Guest blog post from Christy Strauch
Social media makes now a perfect time to turn your passion into profit. The advent of social media has brought with it the opportunity for small businesses to succeed as never before. But customers don’t just want to buy the most popular, cheapest or fastest product or service – they want to buy from someone they believe in. The author explains why there has never been a better time than this to create an authentic business based on passion; and how to create a step-by-step business plan to achieve it.
If you are ready to join the ranks of small business owners who love what they do and make good money doing it, (and you are also willing to do a great job, and to tell people how to find you), this is what to do.
First, do a business plan. Yes, I know I wrote a book about how to do a business plan. It seems like my advice might be self-serving. But there is a reason why there is a whole rack of books at your local bookstore dedicated to writing business plans. Business plans are challenging, they can be time-consuming, and doing one will make you have to really think; but They Work.
Here are the 12 components of a business plan as I define them:
- The Purpose of your business. Why you, why this business, why now?
- Your Vision. Where do you want to be in twelve months? In three years?
- Your business Mission. What do you do, and who do you do it for?
- Your Values. What are the values that will guide you in making the inevitable difficult decisions?
- Your People. Who are your best customers, and how do you reach them?
- Your Strategies. As your values are your moral compass, your strategies are your business compass. What will you use to guide your business decisions?
- Your Unique Selling Proposition. What’s different about your business compared to everyone else doing similar work?
- What are your Strengths and Weaknesses (things you have control over); and your Opportunities and Threats (things you can’t control, but still affect you)?
- Your business Income. Where will your sales come from?
- Your business Expenses. What will you have to spend money on to run your business?
- Your Key Measurements. What numbers do you need to watch, to make sure your business is on track?
- Finally, your Goals. What do you want to accomplish in the next twelve months?
Once you’ve completed your plan, the second step is to understand your customers: what they like about you and your business; what they want more and less of; and how to talk to them in a way that makes sense. To them.
Luckily for you, this will be simple; (time-consuming, perhaps, but simple). One of the great strengths you have as a small business owner is your relationships with your customers. This is where you have to go deep. You need to understand both their demographic characteristics (age, address, education, income level, etc.), but also their psychographic characteristics (what they do for fun, what makes them do business with you, what are their attitudes about everything related to your business, and other relevant questions).
If you’re wondering how to do this research because you don’t yet have any customers, go talk to the people you want to serve when you open your new business, and find out this information from them. This will help you avoid lots of marketing mistakes later.
Third, talk to your customers regularly, in language they understand, about subjects that interest them. That’s where social media comes in. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogging are all ways you can reach your best customers, for zero dollars (but a significant time commitment).
This is also where the authenticity comes in. Your prospective customers will be attracted to you as a person; your purpose in having your business in the first place, your vision, your values. The more transparent you are about your business and yourself, the more successful you will be in attracting your perfect customers (of course, using a little discretion. Some details need to be reserved for family and friends).
The Internet and social media have given us as small business owners a great gift: the ability to create conversations with our prospective customers, wherever they are in the world. Use this gift to make authentic connections with the people you want to serve. These connections will form the foundation for the success of your business.
Christy Strauch is the author of Passion, Plan, Profit: 12 Simple Steps to Convert Your Passion into a Solid Business. In addition she is president of Clarity To Business and has worked with over 300 small business owners, from artists to real estate agents, helping them do what they are passionate about – and make a profit. Her book is available at Amazon.com – Click here to order.