How To Stay Confident In Your Business + Vision
Hi everyone, and a huge thank you to Kiley and Blaine for the opportunity to share my experience in this subject with you.
I’m writing to you from Brisbane, Australia on a toasty warm and sunny winter’s day (22°C/71.6°F). Yes it does get cold further south (and it snows there) but we rarely feel the effects of a truly cold winter in Brisbane. So I’m sitting here in my long sleeves and socks (I know… but when will I next have a chance?!?) making the most of the ‘cool’ weather while I share my thoughts with you.
I’ll admit, staying confident in what you’re doing in your business and the vision you have for it isn’t always easy. Some days are filled with questions about whether you need to change direction, add a new product range, adjust your pricing or try to copy (in a different way of course!) that Instagram post by one of your competitors because it’s a great idea.
And some days are filled with self-doubt – can I actually make this business work, I’m scared to make that call to the local paper/online business/collaboration opportunity/insert other fear factor here.
But put simply, staying confident in your vision and ultimately the success of your business comes down to two things;
Knowing your customer; and
Being really clear about your brand.
Because when you are crystal clear on these and doubt strikes, as long as your actions stay true to your customer and your brand, you can be confident you’re making a strong decision in support of your business.
Know Your Customer
In order to effectively sell to your customers you have to know them. Like really know them. If you don’t, how can you relate to them? How could you communicate in a way that’s meaningful? If you can’t relate to each other, why would they want to buy what you’re selling? And most importantly, why would they come back again to buy more?
There’s plenty of evidence confirming it’s more cost effective to sell to an existing customer than a new one, so therefore knowing and keeping your customers is critical to the success of your business. You want your customers to be raving fans – to recommend you and your business to their friends. If you have a connection, or an alignment in values, your customers will see this as a reflection of themselves. And they’ll recommend you. We also know that many online purchases come from recommendations. Just look at your own social media feeds to see the plethora of people asking for product recommendations to see what I mean.
To be sure you really know your customer, write down a little profile about them. And if you have more than one type, then do this for each one. It doesn’t take long and it’s like writing what you know about a friend. Give each customer type a name and a personality. Know what they do, what they like, what their values are, their age, their interests, where they live, a bit about their lifestyle, what makes them tick.
When you’re clear on this, all of your communications with them (think Instagram posts, blogs, Facebook shares, your products and services) will be relevant as you’re writing to meet their needs (not your own). You’re writing from their point of view.
Be Clear About Your Brand
This is the other half of the confidence recipe. You now know your customer and feel you really connect with them. So, who are you? What does your brand stand for? What image do you want to create about your brand? Just like you did with the customer profile, create a little story about your brand. If your brand were a person, what type of personality would it have? Would it be energetic, creative, happy, friendly, etc.?
When you know these things about your brand, it’s easier to create the rest of the image around it. For example if your brand is high energy, then your brand colours might be orange and red. You wouldn’t pick navy blue to represent this. If your brand is about being in your community, then your images will be of happy groups of people rather than individuals, and they’d be in places that reflect your local community, like a café, a park, a school or even the local shops.
And like knowing your customer, being clear about your brand helps you ensure all of your connection points (Facebook, website, email marketing, Instagram) are on message.
Here are two real examples
I have two online businesses – I’m a 50% partner in Safina Sandals which offers ladies leather sandals handmade in Greece (started in October 2016); and Rosalie Hart Design is my fledging (and currently embarrassing!!) calligraphy business I started a week ago!
Although I own both businesses I could not have approached starting the two of them more differently. One was a strategic, considered decision about a business venture and the other an emotional one.
Safina Sandals was built on paper before we even bought our first pair of shoes. After a few conversations we created a simple brand and customer strategy, as well as our startup budget including initial projections. The total amount of paper was three pages. And this took just a few days to complete. However, we were absolutely clear about our direction, our products and the people we deemed would buy from us.
How did we know who our customers were going to be, if we hadn’t sold anything? We based our customers on ourselves as we personally loved the sandals. They were women of any age, who wanted to experience that holiday feeling long after returning home from the sand and the sea.
We moved fast with our business development, launching our website (full of products and professional imagery) in six weeks from those initial discussions. That included a trip to Greece to select and buy our sandals. So taking time to create a plan doesn’t have to delay you from starting your business.
And what it’s meant for us is that when we think we need to add jewellery, handbags and men’s/kids’ sandals to the mix, we go back to our brand paper and our customer brief and we see if there’s alignment. At this stage, we are purely a holiday brand selling handmade leather sandals.
On the other hand, my ‘creative’ business started because I was being asked to teach people how to do modern calligraphy. So I set up an Etsy site, advertised my class and away I went. Now I’m thinking of ALL the products and services I can sell, but I’m so paralysed by options I’m not getting anywhere.
Why? I don’t have a brand plan and I’m not yet clear on who my customers are. I want to be all things to all people, because I want to create lots of things! So you can see, I’m not going to get very far very fast.
My creative business will develop over time – I just need to get back to basics and create a foundation first.
Guess what I’m going to do now I’ve finished writing this blog?
Rosalie Hart is a Sydney girl who calls Brisbane, Australia her home. A self-confessed lover of learning new things, she’s constantly curious about how things work and has a steely determination to keep practicing until she can do something. Rosalie worked for twenty years in marketing before braving the HR world for the past five years (don’t add up how old she is!). Now she’s taking a hard-earned year away from corporate life to discover her next adventure. She’s started two online businesses – Safina Sandals and Rosalie Hart Design – and this has certainly kept her learning curve steep. To relax she goes kayaking, bush walking and enjoys her daily dose of lettering and watercolour challenges.