Originally, I planned to just write one up for a generic graphic and Web design company, but my professor
Most doctors have horrible websites, if they have them at all. When I found out how under-represented the medical community was on the Web, my professor thought it was a smart idea. So I got to work targeting primary care physicians, dentists, chiropractors and physical therapists anyone who had patients, really to help them with their logos, marketing materials, and websites.encouraged me to try to find a lucrative niche. So I researched different industries in Maine, and ended up targeting the medical industry.
The problem was, despite all the research and statistics I'd collected, I truly didn't understand how medical offices worked. Barely a year later, it was clear to me that the plan was a bust and I'd have to rethink my whole approach.
Right idea, wrong strategy
What I didn't know was that most medical offices weren't really interested in having websites or spending the money on them.
I tried cold-calling doctors' offices to ask whether they wanted more information. If they said yes, I'd sent out a marketing package and try to schedule a follow-up meeting. But I was always going through office managers or receptionists. Since they aren't the decision-makers, it was really hard for me to pitch my services and explain the value of what my company could do for them.
I think I called more than 250 doctors' offices and I got one new client out of it.
The big pivot
While I was struggling to make inroads into that niche, I was getting referrals for other small businesses that knew me and knew that I could do graphic design for them. I saw no reason to be really rigid about my niche in the medical field. Before I knew it, I had many more small businesses as clients than doctors' offices.
But that became awkward when I needed to market myself to prospective clients. I had a website called MediCreative, my business card said "MediCreative," I had all these pictures of doctors and patients and all the language was very medical. So it was confusing when I had to explain to people, "Well, we specialize in medical offices, but we can also do your website."
I decided at that point that I needed to give up on my original idea, and rebrand the company to appeal to a broader audience. It was about a year into the business when I re-launched as iBec Creative and stopped promoting MediCreative. It was really hard for me to let go.
The hardest part was accepting that the first idea wasn't a success. I believed and still believe that there's an opportunity out there. But it wasn't worth the effort or the time or the money to keep targeting doctor's offices.
Keeping an open mind
Once I made that switch, the business started growing much faster. It wasn't some big process to get a client anymore. It really started to grow organically.
Rather than cold-calling, I quickly learned the importance of networking. I focused my efforts on going to events, working on referrals with existing clients, and changing how I talked about my company to the public.
If I had stuck with MediCreative, I would have eventually needed to enlist a partner who had a background in the inner-workings of doctors' offices. But at the end of the day, I just wanted to help people with their branding and websites.
Today, iBec Creative has eight employees and our 2010 revenue was about $650,000. My next goal is to break the million-dollar mark.
You can't be stubborn about your business plan it's going to change the day you open. Go where the profits are leading you, and do what makes you happy.
If Becky McKinnell could switch lives with a celebrity, it would be Anthony Bourdain, so she could travel the world, meet new people and try delicious food.
By Becky McKinnell, Founder and President, iBec Creative, Portland, Maine
As told to Mike Miliard
Read the full article at bnet.com