Building a business online
How do you create an income from the service industry using social media? One HR professional gives us the low-down…
Beverly Sherrett has been in the HR world for a number of years. It was her ambition to become self-employed and her desire to keep learning that helped her to make the change. Six years later, and with a new partnership under her belt, she’s never looked back.
Here’s what she learnt along the way:
Engage in start-up support
I do things very impulsively. I had wanted to be self-employed for years and the only thing that held me back was myself. Fortunately that I’d made some connections externally with HR consultancies so I started off reaching out to them. Just letting them know I was setting up on my own and asking them if they had any associate work could they bear me in mind? One big project came up that no one would touch as it was a serious complex case – I took it on and it went from there.
Looking back I jumped ship rather quickly. Better to go part-time, get yourself an enterprise adviser and approach HR consultancies that may let you do some associate work.
The key thing with networking is you've really got to build relationships. I soon realised that the key thing is about being clear about what you have to offer and demonstrating how you solve problems. I discovered that if I told stories about how I’d helped grow businesses through people – resolving conflict issues and supporting people in the workplace – it became obvious to people how I could help them too. But I could only do this through building relationships in the first place. And for that you need to turn up and attend regularly.
I was very strategic with my networking. You’ve definitely got to be in the right space. I joined big national groups and worked with small networks on one to one business. To get the business I wanted I went to the Institute of Directors and Chamber of Commerce events, I spoke at Expo events, CIPD – all spaces where corporates would attend as that was my target market – they have the money to invest on organisation change and people development. But it also helped me to build colleague relationships through which you can support each other.
Collaborate to progress
I specialize in self-awareness so I know what I’m good at and not so good at. How I deliver my coaching, for example, will be different from how someone down the road delivers it. We all have our own personalities and way of working and there’s enough work out there for all of us. Rather than seeing each other as competition, to collaborate as HR professionals actually makes us much stronger. Not only can you support each other which helps to build your confidence, but you can bounce ideas off each other and use each other for recommendations and referrals.
My skills in organization and people development complement those of my business partner Jo Cameron who specializes in recruitment and operations. Together, we felt we could offer a broader solution in a one-stop shop to all of our clients. That’s how Launchpad Associates came to be born over a year ago.
The key for me is learning. If you are self-employed, you’ve got to be finance, operations and marketing director, so it’s a steep learning curve. I value my learning. I joined Atomic, a marketing membership site, I went to a content marketing academy and got involved as part of an online learning journey.
As part of my marketing strategy I do a lot of speaking myself, I write blogs and try to educate professionals about what HR can do to help their business. It’s been a six-year journey and a big part of that has been learning and listening to what people want.
Nail the content marketing
One of the key things is making sure you write in your own voice to make connections with people you want to work with. In my blogs, I might link to what’s going on in the media and give my opinion about it or write something around a programme I’m selling or an event that I’m speaking at. I’ll give a bit of context first then put my own opinion on it. Then just get it out there as much as possible! I’ll put it on Linked in as an article, link it to my website, Instagram, twitter. I’ll make sure my key referrers put it out too by sending them a newsletter and asking them to share. Generally I aim for one blog a month – YouTube is the next thing we want to conquer.
Give it time
The evolution of a business can sometimes be about mindset. In the first two years you might think ‘I can get some contract work or interim work if it doesn’t work out’, but don’t give yourself permission to think like that. Go for it 100% and be fully committed. Keep looking ahead and start to listen to what people are looking for. Discover what it is they don’t understand about HR and answer that question for them.
Make a decision about the type of business you want to do – is it a hobby type of business that gives you nice things like holidays, is it a replacement for a job or do you want massive growth strategy so you can sell and make profit? Get it clear in your own head first. But overall, don't take yourself too seriously.
For more help about how to grow your services business, connect with Beverly on Linked IN, twitter and on her website at Launchpad associates.co.uk
For more details on how to grow your online business listen to the full Podcast at: http://www.simply-marketing.net/?p=3195&preview=true