10 Golden Nuggets for Small Biz Owners on the Rise
We all have our top fave influencers we know and love, but do we know their success story? How did they get to where they are today? While every influencer’s story is different, I do know one common trend that would show up among hundreds. And it’s taking that leap of faith to grow their business. Here’s an inside peek at how I grew my business and influence on Instagram and 10 golden nuggets for small biz owners on the rise!
This post is going to be a little different than how I typically format them because this one is based on an interview one of my dearest friends had with me! Her name is Mackenna Rowley and she is the Head of Growth at Happy Happy Houseplant. She and I have been best friends for years now and we have gone through some major business changes together. We learn and gain a lot from one another, so we thought it was about time to share some of these golden nuggets with you!
10 Golden Nuggets for Small Biz Owners on the Rise
Get ready for the most content-rich Q&A you could ever come across for business owners and creatives. Mackenna asked me some really good questions and I did not hold back. The answers you find here in this post might be just what you need to help you finally start rolling in the money and influence for your business!
Biz Golden Nugget #1: 4 years ago, I made a significant business shift when I started my agency, Michelle Gifford Creative. What was going on at that moment in time and what made me want to start my agency?
Back then, I had a really successful podcast, but I was frustrated because I wasn’t growing the way I wanted to grow. Also, during this time I was interviewing tons of women in business and I realized a common trend. And that trend was these women were really good at Instagram and sharing their stories, but they weren’t good at the business side–and that’s the part I love.
This made my wheels start turning–I thought if these women could get really good at Pinterest, email marketing, branding, etc., then they could be really successful. I started to dig deeper to figure out how I could be more involved in this side of the business for women.
Meanwhile, I had Abby from @twistmepretty reach out to me who wanted help with her content and blogging. And I told her I could be a copywriter for her, so I was working on my business and then I was helping Abby on the side. Little did I know, Abby became my first client in what is now known as my marketing agency.
I hired help pretty quickly once I started working with Abby. And my first hire, Melissa, is an absolute genius and she has been with me and my agency ever since it started.
Working with Abby made me stew over this topic even more about how there is a lack in the industry of women who have these amazing businesses but don’t know how to actually do the business side of things, or have the time and energy to devote to it. And as I kept thinking about this I knew I could be the one to help these women, but I also knew it would take a drastic change for me to do it.
Biz Golden Nugget #2: There are tons of other influencers out there who are teaching in the same niche as me. What do I bring to the table that other people don’t?
There were several influencers out there giving business advice but it was very man-centric. A lot of my clients are moms who are running their businesses on top of motherhood. And I’m right there in the same boat with them. So having that perspective really helped me know where my clients and audience were coming from. And it helped me know how to market their businesses in order for them to grow beyond Instagram. (Remember, Instagram is just the handshake to your business. Read more about what I mean HERE.)
Biz Golden Nugget #3: How has my influence and business coaching strategy pivoted as I’ve seen Instagram change over the last four years?
It’s been interesting to see my clients go through this transition of it being easier to grow to now where they have to decide to invest in their content and strategy to compete on the app. This has definitely helped me hone in on my purpose for my agency. Now, we are super focused on setting up systems that will help our clients take their businesses seriously and see the unbelievable results that come from them.
Biz Golden Nugget #4: What helped me take that mental leap of faith to let go of control and hire a team to help me run my business? What advice do I give to my clients when they are challenged with the same thing?
It can be hard to let go of that control, especially when you’ve been the only one creating the content and running your business for so long. And when you add passion into the mix, it can be extremely challenging to let go and start trusting others to help build your dream. But I often say that if your dream is only as big as you are, that’s a pretty limited dream. Dreaming bigger means having help to make it happen.
Now, my agency is bigger than what I could ever do on my own and the accomplishments that come from it blow me away. Any time I just sit and think about the blessings that have come for me, for my clients, and for my team, I get a little bit teary because it’s just so amazing and I’m so grateful that I took that leap of faith to create this beautiful business that is helping so many and will only continue to grow!
Biz Golden Nugget #5: What have I learned from having challenging customer relationships and unhappy clients?
When you’re just starting out, you will definitely have uncomfortable and hard conversations. So just accept that it’s coming and prepare yourself mentally for it. I recommend creating clearer boundaries and having clearer communication about what is offered and what working together would look like.
While in the midst of that hard customer relationship, it can be really discouraging. However, if you do the mind work and remind yourself of who you are (an amazing boss with a passionate dream to serve others) and why you show up, then you’ll be better equipped to have those hard conversations with your clients and whoever else you are working with.
I’ve come to peace knowing that I can let people be wrong about me. And I can let myself be misunderstood. And then I remember that the people who actually know me in my life think I’m great. These thoughts do the trick and help me switch back to reality and get focused on my purpose!
Biz Pro Tip: Download Slack! It’s a texting app that you can use with your team and/or clients, so you no longer have to give out your personal number. This will help control how and when you are notified for work conversations.
Biz Golden Nugget #6: What are the biggest misconceptions people have about content marketing today?
One of the biggest misconceptions about content marketing is that all you have to do is show up on Instagram. That all it takes is to make a reel, go viral, and then make money. And that you magically make money simply by having a lot of followers. That’s not how it works. Yes, it’s exciting to have tons of followers, but having followers alone is not going to make you any money.
Another misconception people have, or perhaps an unrealistic worry is panicking during a recession. And wondering if your business “is gonna make it.” The way I see it is your business is going to make it. And it’s much more helpful to focus on where you want your business to be in a year from now rather than worrying about how the next three months will be tight for your business.
Biz Pro Tip: There are three different periods that you will always cycle through when creating and posting your content strategy. It’s your growth, nurture, and sell period. Your growth phase is how you will spend most of your time on Instagram. Your nurture phase is right before the selling phase. For example, let’s say you’re about to launch a course you want people to buy. 2 weeks before the launch date, you should enter into your nurture phase. This phase looks like having 50 percent of your content preparing your audience to buy your product that is about to launch. Then, once you launch your product that 50 percent shifts to now posting selling content. Your strategy changes as you move from phase to phase. (Join my Insta Money Makers if you want to learn more about this secret strategy that will help you triple your impact!)
Biz Golden Nugget #7: If I could write a book tomorrow, what would it be about?
Business Mom School. It would walk you through the tactical and mental steps in order to grow a thriving business alongside motherhood. There are very few people out there talking about running and growing a business alongside motherhood. There are some very unique challenges to this type of reality. I want there to be more conversation about it, and I want to be (and am) leading that conversation.
Biz Golden Nugget #8: What is a problem I am facing in my business and how am I handling it?
I completely changed my Instagram strategy a few months ago and I’ve grown a ton from that. However, I know that I can’t just rely on an increased following to make money. I’m focused on how I can turn those new followers into people who know me and will buy from me. And you do that by getting your followers to join your email list, your text list, watching your stories, etc. Anything that helps your customers’ loyalty grow and your relationship strengthen.
People aren’t thinking of Instagram content as a way to strengthen a relationship with you. So you’ve got to invite them to follow along with you beyond Instagram. Check out my post HERE that will give you a good overview of how to take advantage of the “social media pie.”
Your attraction content (Instagram stories is a great example of this) is where you can go to the edges of your niche. This is where your audience can really get to know you as a person and create a bond with you. And that bond will lead them to buy into your core content and products.
Biz Golden Nugget #9: What is the most common misconception people have about me and my business?
It’s really just people not having an understanding of what I actually do, and that my work actually makes money. This mostly just gives me a laugh! Be accepting of those people who will never understand what you do. It’s totally OK that they don’t. Besides, there will always be people who do and that’s who you want to spend time engaging with.
Biz Golden Nugget #10: What are 3 snippets of advice I would give myself when I started my agency?
- Allow yourself to take yourself seriously and to know it’s OK to think you’re a big deal. This is amazing advice and it’s one you have to remind yourself of over and over again. As you keep taking the next step to growing your business this truth is what will help carry you through.
- If you say yes, you will be blown away by the doors that open. And the people you get to share a room with. This has been the biggest surprise since saying yes to my agency. I am in awe and so grateful for the people I’ve impacted and the ones who have impacted me.
- Give yourself room and time to expand. I am one that can put my head down and work my buns off. But I also want to remember that your growth does not have to be on a timetable. And, your growth will not turn out the way you expected it to. As you continue to grow and pivot, say yes to help along the way. (Like hiring my team for all of your branding and marketing needs! ;))
10 Golden Nuggets for Small Biz Owners on the Rise
I hope you learned a ton from these 10 golden nuggets for small biz owners on the rise! I had a lot of fun chatting with my friend Mackenna. Take this as a reminder to chat with one of your best friends about the things you love. It’s good for the soul! If you loved what you learned here and want more, join my Insta Money Maker’s Coaching Group. You can learn more about it HERE! And make sure you’re following me on Instagram @iammichellegifford because I am constantly sharing content that will help you build a long-lasting business!