DON’T WORRY ABOUT AESTHETICS IN THE BEGINNING
When starting out don’t worry about looking like an established company. Don’t waste your money on renting upmarket offices, hiring staff, branding cars or any of the “superficial” items that come with having a business. All those things will come in time. Your main focus must be on getting PAYING customers. That is the only way you will survive in business. Find a decent space to work from, even better if it’s free, and focus on offering the best service or product to your customer. They won’t even be concerned about you not having a big office or staff as long as they are getting value for their money.
REMEMBER THE NUMBER ONE RULE OF ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE
When everyone’s late paying, business gets hard. You might run out of money to pay suppliers or staff. It’s one of the most common reasons businesses go broke.
It’s important to treat invoices like the assets they are. Set up an accounts receivable process that maximises your chance of getting on-time payment. There’s a lot you can do but the number one rule of accounts receivable management is to make sure you have a plan for your debtors.
Don’t treat invoices on a case by case basis. Do the same things on the same days for everyone that owes you money. A consistent accounts receivable process will help keep you in business so make sure you have one that:
- Makes new customers aware of their obligations to you
- Gets invoices out the door as soon as a job is complete, or billing cycle comes around
- Sets out the specific actions you’ll take if an invoice is overdue
LEAD FROM THE FRONT
The most helpful tip I have ever received that has helped quite a lot and helped generate clients is to be at the forefront of my business. While many SMME owners may prefer to be in the back, research has shown that when people buy a product they buy “you” as the owner of it. So occasionally it helps to put a face to the brand by doing interviews, Masterclasses, radio profiling, speaking at events, etc. It is a great way to also build your profile and attract traction online.
FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR CLIENTS
Don’t fall in love with the product, fall in love with your clients. Study them, know what they love, know their pains and seek out solutions to those pains. This is the perfect marketing strategy.
YOU ARE YOUR BIGGEST STRENGTH OR WEAKNESS
Owning a business is hard work. Often times we small business founders have no safety net and have to carry a lot of responsibilities on our shoulders. These can include developing strategy for the business, managing the finances, recruiting staff and bringing in clients. This means your performance in the business can make or break it.
Eckhart Tolle once spoke of the hardest fight in life being the battle within you. Every day you will face your doubts, fears, tiredness, frustrations and anxieties. You will have days when it all seems too hard and you want to give up. You must overcome yourself and all the negativity that may envelop you and stay focused on achieving your goals.
Believe in yourself, believe in your dreams, understand your customer, solve their problems and commit to doing that daily. You will get there.