Tag Archives: Business
Websites are famous for being your storefront in the digital age. Every expert will tell you you must have a website to capture leads. And that’s true…if you’re building an e-commerce or online business. For other types of service based business, having a website can be a distraction from the real work you need to be doing: getting clients.
Below I explain how you get clients without a website in order to create a successful service-based business.
1. Build your network before you quit your day job.
Like many people in 2010, I drank the lifestyle design Kool-Aid and got wasted. Freedom over my schedule? Flexibility to travel? Working for myself??! Sign me up. High off Four Hour Work Week, I resolved to leave my job. I had a rough idea of my next steps when my friend and author Vanessa Van Edwards said to me, “Don’t do that.”
Confused, since she herself was already a successful lifestyle entrepreneur, I said, “What? Why?!”
“Don’t quit your job. You’re about to make a lot of mistakes. Trust me. Make mistakes while you still have a salary.”
Turned out, she was right. I had no idea how to prospect, write proposals, package up services, or price things properly. I spent the next 6 months building up a side-hustle that let me make those mistakes with a safety net (my day job).
In that time, I attended as many events as I could, listened to every podcast on sales and entrepreneurship, wrote a ton of terrible proposals, got rejected by prospects I shouldn’t have been rejected by, and made a lot of bad cold sales calls and cold email pitches.
Listening to Vanessa’s advice saved me tens of thousands of dollars in burnt runway cash and a lot of mental anguish. By the time I was ready to go full time, I was confident in my skills as a consultant and sales person – and even had some glowing testimonials under my belt.
2. Get out of ‘transactional’ thinking.
You know the daunting 3% completion rate on online courses? I’m the 3%. I love learning, reading, and homework; So when I discovered the MOOC world, I couldn’t get enough.
One of the best courses I took was Earn1K, by the author Ramit Sethi.
With a Bachelor’s in Literature and a Master’s in Psychology, I’d had zero business training in my life, save for some memorable conversations with my dad who is an entrepreneur. Until that point, I believed business wasn’t “for people like me.” In my mind, business was for people who were “numbers people,” money hungry, and didn’t care about changing the world or doing good.
Turns out, none of those things is true.
In Sethi’s course, he taught us to think about business in terms of “solving problems.” It wasn’t transactional, like I’d thought. Business was about “adding value” to others.
This was an enormous mindset shift for me.
Sethi taught me to stop thinking about what I can do and start thinking about what people need.
That changed everything.
In the academic world, I’d been trained to think about myself. My interests, my research, my goals, my credentials, my my my….In the real world, I needed to learn how to make a case as to why anyone should care.
From that point on, every interaction I had changed from “Here’s what I can do!” to “What do you need help with?“
3. Learn to shut up and listen.
When I implemented the “What do you need help with?” approach, everything changed. I wasn’t pushing my services onto anyone. I was pulling their problems out and offering to help them solve them.
Before I took Sethi’s course, I’d sit down with prospects and spend 30 minutes talking about myself – what I could do and why I have the answers. It was annoying at best, unprofessional at worst.
Learning to shut up was one of the most effective sales tools I’ve learned to date. My close rate shot up exponentially because I learned the subtle art of asking questions.
I made prospects do the talking instead of me. Then, I’d restate what I heard. “It sounds like you’re struggling with XYZ. And you need help with ABC, does that sound right?”
Prospects eyes would light up, “YES! That’s exactly it. Can you help me?”
Because when you articulate someone’s problem, they credit you with the solution.
In those initial consults, the goal wasn’t to sell my service – it was to get the prospect to trust me. Listening and asking questions gets people to trust you.
And when people trust you, they buy from you.
4. Focus on sales generating activities instead of ego-boosting ones.
There was a technique Sethi advocated called “Direct to the source” and I used that almost exclusively for my 3+ years in business.
The idea was to go directly to the people who had a problem that you could solve instead of focusing on things like “building your brand.”
As someone who worked in branding and marketing, this was sacrilege.
Still, the idea made sense to me: first, see if you can get someone to say “yes” to hiring you; then, worry about having business cards.
I gave myself a 3-month deadline to test out this approach before I threw it out. My plan was to focus exclusively on getting clients by finding out what problems people had and selling them a solution.
No business cards, no logos, no stationary, no case studies, and no website. All of those things would be a distraction from what I needed to do: Get paying clients.
Three months turned into three years of going directly to clients. That turned into a steady stream of referrals and eventually having to tell people no.
In all that time, only one person ever asked for case studies or my website. And that person had no money to hire me. Go figure.
5. Remember that everyone is a prospect.
If you’re reading this thinking, “But how did you get people to sit down with you in the first place?!” I will tell you: It was that 6-months of learning to endure the discomfort of doing a bad job. Of failing. Miserably.
I got used to pitching myself and doing it wrong (really, really wrong). And doing it again. And again. And again. Until eventually, I sucked a little bit less.
In that time I discovered the key: everyone is a potential prospect or referral source. Everyone.
And when you combine that insight with the “How can I help you?” approach, you begin to see business opportunities everywhere.
For the next three years, I focused all my attention on getting clients, until I finally hit a point where two things happened.
First, I was commanding higher rates and started to need more credibility indicators to bolster my trustworthiness. Second, a good friend told me she wouldn’t refer me anyone until my online presence was “less sketchy.”
That’s when I knew it was time for a website.
The business of e-commerce is booming. And considering how easy it is to build a website, starting an online business has become very competitive. Right from identifying a product with the right target audience, then analyzing its potential, and making a strategic business plan, it involves making many decisions.
A recent report on e-commerce trends revealed more about the growth of e-commerce sales, and insights into the behavior of online shoppers, including:
- E-commerce is growing at a rate of 23 percent every year. Still, 46 percent of small businesses in America do not have a website
51 percent of Americans shop online, while 49 percent prefer to shop at physical stores
Online orders increased 8.9 percent in the third quarter of 2016, while the average order value increased only 0.2 percent.
Of all online shoppers, only 23 percent are swayed by social media references.
Do you notice anything here? Although online sales are increasing, there are many people who still rely on offline shopping. And of those who do shop online, very few are influenced by social media.
So what does it take to convert your website into a highly profitable e-commerce business?
There is no denying the fact that starting an e-commerce business is easy. But scaling up, and making it more profitable than your competitors can be difficult. Here’s a multiple choice question: What do you think is needed to set up a highly profitable e-commerce store?
Directing more traffic to your site,
Improving your conversion rate,
Increasing customer loyalty.
An effective growth strategy actually includes all three of these. And so, that one thing you need to build a more profitable e-commerce business is an effective growth strategy. Let’s take a closer look.
Increase traffic to your website to get noticed.
In the ever-growing space of e-commerce, it can be difficult to get noticed. But there are a number of ways organic traffic techniques that can help drive traffic to your website, including:
Search engine optimization (SEO) – increase your ranking in search engines like Google for more visibility.
Social media marketing – post on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and create YouTube tutorials to reach a wider audience.
Email marketing – drive traffic to your website with email newsletters to keep your subscribers informed about new products and promotions.
Another option is paid ads, which may include:
- Buying ads on Facebook
- Marketing with influencers
- Advertising on Instagram
Improve the conversion rate of your website to increase sales.
If you’ve used the above two techniques effectively, your conversion rate will automatically improve. However, there are some other easy things that you need to take care of in order to increase your e-commerce conversion rate, like:
Make your website mobile friendly and ensuring minimal loading time.
Stop making assumptions about your customer’s needs. Instead use A/B testing to know what they actually need.
Use high quality product images to attract more and more customers to convert them.
Build a user-friendly interface which should include an easy checkout and navigation system.
Use customer retention tools to boost your customer loyalty.
Building a positive user experience isn’t enough. You also need to retain your customers. Acquiring new customers is always a priority for brands. And yes, it is important. But can you afford to lose your existing customer base? No, right?
So once you have customers who have shopped on your website, concentrate on retaining them. No matter how awesome your product or service is, it is your job to make sure your customers are happy and satisfied so that they continue to choose you over your competitors.
A few customer retention strategies that can work for your e-commerce business include:
Introduce loyalty programs and give reward points for repeated sales.
Offer support systems to resolve customer issues and handle their grievances.
Use a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to keep a track of the entire journey of your customers.
An effective growth strategy is key to building a more profitable e-commerce business. In addition to the three main components above, you should keep a track of your performance data to help you make improvements when needed.
There are many business degrees and classes you can take as an aspiring entrepreneur. However, not all of these courses will be able to teach you valuable lessons only an experienced business owner would know.
Owning a business isn’t easy. It takes a lot of different skills and experience to lead an entire team, meet deadlines and complete several day-to-day tasks.
Whether you’ve recently launched a business or are in the process of opening your own company, there are important lessons you need to know. It can take years, even decades to grasp an idea or strategy that can help you and your business grow.
Here are just a few lessons I’ve learned along the way:
1. Family comes first.
The first lesson is the importance of family. Yes, your business is your baby, but you have to prioritize the people you love.
When you’re at home, focus on relaxing with your family and spending quality time with them. Time can fly by when you have a million things going on at work.
Use your time with family to rest and make the most of every minute. Family time is precious because at the end of the day, they’ll always be there for you during the good and bad times.
2. The lows are rock-bottom lows.
Many entrepreneurs will go through rock bottom lows. Whether it’s losing your biggest client or struggling to put food on the table, your lows will force you out of your comfort zone and push you to your limits.
You may experience “make or break” moments. You must power through, no matter how difficult it is.
Over 20 years ago I failed miserably on the first business that I opened. I had clients and cash coming in, but I had to close the business. I didn’t understand cash flow, operating expense, budgeting, or any of the other numbers.
Understanding the language of business–including financial statements–is essential.
The great thing about these rock bottom lows is you can use these tough lessons to embrace the suck and become a wiser person. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.
3. The highs are extremely rewarding.
Just like you may experience rock bottom lows, you may also experience extreme highs. Winning a client, expanding your business or being able to afford your own jet are just a few of the many successes you may experience as a business owner.
I’ve been fortunate with my success. My business has expanded to include speaking, online training products, books, webinars, and conducting mastermind groups, all as a way to serve more clients and keep up with demand.
Celebrate the wins and take note of what got you to that point. Learning from your best experiences are just as important as learning from your worst.
4. Little victories can turn into major victories.
Have a new customer? Made a new friend at the networking event? Hired a sales coach? If so, that’s fantastic.
Small victories can go a very long way. You never know when new customers will tell all their friends and bring you a lot more business. The new friend you made at the convention may bring you more prospects than you ever dreamed of.
I’ll say it again: Celebrate the little victories. You don’t know what new opportunities they may bring.
5. Mentors are necessary.
Whether it’s an executive coach or a former boss, mentors are necessary for ultimate success. To reach your full potential you’ll need someone there to guide you on your path.
Owning a business isn’t easy. Having someone always available to give you advice and keep you accountable will give you the support you need to achieve your vision.
6. There’s no “9 to 5.”
Your office hours may be 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., but that won’t always be the case for entrepreneurs. You can certainly devote yourself to work strictly during these office hours but you can’t expect to not work outside that time.
Some clients may expect you to be available or be able to answer urgent questions at any given time. A crisis may erupt at 6:00 a.m. and you may have to jump on it. It’s important to balance your work and home life but as a business owner, you must understand the term “office hours” may not apply in some situations.
These are just a few of the many lessons I’ve learned throughout the years. Unfortunately, some lessons are best learned with experience but hopefully I’ve saved you some trouble while you work your way towards success.
Never give up if something becomes tough, just power through it, surround yourself with support and you’ll always end up learning and becoming a smarter business owner. Best of luck!
- MTM’s Kleyman: Embrace the Coming Internet of Things
- Oracle’s next big business is selling your info
- At Harvard Business Publishing, It Was a Do-or Die Move to Cloud
- Google Cloud growth is outpacing the company’s ad business
This piece explores the manner in which digitalization–the use of analytics, big data, the Internet of Things, cloud, and mobile–gives enterprises new opportunities to propel their business. At the same time, “digital” transforms operations processes, business processes, and customer experience.
Siftery launched Trending Products, a live ranking of the most recommended business-to-business and enterprise software solutions from a growing database of more than 12,000 software products.
(PRWeb January 30, 2017)
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/01/prweb14024688.htm
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