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4 Rockstar Tips to Grow Your Business

grow your business

A startup may have an excellent product or service that will bring infinite value to a market in need. Still, we live in an era of noise, and any nascent business leader will need a clear marketing strategy to cut through the static and grow their business.

A business is more than its product or service. It is about the value it delivers to its customers. But that value must be communicated clearly, trust must be built from the ground up, and requisite talent must be sought.

Here are 4 actionable tips that will help get your startup to take off.

Invest in Content Marketing

Content marketing is a long-term investment. The ROI for each piece of content is related to the value that content brings to your audience and the new audience members it attracts.

While hopping on the latest trends can help capture attention, it’s important to make your content perennial, if possible. Great content can last for decades and become a reliable revenue engine and act as a pillar for other content.

The best part about content marketing is that it attracts potential customers to you in a wholesome way. You give something of value to them in the form of information or entertainment, and they come to rely on and respect your business as an authority in your industry or niche.

Content marketing builds brand, engages new audiences, inspires trust, and respect… but does it increase sales?

Let’s look at the stats.

According to a report from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 91% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers say content marketing is vital to their marketing strategy.

CMI reports that 77% of B2B marketers and 78% of B2C marketers rate content marketing as moderately, very, or extremely successful for their business.

Here are a few more stats to give you an idea of content marketing ROI:

  • Increases engagement according to 72% of marketers (CMI report)
  • Increases leads according to 72% of marketers (CMI)
  • According to this case study, quality video content is responsible for a 60% returning customer rate of an online nutritional retailer.
  • Custom content positively affects attitude toward a company, say 82% of consumers.
  • Marketers that emphasize blogging are 13(x) more likely to have a positive ROI.

While it is difficult to quantify a general ROI for content marketing, it is safe to say that it is a relatively inexpensive way to increase traffic, build brand loyalty, introduce potential customers to your sales funnel and pipeline, and create a long-term marketing strategy.

Create a Robust Sales Pipeline

First, we must distinguish between a sales pipeline and a sales funnel if you truly want to grow your business. A sales funnel concerns the process of lead conversion, while a sales pipeline is about the steps taken to nurture and close a deal.

Here are the steps of a sales pipeline:

  • Lead generation is about exposure. You want to identify your ideal customer and develop a strategy that targets them.
  • Lead qualification happens when a lead is recognized as a potential customer, and the sales process is initiated.
  • Initiate contact is the point in the process when a sales rep sets out to discover how your business can meet the needs of the lead.
  • Schedule meetings to demonstrate or further articulate your products or services.
  • Negotiation happens when the lead is already convinced, but there is still room to discover an optimal set of conditions for your deal.
  • Close the deal and record the final outcome. If the lead is not ready to buy, you should not consider them a loss, instead, try to nurture them into a customer.

The length of the cycle of your sales pipeline will be determined by the complexity of your business, the source of your leads, and the customization of your product or service.

Creating a robust sales pipeline does not have to be complex, but there are definitely ways to increase the likelihood of success and efficiency.

Before you begin to develop your sales pipeline, you absolutely must identify your target market. If you do not have a target in mind, your attention won’t be focused, and your conversion rate will suffer. This pipeline is not meant as a channel for profits, not a drain.

Identify your Target Market

Put simply, your target market is made up of the people you believe will be the most likely to purchase your product or service, allowing you to grow your business.

Your target market is not necessarily distinguished by demographics, rather, what defines your target market is their relationship to your product, regardless of demographic differences.

Nevertheless, your target market is likely to share some common characteristics, and understanding what those commonalities are will help you shape the way your market to them.

Say you are selling email marketing services. Nearly every business uses email marketing services, but selling to ‘every’ business will dilute your message. As the saying goes, “a dog that chooses two rabbits catches neither.â€�

Rather than selling to everyone, pay attention to who has been buying from you consistently, and what characteristics those customers have in common. If you don’t have customers yet, then determine who your product or services will benefit the most and create a customer profile around your ideal customer.

As your business grows, you can target a wider market, but in the beginning, it’s easier to add unique value to a more niche target market.

So maybe your particular email marketing services pay unique attention to aesthetics and design. You could target industries that are more focused on aesthetics like architecture, artists, video games, etc. This will make it easier to target your value proposition to that particular market.

Once you’ve become established among your target market, you can reach out to different markets with the testimonials and confidence you’ve gained from your successes.

Tap into the Freelance Marketplace

With more than 57+ Million Americans freelancing this year, it is easier than ever to find talent. A physical workplace is great for company culture and ease of communication, but hiring freelancers makes for a nimble and easily adaptable business. You can test out various talent and find niche freelancers for niche projects.

One way to find freelancers is to post on job boards. The proof of job boards is variety. The con of job boards is variety. You may have to sift through a mudslide of applications. Aside from that, it’s a pretty simple process if you have the time. Here are some job boards:

  • Indeed
  • Glassdoor
  • Flexjobs

You can post on freelance platforms where they have profiles with testimonials. Here are some of those platforms:

  • Upwork
  • Fiverr
  • 99Designs
  • WorkGenius

You can also find freelancers through social media as well. LinkedIn is an obvious choice here, but Facebook and Twitter can also yield new business relationships.

Don’t be afraid to reach out if you like someone’s work.

Be as clear as possible about what you’re looking for in a freelancer: experience, skills, examples of previous work, project expectations, etc.

While past success is a great way to test for future success, an experienced freelancer will come at a premium. You may be able to find a talented freelancer who is just starting their career. Do not be afraid to test someone out on a less critical project if they seem promising.

Wrapping Up: Tips to Get Your Startup Off the Ground

Any startup will make plenty of mistakes. But it’s important to make the right mistakes. Always put yourself in the shoes of your customers.

Ask yourself what do they need, not what you want them to need? If something isn’t working, re-calibrate, and try something new. Being an entrepreneur is all about creativity and experimentation when trying to grow your business.

Enjoy the ride, iterate, and learn.

Image Credit: edmond dantés; pexels

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Entrepreneurs outsource outsource yourself ReadWrite Startups

How to Outsource as an Entrepreneur

outsource as entrepreneur

According to Deloitte, 59% of companies outsource to cut costs. Entrepreneurs are notorious for being disciplined, smart, and control freaks. However, many restrict their ability to scale due to the latter part. Here is how to outsource as an entrepreneur.

Learn how to outsource yourself as an entrepreneur and scale your organization today.

As most successful entrepreneurs know first-hand, you need to outsource tedious tasks and focus on your business core competencies.

But what do you outsource? Outsource tasks that anyone can do with a little bit of training and detailed guidance, such as responding to customer emails, accounting, or even marketing.

Fortunately, the internet makes it easier than ever to connect and partner with subject-matter experts who will show you exactly how to outsource as an entrepreneur.

Whether you are a small business owner or are an entrepreneur trying to make money online, you need to know how to scale your operations successfully. From writing content to accounting, and everything in between, scaling certain aspects of your business will save you precious time and prevent you from flat-lining.

To help guide you during your outsourcing efforts, you need to consider six guiding principles. These principles will help you calculate your costs, successfully plan, and understand what needs to be done on your end to ensure your partners get the job done right.

Know Your Budget

As the owner, you do not need to know the nuances of computer programming, marketing, or sales. But you do need to know your operating budget.

Before you commit to outsourcing, you need to know much you can afford to pay contractors, freelancers, or strategic partners.

If you are still wary about how to start outsourcing as an entrepreneur, then start small. Beginning simply is the best direction for entrepreneurs because it does not require a substantial upfront investment.

Starting small will allow you to experience the process first-hand, learn, and reflect.

Outsource Tasks that Drain Time

After you comb through your financial statements and garner a holistic picture of your business, you need to decide what to outsource.

First and foremost, do not outsource the core competencies of your business.

If you are a content marketing agency, do not outsource the writing. You are already paying a team of writers who are reputable, experts, and deliver up to your standards.

Instead, focus on outsourcing tasks that drain the most time and do not impact the user experience. Some common examples are answering phone calls, responding to emails, process payroll, or packaging orders.

Define Measurable Goals and Set Clear Expectations

Setting clear expectations and defining your goals is the most important and requires the most work on your end. You do not want to leave anything up to chance. The more detailed you are, the better.

Providing detailed instructions on what needs to be done will allow the contractor or freelancer you hire to get right to work. Ensure your instructions include a specific timeline and the quality you expect.

To help your partner, provide examples of what you would like to be done. This will serve as an excellent reference as they work on their assigned task.

But remember, make sure the goal is measurable, realistic, and attainable.

If you are outsourcing a technical project, make sure to provide your contractors enough time to adequately research and plan their deliverables. Programming is a delicate process that takes time and iteration.

As we all know, no one likes a boss that micromanages and sets unrealistic expectations. Besides, providing your contractors with more time will allow them to put forth a valuable effort.

For example, if you decide to hire a freelance marketer, a good goal would be to publish three guest posts on other large publications by the end of the month. The goal is clearly defined, is measurable, and is attainable if they are a good content marketer.

Research Potential Clients & Create a Bid Package

All too often, business owners are quick to pull the trigger and spend money.

While you can find quality freelancers or virtual assistants on Fiverr or Upwork, make sure you reach out to your professional network and ask for recommendations.

You are not the first entrepreneur looking to outsource, and you are certainly not the last. A quality referral will speed up the process of hiring and will narrow down your choices.

Make sure to thoroughly review each contractor or freelancers’ qualifications, reach out to previous customers, and conduct some sort of interview, whether it be online or in person.

The interview process is an excellent time for you to see first-hand if they are committed to exceeding your expectations and are passionate about the project. More importantly, this is an opportune time to see if they are truly subject matter experts.

Once you generate a list of three to four potential partners, create a bid package that outlines the scope of work, requirements, timeline, and expectations. A comprehensive bid package will allow your future partners to calculate expenses and decide on what resources to allocate to your project.

Hopefully, with the information you provided, they can put forth a reasonable bid for the job. Reviewing three to four proposals will allow you and your team to compare costs and services. Do not jump the gun and go with the cheapest bid. After all, you are paying for quality work that is done right the first time.

Provide a Legal Contract

Once you decide on a contractor to hire, provide them with a legal contract that explicitly outlines the scope of work, expectations, and timeline.

To draft the legal contract, consult with your in-house legal team or speak to a business lawyer. You want to make sure you are legally protected in case anything goes wrong, or if they end up shortchanging you on your work.

During this phase, both parties can ask last-minute questions and address any immediate concerns. Ultimately, you want to protect your business entity, intellectual property, and yourself. As a wise man states, better to be safe than sorry.

Communicate Excessively

Outsourcing is a team effort. While you are not necessarily doing any manual labor, you still need to provide oversight of the project.

A great habit of getting into is asking for weekly or bi-weekly updates from the contractor. You want to make sure all lines of communication remain open, so both parties can provide feedback and ask questions if need be.

As an entrepreneur, there is no such thing as an off day, you need to make yourself available 24/7 so you can answer questions and set the direction of your business.

Final Thoughts: How to Outsource as an Entrepreneur

While it is daunting at first to outsource work as an entrepreneur, it truly is straightforward and a smart business decision to make.

For some, outsourcing moves the needle for their business or side-hustle (see simplemoney) because it increases their revenue and frees up valuable time to work on core business competencies.

Remember, as an entrepreneur you need to connect and network with like-minded business owners who know how to outsource. These professionals, along with the six guiding principles we laid out above, can help you make calculated and smart financial decisions.

Image Credit: pexels-pixabay

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