7 Tough Business Lessons I Learned The Hard Way (so you don’t have to)

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2015 was an incredibly good year for Be Visible. But frankly, I’m a bit surprised that business grew so much. All year long I felt like I was tripping over myself. I had some big wins but I also made some really dumb mistakes. Because of my mistakes I found better solutions, so I want to share them with you. I hope I can help you avoid some of the pain and aggravation I endured! Here goes:

The 7 Powerful Business Lessons I Learned From My Big Year


Lesson #1 Identify & Zero-In On ONE Ideal Customer Persona

You probably have a pretty good idea of who your ideal client is, right? I thought I did, too. But I was merely scratching the surface and that resulted in tons of conversations with people who were not well suited for my services. So, in 2015 I decided to bite the bullet, choose one ideal client persona and commit to focus all my marketing and promotional efforts into attracting that person. No lie: suddenly new customers began to find me and they perfectly fit into my ideal customer persona.

 

The magic of this process was so profound that I created the Ideal Customer Identification Formula and it has become the launching point in my content marketing course, Blog School. Students say it’s a life-changer and there’s nothing better than hearing that. If you have a lot of conversations (or get a lot of visits to your website) that don’t result in sales…you need to make a commitment to one ideal customer now. It’s magical!

content upgrade ideal customer checklist

Lesson #2: Give Your Website Some Love

With all the buzz around social media marketing it’s easy to neglect your website. LISTEN TO ME: Your website is the only thing on the web that you actually own (and have total control over). You should use social media, it’s awesome. But if you’re spending all your time there, you can be the victim of decisions that are out of your control.

Last year I stopped neglecting my website and went through a redesign. The process forced me to redefine my brand and really focus on the thought processes of my ideal client when she needs my help.

Now it’s paying off big time with a steady stream of new customers that are exactly the people that I want to work with. Google processes 40,000 queries per second! If you don’t think your ideal customers are looking for you on Google, think again. Come on! Give your website some love this year (need some advice? reach out!)

Lesson #3: Trademark Your Brand Name

Back in 2008 I chose the name Be Visible. Yep, I should have applied for the trademark right then but I didn’t. The task moved so far to the bottom of my to-do list that at some point it just fell off. So, last year to my dismay the inevitable happened. Someone else started using Be Visible

Enter the lawyers. With their help I was able to secure my trademark. But instead of making a small investment of a few hundred dollars and a little bit of time back in 2008, I spent thousands in lawyers’ fees and gave up hours of valuable time.
Got a company? Got brand name? Trademark it now! (Reach out to me if you need a referral to a great trademark attorney).

Lesson #4: No More Social Media Busywork
There are now more social media platforms to choose from than ever before (and new ones sprouting up all the time). I had two assistants posting content on all the sites all the time. And guess, what? I was not seeing a return on investment…I was just paying a lot in freelance fees.

So, I made a decision to focus on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The result? I spend less time and money on social media. I keep my eye on all the other platforms and I still test them all, but my focus is where my customers are most likely to be hanging out.

If you spend hours upon hours posting content on social media and sometimes don’t even know why…stop it. You have a business to run! Choose your platforms and share your content and get those people over to your website. (If you want to find out more about my approach to social media, let me know.)

Lesson #5: Collaborate And Partner
Over the years I created a unique approach to online marketing and in late 2014 I decided it was something I could teach to other entrepreneurs. I wanted to put all my focus into training and teaching, but people were still asking me for help with website development, long-term SEO and social media management. I had a hard time saying no and in 2015 I was becoming overwhelmed with work.  

Then I got the brilliant idea to put together a group of trusted “partners” that I can refer my clients to for the work that I no longer offer. They all have my high standards and I know they will take extra good care of my clients. Now I don’t have to say no. Instead with confidence I can say “I have the perfect person to refer you to who is a pro at what you need.” Put your “team” together and it will pay off in less work for you (and you will get leads from them, too!).

Lesson #6: Take A Mental Health Day (Or Half-Day)
I have a bad habit: I work too hard and too much. In mid 2015 I was suffering from mental fatigue. Fatigue can keep you from enjoying even the things you  love to do…even when you have time off. I needed to make a change, so I decided to start taking mental health days for myself.

A mental health day for me means NO INTERNET. In the summer it can be a beach day with a real book (no kindle) and intermittent naps. Winter is a bit more challenging, but you can sometimes find me at the movies in the middle of the afternoon. I must admit, a full day off when I have work on my desk is a big challenge, but when I can eke out a half-day that even helps. If you feel fatigued, get away from the computer! Your brain will thank you.

Lesson #7: Hire People To Do The Stuff You Shouldn’t Be Doing Yourself (Even If You Like Doing That Stuff)
When you’re a pseudo geek like me it’s hard to let someone else do what you know you can do (or figure out how to do) yourself. I learned this lesson the hard way last year while preparing for a webinar. I was in a hurry and set up the the entire campaign in just a few hours: landing page, onboarding emails, Facebook ads, follow-up sequence, etc.

OMG What a fail! I had pasted the wrong link in the emails. I made targeting mistakes in the ads. And I even went way over my budget on the ads (beware of Facebook’s default to $350/day). None of the 85 people who signed up could log onto the webinar. I wasted hours upon hours of prep time and received a big credit card bill from Facebook, too.

So, mid-year I hired a wonderful virtual assistant and a Facebook ad pro and now they take care all that stuff for me. I can’t begin to tell you what a relief it is. Just because you can do it doesn’t mean that you should do it so stop trying to be a geek and get some help. (Need a referral? Lemme know).

So there you have it, folks. Seven tough business lessons I learned the hard way in 2015. Anything here you can use? Let me know!

 

Betsy Kent

Betsy Kent

I work with ambitious entrepreneurs and businesses to uncover exactly who their ideal customers really are, what they want more than anything else in the world, and the perfect words to use on their websites, in their marketing, and when they talk about their business. I've guided hundreds of clients through my signature process and formula, and as a result, they’ve generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in new business revenue with more ease and confidence than ever before.

1 Comment

  1. Jane Ranzman on February 11, 2016 at 7:11 pm

    Very helpful advice. Especially lessons #1-#7. For me, the greatest roadblock is thinking I’m going to do all this myself. Six months later…still thinking that. Good to be “busted.”
    Thanks Betsy!

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