Though you know your idea is good, the market isn’t so sure. One entrepreneur explains her tips for powering through.
By Nicki Laborie (Founder, View the Vibe)
It’s no secret that being an entrepreneur is one of the hardest, most stressful jobs. Most make their businesses their lives, which doesn’t leave much room for work/life balance. Add to the equation a new concept for a marketplace that’s used to a more traditional way of doing things, and you’ve got yourself a proper challenge!
When I first started, I remember how every day was — and still can be — a challenge. Even though I knew I had a good idea, the market wasn’t so sure. Knocking on doors was often frustrating and sometimes debilitating. I’ve chosen to write this from a very candid place as I’m sure I’m not alone in experiencing the rock bottom moments. I still experience them, but every day I find a way to continue even when the bank account is screaming “get a real job” and my mind can’t seem to stay positive.
That said, as the years go by, these challenges have become easier because I stay determined and focused on the marketing strategy we use; year after year I see it helps businesses succeed.
My particular business is called View the Vibe. We’re Toronto and Vancouver’s Video Restaurant Guide. What does this mean? We essentially take our viewers inside a restaurant so they can decided if they actually want to go themselves. Good idea, right? Yes, we’ve been told. So you’d think the concept would be easy to sell. No such luck.
When I started the business three and a half years ago, I was convinced all the good restaurants would want to sign on. I was dead wrong. I learned quickly I needed to focus not only on building my product, but also on educating and convincing potential clients that video marketing was truly on the climb. Restaurateurs laughed in my face and most refused to open their minds to a marketing strategy I believed would bring more diners to their establishments. To sell my idea, I needed to prove to them that View the Vibe was ahead of the curve and if they joined, they would be, too.
Those first two years were hell more than they were high. But giving up was never an option. Today we have a large roster and once clients sign on, most stay on board. That said, we’re still educating, convincing and working hard to change the minds of those in an industry that’s still somewhat small-minded.
Based on my own experience, here are four tips for launching and persevering with your new business concept when the market doesn’t “get” it.
1. Learn From Each and Every “No”
This is a big one. Every time I get a “no,” I ask for specific reasons. For some, it may be the budget. There’s nothing you can do about that.
But for others, their reason for saying “no” can help you improve your service or product. It’s easy to be defensive and close-minded. It’s more difficult to be open-minded and okay with criticism, but it may also be the key to making your business a success.
Feedback, whether good or bad, is crucial to improving and growing a business. For us, it helped us know what improvements and continuous research were needed. Thanks to this feedback, our overall marketing strategy is stronger, the website more user-friendly and we’ve helped bring our clients real ROI.
2. Stay Current and Evolve
It’s easy to see sales come in, gain confidence and stay stagnant without staying on top of the evolving world of marketing, social media, digital — these channels are growing and changing every day. New ideas, new technologies and new strategies can all help improve a business, product or service.
Some of these may apply to you and some may not, but staying current is key because when you can apply what you learn to improve your service and in turn your clients’ ROI, it will guarantee they don’t go anywhere and will stay with you for the long haul.
3. Stay Present With Your Clients
Don’t disappear! Even as you’re hustling for new clients, it’s important to take care of the clients you already have.
Clients want to see the boss and it makes them very happy to see the owner present within the company and in their establishments. A successful entrepreneur once told me this and I won’t forget it. Many young entrepreneurs try to build businesses that don’t require them to be “present.” They’re making a big mistake.
Yes, it would nice to take vacations whenever you want, but it may actually hinder your business if things are not properly overseen and clients become unhappy. A phone call or appearance can keep them satisfied and also creates positive word of mouth and recommendations.
4. Stay Positive
This is personal. Some of us are more emotional than others, but we’re all affected by successes and failures. Staying positive when it feels impossible is key.
I make it a priority to find ways to release stress and maintain a balanced life. I often read articles about women who have kids, husbands and successful businesses and I think, Wow! But I know that they go through just as many tough days as the rest of us. It’s normal, so don’t knock yourself for it. Just keep going because that’s the only way you will ever reach success.
I’m no professional motivational speaker, but I have combated launching a new platform in an industry that wasn’t open to it. I hope I have helped inspire anyone who might be going through a similar situation!
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs about preserving through tough moments?
About the guest blogger: Nicki Laborie is founder of View the Vibe, Toronto’s premier video restaurant guide, brings the best bites of the city to a digital audience and offering diners a fly-on-the-wall vantage point of the ins and outs of a restaurant's food, ambiance, decor, clientele and service style. Follow her on Twitter at @viewthevibe.