Think of an entrepreneur you admire.
It could be Elon Musk. Gary V. Seth Godin. It could be a successful blogger like Pat Flynn. Hell, it could even be Logan Paul.
Now imagine that person frantically setting up a Pinterest because that’s the “newest way to market your business” or agreeing with a friend who says “I just don’t see how this idea will work.”
Intuitively, you know that if your chosen entrepreneur followed the rules, the trends, the conventional advice, the naysayers – you wouldn’t know his name.
Nick Swinmurn (Zappos) was told he could never sell shoes online. Darren Rowse (Problogger) was told no one would read a blog about blogging. Jack Ma (Alibaba) famously pitched his new company to a room of resounding disapproval.
Whatever the business, one thing’s clear…
Successful entrepreneurs boldly follow their intuition.
They are adventurers, leaders, visionaries.
They rise to the top by going their own way.
The Common Mistake That Destroys Businesses
We all know the importance of standing out.
And we see that our entrepreneurial heroes forged their own path.
Yet, I constantly see digital entrepreneurs follow the same mainstream, cookie-cutter advice.
When I speak to clients, I often ask things like “Why are you focusing on your social media presence when it’s not giving you results?,” “Why did you choose a professional, politically correct message when it doesn’t reflect your vision?”, and “Why don’t you think this will work?”
The inevitable answer: “That’s what I was told.”
“I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite” — G.K. Chesterton
Like John Carpenter’s The Thing, the monster of “playing it safe/following rather than leading” creeps up on you – imitating actions that are “good for your business,” but are actually destructive.
Follow this monster, and slowly but surely you’ll lose what made your business (and voice) unique or inhibit your growth before you begin.
People need something captivating. Give them something normal, and they won’t remember, won’t spread the word, and won’t buy.
Whatever your business — whether it’s blogging, selling a product, or providing a service — you cannot afford to lose your unique edge. This article will ensure that you avoid this huge mistake so your business can grow (or continue to grow) by leaps and bounds.
To illustrate this point further, here’s the story of how I dramatically improved my freelance writing business by going my own way:
How I Doubled My Conversion Rate By Following My Intuition
Success as a freelance writer comes down to pitching clients successfully.
“Pitching” consists of emailing a small business owner and saying that you are available to work and can benefit their company.
For years, I followed conventional pitching advice. My pitch would look something like:
“Hello. I believe I can be an asset to your business. I have been doing this professionally for many years and have numerous satisfied clients. Here are some examples of my work… I believe I can help grow your business by…”
I spent hours every day writing unique pitches, but a week or more would often go by before I received a response. According to conventional advice, this response rate to my pitches was normal – above average even. “It can take weeks and even months to get a new client,” successful freelance writers told me.
Eventually, I decided that “normal” wasn’t acceptable. So, I started writing pitches my own way.
I pretended that the entrepreneur I was pitching to was a friend who happened to have a successful business.
My pitches became bold and unconventional. I’d often tell business owners that their current content strategy was terrible and that they were leaving money on the table by not hiring me.
I even started titling emails with the subject line “hi” – the exact opposite approach to conventional freelance pitching advice.
Did this turn off some entrepreneurs? Absolutely. I even got a few sarcastic replies along the lines of “you sure are full of yourself.”
In return, I nearly doubled my conversion rate.
Within just a month of honing this approach, my results skyrocketed. I started getting replies, and, better yet, entrepreneurs became excited to get on the phone with me.
I proceeded to extend the philosophy from my pitches to every aspect of my business. Suddenly, an above-average freelance business turned into something truly special.
Cultivating my unique edge/vision made my business soar. Plus, doing things my way made working fun and invigorating.
How To Succeed As A Small Business By Standing Out
“The first one gets the oyster, the second gets the shell” — Andrew Carnegie
What prevents entrepreneurs from standing out and fulfilling their potential?
Fear lingering beneath the surface.
Being an entrepreneur is scary enough. Being bold and unique as an entrepreneur can be downright terrifying.
No one wants to take risks. No one wants to fail. And yet, if you don’t risk doing things differently, you’re not going to get the success you desire.
I know you want to stand out. I consistently see MD customers with a truly exceptional vision for their digital business.
Even so, everyone is victim to fear hiding beneath the surface, silently impeding your process.
So, it’s important to critique every aspect of your business by asking these questions:
- Is this bold?
- Does this align with my unique mission/message?
- Is this targeted to my ideal customer/client/reader?
Ask these questions when you read your about page. When you look at your design. When you create your marketing strategy. Ask them when you send out an email or write a new blog post.
If the answer is “no” it’s time to make some changes. Otherwise, you’re not being true to your entrepreneurial vision.
If I asked myself these three questions while running my freelance writing business, I would have improved my results years ago. So, to illustrate their power, I’ll answer them in regards to how I previously ran my business:
Is this bold?
No, I was doing exactly what everyone else was doing; exactly what I was told. This is the opposite of bold; it’s playing it safe and blending in.
Does this align with my unique mission/message?
No, I was on a mission to add color to the black and white world of writing. That was my unique edge. When I conveyed that in my pitches, I started getting great results.
Is this targeted towards my ideal client/reader?
No, I was targeting all entrepreneurs. Eventually, I learned that my ideal client is a small business owner who values high-quality content, wants to do things differently, and will work with me long-term. My new pitching strategy filtered out the stuffy clients I didn’t want to work with and left me with clients who were truly excited to hire me.
As you can see, answering these questions help you determine if/where you should make a change within your business.
So, ask them regularly, answer honestly, and take the action required to change the “no” into a “yes.”
Yes, making changes will be scary, and yes, you won’t always get things right.
But even if you fail, you’ll fail forward. You’ll be one step closer to figuring out what works; one step closer to realizing your businesses’ full potential.
Two Quick Examples Of Standing Out Properly
StartupBros, a Marketers Delight customer, is a good example of a business that stands out properly and has a unique edge.
When you visit their website, you can instantly tell you’ve stumbled upon something special.
This isn’t another dime-a-dozen entrepreneurial blog – this is a business with a captivating mission.
The boldness and clarity of their mission is conveyed through every little detail of their design, and the content is compelling and unique.
I encourage you to browse their website and take notes.
Another good example is Black Rifle Coffee.
In a time when both guns and patriotism are controversial, they built their entire brand on being unapologetic about their love for America and its’ traditional values.
This business stood out to me because it’s the opposite of what you’d expect from a coffee company. It’s brash, loud, and unapologetic – a far cry from the peaceful, hip tone of a standard coffee company.
I bet a lot of people thought Black Rifle Coffee was a stupid idea that would alienate most coffee drinkers.
But the founders went with their gut and now run a successful business that reflects their unique vision.
You can do the same.
You Know What You Need to Do
Don’t let fear stop you from wild success.
Go your own way. Create the business you want. Be the entrepreneur that is blind to nay-sayers, to convention, to compromise.
Develop that unique edge.
Differentiate your business from the competition in an intelligent manner.
You’ll start growing like mad, and, most importantly, your passion will shine through to your audience.
Start today. Make something bold.