Being an entrepreneur is no walk in the park. It’s difficult enough to maintain all the moving pieces that allow your business to run, let alone get your business to grow. From developing creative marketing strategies to converting leads to managing your operations, there are a lot of variables you have to keep track of — and it’s easy to focus on those and neglect growing your business.

To help you balance the multiple aspects of your busy entrepreneurial life, we compiled five business-building tips from our 2016 Modern ONTRApreneur winners.

1. Take Small Steps

Often when you start off as an entrepreneur, you have a grand idea and want millions of customers. However, it’s important to break it down into small action steps to avoid overwhelm and start building up your knowledge and confidence levels.

Just ask Kristen Noel, winner of the 2016 Modern Publisher Award, who launched an entirely digital publication. Kristen wanted to write an inspirational novel but didn’t feel quite ready for such a large endeavor. Instead, she began Best Self Magazine as an online platform to build an audience for her eventual book.

2. Keep Your Audience Engaged

You might have caught your audience’s attention, but now that you have, how do you keep it? It’s a tricky question to answer but our 2016 Modern ONTRApreneur, James Taylor, has it all figured out. In fact, James has refined his retention process so well that he recently sold out a $2,000 per ticket creative retreat — in 45 seconds.

James keeps his audience intrigued by enacting a post-purchase, 365 day engagement campaign. Following customers’ purchases, James sends them a daily tip, video, or other valuable content piece, in order to build their trust and keep them interested. So when it comes time to sell tickets, James has a highly captivated audience who eagerly buys out events.

3. Generate Passive Income: Membership Site Magic

If you consider yourself an expert in your field and have content to share, then a membership site might be for you. Membership sites allow you to protect the content you create while simultaneously sharing it. When you position yourself as an expert, people will want access to the information and resources you can provide them via a gated membership site.

Our 2016 Modern Organizer Award winner, Rob Malicki, made a business out of his membership site alone. Rob created a study abroad membership community that is now used by over half of the universities in Australia. His site allows students to access resources they’ll need to prepare for their travels and connect with other students across universities who have or will study abroad in a specific country.

4. Build Your Community

Nowadays your business’s reputation is just as important as your business itself. Word-of-mouth marketing and social proof is imperative to distinguish your company, prove your company’s value and gain trust from your prospects.

For last year’s Modern Marketer Award winner, Amy Chalker, social proof was a way of establishing the legitimacy of her business when she started the first boutique artisan grocery in Santa Barbara, Calfornia. Amy’s business grew as she sold products that garnered recognition and ended up on Oprah’s favorite things and Amazon best-selling list, which she could then promote as being “as seen on” those lists to further gain credibility.

5. Market to Your Niche

Refining your market niche is a definite must to help grow your business. Our Modern Sales winners of 2016, Jason and Cecilia Hilkey, found their niche while teaching at a progressive, non-authoritative school. As more and more parents dropped in to watch the Hilkeys teach, Jason and Cecilia realized there was a great need for their parenting tips.

They hosted their first online parenting conference full of interviews with brain science and developmental psychology experts. “We went viral in our own little corner of the internet. It reached people who don’t have access to this kind of information and who also feel kind of isolated, like their family might not ‘get it,’” Cecilia said. They started getting clients from around the world and launched a successful educational coaching site shortly after.

Growing your business requires a lot of experimentation and refined skill. If you’ve got an entrepreneurial success story, share it with us for a chance to become one of our 2017 Modern ONTRApreneur winners.

By entering, you’ll get a chance at the grand prize of $5,000 to help you grow and expand your business as well as a free ONTRAPORT account for an entire year. In addition, winners will get a complimentary ticket to our annual modern marketing conference, ONTRApalooza, where hundreds of entrepreneurs will gather to participate in in-depth software workshops and hear  industry-leading keynotes. Apply here.

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