Can you believe it? We are celebrating 9 YEARS IN BUSINESS this month! Nine whole years of building on what we thought was a small dream into something we never even dreamed of. And, as we celebrate, we wanted to share nine things that have helped us cultivate a better sense of direction for our business’s growth and financial potential. Every day offers an opportunity to learn and improve, and over the years, we’ve really tried to learn and grow as business owners.
1) Charge what you’re worth.
In the beginning, we low-balled ourselves. The moment we hired a business coach, she advised us to raise our prices. This is important because believing in yourself and your product or service is the key to selling and getting the clientele you want. You have something to offer that other people want, and you deserve to earn what you’re worth. Don’t apologize for it or undercut your services or expertise in fear of not being able to find customers. The right clients will come.
2) Learn how to keep clients.
We signed our first client within our first month in business and retained for just one month. So we know firsthand how important it is to keep your customers happy and coming back by setting and exceeding their expectations every time. Offer an onboarding program that teaches them to use your product or service more efficiently. Reach out to them with surveys through social media or newsletters and ask for their honest feedback. Respond to complaints immediately so they know you care and you’re willing to fix it. Great customer service should always be your top priority.
3) Never stop marketing.
There’s a reason most organizations have dedicated marketing departments. It’s a full-time job that never stops! Don’t be afraid to expand with evolving technology and take advantage of social media. For starters, you should post consistently and often to your social media profiles, send monthly newsletters, and update old blogs and content for upleveling your SEO. Definitely consider hiring a marketing manager to help you as your sales grow, even if you want to remain a small operation.
4) Keep track of your books from the beginning!
It’s easy to put off “boring” tasks like bookkeeping until it becomes an intimidating mess you don’t know where to start with. Don’t let this happen and don’t wait until you get to a certain threshold to invest time into it. Accurate and consistent bookkeeping right from the get-go gives you a clear picture of your company’s financial viability.
5) Always have a growth plan in place.
Build your customer base, offer referral incentives, explore new products or services that you can offer, and have a cash flow planner to keep it straight. It’s important to figure out how you can stay relevant or keep improving your product to increase your business’s longevity. Use your financial and project management systems to track your current year’s progress to set goals and plan for the year ahead before it’s begun. Above all, the best way to grow is by being a great partner and asset to your clients. Make sure you’re always offering them consistent value and quality they can count on, and let them know they’re your top priority – because they are!
6) Define your culture and why that’s important.
The work culture you promote should align with your values because they set a tone that helps your employees understand you and each other better. It also helps to attract the right candidates to your company, creating a harmonious and healthy work environment where your staff are united by a common purpose or goal. This helps encourage teamwork, trust, inclusivity, and even increases productivity through employee engagement and satisfaction. Your customers also benefit from happy employees!
7) Use your resource programs and know all the things they do.
Systems set you free! And, having systems in place that track time, manage projects, or manage customer relationships, to name a few, will help set a baseline for every system in your business. For example, a project management program like Asana or Teamwork PM can help keep your team on track and on the same page by storing all assignments, company-wide, in one place and on one master calendar that updates in real time. Each employee can work through several client folders and know when the last additions or edits were made and by whom. Without a system like this in place, you and your staff have to get project updates via email where they’ll likely be buried within dozens of other “replied” conversations, forcing you to comb through several outdated emails looking for answers as new ones pour on top. This leads to massive confusion, misinterpretations, and even missed deadlines. Ultimately, tons of time and energy end up being wasted as you micromanage each project, preventing you from focusing on big picture goals.
Systems that streamline every aspect of your daily responsibilities help your business to grow by increasing efficiency and tracking your progress. By consulting these records, and understanding them, you’ll be able to create action plans that help you and your staff improve to meet target goals. You can also compare your performance to similar organizations and see where you stand in your market.
8) Always be thinking about how you can recession proof your business.
Take control of your cash flow, watch your credit score, build your client relationships, and consider multiple revenue streams. Consider what your competitors offer that you could add to your services to win over more customers. And if you find yourself needing to make some cutbacks, do it anywhere but marketing!
9) Make sure your social presence has a clean and consistent look.
Choose an aesthetic or theme for your business to keep the look of your branding consistent and recognizable. You want your social media posts, photos, logos, website colors, and copy to have the same look and convey the same cohesive message across the board. This helps to build your reputation and make you easily recognizable to your customers.
Being an entrepreneur can be lonely, especially if you don’t have a business partner. It’s super helpful to have a network that understands what you’re going through, so connect with other business owners to share feedback, network, and expand. It’s also important to keep an open mind about the changes you may need to make to ensure your business will be as successful as it can be. Being a first-time business owner comes with a lot of trial and error, but you can hopefully avoid a painful learning curve by seeking support from other business owners and industry professionals. The bottom line of any business is ultimately growth, but it applies to you as well.