Entrepreneur Education – How to Build a List

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How to Build a ListI made a ton of mistakes in the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey.

As a matter of fact in my book Yanking Bootstraps – Bootstrap Your Business to Success, I dedicated a whole chapter to them! Many of those mistakes I’m actually glad I made due to the lessons learned. However, there  a few that absolutely no good came from and I deeply regret. The mistake at the top of the heap is not focusing and growing my list from hello. I didn’t know how to build a list and I didn’t know how crucial it was. Then, when I did find out – I put it on the bottom of my priorities. This costed me a lot of money. Building a list is something that takes a ton of time, you don’t just snap your fingers and have one. That’s why delaying it – is literally delaying profits. I’m not lonely in this regret, virtually every entrepreneur I’ve ever worked with shares it with me.

How to Build a List – The Money Left on the Table

Your list is the core of profitability in your business. You need to have a list of customers that have already done business with you and a list of prospective customers that at some point, given the right circumstances, will buy from you.

A Golden Rule of Selling: Selling is about timing – your customer’s timing – not yours. We never know when that time is going to be. That’s why we should always be in front of prospective customers, reminding them of what we can do for them once the time is right. 

Right away from the beginning start compiling the list and make sure you put it in a very safe place – in a database and an email platform. If you say, “Tammy, my business is tiny and I don’t really have anyone to put on the list.” This is the best time to start the process of building your list! Set up an email platform and start collecting those names and emails!

When I start working with a business one of the first steps is securing the customers/clients they already have. I’ve been involved in projects whereas the business was several years old and they never kept a good record of their list. It’s very tedious, time-consuming, and sometimes painful to have to go back through everything and build their list. So do it now! I will also tell you if you’re one of those that have waited so long that the work it will take is too hard – every customer that I put through this exercise created revenue from the endeavor. It’s worth the pain. Also, let’s face it, business can be a little tough these days, can you really afford to leave revenue on the table just because you don’t want to face the task?

How to Build a List – Retail – Shiny Bauble Business

If you sell handbags, shoes, jewelry or anything like that – I refer to those businesses as a shiny bauble business. You have more of a wow-factor going for you when it comes to marketing. If you have a brick and mortar or even an Internet-based business, you’ll get tremendous value with email marketing which is why it’s crucial to stay on top of your list building. Make sure you’re constantly growing it. There should be a place on your website that’s one of the first things a visitor sees that says “join our email list for special offers” or something to that effect. Every time someone buys from you or just comes to browse, you need to get their email address. It’s a great idea to make sure that you make special offers that are for your email list only. This not only creates an incentive for someone to sign up for your list but it also creates a sense of urgency to buy. If used correctly, a great email marketing strategy WILL bring traffic and revenue to your store. I personally guarantee it! If you’re not doing this – you’re literally passing up revenue.

How to Build a List – Retail – Business to Consumer

In this scenario you’re targeting the consumer but your business may be more of a need purchase instead of a want. I have a client that owns a handyman business so we’ll use them in this example. Once they do business with someone they should stay in touch because there will always be more repairs that need to be done to their home. Thing is, as I pointed out we don’t know when that time will be. So they have to constantly stay in touch with their list so when they do need their service – they’re top of mind.

How to Build a List – Business to Business

In this scenario your business model will greatly determine the strategy you’ll use to get someone to sign up for your list. Your business model will also determine how you’ll use email marketing. For a B to B business you may not necessarily have the advantage of offering a sale of the day – but that’s okay because you have another objective. You’re building a pipeline. You should be generating great content that serves as solutions to your target market’s problems. In addition you should create an incentive to get your ideal clients to sign up for your list. Perhaps a free EBook for example?

When you send out email marketing to your target list you’re able to generate tracking reports. These reports tell you who opened your newsletter and how many times. This report of proven engagement is a great tool for prospecting.

Next week’s Marketing Pie will be about Email Marketing and how to use it strategically to grow your business.

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The One-Day Disease

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entrepreneursThere’s a disease that many entrepreneurs come down with, I call it the One-Day Disease. This is procrastination in one of it’s worst forms. It’s also entrepreneurial denial.

Entrepreneurial Denial - Failure to acknowledge where you really are in your business in fear of having to make changes.

Lots of entrepreneurs get caught up in working themselves to death in their business with the hope of ‘one day’. 

“One day I will make have enough money saved so I can work less.”

“One day I will have enough money to travel.”

“One day I will have enough money to retire.”

“One day I will make enough money to quit my day job.”

I hate to say this but for the majority of these entrepreneurs that day never comes. It’s just something they tell themselves so they feel better about working themselves to death.

It’s okay to have goals. It’s also okay to shoot for one-day.

However, unless you have a really well mapped out plan of how you’re going to achieve your goal you’ll always be chasing something you can’t catch.

For example if you say, I’m going to work 6 days a week, 10 hours a day until I get 100K in the bank in savings. That’s a hard plan! Commit to putting a certain amount of money in the bank each month and when you arrive at your goal – give yourself permission to work less and enjoy life more.

However, if you find yourself month after month unable to have something to show for that hard work and you’re not making your savings goal – then you’re just a hamster on a wheel. You’re working really hard, but you’ll stay in the same place.

So many entrepreneurs don’t want to commit to a structured plan to reach their goals because they’re afraid that if they do – they’ll have to let go of their dream. That’s not true! Getting real about where you are in your business and creating a strategic plan on where you want to go is how you will make  your dream a reality!

You have to learn to run your business for profit otherwise you will lose your dream. (TWEET THIS)

You have to learn to run your business for profit otherwise you will lose your dream.

The reason we go into business for ourselves is so we can be in charge of our own lives and have the highest quality of life possible. Don’t work yourself into the ground for years never achieving your dream while your time on earth runs out.

There’s one thing you should never say one day to and that’s living your best life. (TWEET THIS)

Figure out exactly what you want from your business, come up with a solid plan to get there. Then hold yourself accountable and track your success.

The clock is ticking.

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Entrepreneurs – Without Risk – You’re Not Legit

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entrepreneur educationDo you know the actual definition of the word entrepreneur? It’s defined as a person who operates a business and takes on financial risks. I want to place some extra special emphasis on the word risk.

RISK – A situation involving exposure to danger.

An entrepreneur is a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.

Okay so here’s the thing. There are so many people out there wanting to have their own business for all different types of reasons. Either they have a great idea they want to make money on, perhaps they are a stay at home mom and need additional income, or perhaps they just want to escape the cubicle nation (this was me).

As someone that’s on the frontline and speaks to entrepreneurs on a daily basis I know for a fact that the largest driver that keeps them from success is the fear of risk.

Did you know that of the thousands of micro businesses that are started in this country most won’t ever break 100K? Here’s an even scarier fact – over 80% never make it to 50K.

I know this shit is scary. Let me tell you something, I spent my entire first year pacing the floor (this costed me a lot of money by the way). I was so driven by fear that I actually wrote a book about it! Fear is a great tool if used properly – but if used badly, it staggers and prevents success.

If you really want to sign up for this – you need to be willing to accept the risk, if you aren’t – then just don’t waste your time or your money.

Let me provide you with some examples.

As a  part of my business, I coach, mentor and educate entrepreneurs to have successful businesses. This has come about merely because my first failure was out of complete ignorance. I didn’t know how to market my business – I didn’t know how to reach enough people to buy my product so that I could actually make money. Therefore, its not only my passion, but my purpose to work with entrepreneurs to arm them with everything I didnt have so they dont fail like I did. At least for the reasons I did, being lack of knowledge.

In the past I have came upon entrepreneurs that pulled at my heart strings. They have great ideas but didn’t have the income to pay for my training. So in some cases I deeply discounted my rates and in a few instances I actually gave my consultations for free. Perhaps I should state an exact number and say that there has been a total of 5 occasions that I have done this over the past year.

I want to tell you that in every single situation (all five occasions!), that NOT ONE entrepreneur followed through. They didn’t do what they were supposed to do. They didn’t do the work. They didn’t take the training seriously. They would cancel. You name it. So why did this happen? Coincidence perhaps? I don’t think so.

They hadn’t actually invested anything so there was no risk for them. Minus risk there is no danger, so they don’t engage. I was discounting my time which meant that I actually was making more of an investment into their venture than they were.

One thing I have learned over the past 4 years is that most people don’t do what they don’t have to do. Which is why I LOVE to work with entrepreneurs that HAVE to make money – it isn’t a choice.

Another example is something I saw just last night on an episode of Shark Tank. You can click the link to go to that episode and the part that I will refer to happens at 16:00 in the video. A very adorable Chinese doctor by the name of Edna Ma approached the sharks with her company called Bare Ease. Now here’s the thing – she is a doctor, a teacher, married with a child, and attempting this business. Her sales were very low at 60K this year, despite the fact that she really had a pretty decent product and had great interest. The problem is she hasn’t put in the time that’s needed to get the business off the ground. When the sharks asked her why she wasn’t putting in the time her response was she had to pay her bills so she couldn’t leave her commitments. Every single shark was out after that comment. Do you know why? Here she is coming to them, asking for their money, asking them to take a risk on her, a risk that she isn’t willing to even take on herself.

If you want to have a real business and make actual money, you need to be ready to accept the risk. You have to be willing to invest money in your business. You must be willing to take chances.

I’m on the front line and I have seen entrepreneurs (more than I can count) that spend YEARS piddling with a business. YEARS!!! In this time they don’t make any REAL contribution or assume any real risk which is why they’re still in very same place – they’re not profitable. They’re a part of that 80%. They’re wantrepreneurs – not entrepreneurs. Minus the risk you are only a wantrepreneur!

Take the risk or go back to cubicle. It’s just that simple.

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Pick a Niche – Please

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pick a niche for your businessOne of the biggest mistakes I made when I started out as a new entrepreneur was thinking that I would succeed as long as I had something to sell to everybody. If I could sell to everyone I couldn’t fail right? Wrong! That strategy will actually slow the progression of your business – which consequently will cause failure.

Your days are as an entrepreneur are going to consist of:

  • Developing and marketing your business
  • The day to day stuff like bookkeeping and planning
  • Taking care of the customers and the work you already have
  • Growing your list!
  • Then guess what? You still have to go out and get new business!

Starting a business is a very tough undertaking. Especially if you are funding the business yourself and living on a hope and a prayer the way I was. You are not going to have the luxury of making crap decisions.

So listen up!

In the beginning you will have a much higher success rate if you will choose one thing that you do very well and become the best at it you can possibly be. You want to be thought of as the go-to person for whatever that is. In addition to increase your chances of success even further, pick one or two industries to sell that one thing to. If you choose the restaurant industry for example, you will want to become an expert in that industry. What are the problems of restaurant owners? What keeps them up at night? What do they need to run their business? How does your business fit into the picture? Don’t think about what you need to sell, think about what they need to buy. 

I wish I had a dollar for every minute I spent just sitting at my desk starring at my computer wondering what in the hell I was going to do next. Who was I going to call? There were too many choices. I didn’t know where to start. So where did I start? I didn’t. I avoided doing sales as much as I should have because it was just too hard. Guess what that did to the success of my business? It delayed it.

It became very obvious to me that the world was just too big of a place for me to take on. I needed boundaries! I had to figure out very quickly how to focus on a much smaller target, otherwise failure was eminent.

When I made the decision to scale back my offerings and do industry targeted marketing it made the day-to-day much easier. Having a clear focus of who I was selling to and what I was going to sell them made me much more productive. Guess what happens when you are productive? Yep! Your chances of success rise significantly!


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