Leaving My Comfort Zone

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By Kate Lalak

The world has changed dramatically since 2020 and we have drastically changed our focus, our business priorities and the way we work.
The traditional 9 to 5 job is no longer the core way to earn a living and people are finding new avenues for income. Indeed, data from Semrush has shown across the nation that searches are up 3800 per cent for Aussies looking for “side hustles from home” and 585.7 per cent for “side hustles to make money.”
I am one of those people. In 2017, after 17 years of working in the corporate world in a range of senior sales and marketing roles, I left the safety of a secure high-paying job and joined the world of entrepreneurship. I’ve never looked back. 

Learn the art on how to sell stuff with valuable tips from esteemed entrepreneurs such as Kate Lalak of Cloud Nine Global and Lucy Wildman of Little Flock of Horrors.

In January 2018 I launched Cloud Nine Global and I have been on a roller-coaster adventure over the past few years turning that business into a successful, profitable model despite, and possibly even thanks to, the numerous setbacks and challenges the global pandemic kept throwing our way. 
It is a challenging and often frustrating road to launching a new business into the market. But it also teaches you so much and gives you a level of satisfaction and pride that you will never feel working for someone else. 
I also have a second business teaching small business owners how to become more profitable. This business started by giving helpful tips to people for free and has become a very successful consultancy in its own right. 
There are certain key tips I give to anyone looking to launch a new business, regardless of whether it’s product or service-based:

Find your customers

Your first step is to work out if there is demand in the market for your product or service, to ensure you’ll have customers to sell to. Customer research is incredibly important but it can be difficult to know where to start.  There are plenty of online tools and platforms such as Semrush that can help with this research. They can show you what people are searching for so you can see where the demand sits in the current market and where you can tap into new potential customers. You can also create surveys and polls to collect data and insights from potential customers for proof of concept. 

Know your market

Before launching your business, take the time to understand the existing market and any associated trends. Are there growth trends in the category you’re looking to launch in? How many competitors will you have? What makes different businesses in the same category stand out? 
You then need to look at your own business idea and see how you are going to distinguish yourself. It is very difficult as a new business with a small budget to get noticed in a busy marketplace, and unique defining features will help you stand out. 

Watch the video here.

Educate your customers

Once you’ve developed your business idea, you will be very familiar with your offering, features and benefits. But don’t assume your customers will also know this when you launch. It’s essential that you take them on the journey and help them understand your brand and your product or service. 
Focus on the things your competitors can’t say, rather than using the same jargon as everyone else. If you sound the same as your competitors then customers will only have a price to differentiate you on, and that is a very difficult position to work from. Be clear and concise in communicating your brand and why customers should consider your products or services. 

Invest in tools to showcase your product or service

Most businesses sell or promote their products or services online, which means your first point of contact with potential customers won’t be direct. So, you need to ensure that when they engage with your brand for the first time, you represent your products or services as you would if you were selling to them in person. 
Use your website and social media channels, and ensure you have great photos of your products (or of yourself, if you’re a service provider). Look at getting professionals to help build your website, create social content and take photos for products or headshots. There are so many platforms now where you can find highly skilled, reasonably priced freelancers to help, such as Upwork and Fiverr and it’s worth the investment. 

Build a community and network

Networking has been one of the keys to my business success, in both my consulting and product-based businesses. Finding customers and leads from a standing start is hugely challenging, even for the best salespeople. But having an engaged customer base leads to much higher conversion rates and will definitely increase your rate of sales. Build up your network by collecting emails through marketing campaigns and social media, attending trade shows to make new contacts, and joining networking groups (both online and in-person). All of these will help you create a solid base from which to sell once you launch. 

About the author: Kate Lalak is the co-founder of Cloud Nine Global. This is an opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this publication.

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