So you've just got your new business up and running, now is not the time to take it easy and relax. Now you need to work harder than ever. Here are ten things to work on to help build up your customer base and ensure that your business is a success.
1. Ask yourself these questions:
- Is my business a reactive business?
- How can I generate more revenue over the next six months?
- How do I want my business to develop over the next year?
- What will I do to achieve that?
Set aside time each week to think about your business strategically. It might be a mid-week brunch; it may mean having a board meeting; it may involve some quiet "thinking" time. Regardless of how you do it, make some time to work on your business, rather than in it.
2. Start making contacts.
Start collecting the name, address, telephone number and email address of every single client, prospect, and friend in business you have. Now contact them all and ask, "How can we help you?"
3. Stop telling prospects what you do.
You're a "needs analyst". Ask them lots of questions about their business, and then offer solutions to their problems.
4. Build a consistent follow-up sales process.
By follow-up sales, I mean you should always have another thing ready to sell your client once you've finished their project. For instance, if you've designed a Web site for them, your follow-up sale might be Web site maintenance.
A consistent follow-up sales process is critical to your businesses success. Continuing with the Web site example, with every Web site that you work on, you make a proposal to the client for ongoing work, usually focusing on the maintenance and marketing of the site. This ongoing work can be quite profitable (and is work that almost every Web site requires).
5. Start a newsletter.
Keep clients and prospects informed about what you're doing. Make regular offers. People can't contract you for your services until you make them an offer and they accept you.
6. Send a media release to five publications.
Media coverage provides your business with enormous credibility. Here's a quick tip for your media release: people love a "Top 10" list - just like this one! (They also love survey results!)
7. Reward good clients.
Rewarded behaviour gets repeated. Send "Thank you" cards, gifts, or whatever you think is appropriate to people who refer new business to you. These people are helping you to grow your business - you need to say, "Thanks."
Sending a "Thank you" note to a client who's referred business to you is just another reason to make contact with them. Then the client gets a Christmas card. Then the quarterly newsletter. Not only will it be possible to make regular offers to the client through these communications, but they will be dealing with you on a regular basis - and getting to know you even better.
Through each communication, remind the client that you are thinking of them, and encourage them to think of you. So you're top-of-mind when they need your services.
8. Never do what you say you will.
Satisfying clients is about the worst thing you can do. I concede that having no clients would be a lot worse, and unhappy clients wouldn't be so great, either!
Studies have shown that satisfying clients simply isn't good enough. Around 80% of clients leave a business because they don't think that business cares about them enough.
Satisfied clients will not stay with you. Delighted clients will. So don't ever just do what you say you will - do more. You have to exceed your clients' wildest expectations. Start today.
9. Benchmark your business against your competition.
Check out just how you're doing, generate lots of ideas, and know what you're up against. That
information is gold!
10. Practice, practice, practice.
You have to perform in front of prospects. You have to sell your services. Don't turn up na dwing it; practice makes perfect. One client may be all you need to create a successful business for years to come.