Do You Have a Hobby or a Business?
The American dream – to have one’s own business, take control of one’s future and have the time to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor. Even better, if they can work from HOME, since that’s the trend today – oh what bliss! This is what is known as capitalism; the ability to take one’s capital (money and resources) and use it to build a business. If one does a good job, he or she gets to keep the reward. If not, well, then he or she may lose it all. It’s a risk, but no better system for opportunity exists.
Now, with all the resources available:
- The Internet
- Local organizations helping new business owners
- Business-certification courses
- Self-help books and online courses
…there’s no reason why someone can’t minimize his or her risk. So then why are businesses failing at an all-time high, faster than new ones are being created (according to The Washington Post)? While taxation and government regulations have played a part, there are also other self-contributing reasons that exacerbate the failure rate. One being that many people treat a business like a hobby. So the question is, do you have a hobby or a business? Let’s take a look at how many treat their small business like a hobby and you decide if this is you. If it is, changing these practices will make a HUGE difference towards success.
There’s Little to No Commitment
Many people get motivated easily, but it doesn’t last. Seeing the possibility of earning well and romancing the idea of being one’s own boss can make anyone take the plunge into a small or home business (look at all the network-marketing companies with a 90% failure rate). However, when they realize it doesn’t just happen, they have to work hard, well, reality sets in. Therefore, they do all or some of the following three things.
Operating Hours – Whenever!
You can’t run a business without having set business hours. Not only do your clients need to know when you can be reached for service or a purchase, you need to know when you are on the job. While most believe they no longer have a job (since they own a business), the reality is you DO!
Since many people are not cut out to be a boss, they become the best boss they’ve ever had:
- Never demanding anything.
- Accepting “…when I get to it…” as an answer
- Working only when they feel like it.
If this is you, then you need a regular job and not a business. There’s no shame in that; some people are not cut out to be entrepreneurs. They need direction and organization.
They invest very little
Since there’s no commitment, because they don’t see themselves as successful, they are afraid to invest what it takes to BE successful. Therefore, they spend little to no money, resources, time or energy. In other words, they don’t THINK like an entrepreneur; they think like an employee.
This affects you psychologically. When there is little to no risk, there’s little to no loss (other than the jam you’ll get yourself into when your bills are passed due). So mentally, there’s little motivation to work and plan. It also subconsciously convinces you that you EXPECT to fail and only see this as a working vacation from a regular job – since you intend to get one as soon as you can no longer endure the pain of creditors and little food.
Now what would happen if you had several thousand dollars invested? Would you fear losing that money? What would you do to protect it and get it back – with interest? Would you get up early and work late, if need be? Would you make a plan to ensure you could measure whether things were going well or not? Would you set goals and shoot for them? Amazing how you psychologically change when there’s some skin in the game!
They settle for just enough
Another huge mistake many would-be successful entrepreneurs make is settling for “just enough.” What do I mean by this? Instead of doing the VERY BEST they can, they do “just enough” to get by and provide a service or product.
Articles are written poorly
So when it comes to creating an article for their blog, they write whatever comes to mind just to have something to show on their website. They don’t bother looking at trends, doing a little research and structuring an article with substance. Typically, it’s not proofread well; it’s just a fluff filler piece.
Marketing material is subpar
Many people believe if they have SOMETHING, it’s all they need. I hear it all the time, “I just need a quick website, brochure, business card, etc…” No thought is given to how it will represent them; just to be able to say, “Yes, I have a website…” is enough for them.
Therefore, their website is not well done, the experience is lacking, the images are poor and typically out of ratio, the content is too wordy and they try to give away the farm on one page, thinking they can make a sale on their home page. Their business cards are perforated, Office Depot inkjet business cards that say, “No money.” Their brochure is on the same quality stock, done in Microsoft Word and looks like a middle-school project. I know this sounds harsh, but many of you reading this are laughing, saying, “That’s me! No wonder!”
Ask yourself, “If I were about to spend several hundred to several thousand dollars on a service or product, and the marketing material presented to me looked like the company had no money and was unprofessional, which means if there were something wrong with my purchase, how do I know they will be around to fix it – would I buy from that company?” Chances are you would not. You would feel uncomfortable and would look for a company that does look professional and well-funded, even if it meant paying more. Guess what, that’s how others think. This is known as “peace of mind” and it commands a higher price. There is HIGH VALUE in peace of mind!
They confuse social-media networking for social-media marketing
Social media has changed the world. It’s as big a game-changer as when the Internet was finally being marketed to the general public. However, many business people do not know how to effectively use it, so they start sharing personal stuff, at random: pictures, status reports, selfies, snapshot of dinner (why… I digress), etc. Then, among all this STUFF, they share, “Come to my website and checkout our specials! You will love them!” Or worse, they beg, “Please like my page and take a look at my website.” Desperation will make you do funny things!
Social-media marketing is a science and art that helps your company, your brand if you will, be positioned. You do this by sharing relevant information that will be useful and helpful to your audience. However, you have to do that by addressing the needs of your public, which are:
- To be entertained
- To be informed
- To be helped
This is done with a mix of media (articles, videos, photos, podcasts, etc.) so as to keep it interesting and diverse. Often, this is done with third-party content (other people’s stuff) that support your message. (Read So You’re not getting the Whole Social Media Thing: Part 1 and Part 2, for a better understanding of how to employ a more effective strategy.)
While mixing networking with marketing is okay for the average small business and/or consultant (this would not work well for a large corporation), you need to know how to properly do so. Remember, when you’re in business, you have no online privacy. Therefore, if you post it on social media, eventually your customer base will see it, so use wise discretion. A post made while drinking or angry will say more about you and your business than a well-designed advertisement.
So stop sabotaging yourself!
“If you work hard on the job, you’ll make a living; if you work hard on yourself, you’ll make a fortune.”
Therefore, if you want to succeed, you need to understand that owning a business is HARDER work than having a job. You see, you still have to get up early and occasionally work late; you still have to answer to someone (your clients), and you still have to accomplish certain goals – well – or you’re fired. Except, now your customer is the one doing the firing by hiring your competition. All that, and you have to take all the risk and pay all the bills. Now this may sound bleak, but it isn’t. It just requires a change in thinking. You need to stop thinking like an employee and start thinking like an entrepreneur.
Understand that whether you work for someone or own a business, you are a product in the market place and there are other products available – you’re not the only game in town. Someone else’s product may not be as good as yours; however, there are others who will blow yours away. So you can’t settle for being just good enough; you have to constantly be looking for how to improve it. It’s easy to psych yourself out by doing figure 8s into believing because you’re busy, you are being productive. Doing something doesn’t mean you’re doing the right things.
So make sure you set goals, write a plan, invest the money necessary to have a professional infrastructure and learn how to properly do social-media marketing. If you don’t know how to do some of these things, then it’s important to know what you DON’T know and find someone who does, until you learn it. If you do, you will achieve the success you seek – and let me tell you – it’s the most wonderful way to live! I challenge you to succeed!