» How to be an Effective Entrepreneur: Tips for Growing Your Business

The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.

Small businesses are fueled by an initial vision, enthusiasm, energy, and generous amounts of caffeine. But most businesses, no matter how well-planned, rarely follow a straight-line growth pattern. Businesses do not operate in a vacuum. They are affected by various external factors: New direct competition, indirect competition, changing policies and perspectives of referral sources, evolution of customer preferences, advances in technology and changes in marketing platforms.

Entrepreneur working in coffee shopFinding time to tweak your business and marketing goals requires blocking time, a planned agenda, and commitment to the exercise. An annual or twice-yearly refresh might involve business partners and/or key employees. If you are a sole owner, consider hiring a marketing/business coach/consultant to be both a facilitator and sounding board.

If hiring a facilitator or consultant isn’t in the budget, you can still take the time to evaluate your business goals to be a more effective entrepreneur on your own. Take the following steps to think about where your business is now and where you want it to go based on where you’ve been. These tips for growing your business should help you frame your thoughts!

Ask yourself:  What is your wedding customer profile today?

  1. What percentage of weddings in your area are local versus destination?
  2. Is there a profitability difference between local customers and destination wedding couples?
  3. Is there a distinct demographic profile for most clients?
    1. Is the profile random or does is result from target marketing?
    2. Do you want to focus your marketing to reinforce the existing profile, or do you want expand/contract the target audience?

Knowing your company’s strengths and tendencies can be fine-tuned into one or more specific target audiences suiting your company skills or profit motives.

Ask yourself: What is the state of your competition?

  1. Which businesses do you compete with on a regular basis?
    1. Is your business winning a reasonable proportion of the clients?
    2. If not, what do you see as your disadvantage/advantage over these competitors?
    3. In what elements of your marketing/sales process/customer service is your business superior or could use improvement?
  2. Are you often annoyed by the visibility of competitors on social media, local print coverage, trade associations, charitable activities, or awards competitions?
    1. What kind of marketing upgrade would accomplish comparable or superior visibility?
    2. Are there avenues your business excels in, but is not currently capitalizing on?

Don’t obsess about competition; just be aware of them, and how you measure up. Become friendly with businesses, like yours, in distant market areas, and discuss similar competitive challenges.

Ask yourself: What are the main channels that drive customers to my business?

  1. Are you getting a reasonable number of clicks to visit your Storefront or directory listing each month?
  2. After prospects reach your Storefront, what percentage of those visits result in site traffic?
  3. Once prospects reach your site…
    1. How many pages do they visit?
    2. Which pages do they visit?
    3. How long does a prospect stay on your site?
    4. What is the percentage split in audience size, between mobile and desktop/laptop users? (Is your website mobile-friendly?
  4. What number of site visits result in online inquiries or phone call (maybe even a text)?
    1. From first contact, what media types (phone, email, text, etc.) are you using to communicate with the prospect?
    2. What percentage of leads result in an appointment?
      1. What’s the percentage split between in-person meetings and online conferences? Are both you and your future clients comfortable in the online conference scenario?
    3. What is the conversion rate of leads to bookings? Where are the weak spots and how can your improve them?

The origin of a click-through from directory or link is just one answer. The progression of the prospect from first awareness of a need to finding you involves many minute decisions. Simply counting activity on a wedding directory or social media page or occasionally checking overall website activity is not enough.

Are you officially overwhelmed?

There’s a lot to consider! Break these tips into two primary parts: an evaluation of your business’ environment (including your target customer, current and potential competition, and business goals) and a re-calibration of your business’ efforts to reach your target customer (including your marketing tactics, advertising channels, and promotional strategy).  Then you can address each part separately to avoid fatigue and confusion.

Let me know how it works for you, or if you have more questions or tips to add to my list.