As a child, I would read Bart Simpson’s Guide to Life (1993) and imagine what exciting fun awaited me when I finally transformed into an adult –
(The following is the draft text for a downloadable pamphlet I am currently working on)
I’m 32 presently, and as good as unemployed. So, what have I done wrong?
Was I not creative enough, or smart enough? Have I not been ambitious enough or popular enough?
Yes – to all of those things.
But, were illness and impairment fated to stop me achieving success?
Or do they continue to be the tools I’ve needed to innovate and discover –
Maybe (one day) I’ll work that part out.
I’ve only been trying since I left school/ crashed out of Sixth Form at 16.
So, what have I learnt from a life lived trying/ lacking?
Do I honestly think anyone will read this if I continue so cynically?
It shouldn’t matter. I can’t change your life by describing mine. But, if you want some hints, my opening statement will be:
F*** your misfortune and your resentment.
Any unjust or unfair event or situation which has occurred in your life which has messed with your confidence and your opportunities to thrive –
Break free of it.
For 10 years following bullying and racism in school, the only thing to replace the eternal anger I felt following the sins of my teenage peers was the pain and depression of illness –
And the great resentment for the curse I came to recognise as life. But every wisp of energy used in anger, hatred or resentment, was energy wasted.
Utterly, irreplaceably wasted.
Especially as a younger woman at full health in my early 20s –
Had I let go of my pain and the constant vigil I kept over memories and faces from my past, vast amounts of time and energy – otherwise misused – could have been embraced to discover my passion.
To discover something positive.
Instead, I knocked around from pursuit to pursuit driven by the belief that Something might work/ I might make a success of this, or that…
To this day, I cannot say what I am truly passionate about. The only passion I ever felt was that of unrealised vengeance –
Yes. I wanted revenge. I was harassed, lied to and about and let down, and I was humiliated.
Following school, I would be left permanently altered –
And instead of growing up and focusing on my future, I felt little connection to the world or hope for the future.
I went to college, I went to uni (briefly), I went to work – in the end, not even the positive effort I could conjure mattered. I got sick and it turned my small, sad life onto its sad head.
The faces of my past could only have laughed further.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
Wasted. Even the time I spend to recount these awful feelings and events is wasted –
Unless the text which follows has further hints or insights.
Let me introduce another:
Always, always believe in yourself.
You know this one. You’ve heard it many times before. But what steps do you take to follow it?
I am at this stage in life because I did not believe in myself.
I believed every bad thing about myself and I did so for years:
- I’m stupid
- I’m ugly
- I’m useless
- I can’t do anything
- I’m a failure
- I’ll never be happy
- I shouldn’t be here
I ruined my life by not believing in myself and by hating the enemies of my distant past.
I won’t take responsibility for the illnesses I’ve experienced since I’m not a conjurer of complex, poor physical health –
But my earlier wounds set me on the path to “failure at life”, and now I’m busy trying to get out of it.
“Every lesson I’ve learnt, I’ve learnt too late”, I often repeat to myself, but this is so toxic.
I need to be rid of these damaging, self-deprecating admonitions.
Not least because my business will never succeed if I cannot even believe wholeheartedly in myself –
But I believe wholeheartedly in my product, and in its value especially to other small business owners like myself.
That is – those who are ambitious, and a bit broke.
So without further ado, let me share some more hints about life and self-employment, and how to begin clearing the road to success…
Whether you’re self-employed, “un-gainfully self-employed”, on your way to being self-employed, or committed to any endeavour in which you alone are accountable –
You need to get organised very quickly.
“Winging it” is how I’ve managed my copywriting business for the last year, and guess what? Yup – still broke.
But with zero entrepreneurial experience and zero cash for a business mentor, winging it’s been the only option…
Years of low confidence, compiled with health conditions and zero expendable cash has resulted in no social, let alone professional network –
So, I regret to say that Ruth Klempner Copywriting seemed doomed to fail from its conception. But really, it’s just been doomed to take a really long time to get going…
Inefficiency has ensured this long period of quiet. Mishaps such as –
- Not putting all my effort into building a network of connections from the beginning
- Not using time management to see to many, important tasks simultaneously
- Not thoroughly researching and developing the many, different ways I might engage with audiences and industry leaders and influencers
- Not going above and beyond to discover (or create) viable, new opportunities
- Not having a clue in the world how exactly to build a business in 2021/ 2022
So, get your checklist of things which need to be started and completed, and identify everything which might stand in the way from accomplishing these tasks.
Here’s my top nine most interfering, business-compromising traits:
1. General lack of confidence
2. Inability to recite a convincing or compelling, spoken sales pitch
3. Inability to engage in “fake it ‘til you make it” mentality
4. Creative, but not imaginative or enterprising
5. No good at sucking up or fake engagement
6. Very introverted so don’t naturally socialise well, in person or online
7. No passions e.g. sport/music/ hobbies with which I can engage with others through and build connections with
8. Not super social media savvy e.g. have no hope of making exciting reels or TikToks because I’m simply not exciting or popular enough
9. Poor sleep pattern
The above weaknesses seriously reduce my ability to effectively promote myself and my business –
Unless I find a way to improve the worst of them, my business will never be successful.
No marketing campaign I attempt will work, and I will be left to analyse my inefficiencies until the end of time.
Discovering sustainable (as in maintainable) ways to change the negative, business damaging habits of a lifetime is a challenge I am still working through.
Speaking only for myself:
There is no easy way to change.
There’s also no time to wait until I’m “all new and changed” before I should begin consistently sharing my brand message –
And this is true of all start ups which may still be super rough around the edges:
Get gobby – FAST.
You have everyone to contend with, and everyone needs to know your name and your business.
I failed spectacularly at this task during my first year of alleged “business”, but it’s not yet too late…
So, ask yourself:
- Have you established your USP/ your Unique Selling Point?
- Do you have a good idea of your customer personas/ your target audience?
- Are you taking full advantage of free online marketing e.g. through regularly updated social media engagement?
- Are your online and/ or in-store outlets attractive and easy to navigate?
- Are you anticipating social and industry trends and creating original, engaging content in response to e.g. popular hashtags?
- Do you have a bank of new content (written and visual) ready-to-go as each day dies and new one is made?
- Do you have a method to stop your brain exploding from all the (new and old) tasks and commitments running and growing a small business entails?
I’m yet to work out a method which is why so many of my business tasks have gone neglected –
But I have a business voice, and a message. And I need to lead with these, and commit to engaging in as much one-to-one and online discussion as I can.
“In space, no one can hear you scream”
I learnt about the Law of Averages when I was doing my stint at direct marketing, and flogging broadband off street corners.
We were told, the more people we speak to the greater our chances of making a sale –
It’s not rocket science (mind the pun). But like Ripley floating in a ship in a void, my lack of establishing strong connections has left me as I always was, isolated and chelping into a void.
Don’t do that – instead:
- Introduce yourself and your business as widely as possible
- Know and understand your target audience as much as possible and create personalised messages and greetings to share with them
- Engage with and comment on everyone’s stuff – Be polite, insightful and/ or helpful
- Share your knowledge and your unique perspective – discuss topics relating to your industry, and to related industries
Every time you comment, your business name is shared, and social media users especially will learn to recognise you and to acknowledge your legitimacy and specialism.
If you find that you don’t know enough to comment knowledgeably or authentically on certain topics which interest you (whether they’re relevant or not), then read more and educate yourself.
Be aware – The main issue I have faced in regard to engaging prolifically is:
“Fake engagement”. Also, engagement for engagements sake, or any message or communication which goes anything like, “Hi, I like your stuff –“ without ever sharing what exactly they like, or revealing that they understand any part of you or your business at all…
But, this is only my opinion as a business owner and social media user. If our job is to show our authenticity, then we should communicate knowledge and understanding in every communication.
If we want to sound like spambots then, of course, that is our right, but we shouldn’t expect any positive or even polite responses to such poor marketing ideals.
Your brand voice.
Like I’ve said, this is the part I can do.
I can write and use logic, emotion and objectivity –
And none of this is useful unless I can do all the other things which make a business successful too. So, let’s discuss pulling it all together, along with brand messaging…
Your place amongst your competitors
How do you make your brand stand out in a sea of competition?
I’ve already used my own business to outline how not to do this –
My brand voice/ messaging should be the beacon which drives sales, but only a fraction of my target audience has been exposed to this voice.
The individual pitches and proposals –including verbal proposals, and personalised messages – are all part of your business messaging, so along with your Efficiency, and Consistency, is your Brand Voice strong enough to propel your business into comfortable profit?
Do you want to increase your profit, expand your brand influence, and maybe even become the industry leader which new customers love?
Then make sure your messaging is on point – and everywhere suitable it can be:
- Read and understand about great copy and content writing
There are many insightful online resources and books available which will enable you to improve your business writing – find some you like and absorb what knowledge you can.
- Study your competitor’s messaging
What voice is your competition using to lure away your customers?
How legitimate are their claims of superiority, and how might your Unique Selling Point cut a path through their messaging?
Think about the tone they’re using and the audience they’re targeting, and study their business copy and content (their brand voice and messaging) across as many platforms as you find them advertised –
You will be challenging them on these multiple fronts, so:
- Do your research
- Update your research
- Have messages and advertising which speak loudly of your product’s benefits to customers, and
- Do so in a way which diminishes the voices of your competition
How do you diminish those voices?
With gobby consistency.
In case you haven’t noticed, those who shout the loudest get heard –
This is what advertising is and does, and though most small businesses don’t have advertising budgets comparable to those of medium or large businesses, there are still ways of prolifically advertising your product, but you will need to evolve into a machine –
The Machine Marketer
(I’m not talking AI.)
I mean the highly efficient and organised person who gets a lot done, and is rewarded with achievement.
I’m not this person – but I want to be.
Modest-budget, small business owners, particularly those just starting out, are forced to wear many hats at once, as well as rise to every other responsibility they have in their life besides their business.
Earlier, I spoke of the knowledge and alluded to the premonition needed in order to become efficient at marketing your business –
- Get every hint you can about the various, legitimate marketing methods available to you on your budget
You need to gauge how wide and far your competitors are sharing their messages, and prepare a similar, multiplatform marketing strategy.
- Recognise the frequency of which your competitors publish new content, and document the variety, relevance and originality of their content
This is the copy and content which you will be competing with.
The machine marketer will meet this challenge by producing even more relevant, engaging and informative copy and content. All of which will have to be produced through:
- Reasonable (not super time consuming) planning
- Anticipation of new industry and societal trends (in order to engage with online communities who converge on trending topics/ hashtags)
- An understanding of good copy and content writing practice
- A perceptive observance of attractive marketing visuals and an ability to replicate the most basic of these
To be a machine is to accurately complete many operations at once, and/ or to repeat the same operation quickly and efficiently –
Are you a machine marketer?
If you’ve the means, you’ll outsource your numerous, time-consuming marketing tasks to different professionals e.g. social media managers, graphic and web designers, perhaps photographers, videographers and of course, copy and/ or content writers –
Leaving you all the time in the world to focus on your actual business.
If you’ve not the means, but you’ve the ambition, then together let’s endeavour to Become the machine –
To be an effective and consistent marketer:
Meditate upon the things you know.
Use knowledge of your product/s and your industry as the foundation with which to build infinite, insightful pieces of marketing copy and content –
- Your product knowledge/ Your Pro POV
Plus or minus
- Your take on a trending topic (relevant, or not so much)
Plus or minus
- More insightful, relevant product stuff
Plus or minus
- Opinions about challenges facing consumers (and your customers)
Plus or minus
- Original photos and/ or videos featuring your great products
Plus or minus
- Anecdotes about the working day and any happy customers
Plus or minus
- Shout outs to your favourite business friends and partners
Plus or minus
- Special features about your best products
Plus or minus
- Tantalising special offers and exclusive deals
Plus or minus
- Work selfies! As you busily provide amazing products/ services to customers
Plus or minus
- Anything else which you can relate back to your business or industry!
Obviously, initiative applies –
- Meaningless, waffly, barely relevant content, and no –
- Spelling mistakes (colloquial spellings like ‘waffly’ are permissible!)
Consider how many variations of the above formula can be used to create content – absolutely plenty, so:
Plan copy and content for multiple platforms for a fortnight – and then for another fortnight, and then another.
Anticipate (and research) social and customer trends such as:
- Events, celebrations and special days
- Changing fashions and norms
And discover your most efficient means of producing this content –
I use Microsoft Word and Canva Pro. There are, of course, plenty of free writing tools available but I like to organise my written work with Word –
For graphics, Canva Pro will give you every imaginable template, but it will also give you the means to design simple, effective, graphics and banners from scratch, using their large stock of free images, symbols, fonts and photos.
At this stage, I’m going to ask you:
What’s important to you?
Becoming comfortably successful with work you can enjoy and take pride in is one example of a (modest) ambition. And to achieve this ambition, one more formula is required:
Efficient Effort In = Measurable Reward Out
Increase your efficient effort (not inefficient, wasted effort), and you will increase the measurable reward you gain.
I’ve spent a long time working hard and being hopelessly inefficient –
- Take the time to experiment and discover a formula which increases your efficiency, and therefore, your productivity.
Apply this formula to any machine marketer aspirations you have and –
What could happen?
If you’ve been focused and busy planning and creating mountains of your own stuff, and you have neglected to engage with mountains of other people’s stuff, then perhaps – not very much.
*Distant, frustrated groan*
Engaging with other’s accounts and with online communities is as important as creating your own online content.
You need exposure and engagement, and so does everybody else!
These five points – efficiency, consistency, brand voice, machine marketing and engagement – may be enough to blow the mind of a start up business owner (like me) who is yet to correctly interpret point number one.
What’s the answer?
Pressure and time.
If a successful, growing business is important to you, then you’ll find a formula that works.
Success for the modest-budget, small business owner means persistence, patience, and staying on the ball!
Engage with others, engage in your own stuff, and engage with others.
I’ve spent a year disproportionately engaging with my own –
I’ve actually spent nearly 20 years doing that.
But it’s up to all of us to break our bad, inefficient business habits, and with no easy answers, we’re each charged with discovering our individual paths to success.
The above document is only a guide, and a theory for small business success based on my own experience and my observations of other businesses.
I publish it in blog form as it’s first draft, with the view to create a downloadable pamphlet of sorts to encourage and assist small and start up business owners further on their way to building a successful business.
(I’m now going to see if Canva can make this into the colourful document I’m intending it to be. Thanks for reading this draft!)