5 Marketing Lessons from ‘surviving’ my first 5 years in business

September 16, 2022
by Charlie Whyman
B2B Marketing Mentor

There's some shocking research that suggests that 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, 30% in their second year, and 50% fail after five years.*  

5 years in, having just had my most successful year yet, I’m sharing some marketing lessons to help you work towards those similar milestones.  

The first might surprise you … 


    Watching my dad in business taught me 2 key things: 

    1. Be genuinely curious and kind to everyone – you never know who will refer or turn into a customer 
    1. If you don’t ask, you don’t get  

    I’ve always kept in touch with people, so it took just a week to find 2 retainer clients that covered my bills – all my going through my LinkedIn network and picking up the phone.  

    Whether it’s your phone contacts, people you’ve emailed, or even a good old-fashioned address book, you never know who might be looking for what you do, or who might know somebody that is. 

    Marketing lesson 3:The best marketing content comes from the mouths of your customers

    Do you know what your ideal customer struggles with? What their goals are? 

    Even better, do you know exactly HOW they talk about those things? 

    By recording your sales calls, and utilising your customers’ language, tone and context in your marketing materials, you’ll come across more authentic, and you’ll stand way above the compeittion as too few people dedicate time to doing this. 

    NOTE: use these conversations as your research – don’t go in with a hard sell. Genuine curiosity is what will set you apart. 

    Listening to your customers can also help you avoid making assumptions and developing the wrong products and services which brings me to….. 

    Marketing Lesson Number 4: Avoid making assumptions

    Just because you know what your customers need, doesn’t mean they’re willing to invest in it. 

    For me, I thought events training would help companies get a positive ROI, and avoid the common mistakes I saw at every single event I went to. 

    Turns out, the audience I was targeting would rather invest in somebody doing it for them, so that idea soon fell flat. 

    There’s a good reason the joke suggests that when you assume you make an ASS out of U and ME! 

    Your customers buy when they are ready to buy – not when you are ready to sell to them.  

    So, make decisions that backed up by research – what is ACTUALLY true, not just what you believe to be true. 

    Marketing lesson 5: Be Careful who’s advice you listen to

    Everyone appears to be a marketing guru these days – but that doesn’t mean they’re going to guide you in the right direction. 

    Most of the time, you DO know what you need to be doing. You just need a loving boot to keep you accountable and to help you move forwards by challenging your thinking.  

    Before investing, here’s what I’ve learned: 

    • Set Clear Objectives 
    • BELIEVE in what you’re doing (or risk self-sabotage) 
    • Focus on Progress not perfection 
    • Commit to the work but be realistic with what you can achieve 
    • Don’t compare to others – walk your own path, at your own pace 

    To wrap up 

    Starting your own business is tough, particularly on your own. I’ve invested in hiring help this year, and whilst I wish I’d done it sooner, I also know I’m where I need to be right now. The future is looking very exciting.  

    There were times I felt like giving up, but I’m so grateful that I’m surrounded by support and mentors that share vision to reduce overwhelm and help create simple marketing plans that generate results. 

    So, if you, or someone you know, has started a business, I hope this has given you something to think about.  

      Until Then, Stay Curious 🦦

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