It's easy to make plans, but it's hard when all of your plans fall through.
When we made our business plan, I had hoped that everything was going to turn out exactly as we wrote out on paper. I thought we'd be able to find incredible, loyal customers with our marketing, capture new leads through a stunning funnel, and ultimately grow the business of our dreams in no time at all.
It turns out, we did a lot wrong.
The benefit of doing a lot of things wrong is the ability to learn from your mistakes. A lot of people are afraid to fail because failure feels like the end of the world. While the absence of failure may feel safe, I believe that not experiencing enough mistakes can stunt your growth.
Running a small business is an unpredictable roller coaster that most people aren't prepared to get on. At the same time, with enough resources, it can also be the most wonderful learning and development opportunity. We allowed and expected ourselves to fail; we anticipated making mistakes, which opened up the ability to learn!
Once we spent enough time making a few mistakes and learning what we did wrong, it was time to implement a strategy for change. We took the things we discovered along the way and created a new plan of action.
We Needed to Get Better at Marketing
I've found that effective marketing is best understood in three simple tiers:
The "Like, Know, Trust" structure is a really easy way of breaking down a simple marketing funnel. If we're creating any kind of marketing content, the first purpose of that content is to have prospective customers like it. When someone sees something that they like often enough, they'll feel the desire to dive deeper, ultimately wanting to get to know the creator more. As the prospective customer begins to develop a more active and intimate relationship with the creator, there forms a bond of trust.
Once trust is achieved, it's integral to never violate it. Any kind of business that violates the trust of its customers is doomed to fail.
In order to develop any kind of relationship through marketing, you need to reach the right people. What we discovered after our initial attempt at creating a marketing plan was that we simply weren't reaching people who would be a great fit for our business; we weren't targeting our ideal customers, which meant that any of our strategies were bound to fail regardless.
We discovered that our ideal customers had the same mentality as us: they wanted to grow their business. They were searching for clarity and understanding so that they could make better decisions, but they realized they couldn't do it on their own. Either they were trying to grow without understanding their finances, doing everything themselves, or weren't getting the proper level of service from their financial professional.
Austin and I also realized that we needed to increase our local marketing reach. We're virtual bookkeepers, but we're also bookkeepers based in Orange County, California. In order to work with more customers in our area, we realized that part of our marketing strategy needed to target businesses looking for a bookkeeper in Irvine, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, and other Southern California Cities.
Small Businesses Need More Accounting Resources
While reflecting on our past few years in business, we realized that there were tons of small business owners around the United States (and around the world!) that simply had no business background. In fact, most of the business owners we encountered started as hobbyists, eventually growing their side-hustle into their full-time gig.
There's a lack of excellent financial education for small business owners online. There aren't many people offering education on how to read financial statements like a Profit and Loss or Balance Sheet. There are very few courses that are both entertaining and informative. Not many people can teach accounting basics and how to use QuickBooks Online while still keeping a viewer's attention.
We decided it was time to help micro-business owners (businesses making under $100k/yr) by developing resources and creating tools for them to use.
Ultimately, we created this goal and a new plan to get there in order to grow our business. Along the way, we want to see other business owners grow as well. We founded Amarlo to help business owners find the confidence they deserve to have while running a business. I'm confident that we'll get there, whether it's through this plan, the next one, or the one after that.