Over the past week I've had the opportunity to work with two fairly new business owners. Both have had the idea for their businesses for a while now, both still work full-time jobs, and both have been circling around their idea for at least a year. As I worked with both of them, I realized they shared some common issues that keep them talking but not acting. Talking doesn't create income. See if you fall into one (or more) of these five traps.
- Constantly scanning for information about your industry to the point that confusion and overwhelm stops decision-making. In both cases this week the biz owners had read news articles and watched trends, which is a good thing up to a point. The mistake they made was thinking that reading is going to give them a definitive answer about who their target market is. It won't. You will read and read and read, and before long you'll see that you can always find more articles to read and eventually one will contradict the other. If this wasn't true, stocks would be easy to pick right every time! At some point entrepreneurs have to quit analyzing information and add in their own gut. Business is part art, part science. Don't make the mistake of waiting to act until you get a definitive answer. You'll be waiting forever and someone else will go make the money you could have made!
- I've said this before and I'll say it again – don't resist niching your market. Both these budding entrepreneurs wanted to keep their market way too broad, thinking they could then “catch more customers.” But the opposite is true – the more specialized you are, the more you will call to the exact ideal customers you most want to serve. Does this mean that if you work with men between 21-30 that have beards, and a guy calls you who has no beard you have to say no? No! You CAN work outside your niche but you shouldn't waste time and money marketing outside your niche.
- No concrete actions taking place for marketing. In both cases I heard a lot of “I've been thinking about this” or “I'd like to do this but I'm not sure how.” Both of these statements are a sure sign of confusion about who to market to. If you truly have narrowed down your niche you will start automatically getting ideas and energy toward marketing. Confusion in your mind will create confusion in a potential customer's mind. And as many people before me have said, “confused minds don't buy.”
- Both these entrepreneurs-to-be had massive anxiety. Both wanted to “get everything right and not waste money.” Here's the deal – to be successful in a big way in business you WILL make mistakes and you WILL waste some money along the way. It's irrational to believe you won't, so let that one go right now. Being a business owner means living in imperfection. If you have the perfectionist tendency going on then a major part of your work toward being successful as a business owner is to dial that down. Otherwise, the constant anxiety you feel about “doing things right and not wasting money” will keep you from taking action other than a few very safe little things around the edges of your business. And safe little things don't give you profits. You'll be working that day job for the rest of your life.
- Both people are making the newbie mistake of failing to ask their niche what they want and what they will pay for. This is called market research, and you'd think that doing market research was more distasteful than eating brocolli. (If you like broccoli then substitute something else that curls your stomach). There's nothing wrong with grabbing 5 to 10 people (or more) who are representative of your target market and ASKING THEM what they most want. In fact, major consumer organizations do this all the time, and spend millions for it. You can use a phone call, a free survey (try Survey Monkey), or a quick e-mail and ask 5 to 7 questions that will help you flesh out what people want and what they would pay. This gives you key information and confidence.
There you have it. Five common mistakes that keep you anxious and your bank account poor. Make sure that your enthusiasm is stronger than your anxiety, and you'll have much more success in business and in life.