A few years ago, a talented acquaintance of mine established what seemed to be a promising architecture firm.
She had all her plans in place, set up a beautiful office, website and an impressive Instagram page, where she shared examples of her work.
She was ready for business.
Yet, her attitude contradicted her ambition. She strongly believed in: “Build it and they will come”. As a result, she didn’t invest in promoting her business because she believed that her background was enough to attract clients.
Months passed before she decided to ask for help with marketing.
While following a passive business approach may have worked for some entrepreneurs, it isn’t always a success story. If my friend’s firm was the only one in a big city, then clients may not have had an option but to work with her ― and not promoting her business would have made sense.
But for many accomplished entrepreneurs that is not the case.
Today, customers have numerous options. Some customers resort to the internet when looking for cheaper alternatives that can outsourced to entities in various countries. When it comes to interior design options for example, I know people who have worked with designers in East Asia and Europe who have helped them design their projects for a far more competitive price than some designers locally.
This all shows that we can’t depend on customers to come to us. It also illustrates that a passive approach is extremely risky, especially if you have competitors. For your business to grow, you should have a plan in place that helps to market your venture and attract clients.
How badly do you want your business to succeed? As many people leave stable jobs to pursue other aspirations, I find myself asking this question a lot lately.
What frustrates me is that a number of people I know quit their businesses a few months later because they feel shy when it comes to self-promotion.
“I don’t like when people reject me,” one colleague confided when I asked why she didn’t work on promoting her business.
What I know, from my experience as an entrepreneur, is that the entrepreneurs who made it didn’t sit and wait for things to happen. They were assertive and proactive.
As someone once told me: “Your business can be as big or as small as you want it to be. Only you decide how far you will business will grow.”
It’s your business, and entrepreneurship certainly puts our leadership skills to the big test.
During the period that an acquaintance waited for clients to flock to her business, competitors acted to attract clients and worked on delivering their projects.
Having a dream business and pursuing it is great. What people tend to overlook is that establishing a business without having milestone targets doesn’t guarantee success. Success requires consistent goal-setting and a northern star that entrepreneurs work towards.
If you want to reach 1,000 customers a year that means you must connect with about three per day and convert them to paying customers. The same applies to other goals.
I leave you with this question, what will you do today that will get you a step closer to realising your goals?
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai