You feel it. It’s a sense of something changing. You can’t quite put your finger on it but it’s there. It’s eluding you. Maybe your audience is changing. Maybe you’re not quite keeping up with the trends. You already missed Snapchat and TikTok. Do you need to set up a Discord server? Maybe your audience hasn’t changed. Maybe you did.
Which Comes First? The Chicken or the Egg?
I’m solidly Gen X and sat in my automatic swing in front of Sesame Street from the early years. I can’t help but think of the Sesame Street song of the same name when discussing chicken and egg problems. So, does your audience come first or second? It depends.
Most people start their business by just starting. Our sales pitch is short sighted. Our message is focused on getting that first client, and then the second, the third, and so on. As we learn and grow, our audience shifts and changes. We make mistakes and change how we language our offerings. To think that we can come up with our ideal client (persona as marketers call it) without first experiencing how we do business is naive at best.
So, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the chicken comes first. You’re the chicken. Stay with me.
Wait. I’m the Chicken?
Yes, you’re the chicken. You have to have a business that’s a bit mature before you can start producing more eggs. You’re the chicken. Eggs are your product. With me? So a hen needs to be about a year and a half before she can start laying eggs once a day. A rooster isn’t needed — yet. In theory, you — the sole chicken — can lay eggs and make a fine enough living.
We haven’t accounted for housing, feed, or the extra nutrients you need — let alone exercise and companionship. Yes, starting a business is a very lonely thing to do.
As business owners, we are so excited that we’re producing something valuable. It feeds our family. We love it. (Not to get all cannibalistic here. Just stay with me.) But what about reproducing yourself? This is when we think about diversifying income.
Who’s the Rooster in this Audience story?
If you want to produce results that scale then you need a rooster — for fertilization, of course. You can’t scale without help. And that’s quite enough of the birds and the bees for today. But you get the point.
What motivates you to do something that lasts longer than a day or a week? What are your long-term strategies to be self-sustaining? Are you planning for a future with more than one chicken? Who will feed the chickens then? Who will collect the eggs and raise the chicks?
To me the rooster is that je-ne-se-quois moment. That something. The spark. Determination. Grit.
What motivates you? Maybe it’s criticism. Maybe it’s proving to your coworker that you can get an MBA, too. Maybe it’s a dream to move to Germany. Maybe it’s paying off debt.
Who do you want to be in five years? Can you think that far ahead? I know that until this year, I couldn’t think past the quarter I was in.
So, Who’s Your Audience?
Don’t worry about who your customers are now. Start investing in the kind of customer you want to have. Start raising your prices. Streamline your offerings. Take a real look at your job costing. What makes you money, where do you lose it? What can be outsourced to another vendor? Find out what you hate doing. Reverse engineer a way out of it.
If you need to journal it, then do that. If you need a vision board, do it. If you need an accountability buddy, get one. A business coach? Get one. A marketing consultant? I’m only a few clicks (and dollars) away.
Otherwise, why are you in business for yourself? Wouldn’t it be easier to just get a job?