Millennials are naturally drawn to entrepreneurial ventures due to their high ideals and confidence in getting the job done. Previous generations believed in having “safe jobs” often staying within the same organizations for long periods of time. Generation Y however, is more focused on making their own path and following their own rules. Although entrepreneurship looks like a great and rewarding experience on the surface, but it is not for the everyone. The decision to own a business is one that should not be taken lightly, and I see many young people jump into it without proper planning and no development strategy in place. They get an idea for a business, a freelancing opportunity or side hustle; they put up a website and get some business cards and think they are ready to go. Unfortunately, they quickly realize that something is missing, because they aren’t making money and have reached a plateau. Many times, the advice that young people receive is the generic: “Work hard; don’t give up.” Motivational crap that really isn’t giving you details on running your business or attracting money-making opportunities. So where do you go from here? Whether you are an entrepreneur, an intrapreneur within your organization, or just trying to build your personal brand, what you need and often overlook is a TEAM:
Traffic: In order to sell your skills or services you need people to be able to find you: whether that is traffic for your storefront or website. A static website is not going to keep people coming back or bring new customers if there is nothing new for them to see and you add no value to them. You should focus on creating content that brings new, fresh eyes to your website and also helps to build your credibility and expertise. Traffic means more people will learn about what you do and ultimately more people are in your marketing funnel to become clients, customers or partners. Learn and understand the importance of content marketing.
Engagement: While traffic is an introduction, engagement builds relationships. An email list or social media following full of loyal followers and excited fans is important when marketing yourself and building community. You want to build your email list so that you are able to keep your audience updated on the latest and greatest that is happening with you. You can build a list various ways including a free offer on your website, a sign-up option on your site and collecting emails at an event. You want to think of your email list and email marketing as a way to maintain and nurture relationships and social media as a way to interact with them.
Access: In order to be successful, you need to have access to resources, mentors, volunteers and opportunities. If you really thought that you were going to do this alone, you thought wrong. As an entrepreneur or freelancer, you have to ask for help and count on others with the knowledge you need to get ahead. A good mentor gets you from point A to point B in 10 steps, when it originally took them 20. Always stay informed on new ways to improve your brand and make sure that you constantly seek opportunities that will put you in front of your target audience.
Money: Money is a huge factor when starting a building a brand. I started my business with $1000 dollars, which included filling fees, licenses, website hosting and other start-up costs. For my personal brand, I spend about $50 a year. However, I was able to save a lot of money on things that I already knew how to do myself like graphic design and website design. Remember that in order to make money you have to spend money and just because something is free, it doesn’t mean that it is good. Entrepreneurship and brand building is not for the CHEAP. Invest in your success as well as in your knowledge.
Before you begin a business or brand, it is important to differentiate what you are good at from what you are good at and enjoy doing. Passion is necessary to fuel the entrepreneurial fire. Entrepreneurs must learn to work on the business, not only in the business. This means that entrepreneurs must focus on the development of their venture, just as much as they focus on the actual product or service. It is important to understand that an infrastructure and processes must be put in place to help your business run smoothly and grow over time.