nothing stands out better to potential customers than seeing what your current customers say about you. Testimonials are social proof in a world where people need to see that others are happy with your product or service. Get creative in the beginning by capturing screenshots of nice comments customers have made on Facebook or Instagram. Ask those people if you can show their headshot and comment as a testimonial to others.
Join Facebook or LinkedIn Groups
Take the time to build a reputation as an expert inside LinkedIn or Facebook groups. Don’t overtly promote and sell in these groups. Instead, offer tips and expertise that show that you’re there to help others. Do the following inside these groups:
- Contribute to the threads
- Answer questions
- Engage with other members
You’ll soon be an expert authority in that community. Opportunities to do business will arise when others in need of your help start reaching out to you personally.
Stay In Contact With Customers
Use snail mail or email to stay in contact with former and existing customers. Nothing stands out more in today’s world than a simple thank you. Thank them for being a customer and ask how you might help going forward. Mention any special offers you have at this time, as well.
Consider a quick video message using a tool such as Loom. Send a thank you note in the mail. Anything you do to personally connect with customers will go a long way in gaining their business again and again.
Create a Facebook Business Page
Create a Facebook page and become active on it. You can get comments, reviews and messages from leads and customers on your page. Use various forms of content to connect with prospects, such as:
Use Facebook Live to periodically get yourself in front of followers. More people will show up for these sessions as your number of followers grows because Facebook notifies them when you start a new Live session. Use your Facebook Live sessions to:
- Provide helpful tips
- Inform leads about sales and promotions
- Use it as a selling webinar
Use Instagram Effectively
Stand out on Instagram by using images effectively. Make sure your profile is completely filled out with a link back to your most important URL. Use a high-quality profile picture and research hashtags that are relevant for your business.
Use stories to engage with your fans. Post excellent images on a daily basis with the correct hashtags so your core target market can find you. Convert your account to a business profile after reaching 10,000 followers so that you can add links to the stories that you post. This will increase the amount of traffic over to your email opt-in landing pages.
Stand Out With YouTube Marketing
People are increasingly consuming video content online. Start a YouTube channel and publish weekly video content to it. This is one of the most effective ways to stand out as a solopreneur if you work at your channel consistently. Your subscriber base will grow steadily if you post great tips and ideas and encourage viewers to subscribe.
YouTube videos will help your website search engine rankings improve as well. The reason is that you can embed your videos on your site’s pages. As your visitors watch these videos, Google notices that they’re on your site for a longer amount of time. This is one of the metrics that helps improve your overall search rankings.
Don’t forget to optimize your videos for quality rankings in the YouTube search engine. Optimize by using:
- An attractive video thumbnail
- Detailed descriptions
- Linking to other relevant resources
Stand Out With Your Website
One of the best ways to gain customers inside your small business is getting good at attracting prospects who are further along the buying cycle. Some people are online searching for general information around your topic and niche. Others have done their research already and are now just about ready to buy.
You want to create content on your website that attracts both types of people. However, the more you can attract the people who are ready to buy, the more effective your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts will become.
Your website will stand out well if you focus on putting out excellent content that informs and educates. Do keyword research and find keywords that have the following words in them:
These terms indicate that your visitor is looking for the best company to buy from. If your content gets found in the search engines for those types of terms, then you will notice an increase in the quality of your site’s visitors from a purchasing standpoint.
Don’t forget to also create “how-to” content to capture visitors just starting down their research path. You’ll have the ability to capture them as leads and nurture them into buying from you later.
Use Email Marketing Intelligently
Your ultimate goal to stand out as a business owner should be to build an email marketing list. An email list allows you to market to your prospects over time until they trust you enough to buy your products or services. Work hard to place strategic ways for people to become email subscribers on your website and social media channels.
Send out weekly or bi-weekly newsletters that provide helpful content for your subscribers. Educate them and help make their lives better. Link them to your new blog articles or social media posts. Send them to your latest YouTube video. Ask yourself how you can best nurture them along so they come to trust you enough to buy from you.
If you take the time to build a large email newsletter list over time, then you will discover that you can often create revenue on demand by sending out the right offer or discount at the appropriate time.
Standing out as a solopreneur isn’t as difficult as you might think it is. Yes, the marketing world is a noisy one with many business owners trying to get their messages out. Your job is to use the above tips in a way that resonates well with your target market. Teach them something valuable first. They will notice that you’re different from your competitors and will buy from you.
A Bigger Truth About Restaurant Food Delivery
I was listening to Dan Primack’s podcast on Pro Rata and he was interviewing Senator Klobucher who is now publicly and vocally speaking out against Uber purchasing Grubhub and has tried to mobilize against this.
Her argument is that if Uber buys Grubhub (which itself once merged with Seamless) it would mean that Uber Eats / Grubhub would control half the market and that with DoorDash the two together would control 90% of the market. I think that’s a largely flawed fight to be picking and of all the uses of Senator Klobuchar’s I could think of some much more productive fights to be having.
For starters Uber itself has had to lay off 27% of its workforce due to the pandemic and has been severely impacted financially from the crisis with no immediate respite in sight. Its core business was already struggling to become profitable, so having tertiary businesses like food delivery that can deliver needed profits would be welcome to their financial stability. And the market would still have DoorDash and PostMates duking it out as well as the potential that players like Instacart broaden their business one day or Amazon gets into food delivery.
Even more likely is eventual technology disruption where drones deliver foods and make it hard for existing car delivery services to compete. It won’t happen right away but I’ve seen some innovative companies doing exactly this in places like Australia where they are taking a more liberal approach to allowing drone deliveries. Therein lies the advantages of free markets and competition and if we really believed it were that easy to buy off your largest competitor and be a monopolist we’d all be surfing on AOL TimeWarner portals.
But the broader issue that hasn’t garnered much press attention is how the restaurant industry itself is being transformed and what tools a modern restaurant will need to compete. What is the Shopify of the restaurant industry? I have some compelling data that suggests it may just become ChowNow.
We know that the restaurant business already operates on thin margins and many struggle to survive. So when delivery services came along many were willing to pay the fee to try and increase business. It was only about 10–15% of their actual total revenue per month so for many it wasn’t a battle worth fighting — they just put up with the food delivery company fees. Customers were happy and restaurants focused on their in-store business.
The problem for the restaurants is that the more successful the “aggregators” of customer demand become over time, the less power the restaurants themselves have individually. This will largely be true whether you have 2 strong competitors or 5 because unless a delivery company can make a profit it won’t continue to stay in business.
The delivery companies own the customer relationship and can drive traffic to the most profitable restaurants for them. Obviously if you have a great restaurant brand with differentiated food people search for you by name but for many people looking for pizza, sushi, Mexican food, Thai food, whatever, you might go with the choice put in front of you if it’s being recommended or delivered more quickly. The delivery companies also own many of the assets like the photography so they can make certain options look much more attractive.
So just like when Groupon came out many small merchants welcomed the uptick in traffic, without owning the customer you lose the most valuable asset — the ability to re-market to your customer base and encourage them to become more loyal and more frequent customers. You lose the ability to up-sell and cross-sell products. And just like with Groupon the small businesses ended up having many unprofitable customers.
At Upfront we always took the approach that we wanted to back startups that enabled merchants to own the customer relationship and to increase profits by becoming excellent at marketing and serving ones most loyal customers.
So several years ago we backed a company called ChowNow that enables restaurants to offer self-service ordering for pick-up or delivery and the restaurant owns all of the customer information and relationship — ChowNow is simply a SaaS enablement product.
The company has done well over the past several year but never really captured the same press mindshare as the food delivery companies because when a company shows up at your house you get to know that brand rather than the tech that enables restaurants.
Covid-19 has changed all of that. Whereas pickup & delivery may have been 10–15% of a restaurant’s business before it’s currently 100% and when it’s your entire business the thought of paying huge commissions to a third-party delivery service becomes much less attractive. So while many restaurants knew they eventually needed to invest in better order management software, many had been putting it off.
But just as many product or apparel companies were happy selling at Amazon, Walmart or Nordstrom in the past and have lately realized the importance of Shopify and serving customers directly — so, too, are restaurants. Enter ChowNow.
What data do I have to make the case?
- ChowNow now has 17,000 restaurants using its SaaS platform for take-out and delivery and is adding more than 2,000 / month right now (and trending up)
- 10 million diners now use the ChowNow ordering platform vs. 24 million for GrubHub, so like Shopify while they built the customer base slowly and with capital efficiency they are now rivaling the bigger players in footprint
- Last year they were serving 50,000 customers / day through their platform and did approximately $500 million in GMV (the value of the orders placed), this year they are on track to do $3 billion (with a B) and expect to end the year at a revenue run rate that may top $100 million (yes, I asked for permission to publish these numbers).
If you want to see a short spot that outlines the importance of the restaurant industry arming itself with better software tools to serve and market to their customers you may enjoy this 60-second video that makes it clear why it matters. It speaks volumes to why we all love our local restauranteurs and want to see them survive …
Or if you want to see the argument laid out clearly by a customer, look no further than Motorino Pizza in NYC who posted this note that appears before you enter their website:
How to Maximize the Contributions of 4 Diverse Work Styles
Contributed by Justin M. Deonarine, an industrial organizational psychologist with Psychometrics Canada, which provides psychometric assessments to help businesses hire the right individuals and develop teams and leaders. We asked Deonarine about the benefits of diversity to an organization. Here’s what he shared.
The business case for diversity is undisputed. However, age, gender and ethnicity aren’t the only areas in which you can create diversity in your organization. Differences in your employees’ work styles can also bring diverse perspectives that benefit and elevate your organization.
To learn why differing work styles might be an invisible amplifier to your company’s diversity efforts, check out Deonarine’s article on EO’s Inc. channel.
A Framework to Understand People
You might be asking, “How can I identify and understand the differences between people, without having years of training?” Don’t worry, I’m asked this question a lot.
I find that it’s easiest to start with a framework, such as the one below. To use it, consider two key features of yourself:
- What do you focus on more—tasks or people?
- Do you make plans before taking action, or do you jump in and figure things out as you go?
Characteristics from these two questions are plotted below on the vertical and horizontal axes, creating four distinct work styles.
What Are the Characteristics of Each Work Style?
Now that you’ve identified your basic approach, match it with the characteristics in the chart below. Does it describe you?
+ Organize and structure work, resources, and people to achieve goals.
+ Make decisions quickly and take quick action to implement them.
+ Take clear positions—people know where you stand.
– May decide too quickly and move to action before others are ready.
– May not see the impacts of decisions on others.
+ Seek out, analyze, and organize vast amounts of information.
+ Use a hands-off leadership approach, empowering others to act.
+ Flexible and tolerant of a diversity of workstyles and ideas.
– May not give others enough direction.
– May put off decisions for too long.
+ Strive for consensus and harmony.
+ Motivated by a vision that is based on values and the group’s mission.
+ Solicit information and ideas from others, and include them in decision-making.
– May focus on relationships to the detriment of task completion.
– May put off tough decisions and avoid confronting difficult people.
+ Coach, encourage, involve and energize others.
+ Seek out and gather lots of information.
+ Stay flexible and respond quickly to changing environments.
– May change direction so quickly that they appear inconsistent.
– May resist structure and not appreciate others’ need for systems and processes
Management Techniques to Get the Best From Each Work Style
Not only will you, as a leader, have these individual style preferences, but your employees will also have them. This means that you must adapt to a variety of styles that do not match your own.
You may not understand your employee’s behaviors or choices, and your employees may not understand yours. However, you will need to be able to adapt and lead accordingly.
Below, I’ve outlined some behaviors to be mindful of when engaging with your employees, as well as ways to help them stay engaged with their roles.
As an industrial organizational psychologist, Justin M. Deonarine is engaged in data-driven research to develop custom solutions that help individuals and organizations optimize performance. He works with Psychometrics Canada, an EO member–owned company.
How to Stand Out As a Solopreneur by @DONNAAMOS
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