I started my own business in 2014 with some big ideas and big goals. 2015 helped me realise some of these but I mostly learned a huge amount about being a small business owner. I thought I’d share what I learned in 2015 to help anyone else who has just started out or is considering making the jump on their own.
This will be a series of blog posts. None of them are particularly earth shattering. However, if someone had sat me down a year ago and gone through them I’d be in a different place today. The second post is about how I found that networking works. I hope it makes sense and helps a little.
When I made the jump and started my own digital agency the majority of people thought it was a good time to do so. The gist from the well-wishers was the web was going to be around for a while and the uses for it were only going to multiply.
‘Great, I’m on to something here, should be easy enough then to pick up clients’… But it wasn’t long before I found myself echoing the Fermi Paradox and asking ‘where is everybody?’.
Winning, pleasing and retaining clients is not easy; it’s the hardest part of being in business. Regardless of how essential you believe you product or service to be, it’s still hard, especially when you’re starting from scratch. The ‘work’ bit is easy, it’s the getting work that’s hard. While I never thought it would be a cake walk, it was a slower start for 4th Level Digital Media than I’d planned for.
Any opportunity to meet like-minded individuals is a great way to learn what others were doing and a nice social outlet too. I would definitely endorse the idea of joining a formal network.
I think a lot of people join a network to get referrals, clients and ultimately more business. But it doesn’t have to be about getting referrals all the time. If you build the right relationships within your networking group the referrals will come.
Whether it’s in a formal setting (like the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, which I find brilliant) or using your LinkedIn connections to meet for coffee, networking has definitely helped me.
The referrals have been the thin end of the wedge. I learned from financial consultants some great tips on pricing. I’ve also found companies to collaborate with, which has helped broaden my offering to clients. By coming to a commercial arrangement with my collaborators I can now offer even more digital solutions. More on this in the first post – #1 Adapt and Overcome
Being a small business owner doesn’t have to mean its ‘me against the world’. I’ve found that other business owners, especially the successful ones, are more than happy to share advice if you ask. You might not have much to offer in return (I didn’t) but offer nonetheless. At least they know you’re on the same page.
If you’re a new business owner and want to discuss any of the above OR if you’re a company looking to find their way through digital… give me a shout. All my contact details are HERE.
Thanks for reading.