Sheer has been helping start-up businesses grow for nearly 8 years. During this time many people have come to us looking for ways to fulfil their dreams of financial independence and freedom. Many of these individuals have had very good ideas, and some with relatively detailed plans. However, one of the most common misconceptions is what we call the Field of Dreams – “Build it and they will come” mentality.

Quite often people are very focused upon the details of what their brand and website will look like, or some particular killer feature which they see as uniquely differentiating. They also have a notion that they want “SEO” and often believe that organic traffic is going to be pivotal to their growth – which is not entirely wrong.

The truth is that building a beautiful website with killer UX from the outset is the right solution at the wrong time. The harsh reality is that without an audience your shiny new thing is going to be invisible. Organic SEO (even with a substantial investment in an expert consultant) can take 12 – 18 months to get the traction that would justify the cost of investing a fair chunk of cash in perfecting a platform.

Before labouring over the minutiae of the website it is important to consider where you are going to get your website traffic from. Some businesses consider a website as a mere brochure for reference when handing out business cards or having sales conversations. This is obviously missing a trick and in the post-Covid era is increasingly difficult as cold outreach is roundly rejected (think WFH Mum and Dad wrestling with work & schoolwork and you can see the increasing hostility).

Invest in yourself

In this way, any owner of a website looking to achieve financial independence and freedom will need to become expert at building audiences a.k.a [Digital] Marketing. Sorry folks, yep there’s a lot of a nitty gritty in there but everyone who wants to create demand needs to develop these fundamental 21st century skills.

Investing in yourself to develop these skills will give you an advantage as relatively few people are highly skilled at this right now. However, this is rapidly changing – as Gen Z matures these skills will be considered as basic as using Microsoft Word was for Gen X. By the middle of this century it is going to be incredibly competitive out there.

There are literally millions of articles and resources on marketing and growth hacking with insights on how to grow your business in numerous ways across multiple channels. Digging deep and experimenting with a low stake/risk test-and-learn approach is the only way to earn your marketing chops.

Build your Audience

Without that expertise you are just another sucker in the lottery. There are many reputable marketing agencies out there who are good at what they do – but none can guarantee results. The infinite number of variables which can impact demand mean the unless you have the right message (and creative), going to the right people at the right time – your effort will be wasted. The good news is that once you learnt the basics of technical execution the rest of it really comes down to good old business ingenuity and no one, no matter how creative, has a monopoly on that.

If you avoid over-investing in a starter website and recognise the reality that most reputable marketing agencies are simply not designed for an entry level budget – this frees up a fair amount of your cash for marketing experimentation to build an audience.

The clients we know who have been the most successful have built an audience themselves before trying to monetise it. Think Instagram (B2C) or Linkedin (B2B) or if your product or service skews younger – then platforms like You-Tube, Tik-Tok and Twitch. Think how can I build an audience – do a have story to tell? Do have anything insightful or interesting to share with an audience?

It is possible to grow your audience through different tactics and of course organic is best, but you can also explore low cost paid options to grow followers/ subscribers.  Different channels have different ROI and once your audience numbers grow above 5 figures you are in the monetisation zone.

Win your freedom

Of course, this takes time – but if you can work on this as a side-hustle or if you are lucky enough to the have the time and resources to do it full time then you can accelerate. When you have built an audience the you can start to think about the best tech options to monetise.

As Facebook and Instagram introduce payment options within their stores some would-be entrepreneurs will decide to focus exclusively on developing business in a single ecosystem. No website required. WhatsApp are steadily rolling out in-chat commerce – this may rapidly become the go-to channel for Gen Z.

Smart businesses with a wider demographic will continue to invest in omni-channel experiences and a tech strategy that seamlessly straddles different channel preferences will be important. With so many people interacting with a plethora of channels, the probability you can build a killer website with pure-play organic SEO and become an overnight sensation is now very low.

Invest in yourself (you are the differentiator in your business), build an audience (it’s the only way you can generate income), and talk to us about how we can help you evolve your tech strategy from a starter website/store to a UX masterpiece, to an omni-channel omniverse – we’ll help you to make the right decisions at the right time.

Long term business relationships are built on trust, and we want to grow with our Clients in the long term – sometimes this means hitting the pause button until they have the best shot at financial independence and freedom.

#digitalforLife