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Learning how to be a successful entrepreneur in the three months since I left my corporate job has been a challenge – and a good one at that!

Dine out alone: 5 tips to building a successful brand as a freelancer, entrepreneur or small busines  - PeppercornCreative.com | website design agency and blog & business mentor in Vancouver BC

I’ve jumped into the digital marketing world head over feet, with only my heart (and a carafe full of wine) to guide me. During this time, I’ve networked with industry leaders, gained a handful of digital marketing clients, opened my Etsy shop – selling a whopping 8 orders in my first month. I’ve also gone through the emotional gauntlet from stoked to simply panic stricken. Now comes the hard work. Time to buckle down and sort my shit out; luckily I’ve figured out a few things along the way. Here are my top 5 secrets for building a successful entrepreneurship.

1. Build a quality product with added value that will make you stand out from your competitors. This is true in the real world as much as it is on Etsy. You walk into two stores selling the same product for the same price – one has a bonus perk that the other doesn’t. This might be cute and thoughtful packaging or digitally, a couple of social media icons. Instead of charging an extra 4 dollars, add it to the product automatically. In a thoroughly saturated market – and all markets are these days – to be a successful entrepreneur you need to find ways to make your product pop.

2. Engage with people the “right” way. This means responding to comments and questions in a timely manner. The general rule seems to be 2 days – I say do it within 24 hours. People are impatient and want results NOW – you don’t want to wait to connect lest someone beats you to the punch and takes your sale. Utilize the tools available to you – Etsy teams, social media platforms, blogs, (e)magazines – and promote your brand. Anytime someone interacts with you in any way, ensure sure you make them feel special; look at their profile and find something nice to say. Or better yet, instigate the connection and reach out to them. And do your research. Make sure you follow social media best practices. If you don’t have the time (or energy) to learn these – hire someone to coach you. Engaging the wrong way is worse than not engaging at all and can have a disastrous effect on your success.

3. Collaborate. An integral part of being a successful entrepreneur is being a part of your business community. Social media engagement will help foster networking but directly reaching out to people and asking to work together will increase sales and drive traffic to both of your businesses. This can include giveaway swaps, guest blog posts, product placements, advertising, re-shares and re-tweets and even cross-product enhancements. Ask questions and share with each other. Your competition is your closest ally.

4. Give it away. People are gonna want stuff for free. Like anyone else, I dig a free lunch. But when someone tries taking advantage of my natural inclination to help out it makes me a wee bit pissy. Not only does it say they don’t take my business seriously, they’re also wasting my time – time that could be better served engaging or collaborating with other successful entrepreneurs. Giving it up is essential to brand development – especially in the early stages when you might not have a lot of clients. This will take a bit of experimenting but go ahead – give it away… Just don’t give them the whole cow. A bit of advice, a small trinket or even an item for a giveaway is entirely warranted. But learn to know when someone’s taking you for a ride and then respectfully decline.

5. Do it. Dine out alone – trust yourself to be good company. Bring a book to dinner (do your research), chat up a stranger at the bar (reach out & engage) and don’t be afraid to let them buy you a drink or vice versa (collaborate). Develop your brand and stay true to you. There’s a market out there for anything and everyone – you just need to find it. Failure just isn’t an option – delete it from your thought process. Starting your own business will take time and there will be set backs and slow times but stick with it. You’ll be successful. I know it.

What are your key strategies for building your business? How have you become a successful entrepreneur? What are your greatest challenges? Share your stories below!

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4 Comments on Dine Out Alone: 5 Secrets to Building a Successful Entrepreneurship

  1. Lauren
    June 21, 2013 at 12:52 pm (4 years ago)

    I’m a freelance writer, so it’s not a “business” in the traditional sense, but I treat finding work like it is. I’m still just starting out (maybe a year into working for myself now), and networking is absolutely key. It’s so important to just get out and meet people, not caring specifically about what they can offer you, or what you can offer them, or what the end goal is. Since I’m moved cross-country right before starting up, this was particularly important to me at first, and it continues to be.

    I’m not an inherently social person (I tend to stay in my comfort zone of friends and family), but I notice that when I go too long without attending events and setting up coffee and lunch dates, my work starts to dry up. And you know what? When I *do* get out there, I enjoy it, and I feel great about my career prospects.

    • kristygardner@gmail.com
      June 22, 2013 at 10:52 am (4 years ago)

      I agree Lauren! I’m actually in the same boat – new city, new career, new contacts. Networking is key – especially in the freelance business because we don’t have the support of an external agency.

      It’s not always easy to get out there and be social – especially face to face, without a computer to hide behind. But you’re right – our businesses depend on it and I think the fear of being uncomfortable is scarier than the actual event.

  2. Kirsten
    June 21, 2013 at 4:33 pm (4 years ago)

    Just so you know I got to #2, stopped, went and replied to all the comments that had come in since my last comment reply session, and ONLY THEN came back to continue reading.
    I’m still in the ‘build content’ phase, but I’m percolating ideas in my brain for future endeavors. While the recipe write ups percolate in my brain, too. First things first.
    I should get more disciplined.
    Thanks!

    • kristygardner@gmail.com
      June 22, 2013 at 10:54 am (4 years ago)

      haha – good to know Kirsten! 🙂

      Building content is the foundation of blogging and recipe development. It can inspire new ideas, relationships and nourish us. Your content (and I mean YOUR content) is fantastic – it’s personal, intelligent, resourceful and funny. A girl couldn’t ask for anything more!