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5 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Scaling Their Business

Breaking out of the cubicle to pursue entrepreneurship has been an intoxicating prospect for so many of us who have an itch for more freedom, fulfillment and impact. 

But after about a decade of mentoring go-getters as a business scaling strategist, Elizabeth Hartke noticed that while the vision of freedom was alive and well, the likelihood of achieving it was not.  “If you’re not strategic about how you build your business, entrepreneurship will actually cost you a lot of freedom, time, money and joy due to the following five critical mistakes,” advises Hartke.

Here are the five mistakes Hartke says will keep you from scaling effectively. 

5 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Scaling Their Business 

Elizabeth Hartke

1. You’re Not Doing Market Research


“Never create an offer in a vacuum. Know who you’re speaking to, their pain points, fears and desires and then create something that can be a solution to their problem. This is foundational in knowing what to bring to market,” says Hartke. “Market research is one of the keys to knowing what problem you solve, and if you don’t solve a problem, you won’t be in business very long. Survey your audience, hop on the phone with your current clients and ask them what they need, and engage with your prospects to learn more about how you can be of service to them. Even though that vision for your life is about you, the business you run is about them.”

2. You’re Afraid To Sell

“There’s quite the stigma around selling and nearly every entrepreneur I’ve worked with has said, in some way, shape or form, ‘how do I sell without being salesy?’ I get it, because no one wants to come off as the sly salesperson looking to take advantage of whoever has a pulse and a credit card. But when you develop offers or products that actually solve problems, you actually have a moral obligation to sell!” says Hartke.

Telling stories is one way to feel less icky and more in line with your mission. People buy because they can put themselves into a story and envision a positive outcome. Using testimonials or your own personal experiences is a powerful selling tool.

3. You’re Trading Time For Money

“Too many entrepreneurs are using a broken formula for success: TIME + HARD WORK = FREEDOM. That math just doesn’t add up. When your business only allows you to earn while you’re working, ultimately you’ll be capped on income potential and time. I see it a lot in service based providers: personal trainers, lawyers, chiropractors, social media strategists, business coaches, consultants, freelancers. Think about the different ways that you can use your knowledge, expertise and passions to craft new monetizable channels into your business through passive, residual and growing income streams,” notes Hartke.

Things like online courses, membership sites, virtual and in person events, e-books, physical products, masterclasses, group coaching, masterminds, affiliate marketing, advertising, webinars and other digital products are incredible ways to create multiple income streams that can generate profit while you’re catching up on sleep.

4. You Don’t Have An Email List

email list

If you woke up tomorrow morning and Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and any other social channel you rely on were shut down, how would that affect your business? The goal is to build your business in a way that a disruption like that would only be a temporary inconvenience, not catastrophic. You do that by building your email list.

“Social media is rented territory, but your list is something you own. Use your social media as a way to drive people onto your list, not as a place where you conduct all business,” advises Hartke. “In exchange for your audience’s email address, offer freebies like videos, webinars, online challenges, e-books, templates, and guides. All that matters is that you’re growing your list with the right people by offering true value in exchange for their email and then nurturing that list with regular value-add emails. “

5. You’re Not Pivoting With Purpose

“All too often, entrepreneurs fail to connect their business actions to the vision they have for their lives. In doing so, they just keep hustling and trying things without actually asking themselves, ‘how will this affect my life?’” says Hartke.

Maybe you want to grow your following and your income and you see someone else killing it with monetizing her blog, so you start one. But you hate to write and your original vision was creating more free time in your days, not sitting in front of your laptop doing something you despise. 

“The pivot is fine. In fact, it’s necessary for evolution and adaptation of business. But the pivot without intention and based on what other people are doing is the death of joy and purpose.  Always pay attention, choose what aligns with both your business goals and vision for your life,” suggests Hartke.

Affiliate marketing is all grown up – here’s how it can help you scale

Affiliate marketing is one of the longest-standing digital channels in e-commerce, and over the years, has attracted a lot of misinformation. For a long time, affiliate marketing sat outside of the traditional marketing mix and was viewed with apprehension by CMOs.

Marketers typically viewed the affiliate channel as a strategy that could not efficiently and effectively scale, because advertisers are required to manually broker deals with publishers.

In the early days, the affiliate industry suffered when publishers played in the SEO space, manipulating results to drive traffic. Thankfully, content stuffing has long since been banished, but some advertisers remain concerned about the quality of affiliate marketing as a result of this chequered history.

But this is 2020, not 2000. Thanks to new advances in automation, the affiliate industry is in the midst of a complete evolution – and marketers who don’t jump on board are missing out.

Machine learning-powered tools are creating the perfect opportunity to bring new efficiencies to brands and publishers alike, and allow them to scale their affiliate marketing efforts well into the future.

Putting a price on affiliate marketing

Thanks to the absence of unified data, marketing departments have been forced to pursue a siloed, channel-first approach to managing their budget. Under these trying conditions, the true value of affiliate has been undersold – a ‘nice to have’, rather than a ‘necessary to have’.

However, as access to unified data has become increasingly available, CMOs are now taking strides to evaluate their digital marketing in a more holistic, collective fashion – and affiliate’s strengths are finally starting to shine.

The ability to offer different commission rates on different customer types, products or categories (alongside many other data points) is a major update to affiliate commissioning technology, that gives brands control of costs while offering complete transparently to publishers on how they might build their commissions.

The reality is, affiliate marketing is the only channel where commissions and spend can be directly tied to a retailer’s business goals in this way. It can align with actual business objectives: meaning better margins, new customer acquisition and a seamless consumer experience.

In today’s climate, every advertising dollar is scrutinized endlessly, and marketers need to know where their cash is going. In the new era of affiliate marketing, tracking those dollars is easier than ever before.

The benefit for publishers

As brands demand more from their affiliate partners, affiliate technology is evolving to help publishers create the infrastructure that can effectively leverage their high-quality audience data sets – something that’s critical for both audience and revenue growth.

The integration of a brand’s CRM data into affiliate platforms and the ease of publishers accessing this data via affiliate networks are helping publishers understand their user base and align their content to users’ specific preferences, catching their attention and influencing them to convert.

The introduction of multi-touch commissioning also means that affiliate marketing is no longer dominated by lower-funnel activity – the technology powering affiliate allows all publishers within the path to purchase be rewarded, creating new opportunities for both brands and publishers.

Significantly, this has opened up the affiliate space to content publishers, including some of the world’s biggest players, who are integrating content commerce as a new approach to revenue growth, and collaboration with brands.

The affiliate renaissance

It’s clear that both advertisers and publishers now have the tools and capabilities to innovate in the affiliate space – and the affiliate industry is primed and ready to cater to their demands. So what do they have to look forward to?

Scaling and automation tools mean that publishers can get better visibility to a broader range of advertisers, all while discovering new advertisers who value the publisher’s audiences. Gone are the days of personal relationships and a limited number of partners – technology such as Rakuten’s matchmaking tool allows for more reach than ever before.

On the other end of the spectrum, AI-powered matchmaking tools provide publisher recommendations to retailers based on past performance history with other advertisers. No more unscrupulous partners or brand safety risks.

Personalisation is now an exciting possibility within affiliate, too. Personalisation allows retailers to deliver the right message to consumers at the right time by accessing unique insights from consumer browsing and shopping data – within the parameters of data privacy regulation, of course.

With the introduction of GDPR in Europe in 2018, and the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2020, data privacy is on everyone’s radar. AI-powered affiliate technology and tools mean advertisers will have better control over the quality of compliant data, ultimately leading to a better end-user experience

There’s no denying that affiliate is one of the most effective channels in the marketing mix. In a climate where every dollar is being scrutinized and every penny pinched, it’s an essential component of any advertisers or publisher’s strategy.


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