I spent the last few days playing hooky to hang out with Laura Crawford and Russ Roca of The Path Less Pedaled. A little over a year ago, they sold almost all of their belongings in order to tour the US (and eventually the world) by bicycle. In addition to running Path Less Pedaled, they are also both creative entrepreneurs. (Russ is a photographer and Laura is a metalsmith.)
So naturally, as I was showing them around my area via bike, there was quite a bit of talk about running a business, especially one that revolves around online and social media.
While what Laura and Russ are doing certainly has a lot to teach us about life, their experience can also teach us a lot about running a small business. So I thought I’d share a few of the lesson on business and social media I gleaned while we explored the countryside by bike.
1. You control the pace of your business.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to get into these frenetic work fits. I put my head down, focus to meet crazy deadlines I’ve set for myself, and end up working 10 or 12 hour days in the process.
But ultimately, I think most of us started our own businesses because we wanted control of our lives. And in order to have control of your life, you have to remember that you can control the pace of your business.
Taking control of the pace of your business can be challenging. It requires saying no sometimes. It might require you to cut entire product lines or areas of your business because they’re all work and little reward. And you’ll need to remind yourself that it’s ok to take a break now again.
Because I’m pretty sure I started my business so that I could go for a leisurely bike ride on a Tuesday afternoon from time to time. I just have to remind myself of that.
2. Social media is about making connections.
So much of what Laura and Russ are doing is bound up in social media. In fact, I could use them as a textbook example of how to use a Facebook fan page to build a brand.
And what makes their Facebook page so successful?
They understand that social media is all about making connections.
Sometimes we get so worked up trying to grow our numbers in social media that we forget that the whole point of social media is engagement. We try so hard to get more followers that we neglect the followers we already have.
So instead of blindly focusing on getting more followers, spend some time trying to connect with the ones you already have. Chance are, you’ll end up gaining more followers as a result.
3. Your audience wants something from you. Listen to them.
Laura and Russ just launched their first ebook – a comprehensive guide to bicycle touring equipment. (Even if you aren’t interested in the topic, it’s worth checking out for the beautiful photography and layout.)
What made them choose this topic?
Gear questions are the ones they get asked more than anything else, so they knew there would be a market.
Whether it’s your blog readers or social media followers, people are paying attention to you because they’re interested in what you do. But they might not have purchased from you because you haven’t yet given them what they want.
So if you pay attention to the things people ask or say, such as “I would buy those earrings if they only came in green.” or, “your technique is so unusual, how do you do it?” You’ll find that there are opportunities to create new products that people can’t wait to buy.
4. People respond to passion.
Laura and Russ aren’t the only bike touring blog on the web. But people respond to them because they’re passionate about what they do. It’s clear that they love what they’re doing and that they’re committed to getting others involved as well.
And they bring that passion and personality into everything they do, but especially to the way they write on their blog.
People are interested in small businesses like yours because they’re run by a human. A human with interests, and passions, and flaws. Don’t try to hide that. Let your personality and your emotions come through on your blog and on your website.
Because people respond to passion.
And it’s one of the best ways I know to build a truly great businesses.
(image via The Path Less Pedaled)