Entrepreneur Encouragement - The Mistake We Make Trying to Be Everything
The Mistake We All Make:
Trying to be Everywhere and Everything to Everybody
This week I want to talk about the thing we all do that holds us back: we put intense pressure on ourselves and our businesses to be everywhere andeverything to everyone.
If you're a business owner, you've probably carried all kinds of guilt. Some of it might sound like this,
- I've been miserable at updating social media
- I don't have enough followers on Instagram
- I haven't blogged in forever
- I haven't networked enough
- I'm not connected enough
- I'm not on enough or all of the social platforms
- I haven't tried enough
Here's one thing that's easy to forget: all of this doesn't really matter. Because you don't have to do everything and be everywhere to be successful and profitable - not by a long shot.
In fact, if you're trying to do that, it's holding you back from those goals.
Here's why. "Enough" is relative, and the mistake we make lies in having unrealistic expectations of what enough really is for running a successful business. Enough followers, enough platforms, enough blog posts, connections, etc.
So let's face a few of these things and take away some of their power over us.
Worry #1: I need to be on every social media platform, posting content all the time.
The myth: To have a successful business, you need to be active on every social media platform and post content regularly.
What busted the myth for me: I was feeling intensely last summer that I was sucking at social media. But rather than focus on social media platforms themselves and trying to understand snapchat (eek) - I refocused on my business strategy first. I wanted to understand what marketing made the most sense, instead of just assuming it should be social media and which platforms I should use. I did an analysis where I looked at who were my ideal clients (seemy past post on this) and where were they? I learned through reviewing past clients that my clients came from direct relationships and speaking, nearly zero from social media. In fact, most of my clients only use Facebook, even though I was on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, too.
The crazy thing I did: I was only on Twitter because I thought I "had" to be. I didn't get it personally (just not my thing) and I didn't like creating content for it. So, I deleted my Twitter account in October. Pressed the delete button and never looked back. I focused on only Instagram and Facebook. Now, I post 2 or so times a week on Instagram and about 1-2 times on Facebook, usually sharing this week's article. The only exception is that I post a personal post for when I'm speaking somewhere to my personal Facebook profile.
The result: While I'm using social media less, posting less, and using less platforms than I ever have in the history of my business, the business is busier and growing more than ever.
The reality: When you stop drinking the kool-aid for five minutes and look at the specifics of your business and your strategy, a lot can change. I learned that the social media I'd been trying to use was not the strongest place I can be for my business: I'm better offline through speaking and meeting people directly, and that's what's grown my business substantially.
You have to find your format(s). Social media represents a format of marketing and advertising that exists in the universe, and its platforms have very different audiences. It is valuable but so are other forms like print, radio, television, speaking, workshops, networking, etc. You and your business won't fit everywhere and you have a lot of options of places and formats to market what you do or what you sell. Don't forget that.
The takeaway: You need to be where your clients and customers are and do a quality job there. They may be in-person, they may listen to radio, they may love Instagram. But I'm betting they aren't on every platform, needing updates 24/7, so why put that kind of expectation on yourself? By doing that, you're a tasmanian devil of content creation and you're probably exhausted. Sleep better and consider letting some of this go - especially the stuff that you aren't seeing a return on.
Worry #2: I need more followers.
But do you really? How many clients/customers do you need to make your month or year, that's the question to ask. You may be surprised how small or reasonable to achieve that number is - if you shift your focus to that instead of to your follower count.
Comedian Gary Gulman was recently talking about the power of what an iPhone can do and how its incredible functions are something we now take for granted - how we have unrealistic expectations of what a "phone" should be able to do for us.
Paraphrasing, Gary says on our collective behalf:
"We'd like it to have all of the music"
"...all of your music?"
"No, all of THE music. Like ever. In the history of time."
To me, the whole "I need more followers" thing is like telling yourself you need to have ALL of the music. You just need your music - the audience size and level that you actually need to support your business. You don't need ALL of the followers.
The myth: To have a successful business, you need to have thousands (if not tens of thousands) of followers on social media or readers on your newsletter list.
What busted the myth for me: After reconsidering what I was doing my social media, I placed a focus on what I knew worked and what I truly enjoyed/felt good at: writing this newsletter and speaking. I did more of those than ever before - writing weekly and speaking about twice a month around North Carolina.
The crazy thing I did to reset: I stopped worrying about how many followers I had. I shifted focus away from social media platforms and instead, spent 40+ hours and multiple meetings building a series of new speaking events called Small Business Gut Check in May.
The result: My instagram following grew by a few hundred, because I got focused on quality - not quantity - and only posted when I cared about something. And what about all that time I shifted away from social media posts and spent on launching my speaking events as my only form of marketing and advertising? I can easily say that it's the best return on investment for anything I've ever done marketing-wise. Far and away - it was the right format for me and worth the time away from things that historically have not grown my business nearly as much (like social media).
The reality: I know people with 200 followers (or less!) who run profitable businesses they love. I also know people with large followings (10,000+) that don't convert to significant sales or success, or a meaningful business they enjoy.
The takeaway: Your number of followers is not a magic formula that equates to success. Figures can be impressive, but they can more often overwhelm you and make you feel like you aren't enough until you reach some arbitrary milestone. I'm here to tell you from experience, that's bogus.
Finally, the one we all face -
Worry #3: I need to be doing more.
The myth: To have a successful business, you need to be doing an unending list of marketing tactics, social media strategies, networking and more. Always more and always everywhere you can be!
What busted the myth for me: Trying to do everything (take every coffee, go to every mixer, be on every social media platform) was a recipe for crickets for my business - and I had no idea why. Looking back, I can confidently say it was the pressure to do and be everything that played a huge role in experiencing valleys. I was all over the place, so I was really nowhere meaningful at all. And I was also exhausted - networking can be a total time drain!
The crazy thing I did: As I've shared a bit already, I switched my tactics and got more focused. I followed what my strengths are and what was already working for me for marketing - rather than constantly trying new or trendy ideas. I deliberately entered a season of less. I went to less coffees, less networking events, spent less time on social, even blogged a lot less.
The result: I love my business and running it more than ever, especially after letting so many of these things go. I'm doing so much better at waking up every day and not putting unrealistic pressure and goals on myself. Despite all of the articles and advice telling me that I might be crazy or not current, I confidently go in the directions of my strengths where I am continuing to find "my people" and "my tribe." It feels strangely so good and right that I wish I'd realized it sooner.
The reality: You are only one person and you have the same amount of hours every day to move the needle for your business. The more you can spend your time focusing on where your audience is, what you have the time to do well, and creating content and marketing pieces you really believe in, the more likely you are to make big things happen.
The takeaway: Don't focus on more, focus on what matters. Start by figuring out what that is, and build from there.
Of course, your business is different from mine.
As I've shared, I've had a lot of a-ha's around my own use of social media and what works to market my business. I give these examples to you not to say that mine is the best way to do things - only to inspire you to seek out your own strategy and see what fits best for you. You may need to be on social media more than I do, you may even grow your business by becoming a king or queen of Periscope. Perhaps speaking doesn't do anything for you or doesn't fit your personality, etc.
Whatever you do, I just don't want you to feel as though you have to do everything out there just because that seems to be the consensus and the "right thing to do."
You should feel empowered to pick and choose where you market and advertise your business, and how you present yourself to others. Make those choices on purpose, and your business will grow more if you go birdshot across the board.
If you'd like to delve deeper into some of the ideas in this week's story, check out these resources.
- Author and Viral Marketing Expert BJ Mendelson has a fascinating take on social media that aligns with what I've practiced and seen to be true. Learn more with his
- More about the client analysis that led to big marketing a-ha's for my business: Alternative Ways to Define Your Ideal Clients
"When you try to be everything to everybody, you end up being nothing to no one."
My dad loves this quote. He's shared it with me at so many different times in my life, and it takes on more meaning for me every time.
When you feel the overwhelm as we all do, remember this. The only role you can play is you. The only story you get to write is your own. The strengths you have are your assets, and your weaknesses will not be your legacy. It's time to stop sweating them.
Save this - bookmark or star it. Take it out and read it the next time some "universal" business expectation makes you feel inadequate. I'll do the same and we'll know we aren't crazy to do things against "business advice."
We know our business far better than anyone else does, right? That's more than enough.