Today, we are having Sethlina Amakye sharing about the misconceptions and her personal tips about creating a faith based business. I know many of my faith, or generally, belief based business owner friends are often caught in the tension of putting it all out there or measuring how much to share. Well, Sethie is sharing about her own experience and the two main lessons she has learned along the way.
“Entrepreneurship is insanity with a side of freedom. It is “Why would I ever try this” with a dash of “I couldn’t see myself living any other way”. When you’re up, you’re super up and when you’re down…well let’s just say your bank account openly laughs in your face. That up and down is way more bearable when your business is authentic to your lifestyle and in line with your beliefs. I can’t say I have it perfect but I’ve come up with a couple of ways to live your most authentic life where your business, beliefs, and lifestyle don’t have to be separate entities!
Before I proceed, I think there is a false narrative that having a business that is both authentic and true to your faith means more money. I’m sorry to say that it isn’t always the case. Yes, sales could rise in conjunction with being true to yourself BUT they aren’t synonymous. Many people are in business doing what they love and not making a whole lot from it. Yes money is a focal point, because well, duh, we all have to eat, but there is something special about being able to ask God to bless your business and your family knowing that He’ll take care of the rest.
I truly believe in building a business that isn’t tedious or difficult to manage when things aren’t going as planned because your beliefs are the anchor. Believe it or not, most entrepreneurs think about quitting at least 10 times a day. In my case, I stop myself from quitting only because my business is so closely aligned to what I would do even if I wasn’t getting paid AND it’s completely connected to what I believe God has in store for me.
What keeps you going? What keeps you looking “up” in spite of what is happening around you? What brings you fulfillment and joy?
That brings me to my two tips for today…
There are business coaches out there wincing at this thought because not everything we enjoy doing is profitable, but it makes a huge difference when you are up fulfilling orders in the middle of the night. If you are product based, like me, you will most likely have late nights with packing tape, and tissue paper. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather be doing something I actually truly enjoy. Think about it this way: What is so closely connected to your lifestyle that nobody even bats an eye when you tell them your plan? Have you been doing yoga for 15 years? Then it makes perfect sense to open a yoga studio. If you have always done your friends’ and families’ makeup (and people keep coming back), it makes perfect sense to become a professional makeup artist. I am a creative and came out the womb with a glue gun and glitter. It makes sense that my business would reflect that.
Your beliefs set the stage for every decision you make in your business. These are what you pull from when you have nowhere to turn. These are what buoy you when you’ve scoured all the business books, podcasts, or discussion boards and still can’t figure it out. Your beliefs make it possible to push just a little further when all odds are against you.
I am a Christian and my business is a direct reflection of that belief. I speak of Jesus constantly in my real life and so it makes it a million times easier to join my real life with my business life. My website, my ministry, my family, my real life personality are all connected and so my customers get the same person every time. I try referring to my faith in Instagram posts and sharing articles that have a feel good faith based narrative. This doesn’t have to be in your face but you will gain an entirely new audience and tribe of people who share or respect that about you. Hint, Hint: this also turns into conversions on the checkout page!
I know we all want to make it to the Forbes list but these small tweaks will give you a balanced and more fulfilled life when you do finally get there! I want to be the kind of business owner that can look at herself in the mirror and can sleep at night. I believe living the most authentic life possible sets you apart from the competition and also nourishes your soul, basically a win-win for everyone!”
About Sethie: Sethlina Amakye is a woman of God, wife, mother, business owner, author, and speaker. Her book, The Little Pink Book: The Modern Girl’s Guide to Christ Centered Femininity, has also afforded the opportunity for an online retail store, Love Sethie, and a ministry, The Tribe Gathering. In her free time she can be found watching Fixer Upper, sewing, or repurposing old furniture.
We have the king of Instagram with us today aka Tyler J. McCall who is an Instagram Marketing Expert. If you know of Tyler then I have no doubt you already love him, if you don’t then go follow him on Instagram @tylerjmccall and learn all the things to take your business Instagram game to the next level, while laughing so hard and having quite a lot of fun. Today, Tyler is focusing on Instagram stories, how to effectively and efficiently take advantage of that fantastic tool and grow your online business. So, read on to learn more…
“So, remember that time Instagram ripped off Snapchat? In August of last year, Instagram rolled out their newest feature – Instagram Stories – allowing users to create little snippets of content (videos, photos, and Boomerangs) that go away after 24 hours. If you’re anything like me, you probably hated the new feature when it was announced (believe me, I rolled my eyes so hard I thought I needed surgery to fix ‘em). After I got over my initial feelings of “UGH! Are you kidding me?!” I got to work creating strategies for using Instagram Stories for my business online. And, the results, have been AMAZING! Results like more leads, more sales, more business, more meaningful relationships – all of the “more” things you hope to get out of all of that hard work online. And now, with Instagram reporting that over 200 million users are on Instagram Stories every day (that’s more than Snapchat’s 160 million users), is the time to start building an Instagram Stories strategy that grows your presence online. Let’s talk it out…
Creating kick booty Instagram Stories all starts with having a clear understanding of who in the world you’re even talking to online. Do some soul searching (and Google searching) to learn more about who you reallllly want to serve in your business. And think about what that person or those people will find interesting, valuable, entertaining, or inspirational. Part of your job on Instagram (well, and in marketing your business across the internet) is attracting the right folks and repelling the wrong folks. You can’t do that unless you know who you’re trying to reach.
Instagram Stories are the most amazing tool for building affinity with your audience. Not sure what affinity is? I wasn’t until I Googled it…I had just heard it on podcasts all the time. Affinity is that inclination you have toward a person or brand. It’s that feeling you have where you just have to purchase a product or service because you’re so drawn to a business. Affinity is rooted in trust, genuine connection, and values. So, your job on Instagram Stories is to give to your audience…then give ‘em a little bit more. Give them valuable information. Give them stories and reasons behind what you do. Give them resources that help them in their lives or businesses.
I see the same mistake again-and-again on Instagram Stories – they’re not stories! Your content can’t be mindless, purposeless, boring, or generic. It’s gotta be special. It’s gotta be unique. On Instagram, you are in a crowded space and your job is to stand out from the crowd. That’s what stories can do for your business (and I mean Instagram Stories and just actual stories you tell through marketing your brand online). And what do all good stories have in common? A beginning, a middle, and an end (and things like a hero, a hero’s journey, a struggle, a resolution…but, we’re not talking about all of that here). The easiest way you can make your Stories more powerful is by ensuring they have a clear introduction, an easy to follow core, and an ending that builds expectation for your next Story.
DO IT WITH A PURPOSE OR NOT AT ALL
Okay, this is like a life lesson. But, when it comes to Instagram Stories, I only want you creating content that has some purpose or intention to go along with it. Why, you may ask? Because creating content for the sake of creating content is one of the biggest time-wasters for you as a solopreneur. When it’s time to create your Instagram Stories, do it with a plan in mind. This doesn’t have to be some kind of huge, lofty, overly ambitious goal – simple goals are perfectly fine. Goals like: introducing yourself, taking your followers behind the scenes, walking them through your process, taking followers along with you on your day. Having a purpose for what you’re doing helps influence your content, makes it easier to create content that converts, and saves you so much time in the long run.
Now, get out there and start creating Instagram Stories with intention and you’ll see the magic happen. Feeling stuck or not sure where to start? Here’s my biggest tip: start with what you know. And, for most of you, you know yourself better than anything or anyone else. Use your Instagram Story to talk about who you are, what you do, and why you do it. After all, people want to do business with people, not businesses.
About Tyler: Tyler J. McCall helps entrepreneurs use Instagram with intention to grow their community, grow their list, and grow their business. Tyler teaches his clients how to use Instagram to tell stories, build relationships, and convert followers to fans, drawing from his 10 years of experience in non-profit marketing and management and community organizing. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina with his partner Eric and dog Douglass. When he’s not coaching or teaching, Tyler enjoys Target runs and road trips.
Branding is the glue between the marketing side of things in your business and your consumers/clients. It creates a sense of ownership for the business and hopefully clearly displays differentiation for the consumer. Today, branding goes even further than identification and can tip the scale towards brand success or brand failure, in that bond with the consumer, in the image portrayed and the way it is done, in the promises associated with that image and finally the positioning of the brand in light of others.
It is a fair and important question to ask when we invest so much into our brands and businesses, what causes a brand to fail? What are the effects of that failure and what is the solution or even better, a way to prevent the failure in the first place?
The most common reason for brand failure might very well be the lack of understanding what a brand really is and focusing all one’s energy on creating a product or service instead of building a brand. We are past the days of being able to have a strong product and having that be enough to sustain a brand, a business.
The confusion also lies with the concept of branding, often defined by a logo, some ‘cool’ campaigns, color coordinated collaterals, and so on, instead of thinking of it as a set of principles, values, goals, supported by a visual identity.
Focusing on a product or service, and not knowing what branding is truly about can condemn your business or said product to an ephemeral success. As soon as another product with equal or even slightly less value but a strong brand identity comes along, the interest in your product will very likely start to dimmer. Good products don’t end up being the champions automatically anymore, strong brands do.
The best way to avoid that confusion and make sure you do create a solid brand is to invest in brand equity and attach emotional value to your brand rather than just your product, however great or affordable or original it is. That emotional connection/bond with the consumer creates loyalty in time, which creates longevity. That being said you still need to offer value in your product, it’s not one or another, it’s both.
Riding the trend waves can be a beneficial habit but as a brand it can be a reason for brand failure. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the new thing, especially when everybody else around seems to be doing it (think calligraphy for photographer logos, or pink and gold for women focused brands). The amnesia or the sudden or frequent change of brand direction can also come from a weak initial brand or a brand built on what seemed appealing at the time rather than what was truly the heart of the business.
It gets scary for the consumer when a brand completely changes gear and becomes unrecognizable. It raises questions: do they still stand for this or that value? Are the products or services still as good or as green or as luxurious? Is the customer service quality going to be different? Do I still want to support them with my money? Those are not questions you want your customers to ever have. They start to lose faith in the initial promises you made and might look around for another brand, which very clearly stands for the values they always have, values your consumers used to find in you.
Preventing the brand amnesia happens at two levels. The first is to build a brand in which you can, if you had to, defend with your life, meaning a brand with values that you truly share and believe in. That way you won’t feel the urge to continuously switch and adapt or reconnect.
Secondly, following trends isn’t necessarily dooming for your brand if, and that’s a big if, it fits right in your values and brand culture, and all the messaging you have been putting out, not the other way around.
Megalomania, also known as the delusions of grandeur, along with ego is an usual suspect in brand failure. Some brands get a little dizzy with big success and start to lose the initial vision and want to do it all, and be it all and try it all. Well, that does not work as well as we might think sometimes. This isn’t about diversification, which is by the way recommended, it is about either trying to grow too fast into something else/something new, or not paying attention anymore to the desires and needs of their current/loyal consumers, who have made the previous successes possible – because of the pursuit of new consumer groups.
The main danger in this case of brand megalomania is the risk of losing it all. The brand comes across as arrogant, power and/or money thirsty. The old consumers feel neglected and grow unsatisfied, while the new prospects feel ganged up on and not wooed enough (love takes time to develop, they say) and don’t end up latching on.
Backtracking could work in this case – might require a lot ‘red roses’ sent towards your previously loyal consumers but the key is to not fall into that situation in the first place. It’s paramount to take the time to understand our successes, their sources, their effects and how to build upon them without losing our minds in the excitement. The main antidote for megalomania is to keep people at the center and not money. Yes, we all are in business to make money but people will always be the ones who own the wallets, therefore they need to be your priority.
When paranoia or panic kicks in we tend to take a lot of reactionary actions and implement new strategies that are not always well thought out and consequently lead to failure. Paranoia usually happens when we are trying to remain profitable while our competitors are striving, it creates panic and then forces us to try to promptly keep up – somehow, someway. Brand paranoia is also connected to a lack of change out of fear of messing up and disturbing what’s been working, although the market and the consumers are requiring change. Finally, constantly trying to reinvent itself is a sign of a failing brand as well.
In this scenario change can make it or break it for a brand. Coca-Cola’s change attempt in the 1980’s, 1985 to be exact , when Pepsi seemed to be the ‘cool new kid on the block’ with ‘Pepsi Generation’ and ‘Pepsi challenge’ is the perfect example of change creating failure. Pepsi’s success brought on an obvious panic tornado within the Coca-Cola marketing and branding teams, as they then decided to launch the ‘New Coke’, the first formula change in 99 years. In appearance a new product isn’t so bad of a strategy to counter a new competitor, but when your message has been “you can always count on us to stay classic and keep that original recipe intact”, then it’s the worst possible move.
Polaroid is the opposite example of lack of change creating brand failure. They either didn’t foresee and anticipate the disinterest in printed photography or the rise of the digital world, but they stuck to their guns, stayed a one trick pony business, and didn’t adapt to the change of needs and desires, which didn’t only create a brand failure but also the bankruptcy of the company itself.
This is a delicate matter – what to do when faced with the need of change? To stay still and unshaken or to move and depart from what’s been done so far ( singing ‘should I stay or should I go’). I don’t think there’s a blanket response, it’s a case by case situation unfortunately. Coca-Cola absolutely needed to act but perhaps not react. Polaroid on the other end should have realized the path of innovation and adapted without losing the soul of the business. Their solid ground sadly turned into quicksand. Change isn’t a sin either way but it has to be well thought out if done and not either a result of paralysis analysis – the lack of it that is.
Sophism is the use of a fallacious argument deliberately to deceive someone. If the other reasons seemed accidental or clumsy at best, this one is purely intended and dishonest. It is not a matter of transparency, not every detail must be shared of course but spreading false information to create sales is deceitful and an obvious and shall I add a well deserved brand failure. I believe defects happen and can be explained and fixed, while purposely choosing to cheat and lie to your consumers is despicable and leads to terrible damages for the brand.
Deception affects reputation and reputation hits right at the heart of the giant. It’s almost impossible or extremely difficult to repair those damages even with the best PR. Losing trust is the biggest consequence of deceiving your consumers, aside from making them feel unsafe and disrespected. There’s a legal level of things that we won’t get into here but that also would contribute in this situation to kill a brand.
Not to state the obvious but “don’t lie, tell the truth” is the best advice I would have for anybody, any business, any brand. ‘Honesty’ should be part of every brand’s principles. Be upfront about your mistakes, forgiving an error is easier than forgetting a lie.
Brand failure can happen for all sorts of reasons and have all kinds of effects in the short and long run, but having strong and solid values in which you truly believe is the base for any successful brand. You cannot and should not ignore the market but reacting to every twitch and move can be a mistake.