Hard Work + Good Idea = Not Much.
What is this, math? What’s up with all the formulas Ben? Are you giving us a math lesson here?
It was just a shorthand way to explain what this post is about, in 6 words. What do I really mean?
Small business and entrepreneurship can be divided into two schools of thought – hard work and the need for a good idea.
There is one group that likes to listen to all those motivational speeches and gets really inspired to just get up and do something. They value hard work over anything, and this definitely has some merit. There is no need to re-invent the wheel. You can take an existing business idea – like starting a media company or a marketing agency – and if you work hard enough you will probably succeed, right?
Then there is another group that values the right idea above everything else. These people are usually those Silicon Valley types that sit in expensive coffee shops, signing NDA disclosures and trying to invent the next Facebook.
And then there is the third group that is skeptical about both and don’t get anything started.
The first two groups have some sound ideas, but there is still something missing. If you have a brilliant business idea and you work really hard on it, it’s not a fact that you will succeed. You are missing a few key things here, which are – industry standards, influencers, positioning.
What do I mean by industry standards? Let’s say you are building a website, it would be much more cost-effective for you to build it with the latest design trends in mind. If you make it look like the latest and best websites out there, with a popular style that visitors are accustomed to seeing you will generate more traffic.
This is not only about the beauty of your design, or about having the latest bells and whistles. This is simply about building things that look familiar to your audience. Without realizing it, we are constantly adapting to the industry standard in a lot of things. This could be – design, UI, pricing, features lists, etc.
Whatever you do, if you keep to the most recent industry standards your business will be much better situated to succeed. This is one of the secrets behind Zest, the brilliant content marketing Chrome extension. Their UI is so flawless, so engaging, so captivating to the eye, that people naturally trust them and view them as the experts at what they do (which also happens to be true).
Which brings me to my next point – knowing the right people is the second part of the battle.
Influencer marketing is gaining popularity for a reason. It’s not about mere networking anymore; it’s about leveraging other peoples’ audiences on social media.
Here is how the math works:
You find 100 influencers that can promote your product.
Then, you pay each one of them $200 per post or campaign.
You make $80-100k that year from product sales.
That’s an actual scenario that happened to a guy on one of Gary Vaynerchuk’s podcasts. You spend $20k to make $80k, pure math.
There is another advantage to hanging out with influencers. You can learn the latest marketing tools that they are using, you can watch their latest posts and how they get engagement on social media. You can exchange mentions and backlinks.
Ah, positioning. We’ve all heard this before. But what does it really mean?
To me, this means that it’s not enough for you to have a good idea and to put a lot of hard work into it. You should position your business for growth.
If you are getting 10-25 views on your YouTube videos you should focus on getting 50-100 per video. That could mean getting in touch with some influencers and doing some interviews, which might mean optimizing on your keywords or ranking for better ones, or a hundred million other things.
So many people see growth as creating a new product, offering more varieties of existing products, or publishing more content. It’s not always the case. Sometimes you have to focus on what you are already doing well and grow that aspect of the business.
For example, say you have a decent podcast on iTunes. Then focus on that podcast and see how you can get more downloads every week. Change your intro, ask for feedback at the end of each episode, maybe get cooler guests or change up the background music.
Look at one thing at a time, and all the angles of that aspect of your business and grow that one area obsessively.
This is a famous rookie mistake – to start a business and to focus on everything all at once. It’s the reason that my fellow marketer Deepak Shukla actually turned down $6k worth of consistent monthly revenue. It was in order to keep his business more focused. In principle, this makes no sense, right? But in reality, for Deepak, it was better to focus on offering just one service to his clients than trying to do everything at once and failing miserably. Ultimately, the clients are happier and his work is now more fulfilling – and that’s all that really matters right?
If you are hustling like crazy and you have a great idea and you are still not seeing the results that you want to see then you are missing three things. Take note on this Growth Hacking formula:
Industry standards + Influencers + Positioning = Magic.
Need I say more?