Entrepreneurs are required to wear many different hats. It can be challenging to keep up with the demands of running a business. This leads some to experience unsettling doubts as to whether their ideas will succeed. Others may know they’re onto something good, but still struggle to get their ideas off the ground.
In many cases, such challenges are really only common myths masquerading as legitimate concerns — so before you give up on that next great idea you’ve been cooking up, make sure you’re not falling prey to one of these deceptions.
Data Says the Market Is Too Competitive
In the age of sophisticated analytics programs and big data, entrepreneurs are relying less on gut instincts and more on software tools to make important business decisions. While this isn’t a bad thing per se, the virtues of risk-taking, creativity and intuition that once defined entrepreneurship are in danger of being stifled by mountains of data. As a result, great ideas are falling by the wayside.
It’s essential to take a step back and remember that data is nothing more than a tool that can be used to inform an entrepreneur’s decision-making process. While market research can help uncover viable markets and promising opportunities, each tool has its own method for aggregating data from a variety of sources, and this data should be treated as neither accurate nor conclusive.
For instance, PPC data from popular tools such as Google Keyword Planner can offer entrepreneurs a valuable glimpse into the competitiveness and profit potential of a market, but it doesn’t give an accurate picture of how difficult it will be to rank in the organic results for a given keyword.
You can do effective market research without enterprise-level tools or subscriptions to costly databases. You can garner valuable information by sleuthing top contenders in your industry and keeping a finger on the pulse of your target market by subscribing to industry forums, trade magazines, email newsletters and RSS feeds.
Finally, remember that the perfect niche is a mythical beast. While it’s a natural assumption that the more competition there is within a market, the more difficult it will be to succeed, studies have demonstrated that competition helps startups thrive.
Conversely, just because your market isn’t all the rage doesn’t mean it has no profit potential: The key is to start small and target a specific segment of the market. Be clear from the outset on what your unique selling point is, and aggressively pitch it in all of your marketing endeavors.
Money Is More Valuable Than Time—Or Is It?
One of the toughest aspects of entrepreneurship is getting past the development stages of a new business – not only because the money is going out faster than it’s coming in, but also because of the risk involved in any new undertaking.
Young entrepreneurs on a budget often tend towards a more conservative approach. Their logic goes something like, “How much money can I save right now if I do this myself?” The downside of a too-cautious approach is seeing no results for an extended period of time, which can be detrimental to self-confidence and long-term productivity. In most cases, the sooner your business is up and producing revenue, the better.
The skill of outsourcing effectively can be a real learning curve at first, but it’s only when you understand the relationship between time and money that you can begin to work more efficiently and truly scale your business. Start by placing a monetary value on an hour of your time, and then resolve not to waste any more time doing tasks you can outsource for less.
For example, let’s say you’re building an authority website based on your product. You need content, and lots of it. If you’re flying solo and your budget is limited, it can be tempting to try to do it all yourself, one article at a time. In the meantime, you’re setting yourself back weeks. If you had outsourced that content creation to a team of writers, your business could have been producing revenue exponentially sooner. All of that lost revenue represents your opportunity cost, and it can add up faster than you know it.
You can multiply money, but when time is gone, you can’t get it back. When you learn how to delegate, you can effectively duplicate yourself and the amount of time that is available to you.
There’s A ‘Best Way’ Approach to Digital Marketing
Every new business owner faces the challenge of where to focus marketing efforts for optimal returns. Some marketers maintain that organic traffic is the be-all, end-all of an effective digital marketing strategy, while others are quick to dismiss SEO as obsolete in the era of inbound marketing and social media.
The reality, as is often the case, is somewhere in between.
It’s not necessary to recruit an SEO company to perform an extensive link-building campaign for a hefty monthly fee to see real returns from your marketing efforts. In some cases, a strong on-page SEO strategy can be enough to achieve search engine visibility, particularly in ultra-niche markets.
This means ensuring that each page on your business website is tightly focused around one or two relevant keywords. Proper site structure and internal linking benefits your visitors in addition to accommodating Googlebot. Scheduling regular website audits helps avoid critical technical issues related to indexing and page loading speed.
SEO aside, it’s entirely possible to run a successful marketing campaign without your website ever appearing in the top 10. Social media campaigns offer an affordable marketing solution to bootstrapped businesses. Tech startups in particular can benefit from a social media-heavy marketing strategy, with much of their tech-savvy market base existing and thriving “underground” in the Twitterverse.
The most resourceful entrepreneurs make room for a diversified marketing strategy, treating SEO, social media marketing and content marketing as interdependent.
As entrepreneurs, we can learn a lot from those who have paved the way ahead of us. That said, it should be considered a digital marketing best practice to evaluate everything you hear or read. And when all else fails, don’t be afraid to trust your gut.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Robert Sofia is a best-selling author, award winning public speaker, and financial industry thought leader. He has developed marketing strategies for Fortune 500® companies, consulted with over 1,000 companies nationwide, and is the cofounder of Platinum Advisor Strategies – ranked #362 on the INC 5,000 list of America’s fastest growing privately owned companies in 2013, and #10 on the Agency 100 list of the nation’s fastest growing agencies.
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