One of the indicators the IRS looks for when determining a business –vs-a hobby is the business owner’s expertise. The IRS says “A business operator should have extensive knowledge of his or her profession or activity, showing that he or she has studied accepted business methods/practices and sought advice from experts."
On the face of it, that makes a lot of sense, but if you are just starting out, how exactly (and honestly) can you “show” your expertise? Of course, as with all things, it will be easier for some and a bit more challenging for others, so I’ll speak in general.
No, I’m not questioning your expertise, but knowing what you are doing and showing what you are doing may take different tactics. No matter what category your business is in, you must find ways to weave in the KLT (Know, Like and Trust) factor. Much of that will come from showing your expertise.
Competition can be fierce in many business arenas and while you don’t want to appear to be a “know it all”, you definitely want people to see that you are worthy of their time and attention. That’s where so called free social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and the like can be of great value to you.
DO use a system to stay connected to your existing audience and attract new members. The best systems integrate smoothly with social and business networking platforms to save you time and energy.
DO use the power of business platforms like LinkedIn and Alignable – These networking platforms are especially designed to help you showcase your business. For example, no one’s interested in your vacation pics here …unless perhaps you’re in the business of selling awesome vacation packages!
DO be sure to keep your audience in mind at all time. WIIFT (What’s in it for them)? Yes, you want to show them that you are an expert, but you also want to show them how your expertise is going to benefit them, SPECIFICALLY.
DO use your Web site and your blog as your primary “portal” for your business knowledge bank.
You have ownership there. You can attract as many people as you’d like and show them different levels of your expertise. This is especially important if you provide several different, but related services.
DO use PROOF. Create an easy action plan for your best clients to provide you with positive reviews and don’t be shy about whipping them out when the time is right! “Name dropping” is not the idea here unless of course you have the written capital to back it up.
DON’T join/signup with networking platforms or groups just for the sake of joining. Have a clear objective in place for whatever you hope to achieve….and yes have a clear idea of what you hope to bring to the table.
DON’T use different branding on different platforms. Stay consistent in the manner you present your business. Consistency ties into the “KLT” factor. People like to “know they are with you” as they follow you. If you need to send them away from your site, try to get reciprocal links to tie everything together.
DON’T bait and switch. That means keep your products and services in line with your promotions and keep your promises. If you ask people to take action, be sure you are prepared to follow through.
DON’T stop learning. Keep your skills strong and keep on top of your game. Who’s your competition and what are they up to?
DON’T use “rented assets”. No matter how tempting it may be, there is not ownership in building large audiences on social networks and leaving your “hub” starving for attention. Keep in mind that you’re Website and your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system should be your primary gateway to showing off your expertise.
If you need help pulling it all together, we are here for you! Schedule a no pressure strategy session today. Let us help you build a sustainable plan to showcase your expertise so that there’s no doubt you are running a business and not a hobby.