If you are just starting out as a small business owner, or are trying to move from part time to six figure level, chances are “shoestring budget” is something you live by. You might not have a regular paycheck coming in, low or no income stream, and are probably taking on debt to help you achieve your dreams. In short, you are cash poor.
So the most logical step to take is to try and do everything on a shoestring budget.
Marketing – what’s that?
Advertising – that’s why Facebook and Twitter is great, they are free.
Business cards – why buy them when you can print them on your home printer?
Part of living on a shoestring budget means doing everything at the lowest cost possible. But if you live your entire life like that, you may be putting your business at risk. There are some things that you just shouldn’t skimp on. It shows.
When a prospective client meets you for the first time, what do they think? People form opinions within the first few seconds of meeting; make sure those seconds count. Even if you can’t afford an entire wardrobe from Bloomingdales, you should still invest in one great outfit to meet people in. Head to your local consignment store and talk with the staff. Ask them to make recommendations about looking your best. Make sure everything fits the correct way. And pay attention to your shoes; holes, scuff marks and worn down heels say a lot.
Try to look like your customers. If you are targeting business people who usually meet you in business suits, follow their example and show up in a suit. If you work with Internet companies and start up business owners who show up in jeans and a t-shirt, dress down a bit and show up in something suitable. Never look like you’ve spent the last 24 hours in front of the computer.
The Customer Experience
Meeting a potential customer for the first time puts you on display. At all other times, its your company that is on display. Everything you do that relates to the customer should create a “WOW” experience and make them feel like a million bucks. If you are not fully vested in making your business shine and stand out, a prospect may not feel like investing in what you have to offer.
Look at what you have to offer through the eyes of your customer. Would you buy something? Are the marketing materials top notch – or are they thrown together? Is the website custom designed – or put together by amateurs? Do you use top quality albums, frames, materials, etc – or do you use your local discount store? It all matters at this stage of the game. The more thought and time you put into creating a dynamic experience for your customers, the more it will show in top quality referrals, and life long clients.
Having a great website no longer equates to spending a ton of money. If you are even just a bit tech savvy, you can do the design yourself with WordPress.
1. Having a site that looks professional.
2. Having a site that allows you to create content.
Websites today are meant to be a window to the online world. They connect you up with various social sites and allow you to connect with your customer base on many different levels. If you still think a 5 page website will cut it, think again. The more you put into it, the more you will receive.
When people hire you, chances are they would say the did so because of the connection they felt while talking with you. Its your personality, the way you connect, what you have to say and how you say it.
When you move to the online world, what you say is even more important because people are forming impressions based on your content.
If you’ve thrown together five pages of content to fill a few pages on your site, you are missing out on one of the biggest advantages of being online.
People love to be able to spend time browsing through everything you have to offer. They look at your images, what you have to say, your videos, what you say on Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest. They follow the trails. Make sure those trails say the best. If you can’t do it, hire it done. Its that important.
Your Business Success
Never skimp on expenses that are at the core of what will determine your business success. If you’ve developed a new product for the photography industry, hire a patent attorney. If you want to set up your business the right way, hire a small business attorney. If you want to reach out to a distinct marketplace, hire a marketing/advertising firm that can help you reach the right audience.
Save in areas that don’t matter to your success – it doesn’t matter if your office is in your home or a commercial location. It doesn’t matter if you use a Herman Miller chair or your kitchen chair.
You don’t need the fanciest things when you are growing your business. Ensure you have invested in the things that matter most: support and management of the parts of your business that are at the core of your future today and well into the future.