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The 3 BIG small business lessons I’ve learned and why I will never be broke
If you’re an entrepreneur and you somehow managed to survive the worst economy in modern day history, let me congratulate you.   You probably survived because you either tapped into your resources or you just got creative about ways to generate new revenue, keep customers and stay a float!

My business almost didn’t make it.   I can vividly recall one of my scariest moments. I was sitting in my office and realized that I didn’t have one single client.   Some went away due to budget cuts spurred by the economic downturn.   Others I fired.   Admittedly, one or two fired me.    But the bottom-line was, there were no more checks coming in.   What the hell was I going to do?   How did I let this happen? How do I publicly uphold the positive, happy-go-lucky ‘Monique Caradine’ image when behind the scenes my “ish” is completely falling apart?   I had that sick, sinking feeling in my gut.

At one point, my business finances were in such disarray, I actually thought about dissolving Momentum Media Group completely and applying for a job.  

“F***k entrepreneurship, the TV show and the media persona.   Let me go get a “real” job with a steady paycheck and some frickin benefits,” I said.

Thankfully, with the support of my amazing husband and the brilliance of the incredible people who coach me and mastermind with me, I snapped out of my temporary insanity and my business is now back on track.  

Despite floundering for about three years as an entrepreneur, not really being sure which way to go or how to get there, the visions that I have always had for Momentum Media Group and my personal brand are finally becoming a reality.  

Through it all,  I learned many lessons.    Three of the biggest lessons  are listed below.   I now consistently employ each of these strategies into my business survival regimen:

Lesson #1- You have to market your business every single day.  

Marketing Everyday

People put so many things above marketing because they either hate doing it or just don’t know how to do it effectively.   You can hide your head in the sand if you want, but NOTHING is more important than marketing.   Raising capital is not more important.   Managing your staff is not more important. Your success depends on how well you market your business.   Marketing is not just about flyers, door hangers and  advertising.   It’s about communicating with your customers in an authentic way and letting them know that you have the solution to their problems.   In my next blog post, I will explain in detail the benefits of marketing everyday and give you some very basic recommendations on how small businesses and solopreneurs can do it.   I’m also working exclusively with a few serious entrepreneurs who want me to help them map out a plan that works.   

Lesson #2 — You have to create multiple income streams.

When my business almost sank, I had two income streams: my clients and my TV show.   Needless to say, when the clients disappeared, the show was not enough to sustain my lifestyle.   So whether you’re an author, entrepreneur, solopreneur, mompreneur or you run a small fledgling business with a few employees, these days, it makes sense to have a few different income streams.   For example, if you’re a boutique owner, you should have in-store sales as well as an e-commerce component (2 streams of income), an image consulting component (3 streams) and you should host private trunk shows for local designers where you charge a small fee to the designers for using your space or a small admission fee from the people who attend (4 streams).   Currently, I have at least 5 income streams.  I speak, host workshops, run a mastermind, my voice-over business thrives effortlessly and I also have a few select publicity clients.   I am happy to say that I can pick and choose what I do and who I work with.  Essentially, I will never be broke, no matter what the economy does.   

Lesson #3 — Your brand has to be strong.

Your brand is a combination of several things: 1.) the feeling or emotion that comes to mind when your target customers think of you, 2.) the collateral materials (brochures, business cards, website, etc) that represent you and 3.) the mottos and/or logos that help convey your overall message.  

So what do your clients think, feel and say about you?   Do you know?   Have you asked?   Are you capturing their testimonials and including them in your marketing?   How sharp, consistent and impactful is your website?  Do your facebook, twitter and LinkedIn pages enhance your brand? What does your business card say about what you do?   Are your branding materials homemade or did you invest in your “look” so you don’t come across as cheap?   If the latter is you, get it together.

There are far too many affordable resources available for you to be out here looking cheesy.   So get a great designer.   I work with an amazing company called Ultimate Design VA run by Delaine Ulmer.   She understands who I am, what I do and how to capture that when she designs my flyers, web banners or anything involving my brand.   Develop a relationship with a design professional.   The longevity of your brand could depend on it.

The new economy is definitely stretching entrepreneurs, requiring us to venture into new terrain if we are going to thrive and grow multi-million dollar enterprises.   It may seem daunting but it can be done if you employ these fundamental tactics.   Of course I learned other important lessons as well, like the power of giving unselfishly and the power of masterminding but we’ll discuss those more in a future post.

What are the survival strategies that have worked for you?

7 Responses to “The 3 BIG small business lessons I’ve learned and why I will never be broke”

  1. Great article Monique! Definitely encouraging and one I can COMPLETELY identify with! I appreciate you sharing with the Mom Squad!

  2. Monique Caradine says:

    Thanks Tenille! Love me some Chicago Mom Squad!! :)

  3. This article was so inspiring.

  4. Aja Kearney says:

    Thanks for sharing. It has definitely helped me to start putting some things into perspective!

  5. Erica Bell says:

    Great Blog! I will refer to these tips often.

  6. Thank YOU…This is great information! I’m making a come back and I take heed to your sound advice. “Manifesting My Destiny!”

    To Your Success

  7. Monique Caradine says:

    *Fatima,* you are a talented artisan. Think BIG. You need to be internationally known! *Yvette,* your words excite me! As you make your comeback, do it BIG. *Erica,* are you comfortable with the size of YOUR gift? U have a unique level of brilliance. Time to sharing with more than just me! ;) *Aja* come on girl. Your time is NOW! Time to totally change the game. Yall ready???

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