I might be shooting myself in the foot with this post....but I want to help small businesses and start ups, and these are some home truths that need telling.
Right, here goes. Here's what I know about being a start up:
Issue 1: You know more that you think. And even if you don't, it doesn't matter. No-one eats an elephant in one gulp. Take small bites and you will get through that bad boy. Don't let the fear of the unknown stop you from starting up your business. Focus on what you know, rather than things you don't.
Issue 2: You don't need to know EVERYTHING before you start. That is called procrastination. You can learn as you go. So what if you don't know how to run a webinar. Who cares that you aren't an expert on squeeze pages. Doesn't matter if you don't know how to get the most out of Facebook or how to do PR (and this is me - someone who sells a PR course - saying this!) Focus on what you can offer, who you can offer it to and how your offer will help them. Find one or two customers the old-fashioned way (email, telephone, networking, previous contacts) to get you started and add to your knowledge base as you go.
Issue 3: I bet your Facebook feed is littered with ads that seem tailor-made for you, telling you about yet another thing that you need. You inbox pings every few minutes with another newsletter that you've subscribed to in a bid to learn how to run this business of yours. It is really tempting to want to buy them all, read them all, try them all, particularly as most of them use cunning copy like: 'last few places remaining' or 'never to be run again' or 'turn your business into a six figure reality.' Here's a truth: there are probably more than a few places remaining, they probably will run it again and you probably won't turn your business into a six-figure reality just by buying what they're selling. There. I said it.
Absolutely do subscribe to newsletters where you learn something - plenty of people provide excellent information for free (me included). And do purchase those courses, ebooks or coaching sessions that you think will genuinely help your business. But more importantly, buy from people who you trust or who feel right. I have purchased from people who make things seem too good to be true, and you know what? They usually are too good to be true. If they are selling too hard, I walk away. So don't be tempted just because it's offered to you. Think about what your business needs and choose wisely.
Issue 4: Before I started Campfire, I spent money (approximately $800) on a service which I thought sounded incredible. It ticked all the boxes. I wouldn't say it was a waste because it helped me clarify what I wanted my business to look and feel like, but did it deliver what it promised? No. Was I wowed? No. Do I regret doing it? No. Would I be as quick to spend the money next time? No.
I had a client say to me this week that the reason she bought one of my products was because she liked the way my website made her feel. She felt it was honest and approachable. Yay! Because that's what I want it to be. And I hope that she found her call with me worth her money. Sometimes there is no way of knowing whether you will get what you paid for - some of it you just start to pick up on as you go. If they offer a free webinar before you have to commit to buy, do it and see if they sound credible. Be warned - you will often be made to feel that unless you BUY NOW you will be missing out on something huge. Think carefully about whether you like the sound of the person and whether you need what they are selling at this point in your business. If you know it's for you and you get the bonus freebie anyway, that's great. But don't let THAT be the thing that sways you.
Issue 5: As lovely as a money tree would be, it's far more likely that you will be able to afford all this help if you are earning money from your business. It's a catch-22. You need to learn this stuff to earn the money. And you need earn the money to pay for the stuff you want to learn. Spend the money on the things that are going to help your business most so that you can generate some income. Once you've got that, reinvest it into your second wave of learning. For some people, paying someone for a swanky website is going to be key. For others, a basic brochure DIY website will do, but you might need some really compelling copy to explain your concept so that people buy. Figure out what is going to drive your revenue and start there.
So having told those truths, how can I help you?
Take a browse around my website. I help you get clarity on where you want to take your business, create copy and a canvas for you, help you communicate your story out to the world, teach you how to do PR and run a retreat to help you connect with others.
This is some of the feedback I've had from clients recently:
'I love the Press Release - God you are awesome!!' Emma Heptonstall, The Divorce Alchemist
'Oh wow! Thank you for your help today, my head is buzzing with plans and I can't wait to start putting them into action. In one phone call you managed to understand my business and set me in the right direction on things I've been pondering on for months. You are a gem, thank you so much.' Stacey Hartley, Naturoso
'Thanks so much for a great call today, you've given me loads to think about & great ideas! Very excited!' Emma Browes, Feeling Fabulous Club
And this entire blog post from Sherry Hostler of The Cakehouse. Here's a snippet from it:
'I ...... spent the hour listening to Melissa’s webinar and scribbling down notes along the way. She impressed me so much that I immediately booked on to her online course “How to do your own smokin’ hot PR.” She had gone through the content of the course in her webinar which sounded absolutely perfect for me as a small business owner. I had expected the course to cost an absolute bomb, but the price was a pleasant surprise also. As I had booked on so quickly I was awarded with an hour of Melissa’s time as well, as an extra incentive. I am half way through the course at the moment, and so far it is proving to be a great success. It is giving me lots of insight into PR which will really help boost my company, it is easy to follow, and broken down into bite size chapters, so you can pick it up and put it down when you want to. I also had my call with Melissa last week, and it was bloomin’ marvellous. The hardest part was learning how to use Skype (obviously) so that we could actually talk face to face, but once I had that sorted it was really beneficial. She is such a nice, approachable woman, who gives some sterling advice, and is really happy to help.'
So there you have it. The truth about what you are likely to face as you embark on this grand adventure of running your own business. We're all in this together so do leave me a comment or drop me a note to share your experience. If I can help you, I will. xx