A few lessons from a female entrepreneur

Having worked in the website design business for 19 years, I know a lot about the website development and the online business arena.

But much more importantly than that I have got to know our customers.

When we started out in 1999 we were treading carefully into an unknown world of business (coming from public sector). People were only really starting to use email, never mind the web! I remember a consultant on a business course I attended, actually laughed when I said we doing website design – ‘sure who needs that’ lol!!!

However the world has changed immensely since then – and in the past 5 years or so the online marketplace has exploded!

Now it’s so easy to get online, get your business online and have a website, social media page, maybe even an app. Once you’re online you can get new business from all over the world, get found on mobile and earn loads of money from your website while you sleep, yayyy!!

Or can you, is it that easy? Having worked with businesses for nearly 20 years now, I see the same struggles all the time. Yes it’s relatively easy to get online, but what do you say about yourself and your business. You know you’re supposed to ‘tell your story’ but how do you go about doing that – do I just create a page on my website which ‘tells my story’? Or would that just be an about or even a history page?

Telling your story is about communicating your brand – who you are, what you value, what inspires you, and most importantly what you do for your customers to make their lives better. Whether that’s selling cakes online, booking yoga classes or solving a difficult business challenge, getting the message across to your customer that you care about them, is the most important story you can tell.

I have loved every minute of my journey in the crazy business world. Even the times that I woke up at 3am and didn’t sleep again ‘til 10 mins before the alarm goes off. Ahhhh….!

Ok I haven’t exactly LOVED all those times, but I am grateful for them. The difficult times make you appreciate the easy times so much more. Plus every difficulty, every problem, every sleepless night, has brought about huge learning (even if I’m still actually acting on some of that learning..).

What I have loved about this journey, is that I’ve met so many inspiring people, so many creative, innovators, leaders, and peacemakers in the past almost 20 years, I am genuinely privileged. Most of those people probably don’t even realise that they inspired me so much, encouraged me to carry on and keep digging deep to provide the best service we could for our customers, who after all, are at the heart of everything we do.

Without our customers we wouldn’t have developed as much as we have. Every time they have had a challenge, we in turn have been challenged to provide a solution. It keeps us thinking and on our toes, Ok so we have to constantly up-skill and keep up with the ever developing fast moving world of the internet, the social web, big data, small mobiles and all that stuff. One thing we certainly never ever feel is boredom!!

The message is – your business is about your customers. Until you really get that clear in your mind, you don’t really know what to say on your website, or how to get your message across to them.

So you need to get your business online, or update that tired old website… here are a few quick tips first

  1. KNOW WHO your customer is – really spend time identifying your customer, drill it down…and if it turns out that the people you are currently serving are not your ideal customer (as we are often selling to the wrong people), then let go of those customers and get the ones who really want/need your service or product.
  1. Get really clear on your BRAND – what you value, what’s really important to you, how you communicate, how you deliver your service, how you support your customers.
  1. Get really clear on WHAT YOU DO – seriously some people are still not sure! Get laser focused on what services or products you provide, package them up, list them out, know they are what you can do and enjoy doing, and what your customer needs (a little bit of research would go a long way here). The sweet spot of any business is doing something you love, having customers who want to buy it, and who have the money to buy it!!
  1. PLAN – Get a business or marketing plan together! Plan it out, write it down. then write it down again…so you keep reminding yourself about it and tweaking it as you go along. And it doesn’t have to be a 50 page document full of graphs and charts and scary excel tables. But some effort into the planning will go a very long way. Otherwise you will do the ‘spray and pray’ method, firing something out and hoping it will stick in your customers mind!
  1. SET GOALS & MEASURE, track, record, evaluate, revisit over and over again. Know what a conversion is and how to measure it. Set targets and have a firm commitment to meet them. Don’t shy away from this.

And just on some general business advice, don’t forget to use Networks, especially if working alone or from home etc. The power of networking is just amazing. Use online groups to meet people, get out to live workshops and events, and share your story, be a support to others and be inspired. For women in Ireland we are spoilt for choice, with Women in Enterprise, Women in Business NIDonegal Women in Business and Women’s Inspire Network, amongst many many more. All there to help you on this wonderful crazy entrepreneurial journey. They will make it easier.

A final piece of advice is to INVEST in yourself and in your business. Look after yourself, don’t let yourself be downtrodden, even if working from home, have clean comfy casuals on, NO PJ’s, honestly it does not help your state of mind. Get ready for work, maybe not always suited & booted, but at least have a shower, tidy your hair and put fresh jammies on if you have to!

Look after your business too – if you need a new website get a web design company, if you need a press release get some PR help, if you are not keeping up with online marketing get a social media manager.

Plus invest in mentoring; one of the greatest investments you can make is getting help to be clear on your message, what you do and who your customer is. A business or even a digital marketing mentor can help you to leverage your business hugely when you do this work.

To hear more about how I can help you grow your business online just send an email to patricia@thewebclub.ie or find me on social media.

I will be hosting some ‘Strategies for Website Success’ workshops in the coming months. If you would like to hear more just drop your email here

PS Get a great discount on the upcoming Women’s Inspire ‘Overcoming Challenges’  Event at Harveys Point Hotel, Donegal April 10th 2019, just drop me an email with WIN 2019 in the subject line and I’ll send you the code!