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Revolve Nation Meetup January 18, 2012 Recap: Trends, Juggling Services, and Generating Leads

The Revolve Nation Boston Entrepreneurs Meetup is the largest community of entrepreneurs and small business owners in the city of Boston, offering networking, discussion groups, seminars, business plan hot-seats, and more. We meet every two weeks on Wednesday nights to network, socialize, learn, and promote a thriving community of entrepreneurs.

At our most recent meeting we touched on three very different topics.

1. How Do (or Should) Entrepreneurs Take Global Trends Into Account?

One member suggested we talk about how massive, known global trends might affect an entrepreneur’s plans. For example, how the ageing and gradually retiring baby boomer generation in the United States might affect the economy, or how the increase in the standard of living in Asia for billions of people will strain basic commodities like oil or sugar.

While the group agreed that many businesses who either intentionally or accidentally find themselves riding a wave like these fare much better than those who go against the flow, the group also agreed that it was rare. The problem is that many entrepreneurs have to focus too much on simply staying afloat early on, and cannot devote the time and capital necessary to breaking out in a new area, or waiting for the wave to crest.

2. How Can I Manage Two or More Services?

Many Revolve Nation members offer more than one service, or did at one point. In most cases there was some overlap, but overextension was a common worry. One member offered his experience in web services, where he made calculations about the current and future profitability of each of his offerings. For him, one service was more profitable at the time, but had less potential for future profitability, so he had to plan how much time he would spend to maintain one while he grew the other.

The topic brought out another piece of advice that we hear commonly at Revolve Nation: Focus on spending most of your time doing what you’re good at. In other words, as one member put it, “Should Tiger Woods fix his own sink?” Especially when juggling two tasks, it can be easy to spend so much time on non-central tasks like bookkeeping, marketing, blogging, etc., that you can’t devote the necessary time to your core offerings.

The group offered a few suggestions for offloading distracting tasks, including outsourcing to as-needed providers like accountants, blogging services, or even the careful and creative use of interns.

3. What Are Some Tried and True Methods of Qualified Lead Generation?

I’ll start the summary here with the best piece of advice: start with what works. If you’re in an industry that values leads, this suggests that there is already demand for what you do—maybe it’s food, speech coaching, or website design and construction. There’s a need for all of these things, and one key to success in these industries is getting in front of consumers right when they are prepared to buy your offering.

Therefore, the first thing to do is find models in your industry and try to learn from their experience. If possible, learn from successful and unsuccessful people, because both experiences are instructive.

Then, take into account the special nature of your offering in the marketplace. For example, people often don’t even think when they buy a snack in a convenience store while they wait in line—but shopping for professional service providers often takes a long time, and the process from a first meeting to eventually forming a business relationship may take over 5 interactions. Also, some customers may yield much higher returns than others, and may justify a long-term sales effort. One member suggested following Scvngr’s model of always having a high, medium, and low set of targets, where the levels correspond to the effort and reward involved in going after the target’s business.

Last, but not least, some in the group shared their experience with introducing themselves when there was no one else to do it for them: by cold-calling prospects either by themselves or with hired help.

If you want to hear more or throw in your two cents, join us at Meetup!

You can contact the author here, and follow @revolvethis and @gerritbetz on Twitter.