If you’re like most professionals, you’re already somewhat active – or very active – on social media. You probably have personal accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, plus connections/followers on each. And you probably occasionally post content that keeps you more or less engaged with those audiences.
True? If so, then consider this: What you’re already doing at a personal level isn’t that different from a commercial one.
In fact, you’re already posting what a full-fledged social-media marketing campaign would be posting. The only differences are direction, intention and scale.
So, what if you started scaling-up your personal efforts? What if by doing so you accumulated an audience of thousands, tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of followers – then turned those inexpensive social-media efforts into a full-fledged business that made you money? It’s possible! And with the six strategies that follow, you’ll see how.
First things first
First, a caveat: Not everything can be a business. It you want to make a profit, you need to offer something valuable. Otherwise, almost anyone can start a business – even if that means professional services, like consulting or independent contract work.
So, do some brainstorming before you attempt the actual conversion process; you’ll need a clear business plan before you proceed.
The conversion process
With a business idea in hand and a social media foundation in mind, you are read to take the six steps that will lead you through the conversion process:
1. Start with a personal brand
A personal brand is optional, as you can build a business with a corporate brand at the centre of your social media strategy. But a personal brand will make things easier; you’ll retain your reputation even if the business goes under. You’ll engage on a more personal level with your audience. And you’ll cultivate more trust in the meantime.
Make a set of “brand standards” for yourself, and adhere to those standards across the board. Get a professional headshot, and commit to developing your social personality in line with your vision for the business.
2. Develop expertise
Next, you’ll need to develop expertise in the area of your business; only when you have this pre-existing expertise, will your prospective customers trust you enough to patronise you in the early stages of your business development.
It can take a long time to build this expertise, so the sooner you start, the better (and if you’ve already started, great). First, choose a niche: The more specific you are, the better; having a specific niche means less competition and a faster rise to the top.
Importantly, you can always expand to more general areas later. Turn your profiles into a kind of resume of your achievements in this niche, and start promoting content and engaging in conversations that show off your knowledge.
3. Build meaningful relationships with industry influencers
Next, identify key influencers in your industry. These can be other individuals (personal brands) who are known as thought leaders or publishers or known simply for their brands.
The only requirements are that they be active on social media, have a large following and carry significant influence. Start and engage in conversations with these influencers, exchange value with them and build relationships. These will come in handy later.
Related: 4 Social Media Tips For B2Bs
4. Get published
Leveraging the expertise you’ve already built (along with, quite possibly, your influencer connections), go to the next step: Get your content published by external sources. If you have a website set up, use inbound links to funnel referral traffic and gain authority in search engines within your industry.
Start with niche publishers, or any publisher that’s reputable and easy to get published on. Then work your way up to more significant, broader publishing channels.
5. Launch your core product or service
At this point, it’s safe to launch your core product or service – the claim to fame for your business. Distribute a press release, launch a content strategy and push your promotions across all your social networks.
You may even want to do a lead-in for the few weeks leading up to your big launch, to build suspense and mystique around your products and services.
In any case, you should be able to attract a significant initial audience, and if your influencers share or cover your announcement, you’ll stand to benefit even more.
6. Tap into your networks to expand
Your trajectory should be constantly moving forward in the social media world. Engage with higher-level influencers. Get published on bigger, higher-traffic publishers. Keep engaging with new audiences to expand your following.
The more you engage in these expansion efforts, the more authoritative and powerful you’re going to become, and both your customer acquisition and retention will improve.
Building a business isn’t easy, no matter what kind of runway you build for yourself or what mediums you enlist to help you along the way. Be prepared for this eventuality.
Your social media audience, if tapped to its full potential, can give you a massive head start in terms of customer acquisition, but it’s still up to you to deliver the best-in-class products and services that your audience will have come to expect from you. Be a businessperson first, and a social media guru second; that’s the only way you’ll survive.
Business Opportunities In Printing And Signage
The event is taking place from 12-14 September at Gallagher Convention Centre.
In an entrepreneurial environment, people are seeking innovative ways to make extra money. The signage and printing industry offers opportunities for small start-ups or those looking to grow their businesses.
These opportunities will be showcased at the upcoming Sign Africa and FESPA Africa expo, which is co-located with Africa Print for commercial print solutions and Africa LED for professional LED lighting. The event is taking place from 12-14 September at Gallagher Convention Centre.
T-Shirt and Bag Printing
Embellishments and glitter help transform a simple shirt into a unique garment, and depending on the specific shirt and techniques used, it could become a high priced item. Shirts and bags can be customised, a key aspect to targeting millennials, who require unique products, want to stand out and want items that are Instagram-worthy. You can target this market with personalised bags and unique T-shirts, which do not require large and expensive equipment to produce.
Mugs and Promotional Gifting
While others may see public holidays as opportunities to relax, entrepreneurs can see them as money-making opportunities. Capitalise on trendy markets and popular holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s and Father’s Day by producing themed and personalised gifts. Other profitable options include: shopping bags, decor and invites, promotional, corporate and safety wear, wood, vinyl, paper, plastics, metals, flat substrates like clipboards, binders, notebooks, mouse pads, coasters, business cards, stickers and corrugated signs or posters, smart phones and tablet cases.
Business owners are constantly seeking ways to get their brands noticed. And with all the gigantic billboards, street pole advertisements and other media vying for consumers’ attention, it’s difficult to stand out. Enter vehicle wrapping, which is an effective promotional tool as it’s cost-effective, impactful and long-lasting. Besides cost-effective general wraps for corporate fleets, custom vehicle wrapping offers special effects that create Instagram-worthy wraps that get brands noticed.
Of course, these business opportunities require training and some research. Luckily, industry experts will be available at the Sign Africa and FESPA Africa expo to answer visitors’ questions. There are also free educational features such as a T-Shirt and Bag printing workshop featuring demonstrations by local experts on T-shirts and bags with speciality printing techniques as well as the Textile Experience, which shows how to screen print onto T-shirts.
Opportunities for small start-ups or those looking to grow their businesses will be showcased in daily 30 minute Business Opportunity sessions. For more information about the event, and to register online, please visit: http://bit.ly/EntrepreneurSignAfrica.
10 Businesses You Can Start Part-Time
Find your perfect match for a successful part-time start-up.
Launching a company – even if it’s operated part-time – is all about drawing on your skills, talents and interests to create a viable business.
What you know and what you’re good at form a good basis for a part-time business because these companies either become an extension of what you enjoy doing most or they are based on your strengths.
Working part-time while still maintaining a permanent job is time consuming and often exhausting, so choosing what you take pleasure in or are good at can keep you focused and motivated. The right fit is important when it comes to launching a part-time business. Selling a service rather than a product does not require large start-up costs, which means you can grow your business without financing until it becomes self-sustaining.
Corporate Communications & Promotions
Corporate communications covers a host of areas, mainly because this is the sector that takes care of how companies look to the outside world – something that is very definitely a service, but also that is not often taken care of in-house. If you can write, edit, have a knack for advertising, can take photographs or create promotional and corporate videos, you can offer your services part-time to companies both large and small that are in need of these services.
A 7-Step Guide To Starting Your Own Trade Business
With that sorted, it is time to get on with the more exciting operational stuff.
Skilled tradesmen are always in demand. Whether you are a plumber, electrician, cabinetmaker, refrigeration expert, tiler or builder, there is a ton of work out there. For many, the best way to make the most of the opportunity is to open your own business.
Where do you start? The first step is to register your business with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). Look for a catchy name that is easy to spell and memorable – you do not want customers to struggle. The CIPC will tell you which names are taken. It is also a good idea to do a trademark search before deciding on a name. Register with SARS and make sure that all your tax affairs are in order.
It is a very good idea to get a good accountant right at the early stages of the game. They can also help you set up the legislative requirements for running a business. The National Small Business Chamber is a non-profit organisation that offers a range of services to its members that aim to help them grow faster, save money and receive the support they need.
With that sorted, it is time to get on with the more exciting operational stuff.
1. Finding customers
You want to find customers in order to grow your business beyond the ones you already have. These days, that means a website and some smart online marketing.
This can be as simple as setting up a Facebook page and any one of several other social media sites (like Instagram and LinkedIn). These services are at no-cost to you and allow you to quickly build up a following of loyal customers. You can share ‘jobs well done’, so prospective customers can see what you are capable of, while your contact details are easily accessible. In due course, consider some paid averts on relevant social media platforms and perhaps a website of your own. It is a good way to get potential customers on board.
At the same time, list your services in community newspapers, noticeboards and newsletters so everyone in the area can easily see that you are available and what it is you do. Also, keep your eye on social media community groups – and ask family, friends and existing clients to refer and/or recommend your services when an opportunity arises.
Finally, there are many government initiatives and non-profit organisations whose aim is to help small businesses succeed – with a particular emphasis on black-owned businesses. This help could range from facilitating access to finance, all the way to mentorship. Spend some time finding out what help is on offer. The SME Movement site also has this kind of information.
2. Stay focused
For those just starting out, there might be a temptation to take any job that crosses your path. Rather stick to your area of expertise to build a reputation based on proven skills. If you are an electrician with a little plumbing experience, for example, tackling a piping job could cause more trouble than it is worth. Every trade is different and you are an expert for a reason.
Leave the other work for experts in those fields – but build up relationships with them so that you can refer work to each other.
3. Ride on your qualifications and references
You have spent a lot of time getting certified. Let your customers know about your qualifications and experience by putting it on your Facebook page, your invoices, e-mails and other communications. The same goes for references; these are valuable and provide evidence of your ability to get the job done. Ask for a reference when the job is complete and then on to social media it goes. The good news with social media, by the way, is that these references do not ever go away.
4. Stay on top of the paperwork
The good old days of doing business on a handshake may be behind us. Providing quotes, contracts, invoices and records of payments electronically makes paperwork a whole lot easier by creating a digital archive where physical copies aren’t needed, but it serves the same purpose, when it is formally recorded, it is far easier to see what has been agreed to, done and paid for. Do not skimp here, even the best customer service provider relationships can go awry if verbal agreements are all you have to go on.
5. Register with your trade association (and invest in CPD)
Being a member of a trade association (like Master Builders, the Institute of Plumbing or other professional bodies) lends credibility to what you are doing. It also provides access to new customers should larger contractors need to sub-contract. Your trade association also formalises training and continuous professional development (CPD).
6. Get business insurance
All too often, this crucial coverage is ignored by those starting out on their own. You want to protect tools and equipment on the one hand and you also want broadform public liability to safeguard yourself, your employees and your business against third party claims should something go wrong on the job. It provides cover in connection with your normal business activities and also your liability if any employees are injured in the course of work.
Putting the right insurance in place can mean the difference between staying in business for the long term or folding the minute the tools grow legs and disappear.
7. Deliver good service
Do not forget that every job is a potential reference and, at the very least, is your entry into that client’s network of friends or business associates. Concentrate on giving good service and actively request feedback so you can remedy any shortfalls. A take-it-or-leave it attitude may be relaxing, but it will prevent your business from growing to what it potentially can be.
MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970)
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