Today is #MicroBizMattersDay a day when hundreds of thousands of micro business owners – perhaps as many as 1 million – will be giving 8 minutes (or more) #IGave8 of their time to help other micro business owners somewhere in the world.
The three main areas of focus for #IGave8 minutes of action to help other micro enterprise owners are #Customers; #Cashflow and #Confidence and so we thought we’d put a few of our thoughts on these topics on paper for you to consider!
- Customers are absolutely key to the survival and success of any business, without them there is no business – remember that! You can have the best product in the world, the cheapest, the best value, the most exclusive or the most popular – but if no-one is buying it then you have nothing!
- Remember that people buy people and so even if your product is the one they are almost certain to buy, if you don’t come across as the person they want to buy it from – you’ll lose the sale!
- Who are your customers – when you’re planning your business it’s very easy to base all your decisions on what your family and friends are telling you about the product or about the service you’re offering – well that’s great, but they’re likely to be biased, what about those you don’t know – are they as likely to buy? If not then you’ll soon run out of customers and soon run out of business! Make sure you run your idea past the widest range of potential customers before you get started to be sure you have enough to base a good business upon.
- Once you’ve got them – make sure you keep them! Many businesses put lots of time, effort and money into attracting new customers and then deliver a poor product or service, meaning they are very unlikely to buy again – what a waste! If you’re going to put your hard earned cash into getting a new customer, you need to do all you can to make sure they buy from you again and again and again – the saying under promise and over deliver was never more apt!
- There are many sayings about cashflow – and they’re mostly spot on! ‘Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, but cash is king’ is the one we’d most advocate – you can turnover all the money in the world, make a massive profit– but without any cash in the bank your business isn’t going to last very long – don’t get drawn into thinking that your business is doing better than it really is because some of the numbers are high – without ready cash, your business is going nowhere!
- You need to learn pretty early on to ask for money that’s owed to you – don’t be afraid, you’ve done the work – make sure you get paid for it!
- If you give credit get into the habit of invoicing as soon as the job’s done, you’d be amazed how many people leave it, to the end of the month for example – most people don’t actually pay when the money is due anyway so why do that and let them hold onto your money for even longer!
- Think about your payment terms, can you get some of the money up front – for materials for example, can you arrange staged payments so you get some of the money along the way – if they customer wants your product or service you might be surprised at what they’ll agree to, but if you don’t ask you certainly won’t get!
- Once you’ve got the money, make sure you account for it properly and don’t spend it unless you know the business can afford it – it’s easy as a sole trader particularly to think that all the money in the business is yours anyway – and of course it is – but, what about that bill you have to pay next week, will it have been worth it if you later incur overdraft charges?
- Many things in business come down to confidence! Having the confidence to start up in the first place, having the confidence to go out there and sell yourself, having the confidence to go along to networking events, having the confidence to ask for money that’s owed to you!
- Most people have much more confidence than they give themselves credit for and if you have started then you’ve already shown that – but it doesn’t take much for that to be chipped away at, not enough sales this month, not getting paid enough this week, a deal you were sure you’d get not coming off etc etc! Don’t let those little chips become giant fissures though – make sure you have some high points to look back on to remind you of the good things you’re doing and the good things still to come!
- You can build your confidence further by making sure you do your research, if you’re looking at a new product or service or customer – make sure you’ve thought it all through, thoughts about the potential pitfalls and opportunities – if you’ve done all the scenario planning beforehand then you’ll be prepared if things don’t quite go to plan and your confidence will grow because you’ll know exactly how to respond.
- Look out for a colleague or a friend or a mentor who can give you that confidence boost when you need it, someone who is generally positive and who is good at reminding you what you’re good at and what you’ve already achieved – sometimes just a quick coffee or a chat on the phone with someone not necessarily work related can give you the boost you need!
Always remember that there is help out there on these and any other elements of setting up and running your own business – take advantage of all the help you can get!
National Enterprise Network members are available across the country and they are ready and willing to help anyone thinking about starting or already running a business – find them here.
Happy #MicroBizMattersDay – that was our #IGave8 – what will yours be?
If you want to follow activity during the day you can do so via the following live stream link! http://www.youtube.com/user/startyourbusinessmag/live