I have recently had reason to go through 11 years’ worth of “diaries” from when I was running my small business 2008-2019. These are not the shop records of retail activity but my scribblings, musings, lists of things to do, people to call, actions to be actioned, people to be thanked, opportunities to be explored, meeting notes and many more things that fill over 20 note books & “pukka-pads”.
It has been quite the revelation! The excitement, anticipation, stresses, worries, joys, and disappointments are palpable from the pages. I can place myself back in each page, each day, each experience.
So, from 11 years of running a business, here are 11 nuggets of wisdom I hope you find useful!
1. Networking for Business
I cannot stress how much all types of networking helped me grow my business and helped me develop as a businessperson. Networking groups may be replaced for the moment with online meets, but equally as valuable. Look to networks that your clients are involved in also.
2. Build your client database
Always collect data: e-mail addresses etc (with customer permission of course) to build your contact database. This makes it easy to build a loyal customer base.
3. Build Strong Relationships
Seems like it goes without saying but treat your staff, customers and networks with respect and be prepared to give before you receive. Reward your staff and reward your clients.
4. Follow your customer
If your good client moves to another space, keep in contact, they may not have changed industry and instead of losing one you may gain another.
Try new ways of getting product / service to your customer. Can you “package” your product with a complimentary one? Or complimentary group? Can you “pop-up”? Can you “concession”?
6. ROI (Return on Investment)
Try new marketing and sales strategies, but always measure whether they are working for you. Choose your advertising medium, will it be Social Media to market your business? Measure its effectiveness: did your business get value from it?
7. Use professionals when expertise is needed.
Do not be afraid to spend money on the professionals: Accountants, Solicitor’s, Employment Advisers, Health & Safety, Digital marketing etc. when you need them. They are the experts!
8. Follow your industry networks
Make sure you know what is going on in your industry, trends to look out for exploit, innovate and explore.
9. Know your competitors.
I mean “get to know them”, reach out to them as part of your network. You may be able to offer mutual help at times of need.
Keep on top of your invoicing: pick a date each month and be consistent with issuing and follow-up of invoicing. It avoids a lot of chasing, explaining hassle and bad debts!
Keep good lines of communication open with your suppliers, wholesalers, landlords etc. In difficult times you may need their understanding.