In a few short months I will be celebrating three years of running my very own business, and what makes that an even more significant achievement is that the business is digital. Four years ago I wouldn’t have had a clue how to start a digital business – neither the inclination, nor courage or resources to even begin to think about an internet based operation, but now all the things that scared me like analytics, building a site, Adwords and online marketing speak, are all second nature. And by resources I mean online help and support that you can trust, learn from and use to improve your business everyday…and one that you won’t have to remortgage your house to use.
The hardest part about deciding to start a digital business, or convert some part of your existing business to digital, is suddenly finding yourself at the mercy of a lot of self certified experts in everything from SEO to website design. An awful lot of people will only be too happy to take your money, usually in the form of a monthly retainer, and in return attempt to build and/or market your business, and there’s no telling until it’s too late just how much they do, or indeed do not know about their chosen profession.
Every week I receive dozens of emails offering me expert support and Page 1 residency, always from somebody with a private email address and a family name that contains a suspicious number of consonants. Of course I’m wise to this but if you’re just starting out any approach might seem like a welcome bit of support and plenty have gone down a quick fix route and found themselves relieved of large sums of cash and on the blackfoot with search engines.
Well, I got lucky, and the great thing is that means you can get lucky. And the lucky bit was Google’s Digital Garage, because here I managed to find everything I needed to know about how to start, run and build a digital business and the great thing is – it’s all free!
There were tutorials, videos, forums and a whole heap of advice and support that can not only get you started but see you well on your way. For me it was just what I needed because I didn’t have a huge start up fund, every penny was important, but more than that I knew I could trust it because it was all coming from Google itself.
It takes commitment, hard work and application to put it all into practice but there really isn’t another way to build a successful commercial enterprise, and anyone not prepared to roll their sleeves up should rally think again.
Being digital, running a digital business and getting to grips with the ever changing landscape is so much part of my working life it seemed like a pretty natural idea for it’s trials and tribulations to form some part of my blog. Every week I’ll aim to either share some part of my story building All Speeches or discuss the issues I’m currently grappling with.
But to kick off with here are the top five things that took All Speeches Great and Small, from an idea to something that paid the bills.
- Passion – if you’re not passionate about what you’re attempting to build a business from, then you’re making life very difficult for yourself. Whether your selling a product or a service, a start up digital business will involve working most hours, most days, and if you don’t love what you do, then it’s going to become a Titanic struggle. I always loved writing, I always loved making people laugh, so writing Best Man Speeches, was what I was born to do. If you’re having to coax yourself to the computer to go through analytics, Adwords and Ranking tools before you start the working day, then you’re in the wrong job.
- Talent – passion his great, and passion will see you through a lot but if you haven’t got a good dollop of talent to make the wheel thing go, then you’re never going to be able to convince anyone to buy your product or service. I always believed in what I could write – it had been borne out on televisions and in public speaking many times, so I knew I could compete with anyone out there. If you have a talent in a particular area, then combine it with the passion and you’ve got an unstoppable formula.
- Back to School – I have spent the last 3 years learning, almost daily. There are two great upsides to having a start up digital business where you run every aspect – it means you know exactly how everything works and allows you to make instant alterations should anything go awry, and it also allows you to save on shelling out for so called expert help. I made the decision to learn all I could about Analytics, Adwords, Search and the back end of my site so that I could make educated decisions and now that it’s grown bigger I completely understand what I’m asking others to do and how long it should take them. Unless you get stuck in at the grass roots for a bit, you’re going to leave yourself exposed in the future.
- Evolving – in order to make progress your site, thoughts and ambition has to constantly evolve. I have never once looked at my website, or my ads, or my analytics and thought ‘yep, that’ll do.” I’m always looking at ways to improve every page, every post and provide a better service. If you’re not constantly looking forward, then what you’re offering and the way you’re offering it will rapidly tarnish. When you start a digital business your site probably won’t have that many pages, so at least once a week you need to look at the pages, look at the analytics data and see if there anything that can be done to improve your conversion rates.
- Use Data – data and analytics are your best friend. It can instantly tell you where people are coming form, what they’re looking at, how long for, and when they’re leaving. All you have to do is link all this together and make some informed decisions about your site, what you’re offering and what your pricing policy is. At the start the volume of stats can be a little daunting but I started by using just a few key factors such as time on page, bounce rate and average number of pages to learn the process and then went from there. Getting to grips with the analytics made me instantly more commercially savvy overnight.
So there are my very basic thoughts on what initially allowed All Speeches to launch and grow. It has been a lot of hard work and a few sleepless nights, and I’ve loved pretty much every minute.