If you’ve ever considered starting your dream business, you’re not alone. Michael Gerber, the author of The E-Myth Revisited, called it the “entrepreneurial seizure.” I have to admit, I’ve experienced it a time or two as a business owner and actually grew up in what I call a “small business family,” working in my father’s business as a teenager.
In fact, I learned how to work mowing the lawn at home and sweeping the floors of my Dad’s warehouse. He was adamant that I learn a good work ethic, making sure that I understood the right way to both mow and sweep. I didn’t appreciate at the time that there was a right way and a wrong way to do either—those lessons are more meaningful to me now than I think they were then.
Having experienced the act of starting a business from scratch myself, I can share a few lessons I learned along the way. Taking the entrepreneurial leap should be a decision based on rational analysis rather than hope. As much as possible, grasp the sacrifices you may have to make so you can determine if the risk is worth the reward.
Fortunately, in a study conducted not too long ago, 90 percent of the business owners said they would do it again and never look back.
Before you entertain the idea of beginning your own entrepreneurship, here are some points to consider:
I met an inventor who had broken his arm. To ease the discomfort from itching, he drilled a hole in his cast so he could blow cool air into it with a hairdryer. He decided to make an adapter that could be placed in a cast by a doctor. Although it only cost him about $.30 to make, he charged $25. “Because,” he said, “doctors won’t buy it if it’s too cheap.”
I learned that you can price things too low as well as too high and make it more difficult to sell your product.
Participate in your community events by volunteering, setting up at street fairs, holding a fundraising event. Participate in Small Business Saturday® and Shop Small®. Or, start small and simple with your marketing by sending a direct mail piece that offers a new customer discount. Valpak offers their Blue Envelope full of local business coupons that households anticipate receiving. Invite your community to a grand opening or holiday event with a postcard.
In the very beginning, when my business was very small and we didn’t have a budget for the large direct mail campaign we wanted, my partners and I created our own postcards, addressed and stamped them after work on Monday, and deliver them to the post office. For somewhere around $100 every week we were able to send out postcards to customers and prospects to remind them we were there and introduce our weekly special. Like clockwork, the phones started ringing on Wednesday as our postcard arrived in their mailbox. Eventually, we had the budget for the large-scale direct mail campaign.
Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, but you have to do it. Be creative. Don’t be afraid to try something new. And, don’t be afraid to tackle something yourself. I think one of the things that made our postcard so successful was that it didn’t look slick and overproduced. It looked like exactly what it was, something we were doing ourselves.
There’s nothing easy about starting your own business. It takes hard work, determination, commitment, vision, and sacrifice, but it’s also very rewarding. Doing your research and knowing what to expect will help you decide if business ownership is right for you. If it is, get out there and make your dream a reality.
If you’ve decided that business ownership is something you want to make a reality, or you’re already there, Valpak is here to help you grow. With over 145 franchise offices across the United States and Canada, there’s a Valpak marketing expert near you. Download our Media Kit* and contact us today!
Ty Kiisel is a contributing author focusing on small business financing at OnDeck, a technology company solving small business’s biggest challenge: access to capital. With over 25 years of experience in the trenches of small business, Ty shares personal experiences and valuable tips to help small business owners become more financially responsible. OnDeck can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.
We take our role as your Marketing Advisor seriously. Here at Valpak of N. Colorado and S. Wyoming, we want to ensure your Valpak campaign engages consumers and motivates them to do business with you. To do this, it is important for our clients (and for us) to understand where their sales and conversions are coming from, and lately, this leads to a discussion about first and last touch attribution.
First Touch vs. Last Touch Attribution
First Touch Attribution gives 100% of the credit to the marketing effort that drove a visitor to your site or store for the first time. Conversely, Last Touch Attribution gives all the credit to the marketing activity that immediately precedes the sale or conversion.
Marketers and business owners tend to rely heavily on built-in tools like Google Analytics and Google AdWords to determine where in the marketing funnel their sales and conversions are coming from. Less tech-savvy business owners may even rely on their receptionist to ask a consumer where they heard about the business. These methods usually end up crediting the last piece of advertising served to the shopper before they made a purchase, clicked on a link, or picked up the phone.
The problem with last touch attribution is that it tends to oversimplify the marketing process and and can undervalue important awareness channels. Awarding all the credit to the last marketing piece served to a consumer before they made a purchase is kind of like declaring the winner of a basketball game the team that scored the last basket, regardless of who had the highest final score!
Our Marketing Advisors appreciate the clients who dedicate time to track their coupons, phone calls and online conversions, but sometimes they fall into the “last touch trap” and end credit other online sources for their transactions while discounting their Valpak print piece.
While a customer may tell you they found you online, ask yourself how they decided to choose you. A customer cannot buy from you if they don’t know you exist! So, before you write off any marketing piece not directly correlated to a sale, remember: a lead may interact with your company multiple times before converting. Relying too heavily on the last click or view can discount valuable marketing pieces that helped lead to the conversion!
Ultimately, no purchase or conversion is exclusively attributable to a single advertising channel. Every channel, from direct mail to radio to search or display, needs to work together to move a consumer through the marketing funnel.
For help creating and coordinating your print and online advertising to help get consumers to notice you, choose you, and spend money with you, contact your Valpak Marketing Advisor today.
For the 5th consecutive year, small businesses in northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming will have an exclusive opportunity to use Shop Small / American Express branded marketing solutions through Valpak!
Shop Small is a nationally recognized movement dedicated to supporting and celebrating businesses and the neighborhoods they’re part of. Customers look for the Shop Small logo to see where they can Shop Small and support small businesses — like yours, year round!
As an official partner, Valpak has some fun (and FREE) Shop Small swag that we are more than happy to share with you! We also encourage any of our clients who accept American Express to go here to create your own FREE marketing materials to let shoppers know you’re a Shop Small participant and to join you on November 25 for Small Business Saturday.
For more information about Shop Small and how to get some free swag, please let your Valpak Marketing Advisor know.