Part 4: Don’t make the mistakes I’ve made
When you are out in the market and selling your goods and services, there are times when the uncertainty of it all takes over. You may have a well-informed pricing strategy and you have tweaked and tweaked your offering package and yet no one is biting. Does this sound familiar?
A challenge most small businesses face is that of getting a steady update of their products or services. This is a challenge I faced myself right at the beginning. I had done my homework in terms of what others in my field were pricing and I believed in my offering. What I failed to take into account was that the businesses I was comparing myself with, had been around for a minimum of five years and had already built their reputation in the market.
What I did was peg myself with their offerings as if we had started at the same time. Needless to say, I got burned, BIG time. Not only did I price myself out of the market, but I also missed opportunities to get the experience I needed to give my business a track record. You see, here in South Africa, the businesses’ track record (read duration of existence) carries weight far more than the experience of the individuals behind the business. Personally I think this is a very narrow way of assessing execution ability especially when individuals have prior experience in the services they are offering. Anyways, that’s a topic for another day.
How did I get it so wrong? You may be wondering. Well, like most people who provide a business out of passion, there is a level of emotional pricing. I value what I do and not only that, but I have witnessed the impact it has on buyers. But what I had not accounted for was that just because it is a top priority for me does not mean it is for my target market. They have other needs and human capital development may not be a priority for them at that particular moment in time. I learned early on that doing the work is more important than raking in the big bucks. Below was my new approach following my admission of failure:
- Networking more (to build prospects)
- Investing in my corporate image (brand the way you want to be addressed…)
- Finding opportunities for pro bono work
- Building a social media presence
- Conducting information sessions with decision makers
In the end, I have found that what matters more than anything in the early days is getting yourself the confidence to speak about your business in convincing terms. That comes with experience over time. Experience only comes with understanding your market and properly situating yourself in the order of things. So, if you find that your target market is not responding well enough to your offering, perhaps it is time to reconsider your basics and realise that success is a long-term game. It requires patience, endurance, and the flexibility to change things that are not working according to plan. After all, this is your script. You can edit it anytime.
Please check out Part 5 next week Tuesday on my series: Transitioning into Entrepreneurship.