What is 730 days?
To some, it’s a blip in time. To me, it’s a celebration of 2 years of thrills, excitement, joy, believing in myself, learning, and anticipation. It’s also 2 years of overcoming self-doubt, challenges, and setbacks. It’s 2 years of being a business owner and consultant.
I shared 10 lessons learned in the first year, which was one of my most-read posts of the year. Interesting, isn’t it? So, in my true, authentic nature, I will share a culmination of lessons learned in my second year of captaining the ship.
The blue ocean might be too blue
Focus on what you offer and be clear about it
Watch for those who want to hitch onto your cart
Trust your gut
I have only worked a handful of days in the last 730
You have supporters; share that with the world
Share your smarts
You may need to punt a service
Never, ever stop learning
1. The blue ocean might be too blue. I recall sitting in a presentation years ago; the question was asked, “How do you sell milk to someone who has no idea what milk is?”. It was interesting because this is a challenge that I have discovered – Those who understand the marketing profession and its impact are relatively limited (the ocean is so blue; it still needs to be defined and understood – like selling milk to someone who doesn’t know what milk is).
In my research before launching my business, I was focused on one segment, or persona, if you will. This persona is well-versed in the value of marketing and one that is my primary audience. As I continue making connections and learning more, I am uncovering that the profession's knowledge is relatively limited outside of the marketing circle. This is so impactful when working on and getting buy-in for resources (such as time, money, human, and so on). My primary audience remains, and I have uncovered another audience.
What could this mean for you? Listen to your customers. What are their pain points? How are you addressing them? Is there something you’re missing? Now do something about it – research, interview, and define the customer journey so you can be there with them, helping them every step of the way. Then, put a plan into action to reach this new audience.
2. Focus on what you offer and be clear about it. Defining what you provide in a clear, single-minded thought is easier said than done. For example, I have a broad array of marketing and business skills which positively impact an organization in a variety of ways. This has actually been more of a hindrance than a benefit – who would have thought? I needed to narrow down and refine my value proposition (something that I continue to refine). After all, I can’t be everything to everyone and expect to excel in all.
What could this mean for you? If you present your offerings in a vague, wishy-washy way without clearly understanding and articulating the value, you will have difficulty getting ahead. Work hard on this piece.
3. Watch for those who want to hitch onto your cart. It has amazed me how many companies and businesses have approached me with an idea of how we can help each other out. Only to find out that helping each other out means promoting their business for them. What the heck? This was a bit of a hard lesson learned after investing precious time (and, in some cases, money) and spending far too much mental bandwidth thinking about what could be possible.
What could this mean for you? Be careful about getting swept up into what could be possible. Take time to step back and really ask yourself – how does this fit into my business strategy? Why would I want this? What will I get in return? Is it worth it?
4. Trust your gut. I was somewhat invested in pursuing an opportunity, and when it came time to pull the trigger, everything seemed good…but it didn’t seem quite right. There was something ‘off’ that I couldn’t put my finger on. I trusted my gut, and while it seemed like an exciting and possibly lucrative opportunity, I think it would have bitten me in the end. I needed to trust my gut and don’t regret doing so.
What could this mean for you? You know you better than anyone else. And when you are questioning something, lean into your gut; if it feels like you are being snowballed, get out of the way and let the snowball keep rolling without you in it.
5. I have only worked a handful of days in the last 730. “When you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I’m unsure who originally said that, but I couldn’t agree more. I so passionately love (most) what I do that it never feels like work. It’s just a remarkably gratifying way to spend my time. Unless…. I have to make phone calls to introduce myself, my services, and my business; even follow-up calls to non-clients are tough for me. Those are the days that I ‘work.’ I never would have dreamed this would be the most challenging part of entrepreneurship. And ironically, the one that nets the most value.
What could this mean for you? Everyone will have a hard time doing something. Understanding what that is for you and working hard to overcome it or get help might save you some sanity and more than a few winks of sleep. I’m still working on this one.
6. You have supporters; share that with the world. Have you ever looked into something because someone else has recommended it? When did you last read reviews on a product or service? How did that influence your decision? Social proof is a thing.
“When people are not sure of what decision to make, they use a mental shortcut. They look to see what other people - especially other people like themselves - are doing, and then they follow their lead…. Why? It will give them a sense of confidence that they're not making a wrong move.” 1 (Harhut, 2022) Earlier this year, I blogged about the book this quote was from, entitled My 3 highlights from this brilliant book that you may find interesting.
My website has numerous testimonials from people who have worked with me. This was important to me when I first started because I have always felt that it was more powerful to hear from others. It remains essential today. These testimonials help to show others – people who are like them – what they can expect.
What could this mean for you? As weird as it may feel to ask someone to publicly declare their view of working with you, you’d be surprised how many are more than pleased to do so. If you’ve done good by them, they want others to have that experience, too.
7. Connections matter. This has never been more important than in my new world. I lean into the support from people who know a lot more than me in certain areas, plus I recommend those people to help my clients where I can’t. And back to point #6 – when you do good by a client, they want others to have that experience, too. Your connections can have the most tremendous potential for future opportunities.
What could this mean for you? Take time to build and nurture your network. You’ll need them more than you know. The time and energy you invest in your relationships now may pay off in a year from now…or maybe even two…but it does pay off (and sometimes you are not even aware of it until later).
8. Share your smarts. You’ve got a lifetime of knowledge and experience that no one else has, so never feel intimidated to share what you know. It’s incredible how your message can get through. When I speak with individuals, they frequently comment on the content I have shared.
What could this mean for you? Look at your audience (point 1) to understand what they would most benefit from hearing. Then, plan out how you will reach them. Then, take action to get there. And don’t forget to measure your success.
9. You may need to punt service. I thought I had a great idea. Everyone I spoke with before launching my business also thought it was a great idea. I marketed it, I spoke to it, I promoted it. And darn, it just didn’t take wing. Disappointing, absolutely. But I needed to cut the anchor because I spent far too many resources on a lost leader. It’s not dead. I still have a devoted following for it, but I am not spending more time to build it.
What could this mean for you? Know when to throw in the cards and cut your losses. You can passionately believe in the service or product, but if you can’t bring others along, you may need to set it aside for now.
10. Never, ever stop learning. Everyone takes in information in different ways. I read - a lot. My hubby watches endless videos on YouTube. Whatever your jam is, latch onto it and forever expand your horizon.
What could this mean for you? Find groups to join (in person or virtual), look into other industries to get a broader viewpoint, sign up for industry newsletters, read books, take courses, attend conferences, join a Chamber of Commerce, and join a Mastermind. The list is endless.
It’s been an incredible 2 years. If asked, ‘Would you do it again?’ My answer would be 100% yes.
Keep on being amazing,
With a drive to accomplish high-quality results, the marketing work Lyanne has spearheaded in business has been recognized and awarded nationally on several occasions. In addition to this, she proudly holds the Chartered Marketer designation through the Canadian Marketing Association.
After serving 28 years in corporate financial services, she emboldened into new territory by striking up a business marketing consulting practice that exists to lighten the load of marketing leaders. Having been a leader in marketing, she appreciates the complexities of the job and the many demands that come with it.
Whether you are interested in learning more about how blue dragonfly can help your business, are interested in joining or learning more about Mastermind groups, would like to chat about a speaking engagement, or want to meet with Lyanne, this is a great way to get started. Connect today.
Cheers to the beginning of a great relationship.
1. Harhut, N. (2022). Using Behavioural Science in Marketing. New York: Kogan Page Limited.