Growing a Business

To Grow Your Business, Get Beyond These 4 Entrepreneurial Cliches

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The word "cliché'' is defined as “a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.” We definitely see a lot of this in the entrepreneurship space.

Since the explosion of the Internet, and in the last few years on social media, there has been an avalanche of advice about what it takes to grow a business.

Some of this advice has been great for entrepreneurs, but there’s also been a lot of cliché advice that’s been passed around from “guru” to guru, and then us. This advice is so commonly accepted that too many entrepreneurs turn to it only to experience disappointing results. Here are four cliché pieces of advice that alone aren’t enough to help you grow your business.

1. 'Pick a niche'

Successful entrepreneurs understand the value of speaking to a specific target audience. The right target audience doesn’t mean “keywords,” it means people.

Keywords and SEO point you in the right direction, but at the end of the day, sales come from people who hit that buy button. Don’t just focus on the niche, focus on the people behind that niche.

Focus on helping people with their biggest struggles. Go beyond the surface fluff that a lot of gurus put out there. Don’t pick a niche, pick a group of people to invest your time and resources into. That’s how you create lifelong customers.

Related: 4 Pieces of Bad Startup Advice That You Should Ignore

2. 'Build your email list'

I have written a lot about emailing marketing and firmly believe in using it to build your business. The advice to “build your list” is worthless without the strategy behind it. More than that, there is a lot of terrible advice that has led people to view email marketing as spam.

There’s a better way to build your email list:

  • Offer a compelling freebie.
  • Write strong headlines.
  • Give value in every email.
  • Offer exclusive content.

This is how you “build your email list.”

3. 'Have a social media presence'

Entrepreneurs know the value of social media, as one part of their marketing strategy. The advice given is to build your social media presence by joining all the social media platforms currently offered.

With a lot of the social media companies becoming publicly traded, social media isn’t what it used to be. Entrepreneurs are busy. They have to use their time wisely.

Spending hours a day chasing “leads” on Ello isn’t a good use of that time (no offense Ello fans). When you create compelling content and great products, people will share and your social media presence will naturally build. Work on building your social media presence, but do it in a way that works in harmony with your other strategies.

A few years ago entire businesses were built on SEO. After two algorithm changes, many of those business were forced to close. Don’t let history repeat itself with social media and your business.

Related: Ignore the Advice of These 3 People

4. 'Connect with influencers'

This advice goes back to the early days of Internet marketing. You’re told to try to connect with someone at the top of your industry. You do this by adding value to the influencer somehow or persistently trying to connect. The problem is this “strategy” doesn’t work.

This advice will have you working for free, with no real possibility of a pay off. Can you connect with an influencer? Sure, but that’s the exception, not the rule.

With 2.5 billion people online everyday, entrepreneurs don’t need to go through gatekeepers. They can become influencers themselves. Connect with your audience through your website, email list and social media. Focus on what’s important right now to build your business.

One of the biggest problems an entrepreneur can encounter is information overload. With so much information available, it becomes hard to know what you should be learning and then acting on.

The best piece of advice I can give you is to always test. What works for someone else’s business might not work for yours. If you learn something that you think will be beneficial, test it to see if it works. Testing is the key to improvement in your business.

Don’t follow the gurus. Study, test and focus on what’s important right now to your business. Cliché advice won’t work on its own.

Related: Why You're Getting Bad Advice and Paying Too Much For It