WHY RELATIONSHIPS ARE CENTRAL TO SUCCESS
Are you thinking of finally starting your own business or pivoting an existing one?
Whether your pursuit is traditional —like my husband, who’s launching a veterinary practice — or more out of the ordinary — like my business supporting modern mothers — one thing remains: relationships will be central to your success.
Here are four pieces of advice I repeat to friends and colleagues who ask me how to launch or grow their business. They’re each based on personal connection.
It’s not about you
It’s about your customer. Most entrepreneurs understand that a business needs to tell a story. But many make the mistake of positioning their brand as the hero of the story, marketing to celebrate their superiority.
Yet as humans, we each see ourselves as the hero of our stories, big and small. We love brands who seem to see us and to guide us to succeed in our own pursuits.
Here’s a reframe. Do you sell seafood? Instead of boasting that yours is the freshest in town, consider letting vacationers know that you appreciate the quality they seek in a sea of average choices.
For more on this approach, I recommend reading “Building a Story Brand” by Donald Miller.
Start with your warm audience, and keep them warm
We stress about social media. And yet, the most important supporters of your launch are people you already know. Start by making an unedited brain dump of your network.
Are you offering them something that will help them solve a problem or enrich their experience or that of a friend? From that perspective, send personalized emails, even text messages.
Link to more information and call them to action: to purchase; attend a free class; or forward to five friends.
Consider offering a discount and early-supporter lifetime benefit.
At Totum Women, we keep an email of our first customers, called “Front Row.”
We surprise them with discounts, and they’re first to know when we offer something new.
If you honor their presence as you grow, your warm audience can act as an informal advisory board — testing your ideas, honing your pitch and keeping you accountable to the purpose beneath your pursuit.
Use social media strategically
Think carefully about who your customer is, what social media they spend their time consuming, and how to best communicate with them.
If you’re launching a career as an executive coach, LinkedIn is likely to be more important for you than Twitter. Offer your friends, colleagues and potential customers free information and advice that will make their lives easier, anchoring your voice in authority.
Meanwhile, temper that with vulnerability. Being honest and showing what’s behind the scenes humanizes these platforms and makes them unique additions to the more traditional means of reaching customers.
Collaboration over competition
One of my favorite entrepreneurs keeps an image of a horse with blinders on in his office to remind him not to look at the competition.
With social media available at all hours, the temptation to stare at our competitors is strong. Instead, think of ways to work with other entrepreneurs who’re creating something related.
Find the delicate balance of staying focused on what you’re creating, while being open to co-creating with people you admire, whose purpose aligns with yours.
Not only will you find more customers, but you’ll have more fun, too.
Erin Erenberg is the founder of Totum Women, which helps modern mothers feel supported. Her background spans tech, entertainment and law. For more advice, find Erenberg @totumwomen on Instagram and visit totumwomen.com.