Whether you currently run your business from your home or even your local coffee shop, all businesses must start somewhere. Giving the impression that your business is larger than it actually is could help you reach more customers and compete with the big players in your market. These four tips could help you to do just that...
Some 90% of the UK's population are active online, yet, surprisingly, 45% of SMEs in the UK still do not have a website. When a potential customer hears about your business the first thing they will do is search online, so it is important to have an online presence. Having a website will give your business the opportunity to reach more people and can include features such as giving visitors the option to sign up to your newsletter. When designing your website think about where you want your business to be in the future and not where it is at the moment. Just because you are a small business doesn't mean your website can't make a big impression.
With Google's mobile-friendly update having just rolled out it has never been more crucial to have a mobile-optimised website. Some 80% of internet users own a smartphone, but almost half of SMEs have a website that is not optimised for smartphones. Websites optimised for smartphones are designed to fit all screen sizes from iPhones to Androids. When designing your website, be aware that smartphone websites are generally much simpler than regular websites, so simplify and then simplify again.
Small-business owners often find that they are on the go a lot, whether it is meeting a client or travelling to a training course. You may think that it makes sense to use your mobile number as your main point of contact, however, using a landline number instead gives the impression that you are based in an office and thus own a larger company. An easy way to get around this problem is to have a Skype number. For a small fee you can have a country and area code of your choice and you can answer all calls via your smartphone, tablet or laptop.
Social media provides brands with a free outlet to communicate and engage with potential customers. All big brands are expected to be active on the main social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Depending on your industry, you may want to make other social channels a priority. For example, if you work in photography, visual platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest could be the most beneficial. Aim to post several times a day and make your business an interesting one to follow by asking questions, providing tips and interacting with your followers.
Copyright © 2015 SJD Accountancy
Whether you become a sole trader (ie are self-employed) or set up a partnership or limited company, starting your own business is relatively simple, quick and inexpensive, which partly explains why so many people continue to do it. Last year, a record-breaking 581,173 new businesses were registered at Companies House. Per capita, more new businesses are started in the UK than in the USA.
However, the survival rate for new businesses remains low. About half of all new UK businesses fail within three years and 90% are gone within 10 years. And only 4% of start-ups achieve a million-pound turnover after three years. For those who survive the three-year test, achieving significant growth remains a huge challenge, with many small firms staying more or less a similar size.
Some small businesses are restricted by business models that can't be scaled, while others are run by people who simply don't have the know-how, experience, drive, vision or leadership skills to grow a business. Some businesses fail to attract the right people or find the right strategic partners to enable growth.
For most businesses, organic growth by reinvesting profits will only take you so far, usually at a much slower pace. Without doubt another reason why some small businesses fail to grow is lack of funding.
If you really want to take your business to new heights, external investment or funding can unlock the door. I co-founded ezbob in 2012 and since then funding from institutional investors and the UK government-supported Angel CoFund has enabled us to grow our business so that, alongside our sister company, Everline, we've now provided more than 6,000 business loans and lent more than £60m to fellow UK small businesses.
Business angel or private equity investment might not be available or preferable (not everyone wants to concede ownership or control in exchange for investment). Grants from public sector organisations exist, but they're few and far between.
You might think you could turn to your bank for a loan to help fund your growth ambitions, but there are no guarantees your application will be approved. That's partly why 'alternative sources' (ie not from banks) now supply 25% of lending to UK SMEs, according to an FT.com report in February, which also said that many smaller businesses are discouraged from applying for bank loans as a result of previous rejections or the cost implications.
The most suitable business growth funding option for you will be determined by how much money you need, when you need it, your turnover, whether you're prepared to put up any assets as security or concede any ownership or control. These are all key considerations.
Trying to grow a business inevitably involves some risk and it takes time and a lot of hard work, but the results can make it worthwhile. Above all, you need to ensure you get the funding you need to match your circumstances and ambition.
Understanding your own value is the first step to charging what you're worth. To do this, you must reflect on your expertise, which consists of your professional qualifications, continual professional development and experience.
It's very difficult for you to see how valuable this is, because you take it for granted, you've done it for years. This is called being "unconsciously competent". You do things automatically without thinking that much and therefore don't place much or even any value on it.
You must review this regularly because, as you continue to develop your skills, you become even more competent and probably faster, so if you're charging for time, you could actually be losing revenue.
What are their problems? To find out, ask them key open questions (ie ones that can't be answered with a simple one-word answer). Begin your questions with 'what', 'where', 'when', 'how', 'who' or 'why' then let them answer without interruptions, prompting or leading.
Find out what "pain" they are experiencing and how extreme it is. The greater the pain, the more likely they are to use your services and pay you what you're worth. You need to find out what solving the problem will be worth to them and cost them if it's not resolved.
Self-worth is at the heart of everything we do and it drives our behaviour. Humans are motivated by pleasure or pain. We either move towards pleasure or move away from pain. In a business context, if you don't feel 100% worthy, how can you possibly charge what you're really worth?
If someone tells you to raise your fees, it makes you feel uncomfortable and you move away from whatever is causing that discomfort. You stick with the fees you currently charge – even if that means not getting paid what you deserve.
If you focus on price, so will your clients. If you don't first demonstrate the value of what you do, prospective clients will likely regard the quote you give as high, no matter what price you offer.
You have to get them to shift from looking at the price to seeing the value of it. Once they understand the value, the price you quote will actually seem relatively low.
By ensuring customers know exactly what they'll be getting for their money, they're much more likely to do business with you and pay you what you're worth. Very often people fail to communicate their value effectively, usually for three reasons: they don't understand their own value; they make assumptions about the client's understanding of the value; or thirdly, they're uncomfortable doing it.
Many people are uncomfortable talking about money, quite simply because they have negative beliefs about it, such as the following:
It's likely that these have become embedded in your subconscious mind, they've become beliefs and are therefore negatively impacting on your thoughts and actions around money. So it's imperative that you change your beliefs about money, otherwise it will be impossible to charge what you're worth.
Take the first step to charging what you're worth by ordering your complimentary copy of my book, True Worth.
Copyright © 2015 Vanessa Ugatti – The True Worth ExpertTM.