I was recentlysent a question asking if it’s really necessary to go to college and …Read More »
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I was recentlysent a question asking if it’s really necessary to go to college and graduate with a business degree to be successful in business. It is 2018, after all. The short answer: no, you don’t need to. I know plenty of millionaire business owners who made it without a degree, using only their brain, sweat, and tears. There’s something to be said for street-smarts in the business world.
The long answer: It can be beneficial.
My experience at college was immensely important to where I am now. I’m not necessarily talking about the classes, the campus life, or the parties. The crucial parts of college that I think you’ll regret missing out on are networking with people in your field, finding mentors in your professors, and building skills that you will need in the real world. I wish that college wasn’t so expensive and that so many kids didn’t waste their time partying. The only way, I believe, going to college will help you become successful in business is if you take advantage of the people and experts around you. Learn anything and everything, from anyone and everyone.
Post-college, it’s easy to fall into the mindset of “I’m done school forever!” and burn all your textbooks. I understand how amazing that feels. However, when the book burning is done, and that degree is hanging on your wall, come back to education. I don’t mean reapply for another program, I mean find another way to continue your learning. The business industry and all its fields are constantly changing and growing. A business degree from 2010 didn’t teach you 2017 concepts.
So, how do you go about continuing your education? There are a couple ways I really enjoy.
First, meet with your mentor(s) at least every month to discuss your journeys. Learning from a someone more successful than you is hugely important to choosing your next steps. Second, read all the time. Some of the most successful business people make it a habit to read all the books they can in their field. It’ll keep you up to date. Third, don’t be afraid to take online courses or watch YouTube videos to learn a new skill.
One of the most important ways to be successful is to embrace learning outside the classroom.
If you’re not a millennial or gen-x, then you might be slightly confused as to where to take your online marketing in the world of social media. New platforms pop up on the daily and they’re constantly changing. There are companies willing to manage your digital marketing for you, but you don’t want that expense in your budget. I understand you, so I created a tip-sheet on the main platforms and why you want to use each one.
- Facebook is the most universally used social media platform available. Everyone and their dog has a profile, which makes it a prime location to market your business. However, due to the mass amount of business already doing this, it can be a challenge not to oversaturate your followers who are already being bombarded with ads. The key is consistent moderation in your posts and regularly offering useful content to your followers. I think it is the number one social media platform every business should be on… but tread lightly.
- Instagram is the creative outlet for all of us. Less text heavy than Facebook, Instagram focuses on using captivating images to grow followers and direct them to your website. Nearly as popular as Facebook, but it definitely has a younger vibe which can be intimidating to an older business owner. Here’s my take: if you have an eye for photos and believe you can create visually appealing content, then dive into Instagram, especially if you want to drive traffic. If you aren’t confident in doing that, then don’t waste your time. Focus on Facebook.
- Twitter is like Facebooks older, but shorter, brother. You still can still post statuses and pictures, but there is less customization to your profile. This means less opportunity to explain what your business does and who you are. I believe that Twitter isn’t the place to start your digital marketing journey, but a place to grow with your existing Facebook followers. Twitter is a great platform to run promotions and ad campaigns, but Facebook does it better. If you have time to do both then I highly recommend it.
The world of social media can be daunting if you didn’t grow up in it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start now and thrive. Your business can soar to new heights with the addition of digital marketing, you just have to put in the time to learn how to do it right.
When potential clients come across your business online, what they see 100% affects if they stay or leave. It used to be that having a professional and impersonal website was the way to go because looking more official made you more trustworthy. In this day in age, that simply isn’t the case anymore. Today’s clients and customers are looking for businesses they can relate to and that they feel connected to. Brand loyalty is bigger than ever, and a lot of that has to do with customer’s believing in your business because they took the time to get to know it.
The best way to engage with potential customers is through personal branding. Rather than an impersonal logo with no direct person responsible for the providing the services, make it super personal. You need to find a face for the company. That can either be the CEO or president, or it can be through the hiring of brand ambassadors. Customers want to see a real face on the company’s social media platforms.
On your social media platforms, take advantage of the “live” features. You can always post infographics about your company’s purpose and services, but through live video show the daily routine of your business. Take a live video of yourself talking about an awesome review a customer recently left and what that meant to you. Refer to your customers by their names as much as possible. Reply to comments and direct messages. Ask questions back to your customers and if they give constructive criticism, consider it. Communicating with customers is the best marketing method on the internet. If customers know they can rely on you to answer questions promptly and put energy into being in this digital world, they’ll support you.
I mentioned above the use of brand ambassadors. If you’re not comfortable being the face of the company, then you need to find people to represent it. Start by researching different bloggers, YouTubers, and media outlets in your industry that you admire. Hiring bloggers can lead to doubling your sales in no time because bloggers have already cultivated trust and loyalty from their readers. If they tell their readers that your product is amazing, those readers will become your customers.
I almost always lean on the side of personal branding because,in today’s culture, it’s increasingly important to personally connect with potential clients and customers in a way they trust.
In high school, I was extremely shy and nervous. I would dread the compulsory oral presentations we’d have to give in each class, sometimes even feigning sick to stay home and prolong it another day. I loved to plan school events, but I never wanted to get on stage and do the introductions, so I’d let my friends go up and take credit. In college, I was still shy, but I had grown more confident in myself as a person. There were also way more presentations to give that I simply couldn’t get out of.
The pivotal moment came when I had to defend my thesis during my Master of Business program. I had spent the whole year in classrooms, labs, and libraries researching. I was creating a business pitch and intended on taking it to the real world after graduation. The problem was when it came to telling a class about my awesome business plan, I would choke up. I couldn’t make eye contact, I stuttered, and I skipped over material accidentally. I knew something needed to change before I made my final thesis speech. Luckily, I had one really amazing professor with game-changing advice.
My professor of entrepreneurship during my undergraduate degree remained one of my mentors throughout my entire college career. One afternoon, I was telling him about how nervous I was to perform this presentation. I was trying to find ways to get around doing this. Maybe I could write a paper instead? My professor looked at me and said, “So each time you want to present a business idea to a client or a boss, you’re going to write a paper.” Well, no. One day I would be able to do this, just not today. That’s where I was wrong. My professor looked me dead in the eye, with a sense of urgency, saying that it’s now or never. My business aspirations were over if I did not become comfortable speaking publicly.
So, I practiced. I read every tip and trick online and practiced profusely. I even went as far as going to a busy street corner and telling anyone who would listen about my thesis. Suddenly, after all this practice, I was less scared.
The turning point for my fear of public speaking was when that professor lit a fire under my bottom and told me it was now or never. Think about all your goals and dreams for your career; are you going to let one challenge get in the way? No, you’re going to master that challenge and you’re going to be successful.