March 21, 2013 by Christina Hamlett
A Conversation with Nicole Elmore
If you were going to take a road-trip to a distant place you had never been, it’s unlikely that you’d simply jump in your car without asking any advice from those who had made similar journeys, doing a vehicle safety check, looking at a map, and packing plenty of snacks. And yet how many people every year start a new business with the expectation that – sans any experience or preparation – they’ll somehow reach their destination overnight?
EntrepreneurLead.com (http://EntrepreneurLead.com) was launched in 2012 by Nicole Elmore, a successful business consultant and marketing strategist who specializes in helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to grow their business, gain more clients, develop a brand identity, and maximize their return on investment. Through its two membership programs, Business Plan Workshop, Entrepreneur Bootcamp, and free opportunities to market and gain brand awareness, this innovative site provides start-ups and existing small businesses with the tools and resources they need to start, build, grow, and maintain profitable products and services.
Q: What inspired you to start your company?
A: I have been working as a business consultant and strategic marketer for a while now and over the years the demand has grown so much that I wanted to think of a way to be able to help entrepreneurs and small businesses beyond my limited time to personally work with them, so I was inspired to create EntrepreneurLead.com, where I built two membership courses that outline the general format I go through with my clients. This allows not only the businesses I personally consult, but also start-ups and entrepreneurs with a business idea to sign up and go through the mentorship and guidance regardless of where they are in the world and what time of the day it is. Throughout the process of building EntrepreneurLead, I have come up with many free helpful features for Entrepreneurs and have added those as well.
Q: What are some business and marketing tactics that you focus on?
A: We do not focus on one or two specific tactics, but rather have a highly diversified set of techniques that we employ, which is what I believe leads to our success and growth. Testing initially and then choosing different techniques to reach our target market through different media channels, has helped us continuously expose our brand and gain new readers and clients through many second looks.
Q: Entrepreneur Bootcamp sounds fun. What can participants expect to learn when they sign up?
A: The Entrepreneur Bootcamp is definitely fun. It offers guidance & mentorship for starting out & deciding on what business to build through pre start-up planning, the start-up itself, raising capital, managing, marketing, & growing your business into a profitable source of income with great bonuses, tests, free templates & forms to help you succeed. Aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners get to work through fun mental challenges that will lead them to think strategically in a self-paced study environment. All in all, it’s everything you need to know about starting and owning your own business that you learn in the real world, rather than a university classroom.
Q: For as much time as some people spend dreaming about what it would be like to launch their own business, be their own boss, and call their own shots, not everyone is cut out to convert their vision into reality, much less sustain that implemented vision for the long-term. In your view, what are some of the common characteristics of successful entrepreneurs?
A: I believe that some of the most common characteristics of successful entrepreneurs include a passion for what you are pursuing as well as a passion for the end goal of achievement as this is what keeps one be resilient and not give up after the first failed try. An ability to socially communicate well and build relationships is also a crucial key characteristic that I have found to differentiate followers from leaders. Finally, while not necessary, I think from a long-term perspective, most successful entrepreneurs pursue all of their business operations with integrity.
Q: Newbie entrepreneurs often make the mistake of pushing too hard to sell their product’s features. Why should they be focusing instead on selling the benefits that ownership of their product or utilization of their services will provide?
A: Always keep in mind that you are selling benefits of your products and/or services to your clients, not features. Features are merely the attributes of a product or service. For a product, this could be the product’s color, its technology, its capabilities, and its weight or size. For a service such as an application or software, examples include its speed, usability, innovative design. Each feature should at least entail one benefit to your customers and that is what they will care about when making their purchase decision.
Q: Another common mistake – especially in a home-based business – is a tendency to try to wear too many hats and control every aspect of business operations. What are some of the pitfalls of this hands-on micromanaging?
A: It can be difficult to be the one developing your own products, managing your entire business, manage all aspects of finding new prospects, increasing sales, marketing your business. Some of the pitfalls of this hand-on micromanaging are not only the time constraints that allow you only to spend a limited amount of time on each aspect, but also the stress that comes with shifting your focus constantly on different operations. It’s very distracting if you are working on a new design for a brochure and a potential new client calls and you have to quickly switch your mindset to talk to them and try to convert them into a client. I highly recommend focusing on what you are best at yourself and outsourcing other tasks to keep your focus and mental balance.
Q: What are some of the biggest struggles you have encountered that small businesses face when working with them?
One of the biggest struggles I have seen with people starting their own business is that they try to build a company without a foundation, without a business plan, without strategy. While it may seem like a waste of time, it’s not. Most of the established businesses I work with as a consultant, fail due to the lack of a business plan. They have no vision of where they are going, no written out goals, and no strategic action plan of how to reach those goals. Simply trying different things and thinking that if you spend money on different marketing techniques will eventually lead to one technique working, is wrong. Rather than wasting money on simple trial and error, consult with an expert and get some help. You may think this initial investment is not worth it, but over the long run, this will save you a lot of money and frustration.
Q: What has been your own biggest struggle in building your business?
A: The biggest struggle we have had at EntrepreneurLead.com is our growth without any outside help. Not having any prior relationships in the industry, we were unable to use the power and leverage of other successful entrepreneurs and/or companies who would support us by sharing our stories or mentioning EntrepreneurLead.com. Furthermore, the company was built on 100% personal funding without any loans, grants, crowd funding, etc. We are very proud of this fact; however, we will not hide that financial limitations of bootstrapping do not pose struggles at times.
Q: Becoming known as an expert in one’s field is a “reverse-engineering” way to attract and build a clientele. What are some cost-effective strategies that new business owners can use to accomplish this?
A: Becoming an expert in a field certainly doesn’t happen overnight and takes hard work and developing a track record. But once you become an established authority in a field, make sure that you reflect that on your website, in your About page, and in your portfolio. Get some testimonials from past clients to build upon that credibility and try to engage with media outlets to take advantage of publicity opportunities to attract new clients and build a clientele through your authoritative figure in the industry.
Q: There’s no question that social media is here to stay and, further, that entrepreneurs of all ranks are starting to use it as an inexpensive alternative to traditional advertising. What are some of the pros and cons of embracing this mindset?
A: Certainly the use of social media can be beneficial to build trust with your current customers, get new prospect referrals, and engage with your social media followership. However, fully embracing social media as a long-term inexpensive alternative to traditional advertising puts you in danger of overrating the results that social media marketing can lead to by itself. I personally think it’s more effective not to focus on one or two specific online networking tactics (such as social media), but rather have a highly diversified set of techniques. The key is to spend your online networking time without limiting yourself to only one or two methods. Some of the methods I use are LinkedIn, which have led me to make some great connections, Marketing and Small Business Forums, sites such as MeetAdvisors.com and PartnerUp.com, and Yahoo Answers. Focus on exchanging ideas, building relationships, and offering valuable advice rather than marketing yourself and your services and trying to get new clients that way and you will find long-term value in online networking.
Q: What’s your best advice for people looking to start their own business and become entrepreneurs?
A: My advice to anyone starting a similar company is to only do it, if it brings you intrinsic satisfaction. If you are entering this industry simply for monetary reasons, don’t bother. Don’t expect to earn money overnight, building trust and credibility, takes time. Focus on providing value to your target market and that will take a lot of time and effort, initially without any focus on making money.
Q: Speaking of money, the U.S. is in a rapidly downward spiraling economy that has made more and more people wary of taking financial risks, especially insofar as leaving the employment of someone else to launch their own venture. What would you say to someone who asks you whether they should take a leap of faith or continue to wait until the economy improves?
A: My advice to entrepreneurs on whether or not they should pursue a business idea in the current U.S. economic situation depends on the industry they are interested in entering, because it widely differs. That is part of the reason my Business Consulting services have become increasingly sought. It allows entrepreneurs to present their business idea and get a customized market analysis and evaluation of whether they should take that leap of faith or wait until the economy improves to assure their business will be profitable.
Q: What are some of your goals for EntrepreneurLead.com in 2013?
A: 2013 will be an amazing year for EntrepreneurLead. I have been working on some great new features that will be launched soon. I am very excited about our growth and hope EntrepreneurLead will help thousands of entrepreneurs and small businesses around the world.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: If you have a great business idea, a start-up, or an established business that is in need of improvement, I encourage you to look through EntrepreneurLead.com and find some helpful tips and guidance. If you are looking for one-on-one coaching or business consulting, I would love to hear from you and help you with a free consultation. Feel free to contact me at http://nicoleelmore.com.