Your startup is doing well, you have gone through a couple of rounds of financing and you have money in the bank. You realize your marketing budget needs to be massive in order to capture the market niche you have entered. You begin to wonder if there is anything else you can do to create a buzz.
Become a Global Influencer in your industry!
You’re saying, sure, nothing to it. You are right in your sarcasm that it is not an easy or immediate thing. It takes time but what could be better than to be considered an expert in your industry?
Some time ago I heard that if you studied one subject for 100 hours you would be a local expert, 1000 hours and you would be a national phenomenon and 10,000 hours you would be considered a global expert/influencer.
That’s a lot of hours considered a year of work at a normal job is around 2000 hours. Phew!
The 10,000-hours concept can be traced back to a 1993 paper written by Anders Ericsson, a Professor at the University of Colorado, called “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance.”
Malcolm Gladwell’s groundbreaking book, Outliers, is largely responsible for introducing “the 10,000-hour rule” to a mass audience.
Assuming that every startup founder would love to be an expert in his or her field how can we reduce the 10,000 thousand hours of study to know everything we can about our industry?
Aside from a naturally gifted person who learns the piano in three months or the neurosurgeon who is still learning after taking fourteen years of study it’s difficult to be a master of anything without diligence.
Vancouver startup founder, Eric Beckwitt, CEO of Freightera, the “Expedia for freight” realized that by making freight forwarding more efficient his company would reduce waste by filling half empty containers and trucks, reduce fuel costs and in effect reduce environmental pollution.
His company became a vanguard in the green space. His “Green Freight Marketplace” allows a shipper to see which carriers are either participating in emission reduction programs like the US EPA/Environment Canada SmartWay Partnership, or using lower emission rail for long haul. Shippers can book the lowest price option, or click “Low Emission” to see only the SmartWay and rail carriers, sorted by price.
The world took notice and Beckwitt won Canada’s Clean50 Award for Freightera’s corporate contribution to environmental sustainability and then, Freightera was showcased in the 2018 G7 Summit edition of CLIMATE CHANGE – the New Economy (CCTNE). These followed on interviews with big magazines like Entrepreneur and Equities and the Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany where Beckwitt was a speaker.
Timing, tenacity, a great niche and what the world was embracing allowed Beckwitt to take his message and show that he was a global leader in his industry.
You can too! Of course, your company can get attention by creating controversy or you can get attention by committing a big crime and going to jail for a very long time but neither would be the preferred method of garnering publicity for your business.
Let’s look at a few ways to help you reduce those 10,000 hours needed to become an influencer in your industry.
- Educate Yourself
- Make a Plan
- Learn from the Best
- Write a blog
- Get in Print
- Write a Book
- Teach a Class
- Become a Mentor
- Radio/Podcast Interviews
- Speaking at Conferences
You can illustrate the passion in your industry by learning as much as you can about your industry and passing the knowledge to the world. In my youth, I wanted to be the best photographer in the world so I read every book in the library on photography, from cover to cover. After specializing in commercial work over time I worked for Time, Architectural Digest, photographed world leaders and ended up operating my own successful ad agency.
Setting a goal of being a local expert and working your way up is the preferred method of being an influencer. It’s about paying your dues as well as expertise but there are a lot of ways to create collateral along the way that will expedite the process. It starts with a plan.
My friend Gerardo is a serial entrepreneur. He starts every new business with a passion but spends countless hours online studying others who have gone before. He hasn’t found the perfect business but he always goes to the best source for knowledge.
Writing a blog in your field of expertise shows people you know what you are talking about but it also makes you think and do research before you actually put the words to the post. Subscribers will quickly follow people who espouse quality information in a niche field.
Being published even in a column in a newspaper or local tabloid still has cache. I remember writing a short monthly column in an immigrant-focused magazine that got me recognition because I had my contact information at the bottom. The information that I wrote about was relevant to my readers and was always factual.
You saw this coming from the last item. An author becomes an immediate expert and is viewed as an authority on the subject of the book. After all who can write a book. Today with Print on Demand and eBooks anyone can write passionately about their business or industry and become an almost instant expert. My two books, one on starting a business and the other on social media have changed the level of my business reach from local to international. I went for a full-length size paperback format but an eBook can be relatively short in length as long as it is informative and not fluff.
Is your business creating enough waves that you can teach a college course about an aspect of it? I approached a recognized university with an idea for a course based on my social media and was offered a teaching position. That goes a long way to establish your credibility with academia behind you.
For me that is the ultimate, being able to pass your information to the next entrepreneur – paying it forward. If you have gleaned knowledge of your industry to the point that you can share it with others then it’s time to enlighten the world. People will follow you.
After I wrote my first book I was inundated with requests for interviews. People thought a book about starting a business was kind of cool. It was fun and for the first dozen or so I always thought I was a fraud and had nothing to say. As more interviews came to me I realized people gained something from my insights and increased my credibility more.
As I’m writing this article I realize my first book was a landmark moment in my business. Having run many businesses and even a business incubator for years I realized I had a lot of common sense knowledge that I wanted and need to share. It was the basis for a speech on startups.
The book opened so many doors for me. Within two weeks of my first book, I gave a speech before an international group of academics and entrepreneurs at the Canadian Council on Small Business & Entrepreneurs conference for a huge amount of money plus expenses.
Now, I’m not promoting Quora but there are many forum type online Q & A opportunities where you can hone your advice and knowledge about your business and industry. Most of the people on sites like Quora have less knowledge than you and are exciting to hear from an ‘expert.’
Being an expert on business requires a great deal of experience and knowledge but being an expert on digital freight forwarding systems like my friend from Freightera is a no brainer. The field of experts in a niche industry is very limited so it is easier to move up the ladder.
The bottom line to become an expert, influencer or master is deliberate practice, learning to improve at every opportunity and putting yourself out there as an expert with the knowledge that you are doing your best and your knowledge is from a combination of books and experience.