What I’ve learned supporting Entrepreneurs & Small Business Owners

Why is research so important?

I’m coming up on 4 years of working for myself. It’s been an amazing adventure. My work allows me to travel and live wherever I choose. It’s been liberating to have the freedom I always dreamed of.

I’ve had the privilege of working for many different companies. I worked for a start up in Silicon Valley (a now defunct company known as Vadem), I worked for various corporations such as PriceWaterhouseCoopers, E*Trade, Wells Fargo, and Nationwide Lending to name a few. I also had the honor to work out of private home offices in beautiful Sonoma. While I’m grateful for all of the incredible places I’ve worked, to be honest, working for myself is one of the best career decisions I ever made.

When I was collecting a paycheck, I always knew whether or not I was going to like working for a particular company. I judged each and every place by one deciding factor: training. Companies that took the time to properly train me were some of the better office environments I worked in. The companies that hired me and showed me my desk with old handouts from the previous employee, were always a nightmare to work for. It became a pattern that I saw over the years and my decision criteria never failed me.

Now that I have been working for myself as a virtual assistant supporting Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners, I have discovered another pattern. I can usually gauge how challenging my job will be based on a number of factors, but there is one in particular that stands out above the rest; how well these business owners know their target audience.

Seems simple, right? I work with clients that span across multiple industries, but the pattern is the same, no matter who I work with. Those that know what their niche is, know who their target audience/clientele are, their wants, needs, and pain points –  it makes my job a breeze.

I’ll be honest, social media is not a cure all. If you do not know who your clients are or who your target audience is, where they live online, the ‘language’ they speak, their interests or their pain points, it makes what I do even more challenging.

I always tell my clients that they know their clients way better than I ever will. The working relationship I have with my clients is like a partnership. One hand washes the other. If I receive only half of the data, tools and research from a client, then I am only able to tell half the story on social media. If this is the case, I always ask if they have a budget for research.

I am a strong proponent of research. It always surprises me when I run into business owners who don’t want to spend the time or the money into researching who they are trying to sell to! So much money can be saved in the long run, by taking the time to do the research upfront. Not only will it save you money, but it can save you time spent on creating products that no one will buy! I’ve watched a client do this firsthand, and it wasn’t a pretty result. After all, I can’t force anyone to take the time or to spend the money to thoroughly do the research.

My major in college, at the Academy of Art University, was Advertising with an emphasis on Strategy. I LOVE doing the research to find out what makes people tick within any given niche. I often learn so much about how people think, and what they value by doing phone or skype interviews. It takes a bit longer, but the insights it can yield are unparalleled! There is only so much you can learn from Googling something.

Are you struggling with understanding your niche? Not sure what your target audience really thinks? I offer a research package that can be found here.

Don’t waste precious time guessing what your target audience wants! Take the guess work out of the equation by spending the time researching who they really are.

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