Breaking out of the cubicle to pursue entrepreneurship has been an intoxicating prospect for so many of us who have an itch for more freedom, fulfillment and impact.
But after about a decade of mentoring go-getters as a business scaling strategist, Elizabeth Hartke noticed that while the vision of freedom was alive and well, the likelihood of achieving it was not. “If you’re not strategic about how you build your business, entrepreneurship will actually cost you a lot of freedom, time, money and joy due to the following five critical mistakes,” advises Hartke.
Here are the five mistakes Hartke says will keep you from scaling effectively.
1. You’re Not Doing Market Research
“Never create an offer in a vacuum. Know who you’re speaking to, their pain points, fears and desires and then create something that can be a solution to their problem. This is foundational in knowing what to bring to market,” says Hartke. “Market research is one of the keys to knowing what problem you solve, and if you don’t solve a problem, you won’t be in business very long. Survey your audience, hop on the phone with your current clients and ask them what they need, and engage with your prospects to learn more about how you can be of service to them. Even though that vision for your life is about you, the business you run is about them.”
2. You’re Afraid To Sell
“There’s quite the stigma around selling and nearly every entrepreneur I’ve worked with has said, in some way, shape or form, ‘how do I sell without being salesy?’ I get it, because no one wants to come off as the sly salesperson looking to take advantage of whoever has a pulse and a credit card. But when you develop offers or products that actually solve problems, you actually have a moral obligation to sell!” says Hartke.
Telling stories is one way to feel less icky and more in line with your mission. People buy because they can put themselves into a story and envision a positive outcome. Using testimonials or your own personal experiences is a powerful selling tool.
3. You’re Trading Time For Money
“Too many entrepreneurs are using a broken formula for success: TIME + HARD WORK = FREEDOM. That math just doesn’t add up. When your business only allows you to earn while you’re working, ultimately you’ll be capped on income potential and time. I see it a lot in service based providers: personal trainers, lawyers, chiropractors, social media strategists, business coaches, consultants, freelancers. Think about the different ways that you can use your knowledge, expertise and passions to craft new monetizable channels into your business through passive, residual and growing income streams,” notes Hartke.
Things like online courses, membership sites, virtual and in person events, e-books, physical products, masterclasses, group coaching, masterminds, affiliate marketing, advertising, webinars and other digital products are incredible ways to create multiple income streams that can generate profit while you’re catching up on sleep.
4. You Don’t Have An Email List
If you woke up tomorrow morning and Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and any other social channel you rely on were shut down, how would that affect your business? The goal is to build your business in a way that a disruption like that would only be a temporary inconvenience, not catastrophic. You do that by building your email list.
“Social media is rented territory, but your list is something you own. Use your social media as a way to drive people onto your list, not as a place where you conduct all business,” advises Hartke. “In exchange for your audience’s email address, offer freebies like videos, webinars, online challenges, e-books, templates, and guides. All that matters is that you’re growing your list with the right people by offering true value in exchange for their email and then nurturing that list with regular value-add emails. “
5. You’re Not Pivoting With Purpose
“All too often, entrepreneurs fail to connect their business actions to the vision they have for their lives. In doing so, they just keep hustling and trying things without actually asking themselves, ‘how will this affect my life?’” says Hartke.
Maybe you want to grow your following and your income and you see someone else killing it with monetizing her blog, so you start one. But you hate to write and your original vision was creating more free time in your days, not sitting in front of your laptop doing something you despise.
“The pivot is fine. In fact, it’s necessary for evolution and adaptation of business. But the pivot without intention and based on what other people are doing is the death of joy and purpose. Always pay attention, choose what aligns with both your business goals and vision for your life,” suggests Hartke.
Read more from Forbes
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