Digital Marketing

3 Fast Ways to Grow Your Lean Startup with Eric Ries

 
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Text Version
Total Reading Time: 4 minutes.
I want to go through three ways to grow your startup. I was first introduced to this idea in the book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.
Now this isn’t something completely revolutionary, but it’s a fundamental and essential strategy all entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and anyone in business definitely needs to be reminded of.
 

1. Grow by Selling to Current Customers

The first method that The Lean Startup talks about is known as the sticky engine. The sticky engine is when you take the existing customers that you already have and sell them more. You increase the lifetime value of each individual customer.
The reason I really like the sticky engine is that most people overlook this stage. Most people just think about new ways to attract new customers, but they don’t take care of the customers that they already have.
This is a really easy way to drive more dollars to the bottom line and grow your startup. You can do this by introducing a new feature, by bringing in a new product to sell to the existing customers, or even taking them up the ladder.
You know you have a core offering by upselling them into a higher level luxury level offer because there’s a lot of money sitting on the table often times.
 

2. Grow Your Startup Organically

Secondly, is the viral engine. The viral engine is really interesting because it’s basically organic. It falls under the umbrella of content marketing.
It involves taking the people that you already have and making them brand ambassadors. It’s making them share your stuff, your content your videos, your products, your software, or your services out in the world for you for free.
You do this by incentivizing them, but you mainly do it by making them super happy so you can combine the sticky engine with the viral engine. At the end of the day, if your customers are happy, they’re going to spread the word for you. Below are examples from Headway Capital to make your customers happy:

 
All you have to do is give them an incentive and then it takes off like wildfire.
Now the problem with this engine is that you can’t really build a thriving business off of just this alone. You’ll need a more reliable method where you control the knobs and levers. And that is the paid engine.
 

3. Grow Your Startup with Paid Advertisement

When you really crack the code to the paid engine, you have a real business. Often times we wait years to really crack the code to the paid engine, which is essentially paid advertising to drive new customers to come in. It can take a bit of engineering to crack the code.
You need to spend less (expenses) than what you’re making (revenues) to be profitable, right?
If you can make more money per customer than you spend to acquire that customer, you have a business. You’ve cracked the code. The more you can spend and outspend all of your competitors on marketing and on paid advertising, the more your company can grow.
This is a bit counterintuitive, but it’s actually brilliant because your goal should be to spend as much money as possible to acquire customers.
That means that your revenues are going to continually scale and increase over time.
 

Conclusion

It’s a very simple formula, but it’s hard to crack. And once you crack it, you have yourself a thriving business. So, in my opinion, focus first on identifying if you can actually apply a paid advertising formula to your business.
Then as a bonus, add in the content marketing — that viral engine. And of course, the low hanging fruit, the thing that you should focus on more than anything is the customers you already have.
Make those people happy. Turn them into raving fans. Make them brand ambassadors. There’s no way your startup will not succeed over time if you can nail all three of these engines.
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Photo credit: Grow — CC license

7 Easy Steps to Go from Blogger to Ecommerce Entrepreneur

Total Reading Time: 11 minutes.
When Patrick Foster of Ecommerce Tips contacted me about doing a guest post on helping people transition or evolve from blogger to ecommerce entrepreneur, I had to say yes. I’ve had a similar evolution myself, but sadly, had to figure it all out on my own.
As a solopreneur who began as a blogger, created information products, became an expert copywriter, took on consulting, created my own physical ecommerce product, and now run multiple companies and teams — I would have benefitted tremendously from the tactics laid out below. I’m hoping this in-depth article gives you the insight and knowledge you need to more confidently become a successful ecommerce entrepreneur. Enjoy!

Introduction: Enter Patrick

There is no doubt that solopreneurship is exploding. It’s an exciting road and you’ll never be lonely with so many digital soulmates on the same path!
So, how do you make money using the power of words? More and more bloggers and online writers are experimenting with affiliate sales and content monetization.
Some take the plunge and move onto the big one: ecommerce. Ecommerce is definitely lucrative and exciting, but it’s also a demanding discipline that will test your business skills and personal resources.
As a blogger and content creator you’ve got some unique strategies available to you to help you drive ecommerce traffic and sales — USE THEM.
Here is how you can use your extensive blogger arsenal to help you succeed at ecommerce — here’s to your solopreneur success!

Step 1: Start with What You Know

So, how do you make the leap from blogger to ecommerce entrepreneur? First things first: start with what you’ve already got.
You may have spent years building an email list, posting regular content, engaging with your readers in comments, building out your social profiles. Start with the audience you’ve already amassed.
Don’t let all those valuable blogger years go to waste by starting again – leverage your readership and community to help you build a sustainable business.

  • You have to figure out how to segway into ecommerce and take most of your existing readership with you. How to get people invested in your startup story?
  • Ask their opinion — share logo designs, business ideas, and branding concepts with your email list for some genuine brand feedback before you even get started. Bring your readers on the business building journey with you, and keep existing relationships fresh — even if you’ve slightly changed your focus.
  • [Note from Arman: look at the number of times me and this site evolved on this journey. And yet, so many of you have been with me since day one. Why? Because I not only make sure to share the story, but my thinking and reasons for making each change. You can almost always convert an audience from one topic or place to another].
  • Cherish people’s contact details and invest in a proper CRM (customer relationship management) system. People’s emails are a token of all the shared experiences you’ve had over the years.
  • In order to take your email marketing to the next level, segment your contacts into lists and send relevant content to contact subsets. Segmentation is a great strategy to help you send out targeted and compelling content (and personalized offers).

 

market segmentation

  • What are the motivators behind you getting into ecommerce? Share your thoughts and struggles as you transition, and you will find others on the same journey as you.
  • Likeminded user groups and chat forums can be a great place to widen your circle to other fledgling ecommerce pros. Get energy and motivation from other people going through the same things as you.
  • Analyze your blogger strengths and weaknesses – it’s important to know yourself inside out as an entrepreneur. Did you find video difficult? What about managing invoicing and clients? What technical challenges held you back?
  • Being honest about what you found difficult will help you be more realistic about the project and its profitability. Remember that entrepreneurial hunger and curiosity are often fed by adversity – don’t be afraid of challenges.

Who are you breaking bread with? It’s important to surround yourself with the right sort of people in order to invite success into your life. Online groups can be a really powerful way of finding your tribe.
You don’t want to draw a line under your blogger years — bring all that knowledge and drive with you on the next stage of your digital journey…

Step 2: Beware of the ‘Easy Wins’

Is anything worth having easy? Don’t get sucked in by dollar signs and forget to look at what matters, building a sustainable business that A) you will want to run, or B) runs itself. Making more money online is an exciting challenge, but there are very few shortcuts for those who are serious about their ecommerce brand.

  • There are a LOT of people out there selling the make easy money online dream — and the majority of it is hyped up and exaggerated. The way that the online marketplace is presented in sales literature is often misleading, people distort figures in order to sell their products and tools.
  • Don’t take the shortest route to success. The best brands go through an incubation period; it’s totally fine to stop and think before you launch into something.
  • Be wary of paid courses. As a blogger you already know that some blogger growth courses and webinars are absolutely worth their price tag, whereas others still have a long way to go before they are going to help anyone. Not sure whether to invest in an ecommerce course? Read online reviews and seek advice from others who’ve been there before.
  • On the other hand – don’t listen to people who tell you that you’ll need investors and thousands in the bank in order to achieve your dreams – you can get started in ecommerce for less than $100! It’s all about financial balance and knowing when to spend.
  • Adopt the startup mentality of growth hacker marketing and launch with using the minimum viable product (MVP) methodology to stop yourself from spending money on unnecessaries. You’re often better off spending less on web and brand development and more on marketing and promotion anyways.
minimum viable product
Don’t forget to embrace the MVP methodology

Step 3: Choose Your Niche Wisely

Do you really want to sell juicers for the next four years? Is the sight of matcha already boring you to tears? Something which may seem like fun right now may not feel like fun after dozens of customer support calls! Think very carefully about what you’re getting yourself into and try to balance profitability with practicality.

  • Look at product profitability, niche growth potential, and think about whether you actually want to be selling this stuff! The best ecommerce brands are run by product advocates and enthusiasts — you may not want to go down this route if you’re private labeling on Amazon, but it’s still worth considering.
  • Can you bring passion to the table somehow? (Product accessories — very lucrative niche FYI).
  • Starting to research products cold can be overwhelming, so stick to something that’s close to your current sphere of interest at first. Travel blogger? You may want to offer travel-related products like bags, toiletries, hats etc. If there is nothing around you that’s grabbing you, go to places like Amazon and Alibaba for product research (and you might even be able to find some suppliers while you’re there!).
  • Going with overseas suppliers means longer wait times, but you will be guaranteed some great deals from Asian suppliers for popular lifestyle products. On the premium end, sourcing stock from local retailers and artists can help build your reputation as a quirky brand.
  • Have you got a plan B in place before you start spending money on stock or product development? Stock liquidation should be part of your exit plan — be careful of acquiring capital assets you can’t shift. Dropshipping could be the answer to your ecommerce prayers, and services like Printful mean that you can easily monetize graphic design or illustration through printing. (If your brand is strong enough – you could even create blog swag).
  • Validating your product with the market is a really important step. Is there an existing market for your product right now? Where are your customers? You need to make sure that you are tapping into some sort of existing consumer demand. Don’t be afraid of competition — a little competition is only healthy [Note from Arman: yes, seriously! Don’t be afraid of competition. This is market validation.]

Step 4: Build for Longevity

Yes, ecommerce is about sales, but not all ecommerce is about the old-school ‘stack-em-high-sell-em-cheap’ sales (unless you’re in an Amazon price war – good luck). The best ecommerce brands invest in customer experience, branding, and tell one hell of a product story!

  • Most ecommerce stores sell a lifestyle and a brand as much as they do their actual physical products. What are you selling? What sort of customers shop with you (and why)? Try to connect with that customer why in order to get under their skins. Gary Vaynerchuk is a great example of an entrepreneur and hustler who has built an entire brand around empowering other people.
  • You have to invest in something that looks and feels good. After all, with all the options of where people can spend their money, why would they spend it with you? Quality branding and well-written content is an ecommerce must-have.
  • And don’t neglect packaging or the customer delivery experience either. You need to be available to customers 24/7 — it’s a tiring (but rewarding) responsibility. Use live chat software like ZenDesk to help you serve and scale without the drama!
  • Inject personality into those boring order confirmation emails and pay attention to all the small brand details. (If you’re selling through a third party marketplace — control what you can from a brand perspective, and leave the rest to them).

Step 5: Upgrade Your Digital Platform

(Simple) blogs can be quite low-cost and low-maintenance when it comes to hosting and web maintenance — an ecommerce store requires a bit more from your web technology. Ecommerce sales hinge on fast and usable sites – slowness is a huge conversion killer.

  • Magento and Drupal are also good, but they are really more fitting for a high-powered web environment and may need a bit more developer support (especially Drupal). Then there are loads of smaller custom platforms – usually aimed at niches like jewelry/shoes/food etc. These can also be a good option, but don’t go for something that you can’t fully customize with your own branding.
  • Whatever you end up going with, hosting downtime and sloppy coding are not acceptable. You need an ecommerce environment that feels instinctive to the user — which often means something fast and visual. Clue up on your digital skills like CSS and SEO to get the most out of your store.
  • You don’t even have to invest in a platform these days — you could sell directly from a Facebook page, your Pinterest board, or from your own Etsy store. [Arman: this is so true. People are starting ecommerce brands from scratch on Snapchat even. Crazy.] These are all great places to start, but a central online hub is often required to up your own brand and ecommerce game. (Social selling may end up becoming your biggest traffic and sales referrer though…)

Step 6: Invest in Great Content

Content creation is one of your strengths as a blogger – use it to your advantage during your ecommerce journey. Remember to match your content to your audience, and always listen to feedback in order to refine your offering. Embrace all the platforms and channels available to you.

  • Niche-relevant content is very important for ecommerce, especially in smaller niches that attract product advocates. Quora is a great place for niche content research when you’re stuck for new ideas. It’s also a great place to promote yourself as a niche expert – link back to your own store and content.
  • Product content should strike the right balance between information and sales — focus on product benefits, rather than listing features.
  • Invest in a great ecommerce blog which can become a brand hub and a place for content exchanges. Make your blog somewhere people want to be seen to encourage mutually beneficial relationships.
  • Work on native and sponsored content with relevant influencers and media outlets, but don’t throw all your money away without getting a clear picture of ROI first. Speak to the blogger community first and leverage your blogger status.
  • Factor in seasonality to your content calendar — what big sales dates do you need to capitalize on?

Step 7: Market Your New Brand

So how do you get your brand new ecommerce business off the ground? You are going to have to delve into your blogger promotional toolkit and use all the marketing arsenal you’ve got. Invest in social, but focus on a few key channels first.

  • Social media advertising is an effective and often inexpensive place to start. Make sure the ads are properly targeted and that they have a compelling value proposition to share. It’s the perfect way to advertise new product launches and special offers.
  • On the organic social side, Pinterest and Instagram are great for visual niches. Use tools like hashtagify.me to discover the best hashtags and balance sharing product-related stuff with things likes motivational quotes and customer photos.
  • Video is a great product marketing tool, and it’s increasingly inexpensive too! Shoot some videos in your home studio to get started.
  • When it comes to link building and guest posting — focus on the blogger community’s rules of give and take. It can be tempting to think you have to ramp things way up now that you’re an ecommerce merchant, but you’re best taking a slow and steady approach to link building…

Conclusion: What You Need to Know about Ecommerce v.s. Blogging

  1. Ecommerce is still about people — your readers are your customers and vice versa!
  2. You need to get familiar with ecommerce data and terminology to help you make better financial decisions for your business.
  3. Niche content is a great thing for both SEO and user — take it seriously and invest time in content creation.
  4. You can use the blogger community around you to help you spread the word. Relationships and social media are still important, all the same rules apply.

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Photo credit: Seven AtomsCC license

The Complete Guide to Snapchat Takeovers for Entrepreneurs and Influencers

Total Reading Time: 10 minutes.
Oh, Snapchat…
Are you just the latest social media app, or a pioneering multi-billion dollar platform at the forefront of digital media capturing consumer attention that’s destined for the long haul?
A lot of people say it’s the latter. Solopreneurship is exploding, and for the right influencer, brand, or company — Snapchat is the single most effective and engaging way to connect with a new or existing audience.
After some careful consideration and thinking through a list of ingredients every business needs, I decided to go “all in” on Snapchat and have been building my account while also connecting with other Snapchatters.
One of those influencers is my friend Suzanne Nguyen, known as String Story on social media. Suzanne is a “curious geek of the future that loves fried chicken, tech, and communication”. She’s also one of the most popular influencers teaching Snapchat marketing tactics. 
I performed a “takeover” on her account utilizing the exact strategies she teaches (strategies that she’ll be breaking down in detail in this post). You can see the actual video from the takeover below. What is a takeover you ask?

Definition of a Snapchat Takeover: A Snapchat takeover is when a person/brand allows another user to log in and share content to the account’s public story.

Note: String agreed to share her proven, step-by-step guide on how to produce awesome Snapchat takeovers here exclusively on the blog. The entire guide below is a guest post by Suzanne Nguyen. Please make sure to:  

  1. Download your free ebook and takeover worksheets — see form above
  2. Add Arman Assadi and String Story on Snapchat
  3. Watch the takeover video below, study the guide, and leave a comment on this post with your thoughts
Arman Assadi's Snapchat Snapcode
Arman Assadi’s Snapchat Snapcode

 

String Story's Snapchat Snapcode
String Story’s Snapchat Snapcode

 

Open Snapchat and take a photo of these Snapcodes OR click the image to automagically add.

Arman Assadi’s Takeover on String Story’s Snapchat Account

Introduction: Enter String…

Many have complained that Snapchat, as a closed network, is a hard channel to grow an audience. Whilst this is true, it took me just 3 months before I hit the 1k mark. Now, I realized from all the takeovers I’ve done, that it’s a hard number to reach for most people.
So, I decided to write this guide to let you digitally-pick my brain, and get some incredible results by doing Snapchat takeovers with entrepreneurs — but, without the pitfalls I’ve encountered 🙂

TL;DR: Takeovers have been a great tactic to help discover new peeps and grow my viewership

I’m super-excited to work and collaborate with you on helping YOU make the most of Snapchat Takeovers!
My role here is to act like a Producer and help you provide value to your audience. To date, I’ve successfully completed 15 takeovers (and counting!). My results so far? They’ve been overwhelmingly positive.
Sit back, and read my own notes and thoughts on how to produce awesome Snapchat Takeovers!

1) Who Is Your Audience?

Hint: It’s never about you.
Even though it’s your channel, it’s never about you, it’s about the audience and the value you provide them.
To help figure out your target audience and audit your numbers before you approach others for potential takeovers, click below.

My Snapchat Audience is made up of:

    • Geeks, startup, tech entrepreneurs and creative entrepreneurs.
    • Mostly men, between the age of 25-50.
    • Australia and the United States, mainly.
    • So far, they do enjoy takeovers because they get to discover new Snapchat Users and Content Creators.

2) Stats: Numbers You Need to Know

Most of growth came from taking over a high influencer’s Snapchat account

From the pie chart below, I was able to reach a snap view of 1000 by having regular takeovers, 23.8% have been from takeovers, which is why it’s important to use this tactic as a way for others to discover you and follow you on your Snapchat account.
Refer to Worksheet 10a (page 15) to gauge and audit you SnapChat channel.

 

Based on my own data and stats, here is an overview of my numbers:

    • Avg. 18k total snap views within 24 hours (#SnapchatMonday)
    • Avg. of 800-1000 per snap  views
    • Avg 350+ screenshots
    • Avg 30 comments (#TechTuesday), it once peaked up to 87  comments.

3) Engagement

Screenshots = the new Snapchat likes

My Followers are trained to be personally­ engaging, now they understand the concept of screenshots. They now also incorporate screenshots in their stories to help drive user engagement.
My audience tends to want and respond better to visuals such as flow charts, lists, and schedules. For example, when Arman Assadi (@armangeddon) jumped on, his slides and giveaway images were screenshot hundreds of times.
Lately, my mind maps and flow charts (refer to image below) have been getting the most amount of screenshots.

4) Sweet Spot for Takeovers

90 – 200 seconds

(which is approximately 10-20 snaps)

From experience, to create 1.5 ­- 2mins of quality Snapchat content, it takes approx. 1 hour of your real time.
NB: Snapchat is not a YouTube channel: it’s best to treat with brevity ­- use a “keep it short and sweet” attitude. Being succinct is key.
NB2: Any content that goes over this limit will be edited by me. I’m ruthless with my quality and content! You’ve been warned! 😀
I suggest that you have the same editor type attitude too, again you like to ensure takeovers to provide value to your audience.

5) Handover (Passwords and Security)

Keep the handover process simple.
But, if you’re scared someone will steal your account, here are some ways to protect it.
Ah, the Big One! Most people are scared of someone hacking and stealing your passwords. Understandable. BUT, we have a really cool system that’s baked ­right into Snapchat. We’re going to talk about 2FA -­ or, “Two Factor Authentication”. On Snapchat it’s called Text Verification.

Here’s how to streamline and switch accounts:

  1. Change your password into a temporary one.
  2. Pick a primary form of communication (i.e. Facebook, Whatsapp, email)
  3. Exchange your Snapchat passwords (and second Text Verification)
  4. Put into your diary when you both start and finish (work out the time zones too!)
  5. Swap Snapcodes & pre­introduce the Snapchatter beforehand.

Setting up Text Verification

NB: make sure you have a Text Verification setup beforehand!. Here’s how:

  1. Open Snapchat on your device.
  2. Tap the ghost icon at the top of your Camera screen.
  3. Tap the Settings gear in the top right-hand corner of your Profile screen.
  4. Tap ‘Login verification’ under the ‘My Account’ section.
  5. Tap the ‘Continue’ button.
  6. Tap ‘SMS’.
  7. Enter the verification code sent to your mobile phone and tap ‘Continue’.
  8. Every time you swap accounts, make sure you are on standby and exchange the second text verification codes.

6) Social X Promotion

Promote the Snapchat takeover on your social channels.

Share the news about the takeover on your various social channels. Yup, I’m looking at you Twitter, Facebook ­ and even pre­introduction on your Snapchat channel.
Leading up to your takeover, you can let people know that you’ll be on the @stringstory Snapchat channel. It’s also a good idea to tweet it out and share on Facebook during your takeover. Engagement during your takeover has a noticeable increase when you do this kind of cross-platform promotion. Give them your Snapchat GhostCode!

Providing feedback to other Snapchatters on Twitter, and having them do the same for you is a great way to cross-pollinate your audiences. Private replies on Snapchat increase your engagement with only one person at a time.

7) String’s Tips on Ultimate Takeovers

All winners! No Fillers!

    • Be short and sweet.
    • Provide value. “All winners, no fillers!” Make each snap count.
    • Avoid follow-my-day types, you can watch this on any other Snapchatter account. The goal is to encourage the audience to follow you on your own Snapchat.
    • Have fun.
    • Remember you’re a guest on someone’s channel.
      • Be yourself, but respect their differing audience demographic and culture.
    • Yes, people are known to tap away, so add text captions.
    • Do a pre-introduction on your own Snapchat account, introducing the Snapchatter.
    • Save your ‘stories’ before handing over the accounts back to the original owner.

8) Tips on Providing Value for Takeovers:

Here are more tips from other Snapchatters

Avery Rats: a digital Marketer based in Israel

Snapchat: AzrielR

  1. Give tips people can use right now.
  2. My general theory with content creation is that every 3 minutes a person should walk away thinking they learned at least 1 new thing, so that would definitely apply to takeovers.
  3. Give the people a reason right now to follow you back, like continuing the tips on your page. So in one takeover I have 5 tips for motivation and the 5th one was on my story, so they needed to follow me to get that tip.

Adam Cinemre: a digital designer based in Australia

Snapchat: AdamCinemre

  1. The set up – Direct people from your channel, and be sure to introduce yourself on the takeover account. Choose one (maybe 2) areas of your skill set to focus on
  2. The content – Come up with 1 awesomely actionable task or piece of content that will help people fall in love with you. Maybe offer a discount for your service or a tip that can help them (instill wisdom)
  3. The Praise – Thank them (audience/channel/host) for their attention and the opportunity to meet. “See you back over on my channel”.

Yopickles: a digital nomad known for her creativity, music, and tattoos

Snapchat: ieatpickles1111

    1. Keep it short and   simple
    2. Interact and make it  fun
    3. Do takeovers with people that are similar to you

Tien Wong: a CEO and VC based in Washington DC, USA

Snapchat: stienwong

  1. Know who your audience is and WHAT they are interested in.
  2. Be organized, plan your story deliberately so it flows sensibly.
  3. Keep it crisp – make 3 to 5 major HI IMPACT points.
    • “HI IMPACT” means “substantive, meaningful and appropriate content” which the audience would greatly benefit from.

David Ma: a Cancer Researcher from Australia

Snapchat: Frostickle

  1. Have a strong intro which clearly explains who this new face is and why they’re there.
  2. Use the caption on each snap to summarize the point of that snap, this makes the entire story much easier to skim through, resulting in more viewers making it to the end. Viewers who skim quickly to the end are more satisfied than viewers who drop out halfway because they couldn’t follow the story.
  3. Satisfied viewers come back for more and follow takeover-ees.

9) Format Is Key

Provide value by curating high impact content with a format.
In TV production, reality and game shows have a preset structure called a “format”. I’ve found that having a format and sharing the program encourages your viewers to tune in or allow them to opt out. Refer to Worksheet 10c and 10d (page 17 and 18) to help format your Takeovers. Feel free to send the worksheet to your collaborative Snapchatter, who will be taking over your account.

String’s Suggested Takeover Format

  • Introduce yourself
      • Who you are
      • What your areas of expertise are
      • Where you are located

NB: here’s a challenge, try to keep your intro to a maximum of a two snap video – 20 seconds

  • What’s your topic? (one snap intro)
    • If you let the peeps know what you’re planning to do, they are more likely to stay tuned in (i.e. share a list of a program)
    • Mark Suster (@msuster) is a good example, he shows the program of the week/day.

  • Pick ONE style and stick with it

Below is a list of few styles to choose from

    • Interview influencers/industry based peeps
    • Tips on ‘x’ topic
    • QandA format
    • Review
    • Tell your story about your startup/business
    • Play a game
    • Set up a competition
    • Demo of a service or product
    • Use your imagination and be creative.
    • Follow my day*
      • *NB. Personally, I have found this to be least engaging takeover style, so try to avoid if possible.
  • Conclusion/Recap/Thank you
  • Share your Snapcode

Examples of a Takeover format

Example #1
Adam Cinemre, Graphic Designer   (@AdamCinemre)
Main topic: Snapchat Geofilters

  1. Intro who are you?
  2. What is a Snapchat Geofilter? (one snap response)
  3. Why would a business/brand use a geofilter? (share 3 benefits)
  4. 3 tips on how make awesome geofilters? (share some design tips)
  5. Show’n’Tell­ share cool examples of awesome geofilters
  6. Where can we find you and Design My Filters? (Share website/Snapcode)

Example #2
Jonathan Caras, Cofounder of Glide (@Madcapslaugh)
Main Theme: “Faster Horses, If I asked them what they wanted me to build, they would have said faster horses”

 VS  

  1. My background working with startups
  2. My company and how it was founded
  3. How to engage and listen to your audience
  4. How to hear the underlying message
  5. How to apply this to your product

10) Instagram Story Takeover

This concept can be used to do collaborative takeovers for Instagram Stories too.
On Snapchat, you hand over your password to the collaborator to access the account. While on Instagram Stories, the host receives multiple videos or stills from the collaborator.
Snapchat has the white borders and Instagram Stories has none, making it a more seamless experience. Essentially, Instagram allows you to upload strings of content from the last 24 hours in your camera roll.
Again, takeovers can be used as a backdoor access to a new audience and demographic.

See the image below for instructions on how to upload from your camera roll on Instagram:

Step 1

 

Step 2

Conclusion

Within 8 months, I consistently treated Snapchat like my own TV channel that I’ve gained business and connections. This post about takeovers is just one of many Snapchat tactics I cultivated. I share all my thoughts and tactics, including how to grow your channel at my Snapchat Marketing Accelerator.

This course will suit anyone who wants to leverage video to build up their brand, confidence, and personality.
How will you use Snapchat going forward — and if you haven’t yet — what questions do you have? 

11 Essential Elements Your New Small Business Needs to Survive and Thrive

 
Video Version

 
Text Version
Total Reading Time:  10 minutes.
Have you ever wondered why certain companies thrive and somehow overnight just catapult off to success, while others seem to just constantly be struggling and making just enough money to survive?
Throughout these years of working as a consultant and being a solopreneur, I’ve started to notice some patterns. These patterns led to a really quick list of 11 things I want to share with you that I find essential every company or brand needs in order to really survive and thrive.
These also relate to the biggest mistakes that I find brands, companies, and individuals making. It isn’t an exhaustive list, but everything in here is definitely something you really need to be aware of if you are in business at all.
 

#1: Social Proof and Credibility

The first thing that is extremely important is social proof and credibility. So what is social proof? Social proof is when a person or brand has engaged with other respected brands in the marketplace. 
So a way for you to get social proof or credibility will be to literally to go out and create strategic partnerships with other companies and associate yourself with these other companies.
For instance, if I see that you are a friend or a colleague of Mark Cuban and you guys show up in the same YouTube video together, immediately (subconsciously) to me that means you’re also an influencer. A great book recommendation is Influence by Robert Cialdini. He is a brilliant, social scientist and psychologist based out of Arizona. This book is pivotal for marketing and influence.
 

#2: Beautiful, High-End Design

The second thing you need is beautiful, high-end design. I mean that across your brand overall. I believe that for one of my friends, Lewis Howes, this is one of the core things that really launched him into success.
He was doing all the right things by having really high-end beautiful design, that is the first experience people have of you, of your product, your software, your service and there is another sort of subconscious trigger that goes off in people’s minds. This again relates to the book Influence, but really, design is pivotal.
Another friend of mine who really believes this is Carter Thomas, of Blue Cloud Solutions. One of the things he told me that I personally need to do is go get really high end professional photography done and he believes that every brand needs this — anyone who is in content marketing or really putting themselves out there online should do the same. 
You need to have really beautiful photos and videos and an overall beautiful design.
 

#3: A Place to Engage With People

You need a place to engage with people. The mistake that people make is that they try to do this across too many spectrums and too many places.
Facebook. Instagram. Snapchat. All of the social media channels. Building an email list. A forum on your website.
You do not need all those things, and in reality, you really only need one in the beginning. Instead of your conversations being siloed in pockets where you are having a one-off conversation with people, you should find a way to bring everyone together.
This can also be done for offline businesses. So if you have an offline business, find a way to bring people together every so often so you can have a conversation with them, but so they can also have a conversation with each other. This way it is not just some one-way information conversation streak.
Make people come together.
 

#4: Crystal Clear Brand Messaging

You need crystal clear brand messaging. You need to be able to explain why you do what you do —and what you do for them — very clearly.
So why I do what I do?
I am a teacher that is here to inspire people to live self-directed, fulfilled lives. That is my mission. I don’t know where that will lead throughout my entire life, but there is a core vision there. What I do is help people identify their professional craft and create a life as a solopreneur.
You must be able to say this in one sentence right away to people: Why you do what you do and what you do for them.
It is important that it is clear because if it’s not people will easily get confused. They will not know what you do. They will not know what to tell their friends and it’s all going to fall apart.
 

#5: A Transparent and Authentic Story

You need a transparent and authentic story about your personal life or the company’s culture to share with people. People are attracted to authenticity, while people like Megan Macedo have committed their lives to helping people be okay with their true selves and share their unique story. There is so much BS out there, and so many people take one little success story and make that their whole story without really sharing the truth.
What was that struggle like? What was the path to this success? Who are you really?
If I had a beer with you, or if we went out and got a coffee or tea, what kind of person am I going to see behind the veil? If you are a large company, what is the culture of that company all about? What is your why, as Simon Sinek teaches?
A great example is Zappos, they have incredible values instilled by Tony Hsieh, their CEO. Or look at the social media software company, Buffer, they do an incredible job of sharing their company culture. They publish their salaries for all their employees. They talk about their mission and why they do what they do.
You have to find good examples of this in your industry and emulate them authentically — in your own unique way.
Go look at my about page as an example (no seriously, open this link and do it now). The about page story is an authentic, real example of who I am. It is quite detailed and people usually feel very connected with me after they read it. 
 

#6: Laser Focus on One Thing

The next thing you need is laser focus. That means that you need to be able to get one thing done at a time, and understand that it is very important to only focus on that one thing in order to accomplish anything. In order to successfully navigate your entire mission you must focus on just one thing at a time.
In the book The One Thing, by Gary Keller, he talks about the “big domino” at the front. You have your purpose, you have your mission, you know where you are going and you have all these things that you want to be doing. But what is that one big domino that, if it was accomplished, would allow all the other pieces to fall over?
Do that one thing and focus on it — yes, even when it’s painful to cut everything else out.
For example, let’s say the one thing you really need to be doing is writing one blog post per week, but yet you’re distracted by….
“Should I grow my Snapchat? Should I take up more consulting? Should we hire more employees?”
Those are the distractions. If you focus on your one big thing, the rest of them will fall over. If you do that successfully, you know that it becomes easier to hire people and to move on to the next task in the list.
 

#7: A Clear Plan for Profit

The next thing you need is a clear plan and strategy for profit. I find that I made this mistake early on as well. We tend to place the numbers game to the side. We are focused on the wrong things and all we need to do here is lay out a financial plan for ourselves.
How are you going to get to profit and how are you going to really create positive cash flow in your business?
Too many businesses are focused on creating the best product or service and they are not thinking about cash flow, especially in Silicon Valley. This is a huge, critical ingredient to surviving and thriving.
 

#8: Pay Yourself First

The next thing is to pay yourself first.
What do I mean by that?
I mean that you need to invest in yourself. If you are profitable but keep the money in the bottom-line of your business and leave it there, you will always find ways to spend that money.
That money is going to get re-invested, and that is smart. You do want to take your profits and invest them back into your business.
But…it is incredibly important to invest in yourself, so pay yourself first.
This is something many great classic books and multi-millionaire entrepreneurs often talk about. They talk about the importance of paying themselves first, investing in their future, and then taking the remaining and investing it back into the business.
 

#9: Define a Single KPI

You need a single KPI for the year. This is a measurement, and you need to do this because what you measure can grow. 
If you are not measuring your company’s efforts then you will feel scattered, and this goes back to laser focus on that one thing. An example is my friend John Corcoran, who’s key focus and KPI over the last few years has been the number of subscribers on his growing his email list.
If you look at a company like AppSumo, their flagship software SumoMe has one KPI that they are focused on — getting SumoMe installed on one billion websites (fascinating read on this here). So everyday, every month, they are backing into this one single KPI and all their efforts are focused on that one thing of just getting SumoMe installed on more websites. That is how they measure their success.
 

#10: Iterate and Adapt at Laser Speed

You need to iterate and adapt at laser speed. You need one outcome. The strategies constantly change and they can be optimized, but it is incredibly important that you move quickly. Iteration is another one of those Silicon Valley tech-lingo type phrases, but it simply means:

Know your outcome and where you’re going, but don’t be stuck on how you get there.

Be willing to iterate. Be willing to move and jump and change positions to still get to your one ultimate outcome.
So don’t get stuck on how you do it, but be stuck on where you are going.
 

#11: Get 1,000 Raving Fans

And finally, you need raving fans, ideally 1,000 of them.  Kevin Kelly is the pioneering creator of this idea, and in his article 1,000 True Fans he explains it beautifully. Tim Ferris calls this the only marketing article that you need to read — and I strongly agree. I’ve personally met Kevin and discussed the idea with him. He’s a brilliant man, there is a reason why this article is such a hit.
If you grow your business to 1,000 true, raving fans — you will have met your needs and no longer need to worry about the rest in your company (unless you choose to). 
 

Conclusion

So that is it, these are the 11 things. Take these seriously. I have seen these things across many different businesses, across all types of industries and I really believe that if we can master these 11 things and focus on them it will allow our brands and our companies to thrive.
 

How to Create a Marketing Persona and Reach Your Audience When No One Is Listening

Total Reading Time: 10 minutes.
I remember when it finally clicked.
I had just finished creating and launching my first venture as a solopreneur, an online course on email management, Effortless Email, based around some education during my time on the Google Apps team. I was ready to finally start bringing in the sales.
Everything I did was brand new to me. Creating screencast videos, editing, teaching online, understanding marketing psychology, creating landing pages, squeeze pages—I could go on forever, it was all brand new.
Needless to say, I had invested a lot of time and energy. In this excellent personas article by Jodi Harris on Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pulizzi says:

It’s incredibly difficult to monetize an audience of everybody. – Tweet this!

Or as I often say, “If you try and speak to everyone, no one will hear you.”
A persona is an example representation of your perfect buyer/prospect. I overlooked the importance of creating a detailed buyer persona (or avatar). I thought my product appealed to most people in some way, so I never got specific about who it was for. I didn’t understand how important it was to identify a niche within a niche in the market.
Since then, I’ve turned my focus toward writing and blogging. After experimenting in different areas of the online business world, I realized all I wanted to do was read/learn and write/teach. Ultimately everything came back to writing, and so I declared this as my true craft.
 

Personas Apply for Writers and Bloggers Too

What many writers and bloggers don’t realize is that the same rules apply. If you are writing to please everyone and want to reach the masses, you need to go micro, not macro. In order to find your 1000 true fans, you need to be specific about who you’re speaking to.
As Jeff Goins says in this fantastic post, finding your tribe may be the hardest thing you ever do. But it is also the most important. You must choose and commit to your path, and in my opinion, this is through dedication to self-directed learning. You must pursue mastery (see: video on your vocation and mastery) in whatever craft you choose.
Serving an audience of one eventually creates that tribe, and gives you and your brand a clear voice.
Here are six tips on writing from John Steinbeck, and one brilliant example:

In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one. – John Steinbeck
 

Defining the Buyer Persona

Whether you are marketing a revolutionary new fitness product, a SaaS product, your awesome new app (related: a free 8 day app business plan), or just writing—it all comes down to understanding your target buyer/lead/audience/reader/client—you get the idea.
So what exactly is a buyer persona? As persona expert Tony Zambito says, the original definition is still important.

Buyer personas are research-based archetypal (modeled) representations of who buyers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy, and why they make buying decisions (today, I now include where they buy as well as when buyers decide to buy).

In other words, it’s all about their buying behavior.
 

Getting Started with Personas

If you haven’t yet created your avatar/persona, now is the time. Buffer blog content crafter extraordinaire Kevan Lee has created an in-depth beginner’s guide on marketing personas. This includes a template and step-by-step guide.
Ultimately you’ll want to identify your personas: name, demographics, job, goals, challenges, values, and fears. It’s important that you go into detail and that you continually keep this updated.
If you have multiple projects and audiences you’re trying to reach, you do need to have separate personas. In general though, I strongly advise against working on multiple projects or businesses at the same time.
It’s critical to have only one brand promise.
Over the years this has been the number one mistake I’ve observed amongst entrepreneurs. Even the successful ones struggle with this, as it eventually causes burnout and a lack of focus. If you have to cut the cord on something, do it now before it becomes painful to do later.
If you’re bouncing from idea to idea, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. I did it too. Many of the most successful people “burn their bridges“, and you should too once you understand why.
 

Example: The Freedom Lifestyle Insider Persona/Avatar

With the theme of being even more transparent and providing insights on my adventures as a solopreneur, below I’ll be sharing the exact reader persona I’m writing for here on the site.
Whenever I set out to do something, I begin with a research phase and begin consuming and dissecting the most valuable information available on a topic. Next, I generally prefer to come up with my own solution, which combines the best pieces from my research—along with an Arman twist, which generally makes things more straightforward and palatable.
You can use this template as a guide and just replace my text with your own. I saved this in Evernote and often refer to it when I need to reconnect to my one reader, Anthony.
 

Meet My Persona/Avatar: Anthony

young professional man
Anthony, my marketing persona. Say hi Anthony!

Name: Anthony
Age: 28
Occupation: Business Development – Corporate
Location: Silicon Valley, CA
Hobbies: Travel, reading, writing, podcasts, technology, and sports
Income: $100,000/year
Online habits: Anthony spends most of his time reading about entrepreneurship, technology, productivity, and personal growth. He’s interested in optimizing his lifestyle and creating more freedom for himself. Even though he’s not an entrepreneur yet, he loves learning about it because he’s fascinated and wants to absorb as much as he can before he makes the leap.
Biggest source of pain:

  • Imbalance: He struggles to find a balance for himself between his current life and entrepreneurial dreams.
  • His inner voice says to be free and move on, but his fear and logic stop him.
  • He’s scared of the unknown, and worried about financial problems if things don’t work out.

Biggest hopes and dreams: To be a very successful entrepreneur and bestselling author. To know he’s living an adventurous and fulfilled life. To know with certainty that he’s contributing beyond himself.
Why does he want to have freedom and be an entrepreneur: He feels that this is how he will be most fulfilled in life. He’s always felt a desire for something more and feels limited working for someone else.
What are his biggest opportunities (including ones he doesn’t know about yet):

  • Create and launch an online business in one of the top areas: software, information products, ecommerce, consulting/coaching— e.g., doesn’t know that he can have the software developed for him
  • Build a thriving online business around his lifestyle of travel and adventure
  • Build an influential online brand/community
  • Write a book and become a bestselling author—doesn’t know that he can write a bestselling book and believes only people with connections can

Favorite websites: Brain Pickings, Inc.com, The Art of Non Conformity, Wait But Why, Lifehacker, TechCrunch, and ArmanAssadi.com 🙂
Social Media: Facebook is his main outlet. He uses LinkedIn for work. He follows people he admires on Twitter, uses Instagram, and plays around with Snapchat. He’s open to new technology and is generally an early adopter.
Description: Anthony is a sharp, outgoing, friendly, positive guy. He’s not married, but he’s in a happy relationship with a supportive girlfriend. Anthony has always felt different, and sees the world from a unique perspective. He has huge dreams, most of which he keeps a secret. He knows he’s capable of making them all come true and deeply wants to keep the fire within alive. He’s always been told he as a ton of potential. He struggles to find a balance for himself between his current life and entrepreneurial dreams.
He’s successful, paid well, and gets his work done. Nonetheless, he’s always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but he’s not sure what his craft should be. Even before reading The Four Hour Workweek he had dreams of forging his own path, but he settled with a traditional career path because it was the right thing to do. He absolutely loves to travel, and that’s a big reason why he wants to work for himself. He values freedom above everything else. More than every other value in life he wants the freedom to do what he wants, when he wants, how we wants, and even with whom he wants.
As an extrovert, he enjoys being around other people and loves to help his friends. He wants to contribute something valuable to the world and leave a legacy. His enthusiasm is contagious, and many people consider him an inspiring person. He loves to write, and has strong ideals that he stands firmly for. He’s always dreamed of becoming an author. When he does work that excites him, he feels alive. Unfortunately, this almost always is temporary and he feels like a cog in a machine. He’s never legitimately tried being an entrepreneur, but he thinks he’s capable and would have the work ethic and focus to be successful.
He’s scared of the unknown, and worried about financial problems if things don’t work out. He doesn’t worry about not working hard enough, but doesn’t want to sacrifice his current lifestyle too much. He would like to build an online business and receive passive income from it. In the long-term he would build a virtual team and manage his business from anywhere in the world. He doesn’t want to dabble, and is more interested in doing things the right way and building a sustainable company. He feels that this is how he will be most fulfilled in life.
 

Create Your Persona and Check It Twice

You can always take this further. Once you have your first draft, feel free to go into more detail. If you already have your persona or avatar complete, it’s important to keep it updated and continue iterating as your brand develops.
Heidi Cohen suggests looking through a 12 point checklist to make sure you’ve covered all the various aspects of a marketing persona. I particularly liked this question from Heidi, “what do they want from your company?”. This is a critical question that will help you lead the entire exercise back to how you can best create value for them.
 

Benefits of Having a Strong Persona

Once you’ve created all this, what can you expect in return? Well, for one, you can expect to begin connecting with your audience on a whole new level. Engagement will likely increase across all fronts, and you’ll begin to win your first true fans.
You’ll also begin to find that your prospects/leads are your #1 source for feedback. When it’s time to create a new product or service, these are the people you need to be connecting with and surveying.
Lauren Sorenson put together a very thoughtful, short post on the HubSpot blog about 6 core insights/benefits a well-defined marketing persona can bring your business, including how to leverage each one.
 

Conclusion

Creating a marketing persona is a must. Skipping this critical step usually leads to frustration from not being able to connect with your buyers/prospects. You’ll find that when you create a persona or avatar and adapt your messaging, your audience will become more engaged.
Many writers assume that they can and should just write freely, but this often leads to an audience where no one is listening. This is even more important for product creators or service providers. Your persona should be specific, and there are a few criteria you must answer. There are also some frameworks you can follow, and you should plan on continually updating your persona over time.

Photo credit: Unfinished Business
Do you already have a persona or avatar for your business? If so, please share the process for how you discovered yours in the comments so others can learn too. If you don’t have one yet, I’d love to hear the initial idea for yours. You can even share his/her name too… 
 

7 Biggest Mistakes I've Made as a Solopreneur

Total Reading Time: 8 minutes.
Good lord almighty, have I made some mistakes. This isn’t easy to admit or share publicly. As I write this, I’m telling myself to imagine this is just a private journaling session and will forever stay locked up — never to be shared with anyone, anywhere.
My hopes are that by being completely honest, raw, and unadulterated I can save you countless hours of headache and stress. Sometimes a simple mistake or defeat can seem like the end of the world. No matter how hard you try to play the optimism game, your reason will attempt to overpower all hope.
It takes time to see that your mistakes were just training. In fact, your mistakes and defeats are what make it possible to experience (and enjoy) success one day. Even now, I make mistakes, daily. The little ones still upset me, and the bigger ones can torment me. I’m sure you know what I mean, and have experienced the same feeling.
At times, it’s just not possible to do it right the first time. Experience is necessary. Nonetheless, there are many mistakes that can be avoided. These mistakes are not tactical or strategical, but educational — mistakes that lack wisdom.
As a solopreneur, it’s your job to educate yourself. No one else is going to tell you what to do.
This realization is both inspiring and heavy. This leaves me with a responsibility to make good decisions, get relevant and actionable advice from mentors, and study like a madman.
With that said, below are the 7 biggest mistakes I’ve made as a solopreneur.

1. Unnecessary Overhead/Expenses

One of the first big decisions I made when I became a solopreneur was to get an office space. Well, actually, a new friend at a conference offered the space to me. He said he’d only charge me $100 a month for the desk. In San Francisco, that’s quite a steal, so I took it.
Looking back, I think this is a big mistake. An office space is a luxury, and often an unnecessary expense for a new entrepreneur. In the beginning I didn’t look at it that way, but now I know better. $100 can be invested in the business (here are 15 business ideas) and go toward generating more revenue (e.g., through Facebook ads).
Even better, that money could be set aside for investing into new and existing assets, which could then put off more cash flow. Both of these concepts I didn’t understand before.
It didn’t stop there. I was the new entrepreneur, living the dream. If I wanted it and found a way to sell myself on its utility, I purchased it. Shiny new equipment, fancy software, and cool tools—all this is unnecessary overhead.
Looking back, my profit margins could have been higher from the beginning.
A top priority for every new entrepreneur should be to maximize cash flow.

2. Not Sacrificing

When I first left Google I felt an incredible sense of freedom, and I still do. For me, leaving the job world was symbolic, because I knew deep down that it was the beginning a new journey. I was ready to burn the bridges and go all in.
Yet, I didn’t sacrifice a whole lot. No massages? No nap pods? No billiards next to organic ice cream machines and table tennis next to refrigerators full of unlimited snacks? No problem.
I pretended (to myself) that everything was exactly the same. I continued enjoying the same activities, and living the same way, as if I was still making $120K.
This is a big mistake, but it’s not entirely about the money. The mistake is that I never sacrificed the way every solopreneur and entrepreneur must do in the beginning. I wanted to simply glide on over into this new world, and refused to sacrifice my lifestyle. I also didn’t sacrifice enough of my free time, and should have been more like the dedicated solopreneur I am now.
Looking back, it was right to enjoy my newfound freedom and flexibility. Yet, I should have sacrificed more of my social life. I should have said no more often. Great things happen in solitude, and that would have helped me feel more connected to my new craft.

3. Trying to Maintain Work/Life Balance

This mistake is a continuation of not sacrificing. One of the biggest mistakes I made was thinking I could keep the same hours and work 9 to 5 like before. Wrong.
I intend to build something that will leave a legacy. I intend to create valuable content and share information and lessons that can change people’s lives. That person lives and breathes their “work”, as I do now.
My mistake was naive, but forgivable. I tried to find balance, but couldn’t. It was a futile battle. I’m not advocating that you stay up all night and obsess over your venture. Knowing when and how to “turn off” is important. But to try and balance is difficult in the beginning, you’re better off just going all in.

4. Accepting the Wrong Advice

I was hungry for a strong start, and was willing to experiment with different projects, as long as they were relevant to my initial plans. The problem is, I was too hungry. I naively sought advice from the wrong people.
Why were they the wrong people? And how should I have known? One critical piece of criteria: they weren’t doing exactly what I wanted to do. I’ve learned to only get business advice from people that have done what I want to do (successfully), or are currently doing it.
It’s okay to get strategic or general advice. But I ended up pursuing an idea I believed in through a completely different method. This diluted my enthusiasm. I wasn’t proud of the work, because in the end it wasn’t uniquely mine.
Key lesson: always stay true to yourself and get advice from people that believe in you and your mission.

5. Researching/Testing Beforehand

Before becoming a solopreneur I didn’t know much about the world of online business. I’d read a book or two, and would browse a couple popular online business blogs, but that was about it. I know, shocking. Who does that? Me.
Not researching my industry/niche more was a big mistake. Not making my first dollar online before committing was an even bigger one. I committed to the idea of what I wanted to do without knowing what it would take.
This was both good and bad (ignorance can be bliss sometimes), because I took action anyway. If I did it all over again, I would definitely have set an initial goal to hit before making the leap.
Some examples: first 1,000 subscribers, first 10 customers, first $1,000, and so on.

6. Networking

For some really odd reason, I didn’t take the time to network with people much. This is abnormal, because most people would say I’m pretty good with…people. I love collaborating and sharing ideas with other humans, it’s where I get my energy.
I initially looked to my industry’s network and saw them as inspiration, not as a network. They were ahead of me, so at times there was a bit of envy to get there as fast as possible. At the same time, my social scene was too far “offline” (see mistake 3). I didn’t see the potential partnerships, friendships, and networking opportunities.
It’s important to network because you never know how you can help someone. All it takes is one idea or one perspective to change someone’s business. You also never know what friendships might arise, and that is invaluable as a solopreneur.
The people in your space will just “get it”. That understanding can’t be created with your other networks, so don’t take it for granted.
I take networking seriously now, and have dedicated time on my calendar for it. I recommend you do too.

7. Inconsistent Branding/Focus

It wasn’t until a year and a half into my journey that I realized I was making this mistake. It was a mentor that exposed the mistake to me. As soon as he pointed it out, it felt like a massive lightning storm of “aha moments” battering me all at once. It was painful, but also quite pleasurable.
The lesson summed up in one sentence:
Every single action you take in your business, whether it be creating a new YouTube video, attending an event, or writing a blog post, must always deliver on one single brand promise.
If the action or project does not deliver on your brand’s (yes, personal brand’s too) unique promise, then you are wasting your time. Furthermore, you are confusing your audience and customers with an inconsistent message.
As Larry Page, CEO of Google would say, you must have “laser focus” at all times. Prior to this epiphany I was spinning my wheels. I learned things I didn’t need to learn, and worked on unrelated projects. I was spread too thin.
Now, I know better. Since relaunching WILG in May of 2014 and making the brand my central platform, everything has changed. Exciting opportunities are coming in, our readership has exploded, and the brand has a consistent message. Plus, I’m able to focus completely on providing exceptional content to you.

Links to Resources

  1. The Lean Startup – Before you devote yourself to creating the most beautiful software or product in the world, learn about starting lean. Deliver the minimum viable product to your customers, and then iterate from there.
  2. The $100 Startup – It really doesn’t take much to get started. Read this book to learn how you can start your own solopreneur business for under $100. This site originally cost only around $100 to create.
  3. Regus – Hate working from home every day? Don’t get an office space. Get a Regus Businessworld membership. This will allow you to work from a business lounge (think fancy, quiet cafe) in almost any major city around the world, and even some small ones (2000 cities world wide). I use this around 1-3 times a week.

Mistakes can be painful. Some of them leave scars. But as with all mistakes, there is an equivalent benefit waiting in its shadows. You just have to be persistent enough to receive it.

What mistakes have you made in business or as a solopreneur? Which of my mistakes did you (hopefully) learn something new from?
Photo credit: MistakesCC License