Starting a Small Business: Where did I Come From – The Business Edition *Or* Getting the Best Return on Investment on Your Marketing Efforts

By Naomi Gora

Ok, I’m not really doing an eighth grade version of birds and the bees, today I’m talking about keeping track of where your customers come from. If you work one-on-one with people, you can keep track of where your business comes from in a CRM system or just in a good old spreadsheet and then put your marketing efforts into the place that will give you the greatest return on investment. If you have an online product based business, it can be harder to pinpoint exactly but you can get start with your Google Analytics Traffic Sources Reports and/or using coupon codes with any of your marketing initiatives.

I mentioned in my blog last week that when it comes to my daily rules, I have been diligently putting my marketing hat on and doing my one hour of income producing activity a day, but last week I went to a small business networking event. They had a guest speaker from Tasmanian start up, Biteable there. (If you haven’t heard of Biteable, they are a group of Tassie guys who have set up the world’s simplest video maker. You can check them out here). Anyhoo, the guy from Biteable said that if he could share one lesson from being a start up it’s that you need to be good at seeing and hearing the truth. You might think you’ve got the best idea/plan/product in the world… and if you ask your friends and family, they will also most probably profess that you are, indeed, a genius, and also tell you that you’ve got the best idea/plan/product in the world… but the truth is that until you get out there and live it/test it/sell it you just don’t know.

And for a start up, dogmatically sticking to your genius idea is a dangerous place to be…because it will probably lead you to the place where 99% of brilliant ideas go… nowhere.

Ideas are great, but the execution and adaptation is where successful businesses are made.

So, I decided to listen to Mr Biteable’s excellent advice and look honestly at my income producing marketing activities. Then I compared them against my ‘Where do my clients come from’ spreadsheet I made. The spreadsheet shows where each of my clients have come from over the years (referral, networking, social media, email, articles on external websites), how profitable those clients have been, if they paid on time and how much I enjoyed working with them.

I wasn’t surprised to see that 90% of the clients I have who pay well and who I enjoy working with have come from referrals and networking.


I’ve been focusing my income producing activity on inbound marketing activities like social media, email marketing, blogs, freelancing websites and SEO because that’s what feels most natural to me… I’m an introvert, and while I do enjoy being around people, going to networking functions and asking people for referrals is not something that comes naturally to me… but facing rejection and failure and discomfort is where we can learn the most and can become our best.

So, I’m not tossing my inbound marketing activities aside, they’re still important, but for now, the bread and butter that works for me and pays my bills and keeps me in business is good old fashioned one-on-one, face to face relationship building. So I’m putting on my big girl pants and creating some new income producing goals:

  1. Seeking out new networking opportunities (I’ve already been to one last week and set up three meetings from it and I have one lined up for this week)
  2. Putting together an email of my signature packages and referral program and sending it to everyone I know
  3. Adding an invitation to sign up to my blog on my email signature

So my takeaway for this week? Be honest with yourself about where your business comes from, do the shit that’s uncomfortable even though you could legitimately trick yourself into doing the safe but less effective thing and go follow that yellow brick road.


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