At the heart of every enterprise lives passion. Even in the largest of corporations, someone, somewhere, at some point in time had an idea, a drive, a hunger, to propel them into the hard work and commitment of entrepreneurship. Sustainability of that initial passion equals success. If you can sustain that motivation through time, through the ebbs, flows, and plateaus, you will succeed. Contrary to what many entrepreneurs practice, the difference between sustainability and a quickly extinguished flame of passion is knowing when to stay in your lane.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. In the first phase of growth, wearing too many hats comes with the territory. However, make it your goal to find resources, mentors, talent, brains, and skills to build the business. Before that, you need a strategy. Before you have a strategy, you need your objectives.

When my husband and I opened our car dealership in Houston, TX, we stood out front and my husband declared: “I’m going to be the mayor of N. Shepherd.” – that’s the name of the street that I also call tote-the-note row. It’s where you go to buy a used car in Houston. Everyone knows. And if you don’t know, then you must not be from around here. We weren’t going to be politicians. No. We were going to serve our community and dominate our area by selling used cars. We knew it would be our customer experience that would set us apart on N. Shepherd.

My first lesson in business is that having a map, resources, a strategy, mentors, and a plan can make the lows less steep and the blows less painful. Take the time and spend the money to fill in your knowledge gaps. We figured out our business model from a financial standpoint a couple of years into operation. We followed the standard of advertising used cars, which at the time, was mainly in print ads. There wasn’t anything to it at all. Then it all flipped. People were shopping on the internet, shopping for cars on the internet. And the phones stopped ringing.

Like any stubborn entrepreneur trying to save a buck, I set out to learn and do it all:  SEO, social media marketing, social advertising, website management, reputation management, user experience, all the things. Everything sounds so easy, so simple. And in reality, it is all really easy when you don’t know what you’re doing. The breadth and depth of the ever-changing digital environment is massive. 

Fast forward some years filling in my knowledge gaps with work experience and formal education and I’m here to save small business owners some pain – you need a marketing strategy. You have a business strategy, whether it’s in your head or on paper, so take the next step to build your marketing strategy. Resist the urge to make content and spend advertising money without direction or metrics to determine success.  

The internet didn’t just change the way people shop and buy things. It changed the way consumers engage with businesses.