Image courtesy of photopin.com and linked to originating site

Once upon a time, you dreamed of being self-employed. You dreamed of making it big, changing the world, and having no one to answer to. You wanted to get rid of time cards and time-wasting meetings and cubicles and co-workers. You wanted to stand on your own two feet and live your dreams.

You approached the edge of insanity while trapped in that gray cubicle and, one day, you saw no other way to stay alive but to jump into the unknown. You prayed to all that’s holy that you’d make it out alive as you fell through empty space waiting for your wings to sprout or some giant hand to catch you.

Then, wrapped up in opt-in pages, email autoresponders, Facebook ads, and networking brunches, lunches, dinners, and events, you find yourself no longer punching a time clock for someone else but are, instead, eating-breathing-dreaming your business 24/7. Rather than answering to one grumpy boss, you are discovering that you have only yourself to carry the weight of the world and a lot of different people you must regularly interact with to keep your business running. You’ve left the cubicle and co-worker world behind for coffee shops, your home office, your car, and convention centers.

And you’re more tired than you thought you could ever be, but that tiredness is fulfilling and exciting, somehow.

Many entrepreneurs relate to all of this and I’ve discovered in working with them, that most of them have a mindset of “I have to do this all by myself.” Often times, they are starting up with a shoestring budget and their default is doing it alone so they don’t have to pay someone else out of their already overstretched bank account. But, this “do it all myself” mentality hurts entrepreneurial businesses.

The EIGHT WAYS you could be hurting your own business:

  1. A really great tagline that the general public – or worse, your target audience – doesn’t understand.
  2. “Figuring out” what you do without any feedback from the people you have served.
  3. Serving everybody because you know your service or product is the one that everybody needs.
  4. Using acronyms that may be hard to remember, figure out, or relate to.
  5. Using words that have negative energy as part of your tagline or business name.
  6. Creating your branding with your own favorite colors and fancy fonts.
  7. Incorrect grammar, misspelled words, and typos.
  8. Using “airy-fairy” buzzwords and the latest in “fad language” in your business name and tagline.

Here are some suggestions for how to resolve these issues:

  1. I recently heard a chaplain say she was considering using the tagline: I kick your dash or help you over. Or something like that. I stopped listening at the word “dash” because I had no idea what she meant. Try out several ideas for your tagline by sharing them with colleagues, strangers on the street, your potential clients, and your current clients. If your idea receives glazed-over looks or confusion, let go of it. If you are really committed to a tagline that is confusing your clients, keep rewording it and shortening it until people understand.
  2. In describing your service or creating your “elevator speech,” ask people who have worked with you to describe their experience. Listen to those you are serving. They actually know better what you do than you do because they are who is being served.
  3. If your target audience is too broad, you will not actually reach those you are here to serve. Your service or product may be for everybody, but “everybody” is too loose so people don’t identify with it. Who do you want to work with? Who do you identify with? Who have you served already? Ask people who they think would be supported by your service or product. What audience are your competitors targeting? Avoid targeting audiences only because you “think” they have the money for your services or products. Keep your target audience clear and concise so you will reach them.
  4. Acronyms are super fun, but can really hinder the growth of your business if no one understands it or can remember it. If your business tagline has an acronym in it that people have to figure out like random letters on a personalized license plate, you lose connections. If you want to use an acronym, test it on your target audience, ask strangers, ask friends. Listen to and watch their feedback. You will know if it works by their responses. If it is anything that takes longer than a breath to understand, it isn’t going to work.
  5. When you are coming up with a business name or tagline, it is imperative that you research the words you will be using. Use the dictionary and the thesaurus, at the very least, to make sure the words you are choosing match what you are bringing into the world. Take it a step further and ask your target audience, the general public, and your colleagues to get a feel for what they experience with certain words. Your tagline needs to be rooted in positive energy to draw clients to you.
  6. While it is important that you resonate with your branding and that it matches you, it is important that it also matches your target audience. Creating branding with today’s popular colors and decorative fonts will cause it to expire tomorrow when those colors and fonts are outdated and overused. Your favorite colors may not be the colors that clearly express your Purpose. Create examples of the colors and fonts you want to use and ask people to give you feedback about what they think, feel, and imagine when they look at them. Hiring a branding designer to support you is a cost-effective investment in your business.
  7. Have at least one other set of eyes look at your copy and have it be someone who is effective with grammar and spelling. Sometimes, mistakes will happen. However, if the bulk of your content is riddled with errors, you lose credibility. If you know copywriting is not your strong suit, get support. There are very few business models that “text talk” branding can work for so avoid using things like ur nrg specialists OR we serve u because your message gets lost in translation. It also looks unprofessional. Hint: if your word processing program recognizes your words as spelling errors, you may be heading in the wrong direction.
  8. The human brain works in images and likes to have words with which there is a mental “picture” that it can latch onto. Your business is best served by having a business name and tagline that is rooted in earthbound language. If your branding is too elevated and ethereal, the human brain cannot connect with it and your target audience won’t be able to land with you. The process for resolving this is much the same as item #5. Avoid the temptation to use current buzzwords because they will eventually become stale.

Building a business is a process of building relationships. There can be much accomplished through being willing to listen to those you are serving and will be serving, as well as forming mastermind groups. The most beneficial thing you can do for yourself as a solo entrepreneur is to form an alliance with a mentor and/or coach who can help you get clear on your mission. The success of your business relies on you being willing to share your ideas with others, receive feedback, and keep working with it until you land solidly.

photo credit: SalFalko via photopin cc


I always welcome your thoughts, questions, and comments.
Feel free to jot down what you’re thinking in the comment box below.

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