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Nikki Arensman is a brand designer and strategist who works with women entrepreneurs, especially companies that are building digital businesses. She spoke to Jessica Abo about Zoom about how entrepreneurs can navigate in the early stages of their business's growth and beyond.
What do you think is the biggest mistake most entrepreneurs make in the first year of their business?
Arensman: Ultimately, in the first year, you really just want to prove that your company is not only profitable, but also has an impact on your industry and can bring you an income. You want to make money. We are building a business. The mistake I see all the time is not to create a foundation from day one that supports the building of trust between you and your dream audience.
Our most popular brands are the ones we can rely on at X, Y, Z. Whatever they are good at. We know that when we go to their Instagram, when we open their emails, when we listen to their podcast, when we read their blog, we know what we will expect from them in terms of their looks, their language, the way they speak and how they communicate. And subconsciously for us this means building reliability and trust. And we know, "Okay, I can always expect that from them." Then when we need something, we immediately think of them.
This really makes us, as consumers, be part of their story and part of their success and part of their brand. I always think of the formula consistency equals reliability, reliability equals trust, and trust brings more sales.
For those entrepreneurs who have just completed the first year and are entering the second year and feel like they are everywhere, what is your advice, what should they do first and what should they focus on in the long term?
Arensman: First things first for me. If I either close the first year with a customer or even go back to when I finished the first year and move on, it will find out what worked and what didn't. Strategically, what worked in your company, what brought in income, but also what felt really good and consistent, what was a struggle, and how to pull teeth to get you to show up and do it . And what did your audience and your customers absolutely love then? Whether that was a service, an offer, a webinar, a live training, something that just made it out of the park.
From there, I decide how this person should progress. They can either do one of three things or a combination of three things. You can either scale an offer with an audience that was a total win. Something like a webinar that went really well and worked together, whether it was the audience or the actual topic of discussion?
Number two continues to research new offers and find out where I really shine the brightest.
Number three really updates your branding and news when you are at that point. This is usually a very different place from the first day you started.
For those of you who identify with one or all, break each one up a little more for us.
Arensman: Let's take number one that scales an offer. Was there an offer or service that was a total win for you and the customer? If so, it could be worth turning it into an offer that you can scale. For example, if it is a one-to-one offer, you can imagine breaking down any content you worked on in that single shot and then converting it into lessons or modules for a digital course, removing you from the equation. The plus thing is that you can still have your individual offer. Unless you are now, you can increase and increase the prices because it gives you access to yourself and your time. You can still have the course that could be sold to a wider audience. It is an example of this.
Or maybe it was a group program that you started live with four or five calls that gave you access to you. You can now split this course into smaller courses at a lower cost. Suppose you take Module 1 and turn it into your own little deal at a cheaper price than someone who has to buy into the giant group program. This introduces your audience to the mentality we like to call "binge and buy" – it helps them do more. It prevents people from dealing with only one service. Instead, they say, "Oh, I want that" and "Oh, I can see that they offer that."
There are some programs that offer this. One of my favorites is MemberVault. With these you have easy access to a marketplace. These options are a good place to start. Familiarize yourself with paid advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest ads that direct traffic to these scalable offers that you might have.
If someone is not ready to scale but feels more comfortable when he continues new offers, what does it look like?
Arensman: This is a great route if you are still figuring out who your employees are, or if you haven't fully clicked with a particular ideal customer or niche. If at any point in the first year you never really felt like you were running, take a step back and look at what didn't feel right, and the gap between what you offered and your messages and what want to find what your audience is.
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One way to do this is to have previous customers answer a number of questions about their working hours with you. What was it like, where did you feel most supported and how did the work you did with you and the time you spent with you really affected your business? This gives you a really good inside look from the customer himself, what felt good and what didn't feel good. That scares people because they may get some answers they can't hear, but it's so powerful to look at and analyze it and then say, "I really excelled here, straight from the customer." Sometimes not even have the awareness of it as a provider.
Just try a few new things. Don't be afraid to turn around and bring out something new and see if it sticks. You don't always need a fully developed sales page, the perfect email sequence, or the perfect funnel to get sales and metrics of what works and what doesn't. And sometimes what you get with just a hint of inspiration and throw it out – whether on social media, in your story or in your feed, or when you email your list – is sometimes what remains. And it will be a killer program that works really well, or a new one-to-one service that you can reset and scale in the coming months.
They also say it's okay to give yourself time to catch up on your business. What do you mean by that?
Arensman: Sometimes, if you have an offer or service that doesn't work the way you hoped it would, it's not always the fault of the offer. Sometimes it's messaging or not reaching the right client. This really leads to a basic understanding of who you are serving and what is ultimately your problem. This takes a look at your brand as a whole and, as you said, really only a second to catch up.
For you as a brand, it is not only important to know relevant information about your ideal customer, but also to have a solid foundation in image and content. The two can work together. If someone stays on the starting line – let's just say that you created your logo yourself over a year ago and avoid using it in customer documents or in your email footer or similar things because it is embarrassing for you or him you wince It is an energetic block between the presentation of you out there. It's time to upgrade and update it to where you are as an entrepreneur. Ultimately, it increases the experience that a customer can expect from working with you.
This is one way through your logo and such graphics. You may have used stock photography so far, but this year you will be investing in a branded photo shoot and really investing some time and energy in curating the visuals you care about. It's really about the experience your customer has, that they want to be part of it and can visually connect where they want to be, what your photos look like.
And finally, if you generally feel like you don't know what to talk about on social media, or if you get stuck every time you write an email campaign – I hear it all the time: " I feel the place everywhere. "And whether that is in your feed or in a live session, I would clarify three to five things that are relevant to your ideal customer and their needs and also important for you and your brand.
You want to think about these issues, they are three to five main topics that are important to you, and they make sense for your customer and the problem you are solving for them. And then, within those three to five topics, you have a whole range of content to talk about and opportunities that you can maintain every time you appear in those topics. You no longer just fish and try to find things to talk about and ways to connect. It's like, "These are my three to five things, and I'm going to spend those three to six months just keeping that track and seeing how this changes within messaging, within offerings, and in general." – exactly how you communicate with your audience.
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