Running your own business can be costly and time consuming. The antidote? Making smarter choices when deciding where to put your investment and cutting down on costs so you’re not spending where you don’t have to.
Take care of current customers
Current customers cost you much less to keep happy, than new ones take to acquire. You can spend a vast amount, and end up offering a lot of incentives, in order to attract those who don’t yet know you. With your existing customers, the hard work is already done. By looking after your customers you not only secure repeat business, but create your own brand ambassadors.
The aim is to make them feel special, to thank them, reward their repeat business and encourage their word of mouth (it is as powerful online as it is off).
Make a note of their spend or purchase history, it will enable you to offer a loyalty incentive - this doesn’t have to be expensive or costly to you, a cupcake or a handwritten note will go a long way.
Make sure your aftercare and customer support is as good as your face to face interaction or online sales care.
Invest in a good Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) - they are now affordable, simple to setup and are incredibly powerful when it comes to keeping your customer relationships healthy and on track.
Demo an online billing service
Small businesses often spend more time, or more money, than they really need to in order to keep their accounts accurate and up to date. You may not need an extensive accounting package to manage your books, applications now come in many shapes and sizes. A streamlined online invoicing service for example could enable you to manage your billing process more efficiently and enable your business to get paid faster.
Use a web builder NOT a web developer
If your business does not need a technical or highly bespoke website then, spending a few hours building your own, with a web builder, is an ideal - and inexpensive - way to get online.
Website builders are perfect for helping small businesses to get a website up and running within a day or less. You should find them easy to use, they require little technical knowledge and, thanks to their ‘themes’ and templates you can do an awful lot just by dragging and dropping in layouts you like, to support the content and imagery you have. They often have their own image libraries for you to use and select from too.
Try DIY marketing
There are many ways you can promote your business and most require no more than a little dedicated time and creativity. We thought these 4 might be useful:
Learn basic SEO - You might have a website - and be paying for it, make it work for you by ensuring it can be found. Share content - Learn a little more about your customers, where are they, what interests them, what questions do they have that relate to what you sell - answering a question via blog, forum or social channel is a good way to start a conversation.
Build a database - Create an email opt-in on your website or blog. You can offer a free download, discount or gift for customers who are willing to add their email address to your list.
Connect contacts - Network, join local events and online groups where you can meet complementary businesses and potential customers.
Let others help - Ask for a referral and send something a little while afterward to say thank you - if your recipient did not actually get round to making the recommendation, then they soon will.