Running your own business ranks up there as one of the most challenging things most people will ever do in their lifetime. It’s unfortunate, but the majority of those small businesses will end in failure. In the U.S., only about 25% of small business startups make it past their two-year anniversary. While the odds are stacked against new business owners, we can take comfort in the fact that one out of four new businesses survive, and even thrive. It’s on us to look at these successful business owners, to try to figure out what steps they took in order to achieve their success.
A study of these successful business owners leads us to discover that there are similarities in the methods that these effective leaders used to grow their businesses. While there are many different aspects to business success, and various methods that can be utilized to achieve your goals, three things appear to be necessary for a small business to grow and thrive.
1) Expand your customer base.
It’s business school 101, but without customers you’re not running a business, you’re spending money on an expensive hobby. Without customers, there’s no income. And without income, there’s no business. If you’re not increasing your client base, you’ll soon find yourself out of money and heading to bankruptcy court.
We may think that practicing our trade (like inspecting houses) is the most important thing that we do as a small business owner, but that’s secondary to attracting new clients.
Without new clients, there will be no houses to inspect.
Even though we live in a digital age, new customers are always acquired the old-fashioned way: by word of mouth. Whether it’s through an in-person referral or over the internet, having a new client hear about your business will always be the sole driver of customers to your door. It could be a past client telling a friend how good a job you did, it may be a “like” from someone on social media boosting your profile or it could come from a search engine result that lands you on a potential customer’s browser.
Regardless of what kind of medium the referral comes from, we want people to hear about our business.
Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing but nobody else does.Steuart Henderson Britt
That’s why it’s incredibly important that we make it as easy as possible for potential clients to find us. We need to produce a quality product that makes past clients want to tell their friends about us. We need to have a website with enough quality content to rank high in a search. We need to have a consistent presence on social media so that people will follow us and share our insights with their friends.
The easier it is to find us, the more likely that our next customer will.
2) Remain focused in everything you do.
Everything you produce needs to move the focus onto your business. You need to make sure that your product, your website and your marketing are all highlighting the benefits of doing business with your company. Consistency across all your marketing platforms is key; everything we produce must be done with the sole purpose of making sure those potential customers are able to find us.
But remember, it’s not enough that potential clients find us; we must be able to make a positive impression on those that do. We need to be sure that our commitment shows through in every part of our business persona. Consistently providing value to our clients (and our future clients) will go a long way toward increasing our customer base.
It starts with producing a valuable product for our clients. Exceeding our customer’s expectations is one of the best ways to ensure that our past clients sing our praises. It doesn’t take much more effort on our part to deliver a report that’s better than our client was expecting. Every time we deliver an inspection report, it’s an opportunity for us to profit from the free marketing that each report can provide for us in the future.
Give your customers a reason to boast about how smart they were to hire the best home inspector in the area; they won’t disappoint.
An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.Benjamin Franklin
3) Invest in your business.
The old adage that you need to spend money to make money still rings true. Without investing in your business, it’s sure to fail. Just like a house that suffers from a lack of preventive maintenance, a business without regular investment follows a slow, steady path to decline.
Spending money on marketing is a basic requirement of a successful business. Whether it’s the old-fashioned way, handing out business cards and brochures, or the newfangled idea of digital marketing through Google, Facebook and Instagram (and whatever other social media channel that’s hot right now), you need to invest in your business.
(As an aside, it’s been my experience that those pay-for-lead services like HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List are usually not worth the investment. They typically attract new business owners who are desperate for business, charge them too much money and delivering (at best) questionable leads. You’re much better off finding somewhere else to spend your marketing dollars. Think about it: if it really was that easy, don’t you think everybody would be doing it?)
It’s important to invest in your business too. Spending some of your marketing budget to upgrade your software or better the quality of your tools can pay enormous dividends. Making a better impression on your clients or using a higher quality software product that can provide additional benefits (beyond simply producing an inspection report) can help grow your business.
Exceeding someone’s expectations is a great way to market your business. (See #2).
Investing in yourself is just as important as putting dollars into new software or a new laptop. Our field is constantly changing, and it’s important for us to change and adapt along with it. If you’ve been in the inspection business for 15 years and you’re still writing the exact same reports you did when you started, you’ve already lost. You’re losing ground (and customers) to those inspectors who are advancing their knowledge.
If you’re not moving forward, you’re falling back.Sam Waterson
Investing in your online presence is important as well. Spend some time making sure that the information on your website provides value for your visitors. Yes, it takes a certain level of commitment to deliver good information that people want to consume, but it’s hard to match the benefits that you get from producing high quality digital content. A little investment now can produce benefits for years to come. Once you put a piece of content on your website, it’s there forever, enabling you to share your knowledge with people over and over again.
Growing a successful small business can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. By studying the successful businesses that came before us and emulating the things that they did to become profitable, we can achieve our own version of success. By following these three simple principles, expanding our customer base, remaining focused and investing in ourselves and our business, we can steadily move forward and achieve that elusive goal of having a successful small business.
I welcome all feedback (both positive and negative) on this post.
Please take a moment to leave a comment below. Thank you!
Want to be an Influencer in Your Field? Share This Post!