Summer Business School Rules: Pivot Your Business

Today’s Summer Business School Rule is: “When at first you don’t succeed, PIVOT!”

While creating Summer Business School as an online marketing course for small businesses, I got caught up in the excitement of creating a product launch website like the internet marketing gurus. However, I lacked the technological skill and resources to launch in time for Summer. In the meantime, I marketed “Summer Business School” in person at live networking events, and quickly became a part of the tribe of small businesses and start-up companies based in NYC. So while I couldn’t get my online act together quickly enough, my new friends wanted Summer Business School lessons, but not necessarily online. In order to salvage my summer business, I had to switch things up!

One of the terms being thrown around a lot in NYC’s start-up community is “pivot”. In other words, when your original business idea isn’t working, do something different. Pivoting doesn’t mean that you abandon your idea, or even your vision, although it may mean changing your business model. And that’s okay. Sometimes, we approach our business with such blinders that we can’t always see how our idea could be changed or even improved.

But it’s always good to get perspective. Often, that means listening to our customers and mentors. That especially means listening to the objections we receive. Not to say that every objection raised is relevant, but to pay attention for the nugget of wisdom that might be hiding behind it.

If you are thinking about pivoting, here are three methods to consider:

  1. Pivot Your Target Market
  2. Perhaps your original market was unable to afford your rates. You may need to better define your target market. After getting involved in the NYC start-up community, I learned that they, more than the small business owners, were early-adopters interested in using social media. The small business owners I met were more hesitant, and wanted more hand-holding.
  3. Pivot Your Business Model
  4. Look at your product and service and brainstorm new ways to add value. While my original plan was to sell an online course, the in-person workshops turned out to be more successful. After realizing that I had two distinct kind of students, this led to my creating two classes: beginning and advanced levels
  5. Pivot Your Marketing Strategy
  6. It might be time to switch things up, and choose a new marketing message. Or you could try new marketing methods, such as networking, public speaking, or creating online videos. My product launch website was a great tool, but since my learning curve held me back, I ended up marketing my workshops through online websites that provide electronic ticketing.

After a shaky start, Summer Business School pivoted to become a workshop series for small biz owners, startups, and freelancers. And now that I no longer have to rush to create a product launch site, Summer Business School will eventually become a new course, with a new name, that can be marketed year round. So when all else fails, take another look at your business strategy. A pivot here, or a tweak there, may make all of the difference in creating a successful venture.

How to Get Your Small Business Online Quick

When I speak to small business owners in my area I am always shocked when I hear them say that they “do not have a website” or “my business doesn’t need a website”. This could not be further from the truth. Every business needs a website. More than ever before consumers are turning to the internet to find local businesses. The days of finding businesses in the Yellow Pages are gone. Today, businesses must have a presence online and this guide will give you the information you need to get your business online quick.

Pick a Domain Name

The first thing you want to do in come up with a domain name that fits your business. For instance, if you are a plumber in Baltimore MD, a great domain name would be baltimoreplumber.com. If you already have a business name that people know and trust, try and get that domain (ex. innercityplumbing.com).

To purchase a domain name go to godaddy.com. GoDaddy offers a service called Website Tonight which I highly recommend for small businesses just getting started in the online world. When you get to godaddy.com click on website then find the website tonight product. Most small businesses just starting out can probably go with the “Economy” package which includes a 5-page website and hosting for up to 36 months for only $2.99 a month. When you add this package to your cart, you will then be able to choose from other GoDaddy programs that are offered as “upgrades”. Additionally, you have the option to choose a domain name.

By purchasing the Website Tonight package, you will receive a discount on your domain name. Search for your ideal domain name and see if it is available. Once you have found a domain name you are happy with add it to your cart. Work yourself through the rest of the check out process and that’s it! You have taken the most important step in getting your small business online.

Building Your Website

Now that you have purchased your website, you must start building it. Website Tonight offers a wealth of templates to choose from. By picking a template, you do not need to have any programming skills. The service takes care of all of the coding for you. You can upload pictures and content quickly and easily. If you can use Microsoft Word, you can use Website Tonight.

By now you should have a vision of what pages you would like to have on your website. This could vary dependent upon what business you run. The two standard pages will be the Home page and the Contact Us page. The Home page is important because it is usually the first page that your visitors will see when visiting your site.

GoDaddy offers a bunch of video tutorials for how to use the Website Tonight system. It is a very powerful powerful resource for your small business moving forward.

You want to be found on Google?

Now that you have a website, you want people to be able to find you on Google and other search engines right? Of course! There are numerous steps to take to make sure your website can be found on Google. More than I wish to share in this article.