Really Common Small Business Mistakes to Watch Out For (and Avoid)
We all have to sell ourselves at some point—whether it be as a corporate warrior, a small business owner, a ‘disruptor’ or as an individual.
Of course, the rub is that it can be hard to do it well. You don’t want to seem sleazy, self-serving or arrogant…but you need to present your ideas, products or services in the best way possible. With that in mind, here are seven tips for self-promotion that allow you to maintain your dignity, self-respect and don’t come across as a self promoting ass-hat.
Before you begin promoting something, decide what you will and won’t do. Some people tell everyone they know about their new idea. Others prefer to keep their personal and business interests separate. There is no right or wrong answer, but you should decide what is right and wrong for you.
You may find yourself doing things you wouldn’t normally do when you start promoting without setting clear boundaries first. The issue here is that in the world of the internet things are easy to find and being a hypocrite is one of the things you don’t want to be accused of. SO remember your purpose, your mission, your vision but most importantly your values. They are the rules of the game and how you play it.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners are known as starters and go-getters that are keen on action. Most of the time, that’s a good thing. But the downfall is that every now and then, we find ourselves going all-in on an idea before we think everything out.
Before you start self-promoting something, make sure that it’s an idea, product, or service that you really believe in—not something that you just find cool, exciting or interesting. Don’t become a victim of the ‘shiny coin’ syndrome.
Is this something that you’re just interested in only this week, or are you ready to own it forever? Are you ready for your reputation to be attached to it?
Be certain in whatever you promote before you start singing its praises. If you start promoting half-baked ideas to your friends, family and peers…then people are going to stop listening to you when you pitch them something genuine.
If you’re not ready to own your idea and believe in what you’re promoting, then how can you expect anyone else to believe in it?
On a flight to New York some years ago, the stewardess came over the intercom upon arrival and asked us to take a short online survey. She explained why the survey would be helpful to the airline and at the end of the speech she said, “…and you’ll be entered to win 100,000 (or something like that), frequent flyer miles.”
That pitch was totally backwards. By the time she got to the mileage offer, most passengers had stopped listening, put in their headphones, or made a phone call. My partner spent the time telling me how tired they were because we’d sat next tot he toilets all the way from Heathrow and hadn’t slept a wink!
If you’re promoting to your ideal customer and client, then start with the value. Tell me that you want to give me 100,000 free miles. Get us to buy in before telling me what I have to do. Show us what we get for our time. Then, tell us that we have to take the survey to enter the contest.
If you want to be a great self-promoter, then start by showing people how your knowledge, products or services can provide value.
Most self-promoters look for an opening. They search for opportunities to sell or a chance to fit their products or services into the conversation. And if you don’t believe me take a look at how many have, (or appear to be), self serving when it comes to charity work. There is a case for corporate social responsibility, but if you’re doing it for the purposes of increasing your status, you are doing it for the wrong reasons and it won’t take people long to work it out.
Instead of cramming in a pitch or back-slapping whenever possible, spend some time listening for people’s problems instead. If you discover what they are struggling with, then you can determine how your product, service or idea can solve that problem.
Nobody enjoys being promoted to, but everyone loves having a problem solved.
If you’re not naturally outgoing and loud, then don’t try to be. You should always promote who you are and what you stand for. Most people see right through insincerity, and they recognise sincerity, too. How would you rather be perceived?
When you act like someone you aren’t, you find yourself doing things that you wouldn’t do. That’s a recipe for being perceived as insincere and disrespectful.
A surefire way for self-promotion to go south? Act like people owe you something.
If you think that your friends and family should love your idea, you’re wrong. If you think that your business partners will promote your products because you promote their ideas, you’re wrong. If you think that the world should enjoy your ideas because you put a lot of work into them, you’re wrong.
You aren’t entitled to anything. You’ll gain a lot of fans once you accept that attention and accolades must be earned. So if you’re one of these people who tag people and their pets in every social media post for the sake of gaining reach…don’t. It strains peoples relationships with you and sometimes, people don’t agree or believe in, what you believe in. Find people who believe in what you believe in. Attract hearts to your cause, not eyes on your promotions.
One of the best ways to make self-promotion easier is to build something that is easy to promote.
Enhance the features of your current product line. Improve on the experience your customers have. Build a better portfolio to show your prospects.
It’s so much easier to be a great self-promoter when you have a product, service, or idea that promotes itself.
Really Common Small Business Mistakes to Watch Out For (and Avoid)
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