Sometimes, on my darkest days as a business owner, I find myself saying this, and maybe you do, too. You spend a fair amount of your life building a business, celebrating an idea, championing a cause, only to be rewarded with the silence of the marketplace.
As a business owner, there’s nothing worse than silence. Hell, I’d rather have loads of criticism and people screaming at me than silence, because at least then people are paying attention, engaged at some level, responding. And if you’re in the creative services business – whether you’re a freelancer, graphic designer, Web programmer, PR specialist, marketing expert or professional photographer – you understand what I’m talking about, because you’re always creating something new and always reaching out to others.
When you’re starting a business, or entering a new market, or trying to recover from a down period, the silence can be deafening. It can be defeating. It can cause you to doubt yourself, your ideas, your approach. It can slow you down and even paralyze you. Nothing seems to be working, and nobody seems to be interested.
Okay, I’ll stop here before this gets too despairing. But it’s easy to get caught up into this vortex of disappointment and frustration, mainly because it can feed upon itself. More silence leads to more doubt and disappointment.
It’s understandable to go through emotional ups and downs when you run a creative small business. But just because things are quiet and nobody is responding to you doesn’t necessarily mean what you are doing is wrong or misdirected. And it doesn’t necessarily mean your ideas are bad or ineffective (Seth Godin just wrote an excellent blog post about confusing being ungood with simply being unlucky).
There are dozens of reasons why people haven’t jumped on your bandwagon, a few primary ones being:
1. Prospects simply don’t have time to respond to you and everyone else.
2. Prospects are overwhelmed and you are lost in a sea of information and content.
3. News about your idea or business hasn’t trickled down to them yet via whatever influencer network they are plugged into (online, personal or otherwise).
4. Your idea/product/service is low on their priority list right now (although it may not remain there forever).
These things really have nothing to do with you or your efforts … they mainly have to do with the fact that you haven’t yet achieved any kind of critical mass or momentum that will move your idea or business forward. And the secret to achieving this momentum is probably the most elusive and difficult-to-define factor for any business (believe me, even Mark Zuckerberg would probably have a hard time explaining precisely why his application and not thousands of others like it went viral).
But the best answer anyone can give is to keep putting yourself out there, innovating your products and ideas and trying new approaches. Only by getting feedback and engaging with people will you know for sure if you have a winner or if you need to return to the drawing board.
So, despite the occasional dark days, I’m sticking with my dreams and my ideas of building an online app that will truly help creative professionals. And I encourage you to join me in sticking with your dreams and ideas, too, and continuing to tell me and the rest of the world about them.
The world wants to hear what you’ve got to offer … you just need to keep reminding us of this until we snap out of it and catch on.
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