I literally don't know what to do next. Am I capable of being a business owner?
I'm working full time trying to get my small business to attract customers. I think I have a good social network presence, but I'm finding it difficult to continue taking action and push forward. I find myself waiting for customers. I know that ain't gonna happen unless I take action every day.
Hi Jim, If you don't have the energy to initiate action to attract clients, it's likely that a subconscious pattern is at work, doing its best to keep you safe from success, and therefore failure.
In some cases, the more success we have, the more responsibility we feel to maintain it. If we don't succeed, we don't risk failure.
Usually, if we lack the impetus to do something, it's because of an internal pattern, such as the one I just described, which was set up early in life to deal with the circumstances encountered at the time. That aspect of consciousness has no idea that it's now at a different phase of life, and capable of taking a more constructive course of action.
In my line of work, I see a lot of entrepreneurs who can shine in their field of endeavour once they understand what has been holding them back internally.
The world does not happen to you. All of your interactions and external experiences are informed by your internal reality. How you show up in the world is expanded or limited by your patterns. Once those patterns are brought to consciousness, you have more clarity, more motivation and vitality, and a greater presence when meeting others.
Please let me know if you would like more information or assistance.
Like most small business’s one of the major problems is that you wear so many hats; Sales, Marketing, Lead Generation, Customer Support, Product, Accounting and the list goes on and on. This becomes overwhelming and a lot of times we just want to through in the towel. Remember to take it one step at a time. Let’s tackle the Marketing Hat. One of the first things you need to do is put a marketing strategy together.
Before we go on, let me put a plug in for MosiacHub Marketers. There are many marketing experts on this site that would love to take this “Hat” over for you. That would allow you to focus on nurturing your prospective leads, converting them into reoccurring partners, instead of always focused on finding new ones.
First let’s weigh your target audience against the services you provide.
a. From your website, I was able to gather that these are the main services you currently provide.
i. DATA RECOVERY
ii. COMPUTER FORENSICS
iii. INVESTIGATING CHILD EXPLOITATION and PORNOGRAPHY
v. ELECTRONIC DATA ANALYSIS
vi. MOBILE PHONE FORENSICS
vii. LITIGATION SUPPORT AND ANALYSIS
viii. ??? Which of these should be your area of focus? Which ones offer reoccurring client/revenue potential? What’s your value proposition for each of these services.
b. What is your target audience for each of these?
i. Law Enforcement (Repeat Business Potential)
ii. Lawyers (Repeat Business Potential)
iii. Lead Aggregators (Repeat Business Potential)
iv. 1 off clients (Possible Referrals word of Mouth)
v. ??? Who else
There are currently 120 Licensed Private detective agencies in Kansas that have 300 licensed PIs and 165 independent PIs. So for any of your potential clients they have 465 different PIs to choose from. What makes you stand out from the pact? How many of those PIs can offer the same Computer Forensic skills that you offer? Where are your clients searching for these services?
Some quick wins are inbound Lead suppliers. Have you signed up / partnered with the many inbound lead suppliers.
Also I found this older article on 13 Private Investigator Marketing tips that have some good marketing ideas in there to get started. https://www.pinow.com/articles/1130/private-investigator-marketing-13-tips
Do you have a business strategy in place for your business? How are you trying to attract customers? Just having followers on Social Media will not cut it - that is about attracting them and showing you are a subject matter expert - that is marketing - not sales. You have to sell products and services and utilize marketing where your customers are. If you are "waiting on " customers, it will be a very long wait. You have to spend money and time on marketing which is very dependent on your target market and what you are selling.
There is more to a business than selling - you have to have all of the pieces in place of what your goals are, who is your target market (and that cannot be everyone) - you have to be targeted. You have to have a go to market strategy that reaches the targets, what is your value proposition, your mission, does your pricing make sense, are you reaching your target market by where you are marketing, do you have all your processes in place and need to have a handle on your financials.
The problem is if you are not taking the right action, then you will get very frustrated over time. It isn't if someone is capable of being a business owner, it is whether you are able to learn to be a business owner or want to. We work with business owners every day that are great at what they do but admit they don't know business and coach them in the areas they need help, and they are eager to learn. Business coaching is something that might work for you. The key is whether you want to learn business and go through the process as when you are on your own - you are Finance, Operations, Sales, Marketing, & HR rolled into one - but each area exists in every business - it is just to what extent.
Here is an article I read a long time ago in Entrepreneur that has a Quiz with it on do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur that might help you answer that question for you as no one can answer it but you. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/246454. If you are then it is just understanding and learning the skills that you need.
You have really great responses here to your question.
Jeff has truly taken a big picture view for you.
What troubles me about your work is you are waiting for customers. HUGE error #1.
Based upon Jeff's analysis, the piece you are sitting on and overlooking is your expertise in Digital Forensics. Every element you offer defaults back to Digital.
My recommendation is you reinterpret your business using Jeff's analysis and get on the phone and present your Digital Forensic solution.
Keep in mind, people understand the words "Digital' and "Forensic" but have no real idea of what that means for them and their business. It is your job/ your responsibility to not only help your audience understand but educate them around what the problems really are and how your analysis will uncover the 'holes' and provide them a prospective solution.
You are starving your business by not assertively, aggressively going after business and educating your potential market. I think your market may be on LinkedIn.
Jim, with all due respect, waiting is NOT an option.
Hope this helps.
Adding to Walter's advice which is critical for success which you should turn to a pro to do who knows how to get that segment right is this:
One key issue is recognizing what you do well. like to do and then contracting out the rest. This frees you up to do the part of the business you went into business to do. Yes its that simple - stop wearing all the hats and free up YOU to do what YOU like doing.
Example - You love cabinet building, are great at it and decide to go into business for yourself but you are not a sales type nor are you comfortable trying to sell. You need customers to thrive so you try to sell and resort to competitive quotes instead of value selling where you can get folks to see the value of using you v others and they hire YOU on the spot.. STOP THAT trying to sell ASAP..
Contract out a great sales type who love and knows how to sell value, not price and can close a sale that way. This person can get you the accounts and then, all you do is build and install the cabinets. See what I mean-make that investment now.
Use a contracted service who is already expert at that, love it, can get you the jobs so you can spend your time being a cabinet maker and making a great living at it with many contracts consistently and reliably there for your services..
See what I mean!.
You dont need to know how to run a business, you need to know how to accept your own limits and shortfalls, then contract that part of the business out to the folks who are great at that part and then you can focus on and get to do what you are in business to do.
I believe there is a strong relationship aspect to your work. I know others will say this is wrong but you are good looking professional and you need to be walking into attorney practices looking for connections. I think Bonita is dead on in her assessment. To get past that you need rules to know what a day looks like, you need to set x appointments with new firms, meet 1 new person via networking, sit in on trials that could relate to your work and tell both the defense and prosecutor about yourself (as is professionally appropriate). A scoring system on activity will keep you moving and not let you get stuck.
I see this with people all the time, you didn't realize your number one job was sales when you started this did you? Leave your house (not to walk the dog) and take charge. If you want to bounce ideas around reach out to me directly. (cant post email addresses).
All the best,
I run a small, experienced UK Digital Marketing agency called Odyssey New Media (odysseynewmedia.com).
I know the feeling when you're small. What I have learned in 2-3 years of doing this full-time is that it will take the pressure off if you build a good sales pipeline.
Here are my top channels for building/driving your sales:
1) Networking - This is time consuming but will get you in front of other small-medium business owners who may want you to work for them and also refer you business. Focus on networking and not sales and the sales should come.
2) Email Marketing - build your email marketing list. Use something like Mail Chimp and import all the contacts you have who wouldn't mind being emailed or have opted in to your mailing list.
3) Website - Make your website the hub of your digital marketing. You can track everything and test marketing campaigns that are sent through to your website. Remember to build testimonials and client case study material so you can push direct conversions and enquiries through on your website.
4) Search - SEO and PPC - ranking for key local and national terms for your industry.
5) Telesales - You might struggle to get time for phone calls - so either block out 4 hours a week minimum or hire someone to make the calls for you. Make sure that you work out and test some variation scripts and approaches so you can see what works better. For our business we offer a free 2 hour consultancy worth £120 of our time. Many people are interested if you are at least giving something away for free or some kind of analysis etc.
I hope the above strategies help, these are the channels I have found to be strongest for you but there are others including Social Media, Video, Direct Mail marketing, real-world banners and advertising signs etc.
If you need any help regarding Digital Marketing items or web design/development then feel free to get in touch, you can call me on +44(0)7940420201 or email me on rstoubos(at)odysseynewmedia.com(dot)com.
Owner/MD of Odyssey New Media Ltd
You have received a wealth of information regarding your issue.
Why did you get into this business? If you have a strong enough Why it would pull you through. So take some time and really look at where you are and where you want to go. see and feel the process to get you there. Is this what you want?
If it is these are some things to think about:
With so many licensed Private Detective Agencies in Kansas the challenge is to differentiate your company in order to attract clients.
You may want to review your business plan - especially your SWOT - strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Review your marketing strategy - who is your ideal customer and where do you find them. Since you are not selling essential services you need to employ new and revamp ways to attract clients:
- run some free sessions on what you do and the benefits for the client. This gives you a free list of persons you can send infor to. Keep their phone numbers so you can let them know when you are having more free sessions and they can also invite their friends and associates. Text marketing works well here. If you have an interest let me know.
- attend free presentations where you can meet persons who fall into your target market. Be specific on telling them what problems you solve but be interested in what they do also.
- offer to do free presentations at clubs, business staff meetings, parents meetings etc.
- send some flyers with what you do - use your testimonials - don't just deliver the flyers- Send in a colored envelope address to the head of the household or if it is a company address to the decision maker.
Review your resources - do you need additional human resources? Do a work flow chart - are there functions that can be outsourced? Do you need to upgrade your systems?
These are just some thoughts feel free to contact me if you believe I can help further.
If, as I assume, you are good at what you do, you should eventually succeed by simply identifying your weaknesses outside of your core service and finding solutions you can outsource or deploy. But I don't believe chasing clients is the way to do that unless you can make a good living with just a handful of regular clients.
I think Jeff R. did a great job of breaking down the marketing questions you should be asking yourself to build a marketing campaign. He has done more research than I have on your particulars, but it occurred to me that with your areas of expertise, those investigation firms he calls your competition may in fact be your A list of customers. If you can or do sell niche expertise to other investigation companies it would make your target market for advertising nice and small. For example you could reach the 400+ investigators with a direct mail piece multiple times on a very reasonable budget. If you do need to reach the masses directly, you will need a different medium. For a small business in a large market, Google Ads would likely be a better medium. It allows you to experiment with A/B testing to find the best keywords and ad text that translates into sales. And you can start with a small budget and increase the spending as the results improve and justify it.
From my perspective the number one reason small businesses fail is not enough advertising. For most businesses its far more important than social media. The top reasons I hear from owners is "I can't spend like my competitors because I don't have their sales". This leads to the "which came first - the chicken or the egg" argument. But unless they have a small monopoly, there is no doubt they have those sales because they advertise - they could not have grown to their stature otherwise. The second argument I hear is "I prefer word of mouth". I always reply to that the same way... The number one benefit of advertising is word of mouth. The ROI in that area far exceeds immediate sales. Advertising is word of mouth on steroids. Those who advertise most are the greatest believers in the power of word of mouth.
The second most common reason small businesses fail is poor quality of advertising. Some people believe having a weak ad is always better than having no ad at all, but weak ads can be very detrimental. You have no doubt seen ads where the only thing you took away is that the company looks unprofessional, low-end and you wouldn't trust them. But sometimes that terrible brochure is actually misrepresenting a very good product or service.
So advertise and advertise well. Don't fail just because no one knew you were out there.
Best of Luck,
Owning a business isn't hard...selling, now that's hard. I would suggest getting expert sales skills from someone who knows what you need to do (behaviors) and can give you a plan that works with your reality with an accountability element. If you think you will revert back to putting out social posts and aggressively waiting for the phone to ring...you might seriously consider getting a job instead. There is no shame in that but it's not usually a good success indicator if you aren't driven to succeed as an owner.
Jim, I am not going to elaborate much more than what has already been said. There are three important aspects to focus on:
1. What do you want to have as the MAIN focus of your business?
2. What is the number 1 problem you solve for your clients?
3. What is a consistent marketing plan you have to reach those clients daily?
Sounds like you need to get more clarity on what your clients want/need and then develop an action plan to have them identify you as the person who can meet those wants/needs.
A social network presence, no matter how exemplary is not enough.
Jim, your profession is both practical and lucrative. If you are a hands-on workhorse type person who prefers to stay in the shop, all you need is someone to serve as a front man/marketing agent and lead acquisition specialist. An honest, trustworthy, high energy social magnet that loves getting out there, establishing and maintaining relationships and seizing opportunities. Once you find that person, you've got gold. Test them out for six months or so. If they pass, offer a partnership deal. Next item. Get a written business plan that outlines your objectives, mission, target audience, marketing strategy, team duties, salary and benefits as well as the business process. You'll need this along with a concise partnership agreement to present to potential partners. See my profile for more information.
Do you have a target market? Like for example women 40-45 that make $50k - 70k? Know your target market and know what social media they use and advertise on those social media platforms. Also, need to meet people face to face and go to events and pass out cards/flyers. Sales make money when you follow up, about 7 times before most sales really happen.
Building a business can be draining. Always keep the big picture in front of you. It allows you to take chances shift directions when things aren't going right. Reflect in what is working and what isn't. Research your competition. What are they doing right, what can you do better.
Are you in a viable business or are you chasing a pipe dream?
I would take the time to see where you are. From where you stared are you in a better place or at the starting gate. "Insanity is repeating the same expecting a different result". Albert Einstein
Sometimes we get engulfed in busy activities, which may not be productive. We need to change our habits when we see ourselves in these traps.
If you are happy with your progress push forward. Don't give up. Your reward can be around the next corner.
I wish you the best of success
Jim, Yes You are capable of being a successful business owner. When I started running the 10K + (Have not for some time now) but when I did a few years ago I noticed something that occured without fail.
It was this:
Feeling indomitable I would begin each session with gusto and drive. At about the 2KM mark my brains, heart and limbs will begin to have a conversation that went something like this:
"Josie, Girl what are You trying to do kill us? We cannot go an inch further".
I mastered this unruly bunch with sheer will power and tricking myself. I'd say to myself:
"Josie Surely You can run to the traffic lights". And when I get there I would not stop. I would say:
" Surely You can get to the top of the hill" and when I got to the top of the hill I would say:
" Surely You can get to the bottom of the hill" .. and so on and so on. What I noticed, and I have shared this obversation with other runners is that- this particular fight where You feel that You cannot move another inch - happens two places throughout the course. At the 2KM and at the 8 KM marks.
This, Jim, I have found is also true in buisiness. Its like the sages say "The darkest moments come before the dawn!"
You are about to get a breakthrough so re-calibrate and get back on the horse. Surround yoursefl with like-minded people who get it. Who understand the struggle and who would motivate You in unsure times and vice versa. Check out your local MeetUp groups. Those I have found to be very helpful.
Find motivational YouTube Videos that move You:
Some of my favorite are:
Les Brown - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyHMRwrS1pc
Jim Rohn- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFEqiDRwXcM
Also You may want to consider a coach who could help You get from idea to market in 1.2.3 steps!
I Am Wishing You Great Success Jim,
You got this! You can do this!
Hi Jim, I can hear in your post how frustrated you are. I have the same challenges over the years, but believe me it will come good.
Rather than just give general advice and offer platitudes, if you would like to arrange a Skype call to explore some concrete options and identify some actions, I would be more than happy to assist. Just let me know and we can arrange something quickly.
Most businesses go through what you are experiencing and many will just give up and blame it on anything and everything which is very easy to do but is most regrettable, then you have people telling you that your business or ideas are no good and are hoping you fail.
"failure is an attempt at success, the more you attempt, the more chances of success" What you have done is an attempt and from that attempt you have learnt and gain experience of what works and what does not work and so your next attempt will be modified from what you have been doing.
Most businesses are always innovating in some way and always thinking about new ideas and ways of doing things, I myself always write down things I think about either on my smartphone or on paper no matter where I am and what time it is. There are endless way to do something and so you have to try them all to see which one works out for you.
Hi Jim, You do have a lot of advice here. I do agree with most of it. First having a detailed and specific business plan and marketing plan is important. I deal with the same problem that you have. I am awesome at putting ideas to paper but implementing them as far as the "sales" part paralyzes me. I find myself waiting as well. What I have learned is that I have accepted that I am an introvert by nature and instead of trying to change who I am I am learning to work with that. I myself have done all the social media marketing and website marketing and am about to kick off the newsletter, blog and email part. I do agree that I am not a sales person. I do however love to help people and truely want to represent and protect them. I have found that possibly contracting out the "sales" part maybe a good thing. You do need to know who your target audience is. Not just who would buy your services but also who you feel most comfortable working with and have a passion to help. I would suggest starting with people you already know. Your past clients etc... get referrals. I believe that for introverts that are more comfortable one on one with people that we already have some kind of aquaintance with and we do so much better at building relationships than grasping out of the pond of strangers trying to hype sell them. The problem with the relationship building type of sales is that it does take longer to see results. The good thing is that you build a much loyal and return client base. I have a 360 day program that I had to create due to my own introvertedness in order to see results in my business. Then you have to self motivate by using self discipline. For me I love chocolate! So until I have made 5 phone calls a day to people I am already somewhat aquainted with I can not have my chocolate. I can not go and buy myself that cute home interior decor that I saw until I have met for lunch with 5 of my aquaintances. Not to sell them but just to build a relationship. Then at the end of each meeting I remind them what I do and why I do what I do because I care about people and if they know of anyone then to please send them my way. Other than that we discuss our life, our kids, our spouses etc... It takes the pressure and scariness of sales away. I learned this and much more through a lady that wrote a book called "Sell With Soul" Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, GRI
www.sellwithsoul.com. It is mainly for real estate agents but the concept of building relationships can apply to anyone that needs to build their customer base. I know it can be frustrating to step outside of your character to attract clients. Look at who you are, why you want to provide this service, whom you want to provide this service for and start setting some goals then treat yourself when you show activity in reaching out for them. Also, knowing what your good at will go a long way in building confidence and confidence helps to build courage to step outside your comfort zone and reach out to people. I hope this helps. I don't consider myself an expert just someone that may understand and still struggles with it. Good luck :)
Jim, Have you put together a business plan? Often, when we get started on a new business we think we know what we want, but until you make yourself a blueprint, or business plan, and put it in writing you are going to feel scattered.
What kind of marketing plan do you have? Are you using referrals and email marketing as well?
Owning a business is hard work, and especially at the beginning requires a lot of time and effort. You will need to make a plan to get the word out on a regular basis.
I am available if you want help - ToniLawrence.com.
Best wishes for your success.
Without reviewing your website and social media efforts, I can't tell you what you're doing or not doing right or wrong. I have several resources on my website that could help you analyze your efforts.
Start with the free ebook: 216 Mistakes Small Businesses Make on Social Media
Marketing is a crucial part of owning a business, but it doesn't have to consume you if planned out properly.
AZ Social Media Wiz (dot) com