One thing you run into quite often in the social media world is talk of entrepreneurship. A lot of it is advice – how to monitor your time, how to make the sale, how to deal with failure of your start-up stops up. A lot of the advice too is meant to be motivational. “Bring your website design in house. You can do it!” “Run your own social media campaign – here’s how!” And the list goes on and on.
Not coincidentally, another common thread of conversation has to do with a lack of time or time management or how to balance life and work. It’s as if the left hand isn’t telling the right hand, “Hey, you just decided you want to do everything having to do with your company all by yourself.” But in fact that is just what you have done. No wonder you’re short on time!
What do you need to do for your own company?
If you haven’t read Carol Roth’s The Entrepreneur Equation, you really need to buy it or get it out from the library and read that thing. I’d recommend buying it because if you’re interested in starting or maintaining a company, Carol outlines everything you need to worry about as the head of a business. A bit of a glimpse?
1. Actually running your company – making sure money is coming in and going out as it should
2. Managing your clients
3. Looking for new clients
4. Marketing your product/service
5. Coming up with new products/services
6. Managing employees if you have any
7. Worrying about things like new tax structures, new healthcare structures, retirement plans – whether just for you or for you and your employees
And of course each of these categories includes endless sub-categories of other stuff you need to do. If you think just about marketing, the list can be nearly endless. Website, SEO, content, PR, developing your brand, advertising, mailing, email, e-newsletters, social media (yes, social media is *just* a sub-category under marketing in this case)…phew.
When you look at that list, it sure seems like any entrepreneur has more than enough to do. And yet, many entrepreneurs insist that they can do every single thing on this list (and more) with no assistance whatsoever. Speaking as a person who has spent a career (so far) *just* working on the marketing aspect of a business for other companies, I have to say that this seems rather delusional and probably dangerous.
A lack of understanding about marketing (real marketing)
One of the reasons I started this series, as you might have guessed, is that I feel social media is diluting what marketing really entails. That’s too bad because one of the things I love about most marketing tactics is that there’s an art to it. There isn’t just a simple “Do this for dummies” approach that I would be happy with.
Take, for example, the much maligned art of media placement. This is how I started in the marketing world. You might thing (assuming that you haven’t been convinced advertising is stupid) that placing an ad is really pretty easy. You choose something like the Wall Street Journal, you buy an ad, done. Right? Well, if that is your approach in your effort to do everything, you are missing out on so many important considerations. For example, where are your competitors advertising? Are they advertising? What is the circulation of that publication like? Can you get a better deal or does the publication stick pretty close to the rate card? Is there an extra fee for good placement? Would an insert be a better investment than an ad? Is it worth it to run a quarter-page black-and-white ad?
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Most marketing tactics include a lot of details that I fear people are now glossing over. If you want a new brochure, are you making sure all of your brochures share the same general aesthetic so people know it’s you? If you’re sending a direct mail piece, are you aware of all of the strange postal rules, like how far down on the piece you are allowed to have content?
Since I’m an agency woman, it might be easy to dismiss my concerns as self-serving. Sure, I would love if every entrepreneur contacted us and said, “Ahhhhhhhhh!” Well, maybe not. But this is not about a sales pitch for our agency or agencies in general. My concern is that no one seems to be really concerned about this “do everything” mode of work in which people are engaged. Is it realistic to think you can continue to handle the SEO for the website you designed and wrote the copy for while managing your new product/service and also keeping a grip on the latest tax rules? To me, this seems like an unnecessary invitation to harm. Because on any facet of work you are doing yourself, whether it’s marketing or customer service or HR, a big mistake can literally spell doom for your business.
Whether you hire an agency to handle your broad spectrum of marketing, a freelance web designer, a person to help you with your HR, or any other sort of help for any other facet of your business, I don’t want you to feel like you are now a failure. Getting help in all of these areas is a sign of realism. It’s proof to me that you are fully aware of all of the minute details that can come back and bite you in the butt. So long as the general chant is, “You can do everything,” I feel like many don’t truly understand how business as a whole, or any part of it, really works.
What do you think? Should an entrepreneur do everything, or is that just crazy talk?
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wilhelmja/2947831308/ via Creative Commons