My last post was all about why you shouldn’t give up on the dream, and as I sat down to think about my next post here I realized the logical follow-up was something along the lines of Okay, now what?
How Do You Get There?
If I convinced you to keep plugging away at your dream, you need to know how. How do you get to success? How do you do what you need to do? What’s missing in your business, why are you struggling so much, and when will this start working?
Five Essential Parts of Business
So I started putting together an article on how to stay in the game, hitting some of the basics of business. I was flipping through Josh Kaufman‘s excellent book The Personal MBA and ran across his breakdown of the five essential parts of every business:
- Value Creation. Discovering what people need or want, then creating it.
- Marketing. Attracting attention and building demand for what you’ve created.
- Sales. Turning prospective customers into paying customers.
- Value delivery. Giving your customers what you’ve promised and ensuring they’re satisfied.
- Finance. Bringing in enough money to keep going and make your effort worthwhile.
All of these are pretty basic business concepts. But something stuck out and this is where many Internet entrepreneurs mess up. It’s so simple, and so stupid, but we do it anyway (I’m including myself in this group as a writer who works primarily for Internet publications).
Our Big Mistake
What’s our big mistake? We skip step 1 and jump right to step 2. We focus on marketing value which we haven’t yet created.
This is how it works for me; instead of sitting down and pounding out another 500 words, finishing up that article so I can send it on, or doing the final edit on an ebook so it’s ready to ship, I will
- check Twitter for any mentions or DMs and reply
- go tweak the sidebar on my blog
- check my Facebook page and respond to a few items in my news feed
- play around with Google+ to figure out how I’m going to use it
- tweet a cool motivational quote I found
- catch up on a few of my blog subscriptions
- write down twenty ideas for future blog posts
- check my email
- install a new productivity app on my phone
- look at this week’s schedule again, update my to-do list
- find a few new sites that might be good for guest posting
- star some items in my Google reader to refer to later
- straighten my desk
- check Twitter
- check my email
- repeat, ad infinitum.
Deep Water vs. Kiddie Pool
I can do stuff like that all day long. I can connect with people, share neat little quotes I find, link to a blog post or two, promote an article, update my About page, find some relevant information, do a little research.
It isn’t bad stuff, but it isn’t essential stuff.
I’m not diving into the deep waters of value creation, I’m just splashing around in the shallows of product promotion.
The Result in Your Business
Guess what happens when I spend 80% of my working hours in the kiddie pool?
My business suffers. My business won’t grow. My workload might increase but my actual work production will drop.
I’ll drain my energy one drop at a time, bleeding myself out through mini marketing moves without actually working at what matters most. At the end of the day, I’ll have nothing I can hold up and say, Created. Complete. Value. Ready to be shipped.
A business that focuses primarily on marketing without continually producing anything worth marketing will implode.
The Heart of Your Business
The heart of your business is in the value you create. The buzz that you build around it, in order to sell it, that’s important too. But it’s of secondary importance.
The biggest mistake Internet entrepreneurs make is confusing “creating buzz” for “creating value.” You think: I’m not making enough money, I’m not selling enough product, I must not be marketing enough. Market, market, market! Build buzz, build buzz, build buzz!! Reach out, reach out, reach out! Connect, connect, connect!
But the problem is not a failure to market; the problem is a failure to create value.
There’s nothing essentially valuable about another retweet, blog comment, link recommendation, or Facebook, Linkedin, or Google+ update.
Slow Business Suicide
Jumping to Step #2 while Step #1 is just kinda hanging out there, hoping for some attention, is slow business suicide.
I am as guilty of this as anyone; there’s an ebook waiting to be finished, but last night I spent a couple of hours playing around on Google+ instead. So when I look at my bank account and wonder why the money isn’t flowing in, can I really blame anyone but myself? I cannot expect people to buy if I don’t give them something valuable to purchase.
The Essential Question
The essential question is this: what did you create today? If you’re not creating value, then what are you doing?
“Every successful business creates something of value… without value creation, a business can’t exist – you can’t transact with others unless you have something valuable to trade.” – Josh Kaufman
I have a challenge for you. For today, forget about marketing. Close the email tab, close Twitter, leave Facebook alone, quit doing SEO research, don’t tweak your Google+ circles anymore, leave it. Focus instead on creating value. Then, at the end of the day, give yourself about 20 or 30 minutes of marketing time. Do this every day for the next week and see what happens.
I have a feeling you’ll like the result.
Annie Mueller enjoys creating a personal yet professional voice to render complex topics understandable. Her passion is helping home, small, and micro businesses succeed. Read more about Annie here.