When I started my full-time entrepreneurial journey in late 2016, my first year was extremely hard and I found myself earning the same wage that I was on 20 years ago. This put a lot of pressure on me because I had a large family to provide for and I found myself treading water, chasing gigs and undercutting the competition to make a living. I even worked on a building site to earn some extra cash... But boy did that motivate me to keep at the dream and push through into my second year.
2018 has been a completely different story with amazing business growth, leading to more freedom. You might be a reading this and asking how did I do it? Well here are 5 lessons I learned and solutions I implemented to improve my small online business.
1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
When I first started out I used to keep all my contacts in my email system. Reaching out to potential clients was time-consuming and not standardised. This all changed when I researched sales pipelines and how to convert leads into customers. A CRM system allows you to keep track of your leads and slowly nurture them into lifelong clients. I first used Hub-Spot CRM which is free to use but then found that my Wix website had this system integrated into the back end. I like to keep as many systems as possible centralised for ease of use and Wix off the shelf solution just worked for me.
I also implemented template emails into my marketing campaigns which would take prospects on a journey and help convert them into paying clients.
2. Online Invoicing
Getting paid is the hardest part of any deal and you really need to make the process and simple and quick as possible. I used to write invoices in excel, save them to PDF and then email them to my clients for BACS transfer. This whole process took way to long and then you would be waiting for the client to make a transfer. Then if it was an international payment, it would take 5 working days to clear... I then used to send a series of email reminders which again took time.
I tried several online solutions but finally implemented a mixture of Squareup and Wix online Invoicing. Now I have my invoices integrated with my CRM, I can quickly choose or add a client, email an electronic invoice (which is tracked) and take card payments in an efficient manner. Sure, my payment processor takes a small fee for handling the transaction but its totally worth it to keep the money flowing.
3. Business Branding
In my first year of trading my business brand was all over the place, with inconsistent graphics, logos, fonts and colours. After deeply researching sales, I established that I needed to focus on a target Avatar (my ideal client). That's when implemented marketing graphics and content that was aimed at my ideal customer. I learned not to waste my time with certain demographics and to concentrate on the most likely leads that would convert.
4. Online Meetings & Calendar
Being organised is imperative for success. I have such a busy schedule these days and I use google calendar to organise my schedule. I used to meet potential clients in face to face meetings, buy them a coffee and offer my advice. I found that many leads simply wanted to pick my brain, have free coffee and disappear. That's when I optimised my meetings using Zoom. Zoom is a free video conferencing application that allows you to host a video meeting online and share your screen with a potential client. Since using Zoom I have doubled my productivity during meetings because I have everything on hand to share and the platform enables me to build business relationships with clients all over the world. Just this week I have been dealing with clients in Kuwait and Texas.
Zoom also integrates with my calendar so it is super easy to set up a meeting, send invites and follow up on appointments.
5. Video Marketing
2018 for me saw the start of my video marketing strategy. I found that on Linkedin a video was receiving 5 x the number of views that a simple post was. I try to post as many videos as I can and also use a YouTube channel to host videos. If you're not putting video content out there by now you're missing a trick and need to start ASAP!
Well, that's just s few solutions I implemented in 2018. Please like, share and comment if you have other solutions to help small businesses succeed.
If you need small business coaching you can book a consultaion here: https://www.bigger-fish.co.uk/book-online
Lee Woodrow is a Personal & Business Branding Coach and coaches contractors, senior job seekers & business owners and develops unique CV’s, LinkedIn profiles and websites that generate leads and open doors. He also design graphics, banners and brochures that enable business owners and contractors to secure new customers.