Post by BlogPaws CEO, Yvonne DiVita
Deciding to set up a blog isn’t hard. You choose your platform, WordPress, Typepad, Blogger, Tumblr, or another platform and follow the step by step instructions. It’s simple.
But, it’s not easy.
Becoming popular on Facebook or Twitter isn’t hard, either. Facebook makes it very easy to set up a page, for yourself or your company/brand. Attracting “likes” is simple – you share, you ask others to share, you write a blog post and you put effort into getting the word out. On Twitter, you do the same. If you post regularly, and follow people back, your network will grow. It’s simple.
But, it’s not easy.
Starting a community isn’t hard. There are dozens of ways to get moving on that. For us, we chose Ning and incorporated as much functionality as possible. We knew there was a market for large groups of pet parents who blog to congregate in one place online, a place that wouldn’t fault them for their passion. Setting up the BlogPaws Ning community was a simple task. Taking care of it and growing it, isn’t easy, however.
If you’re looking for easy, being an entrepreneur isn’t for you. Being your own boss, in charge of income and expenses, dealing with clients and customers at all times of the day and night (time zones do not sleep), along with managing social isn’t easy. It’s simple, but it’s not easy.
I first heard those words, “It’s simple but it’s not easy,” from Jeffrey Eisenberg on a webinar he gave for his innovative business process called Buyer Legends. He attributes the sentence to Warren Buffet, but for our purposes, we will focus on what it means to Jeffrey. HE is more my go-to resource than Warren Buffet. Not that I don’t respect and admire Warren. It’s just that I relate more to Jeffrey. Jeffrey gets social and business. When he says, “It’s simple but it’s not easy,” he also shares what that means in terms we can relate to.
The concept of Buyer Legends starts with storytelling. He explains, “Buyer Legends are not the stories you tell your customers; that’s just promotion. Buyer Legends are stories told from the point of view of your customers; because your brand isn’t what you say it is but what your customers say it is. They are designed to create and improve the interactions they have with every touchpoint of your brand, from the boardroom to the stockroom.”
The idea that a brand “isn’t what you say it is but what your customers say it is” causes confusion for some entrepreneurs. After all, we put a lot of sweat and tears into starting and building the businesses we’re so passionate about. How can we turn that over to our customers? What if they trash it?
Truth is, if you believe in your business, you must believe in your customers. They will not trash it. They may criticize and they may occasionally grumble, but if you’ve built a strong purpose, with a strong focus, based on what you know to be true (You researched this, correct? You checked out competition, right? You didn’t just assume you know what your customers think, did you?), your customers will help you build the business they want you to have. When you receive a complaint or a critical comment, embrace it. Accept it. Learn from it. Be glad your customers are giving you that opportunity, openly and honestly, to engage with them.
See, it’s simple, but it’s not easy.
At BlogPaws, there were many late nights, a good number of shouting matches (in a good way, not too angry, just full of frustration when one thing or another wasn’t working), question after question about mission and vision, and ultimately, the recognition that we could build it, they could come, but making it work would mean giving over control to the people … to you, our bloggers. We still operate on the premise that our purpose is to serve you. And, learn from you. And you never disappoint!
When I was listening to Jeffrey’s webinar, I found myself nodding my head again and again. His strongest message, to me, was the one that said storytelling is everything and when you compose your story, it must be in the voice of the customer, not in your voice.
We’re still working on that at BlogPaws. We’re still crafting, via the many messages we receive and the many conferences we’ve had and the conversations we see on Ning. We’ve learned a few things along the way. Perhaps our experiences will help you, as you work to grow and support your business in 2015.
- The customer is not always right, but he or she is mostly right. That means understanding your business as a business and accepting customer input but not always bending to customer demands. No business can be everything to all people at all times.
- Telling the story, sometimes from your viewpoint, sometimes from the viewpoint of your customer or community member, in our case, isn’t easy! You’ll stumble. You’ll make mistakes. You’ll reach out and get silence. You’ll even sometimes wonder why you’re doing what you do. And then, an amazing note will come in and you’ll remember.
- You’ll uncover dozens of things you need; software, hardware and more…and there will be hundreds of solutions for those needs. Choosing one over another can give you major headaches! Not to mention, finding cash in the budget to pay for said necessities, can cause a lot of sleepless nights.
Like all of you who are working to create a sustainable business, one that will not only support you (pay the mortgage, keep the lights on, buy pet food and an occasional treat), but one that will grow with you and become notable to a few key clients, or to the whole world, BlogPaws is working to create a business that serves one purpose, but many people. Our purpose is to support pet bloggers in their pursuit of whatever it is they want to achieve using social media. The people we work for and with vary and don’t always agree with us, or with each other. Every day is a challenge. Every email invites greater discussion. Every conference has its good points and its disappointments.
It’s simple – we do what we do, with the small team we have, to serve a greater good.
It’s not easy. Nor should it be. When you make that choice to be an entrepreneur, you welcome great disappointment into your life. If you stick with it, great joy will follow. And, over time, the joy will outshine the disappointment.
I leave you with a powerful quote from the great Napoleon Hill: “Anything the mind of man can conceive and believe, can be achieved.”
Conceive it. Believe it. Achieve it.