What Your Business Really "Needs"


I was all set to write a different post this week.

It was going to be about why you need a website for your business. Because I write website content and I want to show you why you should hire me. (Which is why I wrote "Why You Need a Writer" two weeks ago.

But then I started writing, and almost immediately stopped.

Because I don’t want to be another one of those online business people who spout off about the “5 Things You Need to Do Every Week to Rock Your Etsy Shop” or “Why Ignoring Instagram Stories is the Worst Thing for Your Business.”

There are approximately five zillion posts and articles out there proclaiming that small business owners “need” to do XYZ to have a successful business.

Most of them are really well-intentioned.

And most of them are bullshit.

You don’t “need” anything to run a business except products or services to sell. And customers to buy them. Well, you need a couple other things, but I’ll get to that.

Okay, I’ll grant that if you’re making products, whether they’re lip-smackingly delicious donuts or adorable hand-painted flower pots or sweet leather carriers for beer growlers, you probably really do need your tools and materials.

I’m talking about all the extras that people like me try to convince you are ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY IF YOU DON’T HAVE THEM YOUR BUSINESS WILL RUN TO THE GROUND AND YOU’LL BE A COMPLETE FAILURE.

For example, I do think you should have a website. I think having one that’s decently designed, well-written, and accurate will help you reach your goals, whatever they may be. But I know businesses that do just fine without a website, or with a really crappy one that was last updated before I got my driver’s license.

I think you should have some sort of social media presence. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, whatever can be great ways to reach your customers and do cool stuff. But again, I know businesses that don’t bother with Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat or LinkedIn or anything and make plenty of money.

I think you should have a marketing plan and customer personas, but honestly, I have yet to come across a business—in my years working on my own or with an agency—that had those documents before I worked with them. (But seriously, dude, customer personas are so fun! Although maybe that’s the fiction writer in me who loves inventing characters…) (And confession, my “marketing plan,” such as it is, could fit on a Post-it.)

All this stuff can definitely make it easier to run your business. They can make it significantly easier to reach your goals, depending on what they are. But they are not necessary.

All you really need to make your business a success is passion. You need to know the “why” behind what you’re doing. You need to have a vision for where you want to be and what you want to do and what you want your life to look like.

Then you can decide what you “need” in order to get there.

small business content marketing