Recently I was speaking with an MML reader and soon-to-be small business owner. Leading up to her business’ launch, she was worried about doing the right things to make sure her business was successful. Even though she knew social media, blogger outreach, blog ads, and sweat-equity were the keys to success, she felt more confident hearing me confirm these facts.
While thinking about the topic, I realized there are some great parallels between high school and small business marketing. Below I’ll explain how, just like in high school, we do a lot of the same things to meet new friends (customers) and create a positive reputation.
Do Your Homework
Take a look at the people you are going to school with (established small businesses). These are the upperclassmen and you can learn a lot from them. What draws you to some people (businesses) and not others? What aspects of their businesses do they do well?
How can you execute similar endeavors yet still be 100% authentic? Just like in school, cheating (copying) doesn’t pay. So make sure whatever you glean from other businesses is adapted in a unique way.
No one likes a copy-cat, but a little research can go a long way.
Become Friends with Your Lab Partner
Did you get paired with the super-talented future scientist (web designer, graphic designer…)? Make sure to have a positive connection with the people that help you create your new project (business). These people know you well now and can introduce you to other cool people (business connections). They can even lead you to your first sales.
These freelance people can also be great resources in the future as you grow and develop – don’t act too cool for school.
Join After School Activities
Let’s face it, some of our best times in school are actually on the field, on the stage, or in the club (conferences, trade shows, networking). By joining something that is already established you expose yourself to a variety of special resources and people that want you to succeed.
So make sure to get out there and mingle.
Don’t Skip Class
You take the time to schedule your elective classes (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) because they interest you. Make sure that you show up regularly to get the full benefit. Don’t look like a no-show to these commitments.
People can search your company on Google to find out more… only to find an abandoned social media profile. This then becomes a lasting impression of your company. Be memorable for being present and engaged.
Drop outs have a hard time making (Twitter, Facebook) friends.
Comb Your Hair
Though we don’t have to have the absolute latest fashions (technology) on our sites, we do need to realize that people feel more comfortable doing business with people who have clean, well-kept, organized, and up-to-date sites. If your homepage hasn’t been updated in months… it smells a little stale.
Freshen things up with new marketing or products to keep people coming back for more… more frequently.
And Most importantly… Stay in School
More than any single activity above, the ability to start your business and keep building it will earn you a great reputation over time. What you see from Jess LC is the result of consistent effort online for the past two years (and twelve years of jewelry business experience).
Though there are always a few freshman that manage to steal the show right away (like Emersonmade’s incredibly quick and awesome rise to success), most people become known through years of consistently showing up. Heavy-hitters like Oh Joy started blogging in 2005 and Sea of Shoes began in 2007. They have been building their reputation and success over several years.
So there you have it. Just like in high school there are many aspects to having a positive business experience and gaining a worthwhile education.
Be a good student and get involved.