From Guest Blogger Suzie Wilson
Whether you are in real estate, IT consulting, or sell custom baby clothes, there’s something satisfying about owning your own business. You have the freedom to work when you want, from where you want. Being an entrepreneur, however, requires lots of foresight and a willingness to plan for the future and adapt to the present.
Home office preparations
When home is also home base for your business, you’ll need to dedicate a space specifically for work. This should include a comfortable desk and chair and all of the equipment to run your business efficiently. A good printer is a must as is an ink subscription if you routinely print less than 100 pages per month and don’t mind sticking to specific printers. These services monitor your ink usage to ensure your CMYK needs are always met. If you get on with a larger brokerage, a desk and computer may be provided; confirm this before investing in these essential pieces of equipment.
In addition to furniture and a printer, you’ll need to ensure your technology is up to date. This will allow you to be both efficient in your work and reactive to your customers. TechRadar.com offers a rundown of the best business computers for 2018. Also, an invoicing app will make it easy to keep up with your accounts receivable and if your business is mobile, a credit card machine, like the Square Terminal, will make face-to-face purchases a safe, simple, and secure transaction for you and your customers.
It’s one thing to be ready to hit the ground running, but if you don’t take the time to market yourself, you won’t have customers to serve. Marketing is an intimidating endeavor but one that is necessary, even for small businesses. If your budget is lacking, social media will be your best friend. One of the simplest and most effective marketing tools is creating a Facebook giveaway, which can be shared over and over again. The best part is that it costs you only the complimentary item/service.
If you’re not social media savvy, there are still other ways to get your name out in the community. Constant Contact suggests utilizing radio and taking advantage of special non-holiday days to create a custom promotion for your business. For example, November 6th is National Nachos Day. You could offer a $25 gift card to a popular local Mexican restaurant and promote your business as “Nacho Average _____.” It’s a simple play on words but one that’s memorable and shows off your sense of humor.
Other ways to market your business include sponsoring a local sports team, adding vinyl decals and contact information to your vehicle, and participating in community events.
Keeping customers happy
Getting customers is one thing, keeping them is another game altogether. Customer service can make or break a business; your existing customers are what will keep your business running through word-of-mouth and repeat patronage. Consider starting a customer loyalty program or send a small “thank you” gift on their anniversary as a customer. If customer service isn’t your forte, hire someone with effective communication skills to take care of the people who take care of you.
Keep in mind that no matter how good your service, you will have times when unhappy or dissatisfied customers pop up. When this happens, take steps to rectify the problem and don’t be afraid to reach out via phone if the bulk of your communication has been in email. Avoid the temptation to engage them online – specifically on social media – with anything other than a promise to contact them in regards to their complaint. Small Business Trends offers more information on how to handle a dissatisfied customer.
Being your own boss is a dream come true, but it can also be a nightmare if you don’t take the time to get yourself settled and do it right. Make things easy for your customers – and yourself – by having your office together, your technology on point, and your customer service plan in place.