designing an mba

bicycles, business, and social media

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)

10 responses to “bicycles, business, and social media”

  1. Tina @ Scatterbox

    Amen to #1! I want to ride my bike, too.
    Sometimes, while self-imposed deadlines are a necessity to help keep me motivated, I try to remind myself that the world will not end if I do not meet them.

  2. Studio MME

    I think it’s so easy to get wrapped up in making sales or doing our best to promote our work that we forget that people want to see how human side. We are all passionate but we forget to let others see how that passion shapes our work. This was a perfect way to start my day. Thank you!

  3. Laura

    Thanks Megan! These past few days definitely got my creativity buzzing again – we’ve been pedaling around the beautiful countryside here, plotting what comes next (as well as what’s ahead for my own business). So glad we got to bounce some ideas around – on and off the bikes! :)

    1. Daniel

      I adored the Merc/Santana duet. So much that I dnaloowded the song. It is packed with energy and their voices really do mesh well. I also loved the Tina/Mike duet. Super cute. Haha, how awkward was the line they had to edit; I’m terrific at a dance, girls are messing up my pants, I’m a birdie on the wing The Artie/Brit thing caught me off guard mostly because Artina ended so abruptly. But it became oddly endearing, and seeing Brit all alone, nosing at the meatball .I mean, come on. That is adorable.Finally, Burt shines in his awesome daditude but showing again how much he loves his son, and being able to gently but firmly chastise him when nessicary. Gotta admit, as bad as I feel that Kurt has to go this alone, it also felt good to see him be called on being waaay to pushy and creeperish.

    2. order levitra

      Right on-this helped me sort things right out.

  4. tara - scoutie girl

    i just wanted to say:

    yup.

  5. Elise

    Laura visited me in Bryson City, NC and took a pottery class at my shop! (check out the link to my blog post about her visit: http://pincupottery.com/2010/08/05/pots-across-america/)

    What a neat lady! I have so much envy and admiration for what she is doing – both the bicycling and the blogging! I read and re-read many of your posts and posts on other creative entrepreneur sites and I still haven’t gotten that social media marketing thing down. Time Time Time… and I am supposed to devote some to me and my bike?! But really, it isn’t just the time – it is figuring out how to make connections online (ie. what to say to get folks to respond) and channeling the passion I have in pottery into my thinking and writing for a blog.

    If Laura is still visiting you, ask her if she received her pottery and ask her what she thinks. She did a wonderful job at the wheel! Her next creative endeavor, perhaps?

    Thanks, Megan, for being such a great person to follow!
    -
    Elise

  6. Laura

    Hey Elise! I did get the pottery (Raquel shipped it to me) and it turned out beautifully! Thank you for being such an amazing pottery instructor for complete newbies like me – and for sharing your passion in such an accessible way. :)

  7. Erin

    #1 has been my mantra for the last couple months. My business launched with a very busy, hectic start, which flattered and motivated me, but also wore me out just as quickly. After taking a one-month vacation, my business obviously slowed down, which at first I was a little worried about, but honestly, in the down time, I’ve realized that a lot of great things can happen when you take it down a notch, let yourself recharge and give your ideas space to breathe. Growing at a more gradual pace has never felt so appealing. Still working on #2 and 3.

    1. Gerrie

      What’s it take to become a sublime exeudnopr of prose like yourself?

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