I was reading Pierre’s Dayre the other day. He was blogging about his business trip to Hong Kong, speaking at a conference and representing his family company Mamee Double-Decker. I loved how his whole entry covered the good balance of his day. From work, to family time and to personal time.
Then I saw one comment.
How do you get yourself involved in such events? I just started my small start up.. life is challenging as an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs should make dayre their virtual social circle. Your entries have been inspiring. We need more people like you sharing the journey.
Then it hit me. I love meeting entrepreneurs and hearing their stories. I love listening to their struggles and how they overcame it to where they are today. Reading Pierre’s blog entry on Dayre was me getting a peek into his life and his thoughts. But few entrepreneurs in Malaysia blog and it got me thinking about the benefits I have derived from blogging as an entrepreneur.
1) Building a Following
I remember reading a book by Howard Shultz, the Founder of Starbucks Coffee. It was many years ago when Starbucks and Coffee Bean had just hit the shores of Malaysia and were rapidly expanding. I personally was a fan of Coffee Bean. I don’t know why… they both were essentially the same but I liked it more maybe because Starbucks as a global brand seemed so mainstream. It seemed like this huge corporate brand that had no feelings to me.
Then I started reading the book which followed Howard Schultz from the moment he was on an airplane back home after discovering good coffee and pushed aside the airplane coffee. Vowing then to bring better coffee to America and then to the world. I read about his passion for the brand and the many many little stories that made Starbucks what it was today.
By the end of the book I had suddenly gained an affinity with Starbucks. It’s almost as if I had gone through the entire Starbucks journey with Howard Schultz. Every time I pick up a cup of Starbucks I no longer saw it as a cup of coffee from a cold corporate brand. I remembered the little stories and the hard work that had gone to build it to what it is today.
I’m sure Coffee Bean today has a very successful entrepreneurial story too but I’ve never been exposed to it. I’ve never read it in a book or watched it on a documentary. I’ve never heard the story of Coffee Bean.
Now not all entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to have books or documentaries made of our companies. I know I haven’t had that… but we can all have one other medium to tell our stories. That’s a blog. Not Facebook, not Instagram, not Twitter… no other social platform today can tell a story better than a blog can.
2) Promoting your Startup/Company
Entrepreneurs never just sell one product for the rest of their lives. There’s always a new feature to an existing product, a new product altogether or something different we need to promote. If you blog consistently your blog will eventually have some following. A tool that you can use to promote your own products very naturally and for free too? Why not use it? Look at how Vivy Yusof uses her blog and personality to promote FashionValet.
The best part is that promotional use of your blog doesn’t end at your own company. It can be extended to your personal life too. Remember when I bought a new property a few months ago? I’ve been looking to rent it out and have seeded the word out to many many property agents. All of which came back to viewings but NO offers. None whatsoever.
Then I blogged about it… and almost instantly one of my readers had a brother looking for a place. I just signed the tenancy agreement last week. To that reader.. thank you so much for helping out.
We entrepreneurs are the best advocates for our own products and for our own company and a blog is a tool that helps us amplify that.
Note: Check out Richard Branson’s blog.
As entrepreneurs we find ourselves in difficult times of our lives at many different points. We worry about many things that years later we’ll look back and laugh at. Sometimes we remember these stories but sometimes we forget.
I have been blogging for 7 years now which means I have 7 years of memories and thoughts kept in my blog and that’s only growing each day. Every now and then I go back to read my old entries to get a better idea of how I was then… remind myself of the struggles I faced before and drawing lessons and inspirations from them to apply for the struggles I face today.
4) Making A PR Stand to the Public
This is something I see Tan Sri Tony Fernandes of Air Asia do a lot. I used to follow Tony Fernandes’ blog but now he seems to have taken down his blog and focuses mostly on Twitter to do this. He uses his Twitter as a platform to rally support on really public issues that affect his company. For example the recent move of Air Asia to KLIA 2.
Malaysian Airports Holdings was going to close LCCT but Air Asia was reluctant to move to KLIA 2 for many of its own reasons. Both companies couldn’t see eye to eye almost till the moving date. The media reported different stories from different sides. Tony Fernandes though tweeted his reasons directly to the public. Citing higher costs that may be passed on to consumers or safety reasons … many of which would garner public support for Air Asia.
“Let’s be clear. Malaysian Airports is a monopoly. My concern is making sure they keep costs down for the Malaysian public.
“We created low cost travel. We did not ask for a 4 billion [ringgit] terminal that is 3 years late. The present terminal lcct costs RM250 million,” Fernandes said on the microblogging site Twitter.
I can’t imagine local media printing that Malaysian Airports is a monopoly (even though they are)… but he got that out through his own Twitter platform.
Twitter works but 140 characters can be limiting. Blogs allow you to carve arguments and share opinions in a comprehensive way. It’s also multi-platform. Blog entries or articles have been shared on every social media platform.
I was in Bangkok just last week when I met a client. The client asked for my Instagram ID and then went on to add me. When he saw I had 27K followers on Instagram he went “What? How do you have so many? Are you a famous entrepreneur?”. Immediately it broke the ice for us.
If you look around in Malaysia, there are many many internet entrepreneurs far more successful than I am. All of them are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter too.
The only different thing I do is that I blog… and the influence of my blog has translated to numbers in other social media platforms as well. Like Instagram. I haven’t seen it work well in reverse though.
I’ve seen bloggers that had built a Twitter following in the past and then stopped blogging. Then when Instagram came out, they weren’t able to convert their Twitter following to follow them on Instagram. Which is another reason why I keep my blog no matter what. It’s my anchor. It’s the only platform where people can really get to know me. People won’t get to know me over a daily picture of me on my Instagram. They can however get to know what kind of person I am from the way I write.
6) Exhibiting Your Company Culture
Whenever I interview people I always ask them why do they want to work at Nuffnang or ChurpChurp or any of our companies. They often go “Because it looks like a really fun place to work”.
Then I say “How do you know?”… and almost all the time they would come back saying “I read your blog and see all the things you guys do and it sounds like a lot of fun”.
Every time we do something fun in our office I blog about it and as a result of that my blog had accidentally become a medium in which exhibits our company culture.
The truth is many other companies out there are really fun too and have very fun culture but most people don’t hear about it. In fact… something I always tell people is that our company isn’t necessarily all fun. There are times when we’re all really stressed out too or unhappy about things too just like any other company out there. But I guess the good thing is that people are hearing about our company rather than not.
7) Lastly… yes there is a huge demand for entrepreneur bloggers
I don’t do a lot of sponsored posts on my blog because I find it hard to find the time to do it but the truth is there is a HUGE demand for entrepreneurs who blog but very very low supply.
The premium the client will pay for this of course depends on how famous your business is. So if you have a very well-known business like say you’re Pierre Pang of Mamee Double-Decker then yes they would most likely be willing to pay more.
This however I would say should be the last reason why you should blog. Blog for yourself… for your business… and know that money is really just a bonus.
The one thing I realize is difficult for entrepreneurs is finding the time to blog. I can relate to that. Sometimes I’m so busy I find it so hard to blog and I had many times in the past 7 years considered even giving up my blog but I’m glad I didn’t.
It’s hard to keep up with blogging but the good news is that technology has made it easier. WordPress and Tumblr allow you to blog from your mobile device so you can do it every time you have any few minutes of idle time.
Or you can use Dayre which I feel makes the entire task of blogging a real joy. If you are an entrepreneur and have just gotten on Dayre… please share your Dayre username with me in the comments. I’d love to follow yours.