For Entrepreneurs, Tiny Sprints Win the Race

I clicked “Accept” in my Zoom link and waited while a new potential client, and entrepreneur from Orlando, loaded onto the screen. Discovery calls haven’t really changed with the pandemic: in fact, for Marketers like myself, I’ve been working with people across the globe for at least 5 years. However, for the man appearing before me in pixel form, the landscape has completely changed.

“Hi! How are you, how is everything, tell me everything,” I tease him and launch into my Learning headspace. I love this. I love meeting new people, making them laugh and forcing myself to hold back from helping them until we agree to terms.

“Well, this Pandemic has hit me hard,” he starts, “And I’ve been trying to do it all myself, but it’s time to get some help.” I listen to his story, which I’ve heard at least a hundred times. He started a website, struggled to get sales, and made $0 revenue in four months from it. The problem was very clear to me:

You can’t put out your shingle, then sit back and wait.

It is, ironically, FAR too easy to build an online store. With Shopify, WooCommerce, and million other similar platforms right now, people feel empowered to build an online site over the course of a week or so, entirely on their own.

But that’s the problem. Self-starter entrepreneurs have so much momentum they assume the whole process is easily accomplished. They get stuck at that point, with their online store open and nobody visiting.

Imagine building an entire brick & mortar store on your own, filling it will amazing things that you’re proud of, and then opening your doors only to realize you built your store on the side of a freeway that has no sidewalk.

You need foot traffic.

What that looks like online is…well…ALSO called traffic. This man speaking to me had a great store, but he didn’t like Facebook so he didn’t have a Facebook page. His website was not optimized to collect email addresses (which is essential). His Instagram strategy was negligent: he was posting mainly sales posts there.

I felt for this guy. He was kind and creative and hard-working. He was really keen to quit his main job and work on his store full time. But he just didn’t have the money and he was afraid to spend the money. He couldn’t wrap his head around spending hundreds of dollars a month to increase traffic to his site.

You don’t just have to build the sidewalk, I told him. You have to build the whole town.

Everything I say sounds daunting, unless you understand the concept of community. Every online store already has a community, you just need to attract it to your store, and build all the systems around it to support it.

A real community needs roads, grocery stores, & schools. A digital community needs a forum to discuss topics, emails feeding them ideas and content, and a blog post to educate them.

Like many of the entrepreneurs I speak to, this man agreed it was important, but I could tell from his expression that he wasn’t ready to tackle the project. A few weeks later, I checked in with him and he replied that it was too hard to build an online business. I told him that if he changed his mind, he should read my Tech Stack post for tips on how to get going on his own.

The entrepreneurs I talk to are always excited and optimistic, but unfortunately, these are not the qualities that lead to sustainable practices. At least not on their own. You need to think small about your marketing efforts, not big. Ontogeny recapitulates phelogeny. Ie: Micro successes lead to macro success. Tiny sprints get you to get the finish line, and your finish line should be a business that brings in your daily revenue goals without you having to bend over backward.

Get in touch with me to discuss your first few tiny sprints!

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