I launched Nerd Out App in August of 2015 so I’m still very new to having my own business. I’ve never started a business on my own before so I’m learning a lot. I want to let you guys know what I’ve learned thus far in case it can help someone else. So here goes 8 Things I’ve Learned Since Starting My Own Business…
1. Connecting with Others is Important
Meeting and creating relationships with other businesses is very, very important. However, many of them will not email you back or follow-up. You have to be willing to follow-up yourself if it is someone you really want to talk to. There’s a particular company I had tried on several occasions to reach out to. I even know some people who work there and still got no where. Finally, at a convention the company had a booth. I walked over and happened to talk to the perfect person because she was in the department I had been trying to get a hold of. Persistence is everything. With that being said, make sure to be nice when being persistent because there’s a fine line between being a go getter and a stalker. And it’s not just businesses you should connect with because you never know who works where. Be kind to everyone, it may just be John Doe who helps you out when you least expect it.
2. Learning Curve
No matter what, there will be always be a learning curve. With every new addition to Nerd Out I’m learning. We add a new social media outlet; I have to figure out how best to approach using it. Add a new feature to the app; figure out best how to let people know how to use it. You get the idea. It’s best to know that you don’t know everything. Ask for advice from others. Learn from others triumphs and mistakes. Research and study similar companies. This is an instance when great relationships really help because you can ask for advice from people who have been in similar situations.
3. Have Respect for Other Businesses
You never know who you’ll eventually partner with or work with in the future. I had approached one business that I thought would be a perfect fit for Nerd Out. We struck a deal and then it quickly fell apart. They were terrible at communicating and didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. Even when I gave them a last shot they didn’t answer. Needless to say, I won’t be working with that company again and when people ask me about them I let them know that it’s not someone I do business with anymore. No need to throw someone under a bus, even if they deserve it, but people will understand there’s a reason you’re no longer in contact. On the other hand, some businesses are lovely to work with. Emet Comics has been my best ally in creating Nerd Out. We’re both up and coming and we share information to help each other out. My advice is to find someone you can rely on and create a bond with. Make it a two-way street, because just taking from someone isn’t very good business etiquette.
4. You’ll Learn How Much You Can Accomplish
In my opinion, to be a great business person you should be able to multitask. You have to have quite a few plates spinning at once. Some people don’t realize it’s not just putting out a product, it’s producing it, creating it, marketing it, testing it, improving it, hiring the right people, and even more. You’ll really test your limits in the best possible way. Some days it’ll be hard, others you’ll be so thrilled that you’re creating something so wonderful that you won’t even think of it as work.
5. Talk to Everyone
Talking to as many people as possible can be tiring. However, one out of every bunch of people will be the person who inspires something or helps you along in some other way. You never know who that person will be so you need to communicate with as many people as possible. Absorb as much knowledge as you can. Plenty of times I’ve seen someone doing something cool and then repurposed it for my own use. Or you’ll see something that’s not working at all and now know to avoid it. Just keep learning and communicating.
6. Social Media is a Jungle
Because of this blog I had some concept of social media, however I wasn’t pitching a product before. Pitching a product puts you into a totally different ball game. Here at Your Friend Elle, I’m truly just trying to be a friend to my readers. Sharing information and chatting. In business you’re trying to get people to buy, download, or some other action. It’s a lot more effort than just replying to a tweet. Take cues from other businesses. I recently tried Twitter and Facebook ads and I don’t think they are worth it. However, reaching out to my audience on a friend level has worked excellently for me. I reach out to cosplay groups and just post as if I’m letting them know the app is out there. I don’t try to hard sell them or tell them to download. Instead I’m just being a friend by letting them know it exists. This may not work for every business, but it’s something that works for me. Do trial and error until you find out what works for you.
7. Customer Service is Super Important
I try my best to answer messages and emails asap. Sometimes it doesn’t happen because life gets in the way or other work, but I do my best. I’ve had quite a few people tell me how they appreciate how quickly I answer, especially with a real live person! I really hate the generic emails that never produce a real reply. I don’t mind if I get an automatic reply right away and then a real one 12 hours later, but do make sure to actually address the comment or question when you make your real reply. Do your best to try and be kind too, I’ve had to learn to be better at this. I’m not saying I’m a mean person, but you’re not always going to get nice people reaching out. Some will be really, really rude. I’ve had to learn to put my customer service hat on in these situations.
8. Fans are the Most Important, Treat Them Well
Anyone who supports you is someone to truly value. I know of a good set of people who are always retweeting, posting, and sharing about the app. They are amazing and I love them! Reach out to these people and let them know you appreciate them. I try to do something special for these people whether it’s get them a Nerd Out t-shirt or a poster, it’s some small token of my appreciation.Your Friend, Elle