#small business tips
21 tips from small businesses that are killing it
STARTING a small business is a dream for many Australians, but it can be daunting.
Here, entrepreneurs who are killing it in a range of industries share their best piece of advice for making your company a success.
1. Deliver a consistent customer experience.
Damian Cerini, owner of cycling tour business Tour de Vines, says you need your business to almost run itselfbefore you look at growth. The thing about working for an employer is that the business model is already set, it s about the execution of the idea, whereas a new business is about testing the idea first and developing the systems.
2. Add a personal touch.
Angus Askew, co-director of commercial asset financing company Magnolia Lane Financial Services, says: In our industry like most service industries everyone is essentially selling the same thing, you ve just got to do it better. Our number one goal when dealing with a new client is to establish a relationship and make them feel special. Make sure you are remembered. We make it our priority to see all of our customers face to face. Create a rapport as this is what will result in repeat business and an income stream for life.
3. Leverage social media.
A strong marketing strategy is essential in every industry, says Anthony Kittel, director of manufacturing firm REDARC. That means social networking on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or all of the above. Our brand is everything, so whatever we can do to promote that brand and consumer awareness is critical.
Author and Flying Solo editor Kelly Exeter says a less frantic life made her more productive.
4. Write your own business bible.
Matthew White, whose firm Ergoflex sells memory foam mattresses, says the volume of information available can be overwhelming. He recommends writing ideas and tips in a notebook or tablet as they come up. It has helped me make some major decisions, and also saved me hours of searching for something I ve read somewhere.
5. Focus on your specialty.
In the first few years, there can be a lot of pressure to diversify your offering, says Paris Cutler, director of cake decorating company Planet Cake. Stick to what you do best and do it better and with more focus than anyone else.
6. Outsource the things you don t do.
Resist the temptation to chase work outside your offering, and use a specialist to fill in any gaps, says Rhys Roberts from accountancy firm Viridity. I outsource my HR, my IT, much of my marketing and more. The time you free up you can spend doing what you are good at.
7. Aim high and be persistent.
Determination is one of the vital qualities needed when you start on the long road of setting up a small business. Rochelle Miller, co-founder of fashion retailer Another Love, says: Believe in yourself and your strengths. Don t take no for an answer. There will be bumps along the way, but everything has a solution or another option.
Consultant Andrew Griffiths thinks about ways to improve his business each day.
8. Embrace a life less frantic.
Kelly Exeter, author and editor of small business community Flying Solo says it s all about finding the right balance for you. I am learning that I don t just need physical space to thrive, I need mental space too.
9. Follow your own path.
Designer and illustrator Beci Orpin says she s not naturally business-minded, but has always worked really hard and built up a strong folio of work. My business is all about me: my style and what I create, so an important part of developing that was staying true to myself not worrying about what other people were doing.
10. Take time out to think about how to improve.
Use your best hour in the day to consider ways of moving forward, advises Andrew Griffiths, a small business author and consultant. He does this first thing every morning. Then, each Friday, I find a quiet place and ask myself a question: How is my business better this week than it was last week?
11. Harness your keystone habits .
Entrepreneur and blogger James Clear says we should find the one or two habits or routines that make everything else fall into place. Improving your lifestyle and becoming the type of person who has their act together isn t nearly as hard as you might think.
Life coach Kathryn Hocking researches what competitors are doing.
12. Practise mindfulness.
Freelance journalist and editor Jodie Macleod says it increases productivity, reduces stress and improves memory and focus. Mindfulness is when you are aware of your thoughts, feelings, sensations, breath and everything occurring in the present moment, without attaching judgment to those observations.
13. Every setback is a stepping stone to success.
Lucinda Lions from branding agency Slogan Creator says it s important to stay positive wherever possible, and see feedback, not failure. I remind myself tomorrow is a brand new day, a new opportunity to think differently and make better choices.
14. Hire from within your networks.
When Sarah Wilson from I Quit Sugarbegan feeling overwhelmed with work, she decided to get an assistant. She put a call out to her community, knowing taking someone on would involve sacrifice. Five years later, they still have a successful working relationship. Start out small and then leave the invitation open for expansion.
15. Keep it manageable.
Kate James, start-up coach at Total Balance, says it s important to remember that it s not all about non-stop growth bigger isn t better if you ve stopped enjoying what you do. You need to define your own version of success. Mine is that I need to love my business.
Sarah Wilson says you need to know when to ask for help. Source: Supplied
16. Know when to work for free.
Vanessa Emilio from Legal123, says sometimes working for free is worth it. Free doesn t mean offering an entire job or product for free. It could mean a free initial consultation, free component of a project or complimentary muffin with every coffee.
17. Stay excited and believe in your business.
SEO copywriter and consultant Kate Toon says start-ups should think about clients needs and possible issues and create rational responses to persuade them your business is the solution. Inject warmth, professionalism and even humour, where appropriate. Being human beats boring every time.
18. Learn to say no.
Recognise when a client has unrealistic expectations and nip it in the bud early, or consider referring them on, says author and media commentator Andrew Griffiths.
Try a formal, structured response and keep returning to it. Try, Thank you for the opportunity, but we are so heavily committed we can t give your project the time and attention it needs.
If you re on a tight marketing budget, think about how you can trigger word-of-mouth interest. Warren Harmer of The Business Plan Company mentions a small florist that did this brilliantly by 1) Offering quality; 2) Providing value; 3) Inspiring team members to love their job and clients and 4) Creating a physical environment that excited their market.
20. Turn competition into inspiration.
Life coach Kathryn Hocking suggests you research what competitors are doing to help identify what makes you unique. Your relationship doesn t have to be adversarial: they could be a mentor, partner or friend. Focus on your own purpose and connect with peers that have similar values and who inspire you to greater levels of success.
21. Know when to take a dream detour .
Sometimes it s hard to know whether to grab a fresh opportunity or stick to your path. Business mentor Lynda Bayada says you need to outsmart your head so you can listen to your heart. Give yourself space and trust yourself. And you ll find that s half the battle won.