The internet is full of business and marketing articles telling you exactly what you need to do to be successful.
I should know. I’ve written a lot of them.
On the one hand, I’m happy to share everything I’ve learned throughout my career if that gives others a leg up in their own businesses. If I can shorten somebody else’s learning curve by showing them the right way to do something, that’s hugely satisfying to me.
But I also have to acknowledge that putting “the best way to do things” out into the world creates a pressure-filled situation for those who are new to the game. I get that it can be incredibly overwhelming to read tutorial after tutorial -- best practice after best practice -- and not know how to put it all together (let alone be able to afford all the different solutions people like me recommend).
So, here's an important distinction to make: “right” versus “right now.” Knowing the difference, as well as how to act on this information, makes moving forward in your business much easier.
When I had to let go of “right”
When I launched my cold email sales tool Mailshake, I did so with a small team and a shoestring budget.
And it was frustrating. There I was, the former owner of a top digital marketing agency, who was unable to practice what he preached because the resources weren’t available.
As an example, I could talk for hours about the importance of having an email list, how businesses could segment their subscribers and delivering customized messages tailored to the needs of each segment. But, at my own business, we couldn’t afford software that could do that. So we sent a single mass newsletter to everyone.
And you know what? The world didn’t end.
That's how I came to let go of what was “right” and instead focus on what I could do “right now.” Eventually, traffic picked up and our income increased. We were able to add in the strategies and tactics I wanted to; and we did so without compromising the vital early resources we would have, had we followed a template somebody else decided was “right” for us.
Where are You “right now”?
I know it’s tempting to read article after article, assuming that the right answer is out there . . . somewhere.
But for right now, I want to challenge you to try something different. Take a step back from all the business and marketing advice being thrown about, and get in touch with where you really are right now. Ask yourself:
- What percentage of your income can you reasonably spend on marketing tools and tactics?
- Do you have the marketing expertise in-house to execute the strategies you want to, or would doing so require a) excessive time on your part; and/or b) excessive cost?
- Why are you pursuing the strategies you’re using (or thinking about using)? Is it because you have a unique competitive advantage to do so, or is it because somebody told you that you need to?
Be honest with yourself about where you are, versus where you think you should be. No matter how far apart the two are, there are steps you can take to maximize the impact of whatever stage you’re currently in.
Do what you can with what you’ve got
Another thing I wanted to do early on at my business was the kind of conversion raste optimization I’d run for larger companies back in my days starting up an earlier company, Single Grain. The only problem? We didn’t have enough traffic to reach statistical significance.
Fortunately, that’s not a big deal, according to Peep Laja of the company ConversionXL. “You might not be able to run tests," he wrote on his blog, "but you can still optimize. It’s not entirely scientific, but, hey, most of us are in the business of making money, not in the business of science.”
At my company, we did our best, and made educated guesses based on the trends we saw. And, evntually, we were able to add in the tests I wanted to run, but we didn’t waste time or energy feeling guilty about what we couldn’t do at first.
Look for opportunities for creativity
The great thing about getting comfortable with where you really are in your business’s growth is that it gives you the chance to tap a well of creativity you may not have known you had. My fellow Entrepreneur contributor Matthew Torensummed up this opportunity well, writing that, “Boot-strapping builds character.
"There are endless ways to finance your ideas," Toren continued, "but there’s nothing like marketing a startup with a modest budget to encourage innovation. Limited funds give you an excuse to flex your creative muscle and truly share your vision with the world.”
The message here is that there’s nothing wrong with working with limited resources “right now.” Failing to acknowledge where you are and what’s reasonable for your current status, on the other hand, puts you at risk of wasted time, unnecessary expenditures and -- ultimately -- business failure.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors