Entrepreneurs used to be the exception. But as the traditional job market is changing, business ownership is on the rise. In fact, last month, Business Insider reported that 3 out of 10 people who work full-time also have a side hustle.
Multiple factors are at play here as to why there’s a sudden rush of independent business owners, but there’s no doubt that a huge factor is a decrease in the necessary funds to begin a business. No massive down payment, loan approval, or real estate is required anymore. Basically, all you need now is an idea and a phone, and you can be in business.
Growing an online platform has never been simpler than it is today. But with the increase of the number of businesses in the market, coupled with constant social media algorithm changes, it’s also much more challenging to build a platform that stands apart from the rest.
But contrary to what we may think, the latest tech tools aren’t the X-factor for brand visibility. For platform growth, we’ll have to look inside ourselves to pull out these five non-negotiable tools.
I remember at the beginning of building my first online platform, I would post something I was really excited about, and then constantly hit the refresh button, waiting for someone to comment. After a few hours of little to no engagement, I would text a few friends and ask them to comment or “like” it. Eventually, it grew to where I didn’t have to get pity comments and likes, but for the first year or so, my business engagement was painfully low.
Nine years into my entrepreneur journey, I can honestly say that my content hasn’t changed much. My message is still the same as it was in the beginning. But I had to endure the growing pains that included persevering through the “crickets.”
Just because people aren’t engaging with you in the beginning, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a good product or idea. It just means that you’re at the beginning. Trust the process. It won’t happen overnight. Stay patient.
Coupled with patience, consistency is also required. Your consistency is most important in:
Showing Up: Once you start, don’t stop. If you think getting started is hard, just wait until you have to start over. Starting over will at least double the difficulty.
Message: When your message changes, your audience will also change. So changing up your message won’t add to your audience. It will simply swap out one person for another.
In my best estimation, I believe 97% of business owners ask the wrong question. They ask, “What’s someone else doing that’s working that I can also do?” Wrong. Every time innovation is imitated, the innovative factor deteriorates. It might work in the short term, but when that’s our innovative strategy, we’re always at the mercy of waiting for someone else to have an idea.
Instead, the question we should be asking is, “What is no one else doing that I can do?” It doesn’t mean you have to come up with a completely new product or service. But what’s your unique spin on it that’s true to you?
This is what I know for sure: Just look around at our magnificent world. From the impressive Grand Canyon to our breathtaking mountains and pristine beaches, our God is not lacking in creativity. Don’t look around to see what others are doing. Look to Him for direction in how you can best use the gifts, talents, and abilities He gave you. Ask the One who put it in you to pull it out of you.
The best businesses aren’t set up to glorify themselves. They’re set up to serve their customers by adding value to their lives. So if you’re just looking to build a brand to inflate your ego, be warned. People can sniff out fake easily. If an inside glance into your business shows them you’re more interested in your personal gain than their gain, they won’t stay long.
When your business genuinely helps others, they will be loud about it. The best way to grow an online brand organically is by serving your customers so well that they can’t help but brag about you to their networks. But remember – people don’t brag about average. They brag on exceptional. Figure out how to serve your customers in exceptional ways, and you’ll grow exponentially.
What will keep you going on the hard days? How will you push through when it feels like every card is stacked against you? What will make you try again when you fail? (Because at some point, you inevitably will!)
I see it over and over again. A paycheck won’t do it. A position won’t do it. Passion will.
Especially in the beginning, a lot of people find entrepreneurship to be much less glamorous than they thought it would be. The best way to guarantee you will continue to show up for the hard, messy days (that make up the majority of business ownership) is if you genuinely care about your business mission and purpose.
These traits aren’t for sale anywhere. They’re inside of you. And if you’re disciplined enough to pursue them for the long haul, you will outlast everyone else that takes the cheaper route. I’m rooting for you!
Michelle Myers has helped hundreds of women develop successful online platforms over the last decade. If you’re interested in joining an academy or pursuing consulting with Michelle to get help launching your online brand, click here for more information.