How can you scale up your small business….
Do you feel like a small fish in a big pond…
It’s normal to think that the bigger the business idea the better the returns will be. But in doing so, you can often lose some of the advantages that a smaller business provides.
To maintain your unique edge, loyal customers and followers it would be wise to position yourself with the skills, expertise and customer service expectations of a larger business to help scale up your business, without losing your unique appeal of a smaller business who cares about their customers.
Here are some great ways you can achieve the “Big Fish” look, without losing your “small fish” charm.
Focus on your social media channels…..
Make the most of being accessible, genuine and available to your customers….
One of the first places a customer will go to determine a business’s credibility is social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. Creating and managing content for various social media channels can be time-consuming but this is a very important aspect to maintain and build, as you can grow and nurture the awareness and presence of your business. If you take your foot off the pedal and slow down your engagement with social media, you will find that potential customers will start to assume the business isn’t doing as well or isn’t active.
You may say that you don’t have time to be on Social Media, and this is a very normal thought by small businesses, so what I would suggest is focus on a couple of platforms and build up a solid foundation and follower base. You can always outsource this activity to either a social media agency for the full bells and whistles and reporting and analytical returns for your money, or a cheaper option, would be utilising a virtual business support service provider, who can offer day to day support and content writing at a fraction of the price but they won’t have the digital marketing portfolio, instead they can offer hands on practical support.
However, what is essential is to ensure the time you do spend on social media is spent engaging in industry groups on the different platforms. For example, if you offer a professional service you really should connect with peers on LinkedIn. If you are offering a product you should spend more time on creating striking visual content on Instagram.
But an additional element you may not be aware of is how important it is to promote yourself….. as customers like to know who is behind the business, and to feel they know the story behind the creation of the business.
This is called Personal Branding.
Just think about Mark Zuckerburg, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs or James Dyson. We all like to think we know about the person behind a business, a faceless business will never be as attractive to customers.
Ensure your billing systems show you are a professional player…
If you are manually doing your invoicing or book keeping….STOP.
Make a small change and move to a software or app program that will enable you to electronically send professional-looking invoices branded with your logo, and a programme that automatically syncs with your business bank account to allow you to quickly and easily reconcile your expenses.
It was noted in a recent survey of Invoice2go customers, that those whose invoices were branded with a logo and professional looking, collected a whopping 83% more in online payments than businesses without a branded invoice,.
Low-cost apps or software programs designed specifically for small businesses and freelancers such as Invoice2go or Freshbooks are out there, just have a look, try them out, don’t be afraid to have a go…I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Automate, Automate, Automate….
Utilise all the automatic and process driven functionality available to you with the systems and software you currently use. For example with social media you could use messaging bots such as www.manychat.com, which is by far one of the easiest ways to manage your messages and provides you with a bot builder that also offers analytics, scheduled posting and many other features. So you can sit back and know that these messages are being dealt with.
Or if you use cloud accounting software such as www.xero.com this can allow you set up repeat invoicing, it will link through to your bank account, all sorts of features to help make running your business easier.
But never forget how important it is to have standard templates and documents, so when it comes to sending your new client a contract of work, you just fill in the blanks on a pre-populated form.
Its all about making this little fish cleaver and smarter than the big fish.
Create the allusion of having staff ready and waiting to answer your client’s questions…
Make sure you have a general email address that is connected to your domain name, so it reflects your website. Have an automated message thanking them for their email and indicate the time frame in which they can expect a reply.
For social media, as I said earlier utilise messaging bots that allow automated responses that you create and will be sent when a customer enquiry, you can even add attachments such as PDF videos etc
Also these things help remove that heavy burden of work and lets your system work for you behind the scenes, without you needing to constantly be reacting to notifications.
Make your work known and feedback visible…..
Your next potential client is just as busy as you, so being able to make their access to great reviews on how good your product/services are, makes their decisions easier….
Word of mouth is critical to growing any business – but don’t rely on getting positive feedback, reviews, recommendations, and testimonials organically, your clients are busy and often won’t have had the thought about doing this, even though they love your work.
The more clients that leave reviews, feedback testimonials, the more this implies how busy and well known your business is….
Make it as easy as possible for clients to leave reviews, testimonials and recommendations, don’t be shy to ask….. Let them know they can leave a recommendation on your social media pages or drop you an email with permission to add to your website.
At the very least, collect names and phone numbers of satisfied customers who will be willing to vouch for you when contacted.
Prove you can deliver……and be authentic
Prove you can deliver the same high quality of product or service and follow through just like the big fish can. Utilise the size of your company, by providing that personal touch, taking the time to remember your repeat clients and be authentic.
Don’t try to be more than you can be, don’t over stretch yourself or the businesses capabilities this will lead to over promising and could be damaging to your business’s reputation. Focus on the qualities and unique selling point you can offer and act big, but don’t become big and faceless, communicate with your customers, this is how good reputations and repeat business is built on.
Build your Reputation and act as an Authority in your field…
Develop a reputation as being that “go to” human being and business owner who cares, who is making a difference, and helps.
Doing this, over the long-term, will separate you and your brand from everyone else. Consistently doing this will allow you to become more successful.
Create online content such as blogs and interact in social media groups where your knowledge of what your business provides can help others….this will help position you as an “Authority in your field” and people always want to go the people who really know what they are talking about.
Don’t hold back from bringing in extra help, skills or knowledge that you know you need but don’t have an abundance of, time to learn or enough hours in the day to do!
Realise there is an array of freelance services out there that can support you and your business, when you aren’t in a position to directly employ someone. This is called outsourcing.
You can outsource all types of work, from social media management, finance – invoicing and booking, market research to understand what new client markets to target, call handling and even administrative support amongst many others. They will all be offered remotely and on a virtual basis. You only pay for what you need, or for that one-off task/project.
Don’t be afraid to look outside the business to bring in those extra skills and experience….. Its all at your fingertips to utilise.