Establishing my little business, as it is for anyone starting out, has been trial and error with a hefty dash of backtracking. Truth be told little gems of insight come through the mistakes more than the genius. The big trick for any start-up is getting those first five customers or clients through the door. With those first five you can refine your product or service, build a healthy rapport that encourages repeat custom and recommendations begin to flow into new customers. That’s the idea anyway. About those first five customers though…
Cue a few genius thoughts that emerge as a fledgling proofreader.
Genius thought number one ‘The students need me, I shall go to them!’ This is rapidly followed by the inevitable slapdown by the leader of the student union. You can advertise to the students, but only if you pay around £100 for the privilege.
Genius thought number two ‘I will put posters up all around town to advertise my service’. Three blisters and a week later and you might get two shops willing to do it for you, but only for a few days, and only in the corner at the foot of the door. (Why????)I did strike lucky a little bit, three shops were very kind to help me as much as possible out of the whole town. Those shops I will promote locally as much as possible as a result. Karma is real, people! The scenario above was the general reaction though, confusing!
Genius thought number three ‘If I build it, they will come!’ Yeah, about that… Getting your brand ‘out there’ is necessary. However, you do have to be careful about how you are getting yourself out there and to whom. Content and presence, I have realised the hard way, is not about being popular. There is quite the skill in linking everything back to your brand and your sales. It’s about making it a functional entity that works for you. It needs to communicate, facilitate, monitor and generate sales. Still learning, will let you know how that goes.
I will gloss over the rest of my moments of ‘genius’ and get to the moment of epiphany. I answered the phone today with the words ‘How can I help?’ I realised that was what it was all about, helping people with my skills. It’s not just about me. It spurred me on to think of whom I could help, where they are and exactly what is the best way to help them. If I collaborate with others in a related field, could there be a mutually beneficial working relationship that would deliver an even better service to the customer. It could even take me into fields I would previously have no access to. Perhaps I should stop thinking about being a lone wolf trying to ‘out-do’ the competition but consider collaboration and growing a business community of unbreakable bonds. Now I have to think carefully, how can I help?