As you’ve probably (definitely) heard by now, Local Collaborative just hit our first year in business. Maybe you’re here from watching this video.
While I wouldn’t say we will be featured on How I Built This any time soon, I would say the clientele base has consistently grew, I was able to bring in partners to help with my workload and I’ve been establishing more features essential for this Marketing & Branding agency to continue flourishing.
Did you know the average age of an entrepreneur is 40-45?
And maybe that paints the picture of an old white guy out making sales pitches or your friend’s dad who owns his own landscape business.
Maybe you’ve been in a similar situation?
In my case it was a 24-year-old at her kitchen table who was being “secretly” phased out after promising talks of a ‘well-earned’ promotion….on my birthday. I know, ouch, right? haha!
But in 100% honesty, I wasn’t upset. At all. I felt an odd sense of relief and freedom. I felt it coming and used that as the deadline for taking a big idea I had in mind and making it come to life. While studying public relations and interning at an advertising agency I fell in love with the strategic creative process of creating a brand and communicating with that brand’s audience.
I married an Army officer which meant we would move around frequently and I felt this would be an easy degree to find a job with.
I was always a minimum of 1-1.5 hours away from any influential, hiring agency which put me in a 100% insurance sales position surrounded by unethical activity (hell on earth) and then a timesheet-based work system where I had no influence in compensation no matter where I worked.
I decided to create the agency where I would ideally get to do everything I loved, bring in talent to help me serve those businesses and we could all work from home, wherever we moved. And it happened.
Now that we’ve been doing this for a while it’s time to do what I do for any business that comes to us for help. Evaluating my positioning and creating a S.W.O.T analysis. I also wanted to evaluate income, expenses, what I was outsourcing and when to raise my rates (and by how much). If you’re finding yourself in a similar situation I first want to CONGRATULATE you on taking the leap! Freedom and management over what your time is worth is invaluable. Second, I want to show you what I am doing, what things I look for in small businesses and how you can evaluate where you’re at right now.
Sometimes it’s helpful to have an outside eye evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. If you just nodded your head yes, click here.
This stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This might be the least intimidating approach for you to begin with and it’s easy to come back to with addition thoughts. Whether you prefer pen to paper or to process quickly on your laptop, let’s talk get to a few questions.
Brag on yourself, girl! What makes your business unique? What do you offer that no one else has? Figure out how to display and communicate those strengths in your visual branding, your copy writing, your messaging and stay consistent with it.
What new business did you gain this year? What were the reasons you got that business? Specifically pick out the clients who were your big ticket buyers, the people who downloaded your freebies or the one and done buyer. How can you make them return customers? What is the next up-sell for them to invest with?
For many people the reason you had business or referred/repeat business will be your company’s strength. Hone in on that and find what you can do to enhance that experience.
What business did you lose this year? What were the reasons you lost that business? If you’re looking at this before you even launch, use this as a quarterly and annual review to benchmark your business.
Common weaknesses or pitfalls I find are:
- Streamline marketing approach and cohesive posts to brand. Your profile photos are all different, your links are broken, people don’t know where to go…much less what to ask for. Help them out! If you aren’t consistent people will get confused. What do confused people do? Leave.
- You need reviews: I’ve worked with extremely successful realtors who only had 30 reviews and they DEFINITELY sold over 30 homes. Customers see reviews=validity which is why they’re vital to your business. This is a common hurdle to overcome so I get it; for some this is a big ask. Offer free or discounted services in the form of a coupon in exchange for leaving a review. If you’re just starting, ask people you’ve worked with before to review your character or knowledge in your field.
- You’re missing a post-sale follow-up system. What do you do once they buy? Are they on an email list? What’s the next step for them? Are you sending thank you notes, shoutouts online or appreciation events? Even if that person won’t buy from you any time soon, they know someone who will.
Time to evaluate those strengths and weaknesses and turn them into opportunities! I would almost guarentee that no matter what you do, you’re not just selling a physical product but also teaching people a skill they can use the rest of their life.
What can you showcase to prove you’re reliable, reputable and prepared to do this? What unique aspects are there in your personality? Look at your cold marketing locations as well as brainstorming new approaches. We’ve got some great ideas for you to use.
Are you trying to break into a popular market? Make a reputation in a tough-sell business? Are you short on time, supplies or money? Threats don’t always have to be a bad thing. They could be your competition, your rivals or someone you’d like to emulate. Observe what they’re doing and figure out what the top performers are doing in your industry.
goals are gold
Have you heard of S.M.A.R.T. Goals? S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Your goal should NEVER be to ‘Raise Awareness’ because…great. What an impact. Instead how can you measure that? EX: We will deliver 500 informational pamphlets on sustainable farming at the Farmer’s Market and get at least 30 email sign-ups by May 15, 2019.
If you don’t know where you started or where you’re going then how do you know how you are doing? Screenshot your social media page’s stats (you should have your business metrics set up already) and save it under the date in a folder on your computer. Each 21 days (when they’re available) or as often as you’d like screenshot the numbers and save them.
Short-term and long-term goals are probably what got you excited about doing what you’re doing in the first place. Play a little! Even if you don’t reach your goal, adjust and keep moving. You only fail if you give up.
Money, money, monnaay!
Cha-Ching. The good stuff. Even if you’re not in it for the money, cash flow is what keeps the tech moving, employees paid and gives you the chance to contribute to your family.
Look at the differences between your one-time transactions vs. return business. How many are there and what products did they purchase? What can you add or how can you build upon that? What’s getting you closer to that overall goal?
What evergreen content do you have that can sell without you working hands-on? What were your rates? Should they stay the same or more than likely increase? How can you pay someone $100 and you get $200 instead of 50/50? Find what you can do to maximize your time and always pay those who help you fairly.
In the beginning, I figured out my prices by setting my annual salary goal, broke it down by what I would have to make a month, what that would mean my hourly rate was and from there my popular offerings at the amount of time they would take. Even now I am really seeing that it’s working to reach and include my target audience but my income doesn’t reflect the overall time put in. I was originally not charging for calls or management aspects like emails and research which is a huge piece of the puzzle. In the future I will raise rates to help cover that.
As an entrepreneur you’re likely hit with the realization of working without applause or recognition. There won’t be an awards ceremony at the end of the year in front of the entire company. There won’t be someone rewarding you with a raise, increased commission or that fat, juicy bonus.
Your ego aside, how are you thanking those that are making your dreams come true? How are they speaking about you? What are they sharing? Not only does this provide free marketing, pretty pictures and content or make you feel good but it also gives you a chance to shout-out your work and supporters. If you post asking for engagement and traction, are you interacting back? If you’re asking them to buy, would you buy or support them? Did you give them free content or extremely valuable services FIRST?
Post your portfolio work with a brand, make a list of the women-owned businesses on International Women’s Day or share your favorite food vendors before holidays. When you bring them business, they appreciate and return the favor!
These are just a few of the main steps to get you started on your evaluation and I hope it encourages you to dream bigger, work smarter and turn those weaknesses into opportunities. If you need an outside eye or would like an evaluation on your brand, reach out for a helping hand.
Cheers to working together soon!
Thanks for reading! I would so appreciate if you left a short, honest review on our Facebook page. Your reviews really help others coming to check us out.