Very few people admit that they’ve done things the wrong way, and no one seems to be asking their network for input or assistance. As a digital community of professionals, particularly those of us who are entrepreneurs, I think that’s a huge mistake. Failure breeds growth, and acknowledging failure can, and will, lead to success.
Here are some of my biggest mistakes in 2017.
1) Not being aware of the long sales cycle.
I just graduated in May of 2017. I was full-time working on MG Web Partners and I assumed the sales would come in very frequently like they had in the past. But, our first sale of the summer didn’t come until July 5th. Why? I didn’t prospect as much as I should have during my last few months of school. I was spread way too thin and I should have planned ahead, and now I won’t make this mistake again.
People think that a business contacts us to do a website and boom they pay us and we have it done in the next few weeks. Wrong. People are trusting us to be their in-house marketing team. With that comes a huge commitment; I need to show them our value, establish a relationship, and build trust. From the first email a business sends to us to our first person meeting to when a check is sent usually takes anywhere from 4-6 weeks, and often times much longer.
Currently, we’re working on a website right now for a client. They first contacted MG in June and we had a proposal to them June 21st. After having follow up calls and emails, they weren’t ready to finally have us start our work until the middle of October. That’s 17 weeks, which isn’t entirely unusual.
2) Not asking for more help
There was a period of time, from June-September, that I was responsible for almost everything with MG. I was trying to be a superhero. I see this with myself and with many other business owners. Sean Wes calls it ‘superhero syndrome’. I thought I needed to do everything for the business and couldn’t accept the fact that I needed to ask for more help.
Here what I was responsible for:
- All things client facing (communication with potential clients with calls and meetings, writing proposals, presenting proposals, being the project manager, making sure the project goes smoothly, invoicing the client)
- Development of the websites
- Social media (showcase new sites we’ve done, creating blog posts, doing keyword research, ordering hoodies, doing #FreeHoodieFriday contests, mailing hoodies to the winner of these contests, etc.)
- Email marketing
Sounds like a lot of work, right? It was. I’ve started to outsource more of my tasks and now I’m able to focus 100% on the stuff I do. Wearing too many hats at once boggs you down and limits what you can really focus on. There is so much that needs to be done in one day, but to move the needle I needed to narrow down the tasks that I was personally responsible for. Busy isn’t always the best thing, sometimes it means you’re distracted from your actual goal.
3) Not being more authentic in our branding
This is something that is becoming a necessity for not only MG, but for all companies across all industries. So many people will tell you to not reinvent the wheel. Write blog posts that people are talking about in your industry, do some keyword research, and then boom your post is killing it. But, the downside there is your content and your voice becoming too generic and too much like your competitors. We needed to spice things up, make them more edgy, and write in our own voice. I like to write in this style because this more me and more representative of MG as a brand.
4) Not working out every morning before work
If I died today and I had any advice to put on a billboard it would be “Want to crush it? Wake up at 5:15am every morning and get a workout in before work”. If I compared the days I workout before work vs. the days I workout after work it would be a 3X difference in productivity. Seriously, nothing is better than getting a workout in before work and having the rest of your day to absolutely crush it!
5) Not asking the decision maker/chasing leads
Nothing is worse than a person from a business reaching out to talk about how they want to partner with us for a web build, going through the process of having a call, meeting in person, sending a proposal, presenting the proposal in person, and then not closing the deal. I’ve learned that sometimes we’re talking to the wrong person at the company aka the person that isn’t writing the check.
Don’t assume anything. Get the person who’s writing the check or the key decision maker “in the room” as much as you can. Yes, this might not be the first phone call or first meeting. However, if you’re presenting the proposal make sure they’re there. Not involving the decision maker is a big waste of time. You’re following up with someone who doesn’t make a decision and on the flip side the contact at the business is talking to the decision maker. What would you do if you were the boss? Listen to the director of marketing talk about your abilities or be able to talk to the person actually in charge of building your new website? Get in the room more and engage with the decision maker as much as possible.
6) Not marketing the unique and creative work we’ve done.
I know this might sound braggish, but we create awesome websites that contain a lot more functionality than people think. And, the saying goes, 20% is creating and 80% marketing. If I’m creating a website I should market the site for longer than one social media post. I should be doing it over and over again. I can’t rely on people not seeing our work in our feed. I need to be more creative and put it out there why we’re a superior marketing agency.
7) Not block scheduling my days
There were many times this year that I had 3-4 meetings in a single day and I wasn’t able to get any other business tasks done that day. A meeting can take anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours and if you’re traveling it takes a lot of time out of your day. I now try to limit my day to 1 meeting and 1 call each day. This isn’t always realistic, but I need to do a better job of blocking off time for me to do me and work on projects, business development, and overall creating. This also helps my day feel more balanced and productive, and ensures that I’m always able to be totally prepped for client meetings.
8) Not puffing out my chest more
I hear some of the prices larger web design, marketing strategy and web development companies are quoting for businesses and I’m completely baffled. Someone really paid $75,000 for this simple web design and development project? What a waste. I’m well aware that the quality of my websites can compete with the best of them, yet I still wasn’t comfortable asking for that much money.
This is something I’ve improved on more, and because I’m confident that the value we provide in our design and development for the websites we build is second to none, I don’t feel uncomfortable asking for a price that our work is truly worth. This may mean me having more swagger in the meeting, but we’ve built some pretty cool shit, and I’m proud of it.
9) Not having a firm start and stop time
On any given day, I can start working at 8am and end at 11pm. A lot of weekends I work one night until midnight or 1am. I’m not saying this because I’m looking for pats on the back or to brag about my work ethic, I’m saying this because it was a mistake I made that I see other people making, too. I’m saying this because at times this can burn you out. Being an entrepreneur means I make my own schedule and I am my own boss, so creating a schedule that I stick to where I start and stop will not only create a much-needed work-life balance, but will help me avoid getting burnt out..
10) Not having a pre-meeting routine
Creating a consistent pre-client meeting routine has been a change I’ve made recently that I wish I’d done years ago. For me, doing something active (like working out or getting outside) helps me reign in my thoughts, get totally focused, and be more clear and direct with the client during the meeting. Not only that, but having a pre-meeting routine is key for me because my meetings aren’t ever the same: some are on the phone, some are in a coffee shop, some are in my office, and the list goes on. This routine helps me take all meetings seriously on the same level.