Today, with the ubiquity of the Internet, many people are not only starting up their own business easily but also utilizing social media to a far greater extent than they did before. This is partly due to social networking becoming so important in many people’s lives, but also because there are so many different avenues into it.
Consider the story of Rebecca Smith, who started a social media job when she was still in college. After seeing the huge variety of jobs which existed online for managers, online PAs, and other types of jobs, she thought up the idea of advertising people who would do the hard work of online media for them. While the Internet makes it a necessity for people to engage with their online audiences, not everyone is equally good at it. Smith saw a business opportunity in the possibility of offering to handle the online affairs of these businesses, and the rest is history.
Where to start?
When it comes to starting your own business, especially with no experience and no financial cushion, it is vital that you have a plan in place before you do anything. Make sure that you know what it is that you want to offer as a product or service, what your skills are, how much time you can afford to give to the business, and so on.
The rule of thumb is to start a business that you would be glad to invest your time in without possibly being paid for it. Never start a business with only the desire to earn from of it.
1. Find your idea
What are your goals when it comes to starting up a business? What do you want to come out of the business, and what do you want to put into it? The easiest way to find this out is to clearly identify what you are going to give to the people you are marketing your business towards, and what you hope to get out of things yourself.
Try this simple idea: list all the business ideas you have on your mind and write down all of the pros and cons of each. Check how numerous and how big your competitors are. There is no sense to compete with long-established and rich companies who might be your rivals. Better is to consider the blue ocean strategy which is an intent to create a new demand at a low cost instead of taking part in a strong market competition (which is known as ‘red ocean strategy’).
How can social media help at this step? There are many ways, but you can simply be inspired by online accounts of famous entrepreneurs on Facebook or Twitter. Meanwhile, Linkedin profiles can reveal some secrets of how the business ideas that you like have come alive.
2. Competitor Analysis
When you have come up with the idea, make a list of your main competitors. For this, you can Google all different variations of the product or service you want to promote. For example, if handmade leather accessories is what you want to sell online and your main targeted area is New York, try searching using queries like “best online leather accessories stores in NY”, “top online leather accessories stores New York” etc. Then, conduct the search via social media. Facebook and Instagram are especially good for this goal.
When it comes to competitor analysis via social media, the tip here is to use hashtags. This way, you will find a bunch of useful pages or people that you can use for further analysis.
3. Know your Audience
The best advice for anybody who is starting a business is to know your targeted audience. Since there has recently been such a focus on social media, you should make sure that you know what types of business you are targeting.
Different businesses have different needs for their online worlds, and you should take this into account. You should think even about such facts like age, gender, lifestyle, and buying preference, like the preferred method of choosing the needed product or service. All in all, you need to make sure that you are clear on these ideas, and on how you will utilize them.
Knowing your audience is also important from the point of view that it will affect your advertising policies – smaller companies should be promoted in different spaces than larger ones, newer ones will be advertised differently than older ones, and of course, the actual product or service which you are advertising will define how you present your business, to a greater or lesser extent.
Make your additional research on social media, look for the information on relevant Facebook groups, or search for influencers’ accounts on Instagram and try to figure out who your potential customer is.
4. Create your Brand
A brand is, initially, simply a picture or symbol which is associated with your business (like an image or characters on your logo), but it is so much more than that at the same time. A brand is how people perceive your business, and it brings to the table everything about you, such as the way you conduct business, the way you see customer relations, the way you approach your work, and so much more. A brand is really about your business, and how it will react to others.
Try to choose such branding that reflects simultaneously your personality and the values of your potential client.
Additional tip is to get inspired for creating a decent brand by checking out graphic designers’ or artists’ profiles on Instagram or Behance. There is so many ideas that could inspire you!
5. Choose your Social Networks
This is vitally important – which social media networks will you use? The big three are still Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn, but there are a number of other platforms which are growing in popularity, such as Youtube and TikTok.
The choice of a social network depends on a number of factors:
- The type of business you are trying to attract. Bigger companies (or ‘classic’ businesses like legal or accounting companies) would rather choose LinkedIn. Meanwhile, Facebook or Instagram works better for small, local businesses (like small apparel stores or beauty services).
- Your budget. You can grow your audience organically and do this for free or pay for advertisement and get more expensive but faster results.
- Your skills and experience. To promote your business yourself, you should be at least a user of that social media, know the policies, and know the techniques of how their algorithms work to show your post over somebody else’s.
- Again, audience matters: if you are going for a younger audience, your safest bet would most likely be to aim for the younger social networks like Instagram or Youtube. If you are looking for older people, use Facebook. If you intend to focus purely on professionals and companies, then you should focus mainly on LinkedIn, as that will give you the most access to business people and their concerns.
Choosing your social networks is possibly the most important part of setting up a business when on a budget, as it is the key to your success in getting customers and getting noticed. Using social networking is a very useful strategy, as it allows for both advertising and finding customers in one swoop.
Starting a business can be as simple or complicated as you make it. This article has only covered the basics, including how to differentiate between the different types of social networking and what they can mean. Hopefully, it will be useful to all self-starters who want to run their own business and start generating value for some audience as well as an income for themselves.
About the Author
Nancy Kelly is a marketing manager at Self-Starters. She is willing to help anyone find their dream job and reach their career goals.