Women are increasingly starting their own businesses. About 29 percent of American businesses are owned by women, up from 26 percent in 1997, according to the Institute of Women’s Policy Research. If you’re thinking about launching your own small business, the path to success probably looks something like this: Find a product with high demand and make one better than your competitors. Pretty straightforward, right?
Not anymore. Many women-owned companies are scrapping the traditional product-first business model for a more contemporary approach. Not only is the approach unlike anything in traditional business, it’s helping women entrepreneurs leap past competition and create a massive, engaged audience.
Content Inc. Model
The Content Inc. Model, a phrase commonly used in the content marketing industry, is the idea that influencers and thought leaders should build an audience first and develop a product or service second. Twenty or 30 years ago, the Content Inc. Model would have been impossible, but with today’s Web and social media channels, it’s simply too easy to build an audience when you have passion and knowledge of a particular subject.
- The Chicken Whisperer: Andy Schneider knows just about everything there is to know about raising chickens in your backyard. He used to host a meetup between friends to talk about chicken raising, and that small hobby turned into a podcast with more than 20,000 subscribers. Now, Andy owns “The Chicken Whisperer,” which teaches people around the world how to raise chickens of their own.
- Apple Rubber: Did you know there was an audience out there for rubber o-rings, seals and engineering? Apple Rubber did, and it used the information to engage the community to create the products they wanted. As an added bonus, Apple Rubber continues to be active through its blogs and social media channels.
- Game Theory: YouTube is a big business for filmmakers to build a big audience. When Matthew Patrick created “Game Theory,” a YouTube channel for video games, he only did it as a resume builder. Now that the channel has millions of subscribers, billions of views and is Matthew’s full-time job. He even consults for YouTube.
- Oh Joy: Joy Cho has designed products for the world’s biggest brands, such as Target, Microsoft, Band-Aid and Johnson & Johnson. It all started with a simple design blog in 2005 and a Pinterest account, which eventually grew to 13 million followers. That’s when Joy went pro with her designs and partnered with Fortune 500 companies.
Build Your Own
If you don’t know where to begin building an audience, don’t fret. Thousands of people have laid the foundation and built the road map for building an audience completely from scratch.
Entrepreneur and author Tim Ferriss knows about building audiences. His books, such as “The 4-Hour Workweek,” have gone number one on The New York Times best-sellers list. On his podcast, “The Tim Ferriss Show,” Tim lays out the steps necessary to build an audience on nothing more than the back of your expertise.
- Find five thought-leaders in your industry and reach out to them — network, pick their brain and see what content they’ve been posting.
- Find three to five blogs where people in your industry are likely to visit and offer to guest post on those channels. This will make it seem like you’re everywhere, even if you’re only present on a few sites.
- Build an editorial calendar and stay on top of your social channels. Post your best content to your own site and engage with your followers.