7 flawed beliefs that small business owners have when starting out (and what to focus on instead!)
Do you always feel like being a small business owner is such a huge struggle?
But nobody really wants to tell you this it seems. When I first started out, fellow business owners seem more bent on showing me their income reports, telling me how successful they were, how many people they had on their email lists etc. So…the more “glamourous” bits of doing business.
There wasn’t much open-ness or discussions around what it took to “make it” as a small business owners. There wasn’t much conversation around how to overcome the inevitable challenges, what were the more useful strategies and what were the things to pay attention to and avoid.
If I had this sort of information when I first started out, it definitely would have saved me a lot of time!
So to help you save yours, here are a list of misconceptions or flawed beliefs about doing business that you might have as you are starting on your wild journey as a small business owner. This list will serve as a great reminder even if you are further along in your business.
#1 All I have to do is post stuff on my site and people will come flocking
Nah-uh. Sorry, but it really doesn’t work that way (I wish it were that easy!).
There are at least 70 million blog posts publishes each month. So writing one and sticking it on your blog isn’t going to magically make people suddenly start flocking to your blog to read it. Heck, most people probably don’t even know that your blog exists!
So you have to bring your posts to people. At least at the beginning. Lots of successful small business owners I know who sell digital products or services all started with what I call the “content hustle”. Meaning, they constantly pumped out content and built an audience slowly from there.
But they also “advertised” their blogs and posts on the right platforms, effectively bringing their posts in front of people’s eyes. So you’ve got to start figuring out how to bring your content to people as well as the types of platforms you are comfortable appearing on.
#2 People will start buying things right off the bat – they don’t
Many of us start off our businesses thinking that the minute people land on our site, they will be looking to snap up some of our products. I mean, the stuff that we’ve got is so amazing who could resist buying it?
Thing is, unless someone is really looking for a product to solve their problem RIGHT NOW, most people just aren’t in that mindset to make any purchases at that point in time. They’d acknowledge that what you have sounds great, but they won’t be opening their wallets.
Also people aren’t looking to buy your most expensive products right off the bat. So creating that premium course or exclusive physical product, whilst that sounds exciting, isn’t something you want to focus your efforts and energy on early in your business.
After building up the trust and authority with you audience, you may want to start venturing into the creation and selling of products in your business. The platform you are selling your product on also makes a lot of difference. Contrary to what many of us think – social media is not the place where people are looking to buy stuff. If you are anything like the average person, you’re probably already super sick of the amount of ads on your feed. Most people are on social media to mindlessly scroll, because they are bored and are seeking entertainment.
Things are slightly different on Pinterest though. Many people who use that platform are looking for solutions to solve their problems. People are much more ready to open their wallets on Pinterest and if you are able to market your products well (either via ads) or build up trust and authority (through a content marketing strategy), you’ll be able to make a good amount of income.
If you have no idea what Pinterest is or would like to learn more about it, sign up for the email challenge below!
#3 Your target audience can read your mind and appear
Just letting you in on a tiny little secret – it’s hard to figure out your target audience, despite what the “experts” tell you.
In the first few months or years, you will be just aiming it at anyone or everyone that bothers to listen to what you have to say or read what you have to write. Some of them will resonate with what you are saying, the rest will not.
The people that resonate with your content will be more willing to check out what you have to offer them. Not all of them will stay with you the whole way, many will drop out as you move along. But the ones who stay and who regularly engage with your emails and content are what I call your “tribe”.
But it does take awhile for you to find them. At the same time, you’d also be tweaking your business focus and this may also bring about changes in the kind of audience you’d like to attract.
Seeking out the perfect target audience is an art and a science. You put something out, you see the reaction, then you refine. Overtime, you will be able to drill down to who you really want to speaking to and the essence of what they are looking for.
Hint? Always be specific and not try to talk to everyone. ‘Cause you will be talking to no one at the end of the day.
#4 Too much information out there, some of them contradictory and you don’t know what to do
There is just way too much information out there on how to run your blog and online business. Way too much information. I’m pretty sure you are drowning in it. Blogging and online business has evolved so much over the past few years that the big bloggers or business owners’, who established their business a long time ago…well much of what they say now just doesn’t work.
It’s partly due to the change in the way business is done. And it’s also because what works for big business owners do not work for small businesses like us. It’s difficult to take the perspective of a small business owner when you are already at such a different (and more advanced) stage of business.
Small business ownership is different, it’s very unique and is mostly run by one person or less than 5 people. We usually cannot afford that much time (or budget) doing everything under the sun. The business approach has to be pretty focused and niche, hence alot of these generic pieces of advice that is being peddled out there don’t really work for us.
For instance, I had so many people telling me that traffic isn’t important. And ashamedly so, I believed them – for a very long time. But how can it not be so? Getting traffic is the first step to people visiting your site and seeing what you have to offer!
So yes, not every piece of advice out there is going to work in your favour.
#5 Putting out a product without building up a tribe of followers first
In the rush of making money from our businesses, especially if you are a blogger, it can be all too tempting to start designing products and setting up services right off the bat. But this is where alot of people tend to go astray, because you will need to figure out who your target audience is first and what problem they are actually looking for. This takes time and isn’t something you can grasp right from the beginning, like I’ve mentioned above.
It is best to focus on creating content, whatever form it may take – videos, photos, articles – before you start designing and selling a product.
It takes awhile to figure out what sort of product best fits your business and your target audience too. It takes time to design products as well, so if you’ve gone down the wrong road, it means all that time and effort goes to waste. There have been lots of examples of business owners who have designed products that they thought was a good idea, but when they launched it, all they got was….. crickets.
Nobody bought their stuff. Why? In the rush of trying to sell something and make money out of it, we can lose our vision, the vision we had for our business and we can lose sight of what our audience really came to us in the first place.
Small business ownership is a long journey, it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme where you make millions overnight.
So focus on creating content and building the trust and authority with your content pieces first, and hold off on the products.
#6 Jumping on the get-cash-quick-be-an-affiliate BS bandwagon
If you are thinking of setting up an online business because you want to earn 5 or 6 figures quickly, so you start signing up for all these affiliate programs and then putting up the posts on your social media platforms, waiting for the money to start dripping in.
Em… it really doesn’t work that way, sorry!
You’d probably have been told to get in on an affiliate program and start shelling out all these products and ebooks – which you may or may not have tried before – just to start earning some cash quick. Something all these long-time bloggers forgot to let you in on is that – you need LARGE amounts of traffic for you to ever earn anything substantial from your affiliates.
You need a steady stream of eyeballs to your content pieces and engaged readers who trust your advice and are ready and willing to purchase what you recommend.
Think about it, if you are selling something for $29, to make anything substantial, you’d probably need at least 10 people who make a successful purchase. 10 people who need this product at this point in time. For every 10 people who buys your products, you need to be marketing it to hundreds or thousands of people, CONSTANTLY, for people to make a purchase. This means you need a huge email list to do that, or steady interest in your content. And most small business owners who are just starting out aren’t going to have either.
Affiliate sales earnings are very volatile, and you will constantly need to be shelling out posts and ads talking about the product. And honestly? $290 isn’t actually substantial. You didn’t quit your full time job to earn $290 each month from affiliates.
It’s way too much of a random process for me to ever put in any stock in it. It’s great for some earnings on the side, but you are not going to be earning 5 to 6 figures going this route. It will probably come in handy when you are further down the business cycle.
#7 Thinking you don’t need to spend a lot of time on your business
Many bloggers/freelancers/business owners used to peddle the claims that they get to work on something they love all day and get all the freedom that a 9 to 5 will never afford them. While I do not deny they are working on things they love, the thing that many people miscontrue is that they have a lot of free time, just sitting around doing nothing whilst the business runs itself.
No. No. Nope. That’s sadly not what happens.
The reality is – LOTS of business owners and self-made bloggers I know hardly ever take vacations, and even if they do – they are working on vacation as well. It’s never gonna be a total switch off from work. Although 9 to 5 has its issues, at least there is a chance (depending on the company you work for and the part of the world that you are in) that you’d be able to shut down at 5 and you won’t have to bring your work home.
Lots of business owners work round the clock. Because YOU are the company now. You are the CEO, content writer, marketing person, accounts person, social media assistant etc. And I haven’t included your consultations with clients, writing/replying emails and so on. Of course, we can hire people to do some of the work for us. But that does not happen right off the bat as you need a budget for that.
So point is, you will be spending a lot of time on your business. Thus, it had better be a business that you love doing and are willing to come back to each day.
3 key things you should do in your small business instead?
#1 Focus on getting traffic to your website
You don’t need a sizeable amount of traffic, like thousands of people right from the start (though that will be nice), but you do need a steady stream of people visiting your site.
Traffic = potential clients/engaged readers = potential money.
The fastest way to get traffic on depends on what you are comfortable with. Organic traffic is honestly the best but that takes a long time and is highly dependent on Google’s algorithms. Social media is a hit and miss, and requires quite a bit of trial and error, and can work depending on your niche, but organic growth is extremely rare these days.
After testing a few different platforms, I found that Pinterest was the best – the fastest and easiest way to get traffic right from the start, if you have a strategy and pin consistently. If you want to know how to do this and get traffic to your site easily, do sign up for the Bootcamp below and I’ll walk you through the steps!
#2 Focus on building up content
Content marketing will never die. The fact that so many blogs are being published everyday is because there is a market of people waiting to consume the content.
Many of your admired bloggers and business owners spent alot of time in the beginning stages writing lots of posts or posting lots of their content on their own preferred platforms – videos, blogs, podcasts and so on. Yes, free content with little to no payment or monetary incentive. However, this always goes a long way in helping to build trust and authority.
If your content is focused, you will find that you easily attract a steadfast crowd of loyal followers. And this is extremely helpful and rewarding when you are trying to monetise your business later on.
#3 Focus on marketing your content and business to people
Lastly, whilst it’s good to have your content up on a platform like YouTube and Instagram, it’s good to also give some thought to your marketing. How would you reach people? Where does your potential target audience hang out? Then go to those places. Start posting your content. Make a regular schedule. Post diligently. Show Up. When you show up, your tribe starts showing up too and this is how you get your content to reach a larger audience.
Doing both hand in hand – creating content and marketing it on relevant platforms will ensure that you build your tribe and attract the right people you are looking for. This will build the strong foundations for the future of your business.
With 10 years of experience as a Researcher (MSc) in Psychology, Neuroscience, Mental Health, Consumer and Organisational Behaviour; I help action-oriented, time-strapped people and solopreneurs crush their inner critics, navigate toxic workplaces and relationships and build their self-esteem so that you can have the freedom, happiness and confidence you desire. I spend the rest of my time daydreaming and downing cups of tea/coffee – my life’s vice.