One of the things about going from a corporate job to starting my own small business that requires a lot of getting used to is the highly personal nature of it all. I'm not just a single cog in a lumbering corporate machine fulfilling one small, specialized purpose; I'm the entire machine, I do everything
. I don't get to dump my financial issues on the finance department, and I don't get to leave someone else to worry about finding clients; I have to do everything myself. In the words of Robert A. Heinlein, 'specialization is for insects', and if I don't learn to handle the full range of business functions I'll amount to nothing more.
But it doesn't just mean more work, it means more control. I'm free to do my job in exactly the way I think it should be done. I'm free to give my services away for free if I want, or to refuse a potentially high-paying client for reasons of principle. Of course all this requires that I actually find
some potential clients first, and that require marketing.
At the moment, my two top priorities are 1) my business model, and 2) advance marketing. The model is coming along, and I'll post more details as I hit important milestones. The marketing, however, is only just getting started. I've spent the past year and a half working at a PR firm and, although I worked in IT, I've learned quite a lot about how, and how not, to do and find business. My experience with PR and marketing has left me convinced that the key to business is personal relationships.
Finding customers is not about buying advertising space or cold-calling potential leadsâ€”although those do have their proper places and uses, and can't be forgottenâ€”it's about getting to know people and, more importantly, having other people get to know you. Even if you find more friends than leads you're still building your reputation, spreading your name, and even recruiting an ad-hoc marketing department (and really, how can you complain about having more friends?). Maybe no one you know needs what you're selling, but if they know what you're selling and have a good opinion of you they're likely to recommend you if someone else is in need.
So that's my current marketing goal: to meet new people. If my business is personal (and a business like this has to be; if I'm not fully invested in it it will
fail), then so must my marketing be. I'm not just trying to sell a company here, I'm trying to sell me. I need people to know that I'm out there, to know what I'm offering, and to know that I'm a person they would actually trust to handle their needs. And what better way than a blog to introduce myself to the world and let everyone know who I am and what I can do for them?
Now I just need a DBA...