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Owning A Social Business: Lessons Learned In Year One

Technically, B Squared Media is the third business I’ve owned. I guess that means I’ve embodied the entrepreneurial spirit since I was a very young, extremely inexperienced 22-years-old.

So when I realized with a jolt that B Squared’s first birthday had come and gone, I took some time to reflect on some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

I’m not one to pontificate, sugar coat or beat around the bush. I’d rather give you the straight and narrow about the ups and downs of owning a social business.

I’ve failed. I’ve floundered. I’ve cried. I’ve jumped for joy, celebrated by doing something as small as yelling, “WOO HOO” and as big as treating myself to a fancy dinner.

No matter the good or the bad, I feel that some lessons are definitely worth sharing for those who may work in, or consider working in, a social business.

Good Lessons In Social Business

  1. Transparency is currency. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Your tweets, posts, updates and practically everything you do is available to the public. Social media isn’t a place where you can “fake it ’till you make it” – we see what you’re up to and yeah, we judge you based on it. 
  2. Collaboration commitments pay off. Being a contributing author for multi-author sites like the Social Solutions Collective and SteamFeed have made all the difference. Through those sites, and by nurturing and cultivating my “digital friends”, I have forged lifelong relationships with people who have made, and continue to make, B Squared a realization. There’s something to be said about those who make a true COMMITMENT to being social.
  3. Strategy spells SUCCESS. We spent months on financial planning, pricing strategies, and building our “HOT HOT HOT!” networking list. And it didn’t stop there. We revamp, redo and repeat the strategy planning often to make sure we’re on track, and to find out what we need to change. Doing this has allowed us to be “in the black” well before our first year anniversary.

Mistakes-Precious Life Lessons

Lessons Learned The Hard Way

  1. No one understands exactly what you do – perhaps even you. And that’s okay. In fact, we started out solely offering social media services and expanded to provide more online media services when we saw a need that we were able to fill. Be willing to be what your clients need, not just want you think you are or want to be. Of course that works the other way too, you can’t be everything to everyone all of the time. 
  2. Having a ten person team when you’re not even netting a half a million dollars a year is just a bad business plan. Running lean — and I mean REALLY lean — is always the best policy. The next best? Outsourcing to trusted, experienced and well-rounded business partners. Look into virtual assistants, ghost bloggers, graphic designers and SEO managers before you bring on another employee. You’ll save money, time, and numerous hiring and firing nightmares.
  3. Answer “How are things going?” with care. I learned not to tell my mom about my lack of sleep or feelings of being overwhelmed. I find that brings on texts and phone calls from family members asking if I’m okay and telling me I need to take a break or plan a vacation. Save your loved ones the worry (and you the extra phone calls) by learning how to say, “Things are very busy, and even though I’ve worked a lot lately, I’m feeling extremely accomplished.” That little positive spin can give everyone a little peace!

the ugly truth

The UGLY Truth

  1. People will take advantage of you at every turn. For example, an ex employer of mine plagiarized a LinkedIn Recommendation I received from a gentleman named Lewis Sims. The company owner had the audacity to take the recommendation word for word — only taking out my name and replacing it with the company name — and then placed it proudly on her website. Have thick skin and above-par morals, you’ll need both often!
  2. There is no work life balance; no 9-5 work day; no “I’ll answer that person when I feel like it.” If you want to rock the social sphere with your social business, you have to have extreme focus. If you want to succeed you have to out work everyone else. Social is 24/7 and you have to try to keep up with that. 
  3. There are a lot of people jumping on the social media bandwagon. Make sure you A) Have some serious know-how , B) Have a differentiation strategy, and C) Constantly test, adapt, and change (or die).

What social lessons have you learned? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!

See you in the social sphere!

 

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Brooke B. Sellas is the in-the-trenches Founder & CEO of @HelloBSquared, an award-winning social media, advertising, and customer care agency. She's also the Co-host of The Marketing Companion podcast with Mark Schaefer, where they discuss jaw-dropping marketing trends. Brooke's marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout!
Category: Best Practices, Online Marketing, Social Business, Social Media Marketing, Social Strategy
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4 Comments. Leave new

  • In the 2 years I’ve had my business, I have learned the same lessons. There are some days I honestly question what I am doing and if I’m doing a good enough job – it’s all feelings that come with owning your own business. Thank you for sharing what you’ve learned – it’s nice to read a post like this and know I’m not alone!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for commenting, Mandy! It IS nice to know that others have gone through the same thing or have the same feelings. It’s not easy, but it’s very rewarding and at the end of the day I LOVE what I do! 🙂

      Reply
  • I am so glad I read your post, Brooke. I’m still learning the ins and outs of being a solopreneur and realize I’m only at the very tip of the proverbial iceberg. Congrats on a very awesome first year of B Squared! At the pace you’re going, I know you’ll have continued success! I’m honored to be in SSC with you!
    Jennifer G. Hanford recently posted…Facebook Hashtags: Five Brands Doing Them RightMy Profile

    Reply
    • Thanks so much, Jenn! I’m still learning, too. In fact, I’m sure that the learning will be on-going … and when I stop learning, something is probably WRONG.
      So glad we’ve met through the SSC and have become fast, digital friends! 🙂

      Reply

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