I’ve been in business a lot of years now. And my customers, for the most part, have been ‘S’ Type business owners.
What I’ve noticed over the years is they all seem to experience the same issues. Which I believe can be contributed to these five things.
- Not generating leads when business is good
- Not expanding their marketing channels/strategies
- Not systemizing processes
- Not answering the phone or responding to emails
- Not having a support network or an expert to leverage
I’m going to break each of these down and see what I can do to explain why I see these as major issues for small business owners and/or self employed business people.
Not generating leads when business is good
I think a lot of business owners are guilty of this mistake. I know that I have been, repeatedly.
I’ve discovered that this happens for two specific reasons.
- Most lead building is “offline” stuff, i.e luncheons and meetings.
- No automation and/or delegation, still doing it all themselves.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that offline strategies like networking is a bad strategy and you should stop doing it. It can be very effective.
But, if you can learn to build some online marketing strategies (i.e email, blogging, social media) that can be automated or available 24/7, you’ll continue to have a steady flow of leads even when you’re busy.
Watch these three videos to help you build a funnel:
- What Are You Really Selling? [Part 1 of 3]
- How to Find Buyers [Part 2 of 3]
- Mapping Out Your Sales Funnel [Part 3 of 3]
Not expanding marketing channels/strategies
This mistake is typically inline with the previous. You find one strategy that works and you just ride that wave. Which is fine, however you’ve got to be cautious.
Let’s take SEO as an example. One Google update could wipe out your ranking and kill your leads and sales.
Having a healthy mix of marketing is a good business practice. Putting most of your dollars into the the strategy or campaign that yields the best return.
For more tips on marketing start with these Podcast episodes:
Not systematizing processes
There are things that you do every day that can be systematized and delegated to somebody else to do cheaper.
For example. When I build a website there are a number of task that I have to perform just to get started. From communicating with the client to get access to accounts and info to setting up a development environment and rolling out the project in our management tools.
I realized a couple years into it, that me doing that with every project was a waist of my time. So I did two things.
- I built blueprints. Systems. A template. Documentation. Something that anyone could take and use to complete all of those simple tasks.
- I hired someone, delegated those simple tasks to them. It was more cost effective to pay them $10/hr to do those things then it was to use my $100/hr time to do them.
Now don’t give me that, “I can do it faster and more accurately” line of B.S..
If that is true, your system sucks and you haven’t trained your people properly.
Start by reading these articles:
Not answering the phone or responding to emails
Blows my mind the number of business owners that will not answer their phone when it rings, and worse, if you screen your calls and just don’t call people back, off course your reputation is going to suck.
I know why they do it. They’re overwhelmed and frustrated with all the nonsense and need a break.
Which is why you need to have boundaries, but if you’re a business owner, your phone and email are part of your sales funnel.
Let me share a quick story from one of my old clients.
He was a contractor, he was good at taking the initial call for estimate request, but after looking at the project, if it was something he didn’t want to do, he just never called them back or answered any of their follow up calls.
He never got referrals. He was constantly battling a bad reputation. When those people had a job that was a fit for him, he didn’t get the call.
My advise to him.
Get a list of 5 or so contractors that do work that you don’t. When you get a job you don’t want provide the list and tell them what kind of work you are interested in.
All of that could be automated. A simple email canned response that you just fire off every time you get one of those jobs.
One other story on boundaries with emails and phone calls.
I use to get a lot of phone calls from clients asking dumb questions and which sapped a lot of my time. To switch that I sent an email to all my clients that for every phone call I would start billing $xx per 30 minutes and the best way to get me is via email and expect a reply within 24 hours.
Then I had to create a ticket system and start charging for email support.
Was I still willing to help, yes. But was it getting ridiculous that people expected me to drop everything and help them for free just because I built a website for them two years ago, YES!
Great solution to help you better manage phone and email.
Not having a support network or experts to leverage
The goal is to find people that already have what you want, and can help you get there. These people can be great advisers and offer a perspective into your business you’re blind too.
You also want to have a network of people in your industry you can trade work and experiences with.
But the real secret is to build relationships with them so that you can consult on projects but also talk about non-business stuff too.
Let me share two examples of how this worked in my business.
Example 1: When I had my web development company I had a network of developers and designers that had specific expertise. I would contract them for projects or just pay them for their advise.
We would get together at industry events and talk shop and just B.S about life.
Example 2: The services I didn’t offer at the time (which are all the services I now offer) I found other service providers I could build a referral network with.
These people also became friends and advisers that helped me grow my business.
There are 2 keys to making this work:
- You must be teachable
- You must contribute to the relationship
A little advise when it comes to leveraging somebody’s expertise.
Don’t become dependent on them. Don’t expect that when you have a question or issue they will want to hear about or help you solve it.
Do your due diligence and put a little effort into solving your own problems and finding an answer to your questions. Google is a powerful FREE tool!
Bring this to a close
First, if you need help making the mind shift to get these things implemented, watched this video, How to Shift Your Thinking to Grow Your Business.
Overall if you’re ready to take you business up a notch and you can relate with a few of these mistakes, start making the improvements today.
Focus on one mistake at a time.