The Difference Between Working In and On a Freelance Business
In his great book The E-Myth, Michael Gerber says that far too many small business people spend too much time working in their business and not enough time working on their business. Why is working on our own business so important?
Because clients and customers leave.
They leave for all sorts of reasons – maybe they don’t need you anymore, or they found what you do somewhere else that is more convenient or cheaper, or they moved to a new address, or whatever. But by working on your business, especially if yours is a freelance or independent contractor sort of gig, means that it is not a crisis when a customer inevitably leaves.
Four Ways to Grow Your Business Without Breaking the Bank
1. Tap into the Power of Testimonials: Satisfied customers can be one of a self-employed business person’s best marketing tools. A testimonial impresses potential customers because it is an independent third-party validation that a freelance business really is as good as it claims to be.
So get out there and ask some of your best customers to write you some letters of recommendation on their stationary. You can then take these testimonials and
- Put them in your shop window
- Add them to your website
- Add them as an email tagline
- Use them on your blog or e-newsletter
- Use them in sales presentations
Or what about adding a video testimonial to your website? Talk about making an impact.
2. Boost Your Word of Mouth Advertising: We all know that word of mouth is the best sort of advertising there is. But aside from just waiting or hoping that a customer passes your name along, you can:
- Create a referral reward system that gives customers a discount when they refer you business
- Encourage comments on your Facebook page, blog or website
- Ask your best customers to recommend you
Finally, check out the organization Le Tip, a group whose purpose is to foster word of mouth referrals.
Why is working on your business so important? Because the fact is, clients and customers leave.
3. Stay in Touch: One way to make a one-off customer into a loyal, repeat customer is to stay top of mind. That is, if you want to get repeat business, your customer has to think of you when he or she has a need. And they will more likely think of you if you gently, consistently (but not too often) stay in touch with them.
Here are two ways to do this:
- Social media is all the rage for a reason: It works. Creating a Facebook page for instance is easy, and by using contests and great content, you can get people to “like” it. Thereafter, that page becomes a friendly place to stay in touch. Tweeting can serve much the same function.
- Email marketing is a great way stay in touch because it is permission marketing, that is, by signing up to receive your e-newsletter, customers are giving you permission to stay in touch with them.
4. Get Some Free Help: There is a lot to know and do when you run a business and none of us can do it completely alone. Fortunately these days there is a lot of help out there, and much of it is free. Here are some places to check out:
- The Small Business Administration has field offices all over and a great website. Counseling and training is readily available. The same is true for:
- Small Business Development Centers, and
- Chambers of commerce are in the business of helping their members succeed
- Like chambers, the purpose of a trade organization is to help its members
- Online forums and groups
Bottom line: Spending a little more time working on your business will allow you to work in it a lot longer.