5 Strategies For A Successful Small Business

5 Strategies For a Successful Small BusinessToday we are going to jump right into five of what I think are the most important strategies for a successful small business.  More than just five steps, these strategies will help shape your mindset with a philosophy geared toward helping mompreneurs like you really grab onto and focus on a foundation for success.

 

So here we go.

 

1.  Choose a narrow target audience.  And I know, I know—I know the resistance.  You’ve heard me talk about this before.  So here’s what I’m saying.  Again, if you are a big national brand, that’s fine.  You can work on appealing to everybody.  Go for it.  But if you’re a small business owner, one of the best ways for you to make a splash is by being a big fish in a little pond.  What I mean by that is if you really want to start out with some traction, choose a small group to begin with.  Once you dominate that market, then you can start expanding.  So you don’t have to stay small.  We’re just going to start small.

 

2.  Engage with your target audience.  You guys know I am all about engagement marketing.  Engagement marketing is really building relationships that are completely authentic—getting to know people, building that connection and that relationship with them as a person—and then the business follows after that.  It’s all about being where your customers are.  This can mean posting to the blogs they read, being an active participant in forums that interest them, tweeting about topics relevant to them.  Over time your participation will increase that “like, know and trust” factor that is so key to establishing the credibility you’re striving for.

 

3.  Create things people need.  Now I’ve talked about this before.  We’re talking about making offerings to your audience that are painkillers—not vitamins.  Create a solution for one small problem that your target audience has, and I promise you they will be grateful and buy it.  So pay attention to what their top challenges, biggest struggles, ongoing issues—their pain points—are.  This is how you will learn to create your products and services as solutions to those pains.

 

4.  Distinguish yourself from your competition.  When faced with fierce competition, the advantage is found not in discounting your prices—which can actually have the psychological effect of decreasing your value—but in providing more value to your clients than your competitors do.  The key here is to find ways to make whatever you’re offering even more valuable to your clients in a way that serves you both.  What valuable yet cost-effective thing can you add to what you are already offering?  This is a great way to stand out from the crowd and develop customer loyalty in the process.

 

5.  Be an expert.  The key is focus.  So many business owners try to be everything to everybody and we wind up piecing together a business that’s really just a hodgepodge of things we know how to do to make money.  Being a business owner requires vision, strategy, and planning.  Be the best one in your industry at solving a specific problem that your specific audience has. Build a platform that gives you that expertise.

 

I love connecting with small business owners like you, so share your experiences!

Which of these tips hangs you up most often? 

Which are you succeeding at?    

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When to say YES

We-have-to-be-able-toWhen you start becoming more and more successful, when you start getting that visibility, when your online marketing begins working for you, when your business development has grown to the point where you’re getting lots of great client satisfaction and some great testimonials, the more opportunity comes your way and therefore, the more opportunities to say yes or no to things that may or may not work for you.  We talked about when to say no in a post I did on MomBiz.com last week but I promised we would also focus on when you can say yes and say yes powerfully.

 

As an entrepreneur, you have two buckets you need to be filling all the time.  The first bucket is your moneymaking bucket—that’s a given, right?  And the other one is your marketing bucket.  So whenever you are considering saying yes to an opportunity, the first step to making that decision is to determine which bucket—if any—the opportunity falls into.  Let’s take a look at these two buckets:

 

The moneymaking bucket is fairly simple, so we won’t spend much time on it.  If this opportunity is going to make you money, assuming you have more time than you have money and that you’ve checked it against your priorities, say yes!  This is a great opportunity you can say yes to with confidence.

 

Now the marketing bucket can be a slippery slope, so we have to be careful here.  There are going to be a lot more opportunities that don’t make you money than do.  It’s the potential for moneymaking that we have to evaluate.  Some investments are worthwhile and some are not.   Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you decide whether an opportunity belongs in your marketing bucket:

 

  1. Does this opportunity put me smack dab in front of my target market?
  2. Is this opportunity going to keep me on-topic and consistent with my platform and my message?
  3. Is this opportunity going to position me as an expert?
  4. Is this opportunity fun, easy or convenient?

 

We have to be able to stand back and evaluate the multitude of opportunities, good and bad, that are so often dropped in our laps as mompreneurs. I want you to be equipped to make that decision based on what works best for you, what’s fun, what’s easy, what’s convenient, what makes you shine as an expert and what helps forward your topic, your platform and your message so that everybody knows what you’re about.  The opportunities that do that for you, placing you in front of your target market, speaking to the warm leads most likely to buy your service or your product—that’s when you want to say yes.  And that’s when you can say yes powerfully.

 

 

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Ask These Questions

Every year when Spring rolls around, I get a burst of energy. It often brings with it new ideas and a different perspective, giving me the chance to see things that I might not be able to see about myself and my business at other times of the year.

I always ask the mom entrepreneurs I coach to do a check-in on their business each year. After all, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut, doing the same thing you always do, even though it might not be working for you anymore.

And every year that you’re in business, you’re likely learning new skills, gaining more information about what your target market needs from you, and seeing interesting ways your competition is providing similar solutions. Are you making time each year to re-evaluate your business and make the changes that need to be made?

It can be hard to know where to start. On today’s Mom Biz Solutions Show (click here for the 15-minute podcast), I teach you the four questions you must ask yourself every year to make sure you keep your business current and relevant. And the good news is, these are the same questions you probably asked yourself when you started this business. The kicker is that the answers do change.

Tune into the podcast to learn what four questions you need to ask to make sure you’re still delivering the best value you can to your clients!

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Five Things You Must Do to Run a Successful Small Business

I’m super excited to be speaking as part of a panel at “EVO ’10: The Evolution of Women in Social Media” Conference at the end of June. Since my work as a mompreneur coach focuses on helping moms create successful businesses, I have been asked to participate in the Secrets for Small Business Success Panel.

In preparation for this, I’ve put together Five Things You Must Do to Run a Successful Small Business for you below. And if you haven’t already, please check out the EVO ’10 Conference–it’s in Park City, Utah, June 24-26. I would love to meet you there! Be sure to leave a comment below and let me know if you’re planning to attend 🙂

1.  Choose a narrow target audience. This is counter-intuitive for most of us, since common sense tells us that the more people we can make our biz appeal to, the more people are likely to spend their money buying our stuff. Not true. We’re in a global, internet-related community now with gazillions of offerings to choose from. Small businesses cannot compete effectively on that scale. Be the big fish in a little pond!

2.  Get engaged with your audience. Once you narrow your target market down, you’ll be able to find your audience better, to join the groups and communities they belong to, to appear in blogs and media they consume. Be an active participant in these forums and be authentic. Over time, you’ll build relationships that increase the like/know/trust factor. We are savvy consumers now and are much more likely to buy from people with whom we have relationships than from the person with the biggest ad in the newspaper. Build strong relationships with your target audience and the business will follow!

3.  Create pain-killers, not vitamins. As you listen to your clients (by tweeting with them, reading and commenting on their blog posts, attending their networking meetings, taking polls or surveys, etc.), pay attention to what they describe as their top challenges, biggest struggles, ongoing issues, pain points. Create your business products and services to solve those pains! We’re more likely to pay for solutions to our problems than for things (like vitamins) that we know are good for us or that promise to “improve our lives.” Be the solution!

4.  Give, give, give. When faced with fierce competition, find ways to provide more value to your clients. Don’t discount your prices and reduce your rates. Doing so decreases your value. Instead, find ways to make whatever you’re offering even more valuable to your clients in a way that serves you both. You’ll stand out from the crowd and develop loyalty that will cause your clients to stick with you and tell everyone they know how great you and your offerings are!

5.  Pick a platform/niche. The key is focus. So many small business owners try to be everything to everybody, and wind up trying to piece-together a “business” that is really just a hodge-podge of skills and things they know how to do to make money. Being a business owner requires vision, strategy, planning and marketing. All of this is nearly impossible to accomplish if you’re trying to sell several different offerings to many different groups of people. Instead, opt for being THE ONE your audience looks to when they need a solution to their problems. Build your visibility, credibility and recognition as AN EXPERT on one platform (solution to a problem) first. When you dominate that and have a loyal following and full pipeline of clients, you can add another piece to the platform or expand your niche. But you must focus first, expand later!

What is one thing you believe is critical to your small business success? Or tell me how you’re applying any of the tips I gave above. And hey–did you check out EVO ’10 yet? It’s gonna be one fun tweet-up! Please leave your comments below.

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How to Reach Your Target Market

 

 

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If you’re like many of the work-at-home-moms and mompreneurs I know and coach, you probably got into business for yourself despite your lack of an MBA in marketing. So figuring out how to get people to buy what you sell can be a bit like explaining what galaxies are and where they exist in time and space to an inquisitive seven-year-old.

how to grow your businessI don’t have an MBA, either, but I’ve learned a lot from the school of “learning by doing.” Here is the methodology I teach my mom entrepreneurs to use to get more clients and make more money, without spending much of their money or time.

Make Sure Your Niche Is Narrow Enough

Most of the mom entrepreneurs who hire me as their coach are extremely resistant to choosing a narrow niche market. They want to market themselves to “moms” or to “parents” or to “middle-aged women” or “empty-nesters.” It’s always better to be the big fish in a smaller pond (i.e. “I coach mompreneurs who have been in business less than five years and are raising small children”) than a tiny fish in a big pond (i.e. “I’m a business coach for entrepreneurs.”). Simply put, you can make a much bigger splash in a little pond and get visibility you would be hard-pressed to earn in the big pond.

Identify Your Ideal Client

Once you have a narrow niche, you can focus on the individuals in it. Think of your ideal clients. How old are they? Where do they live? What do they read? What do they spend money on? Where do they shop? Do they buy for themselves or for family members? Do they hold the purse strings? Do they make enough money to afford your product/services? Are they the type people who already value what you have to offer?

Identify Their Top Challenges and Needs

Now, with as specific a person in mind as you can muster, think about their life. What’s good about it? What’s not? What do they keep tolerating? What drives them nuts? What would make their life better, easier, more fun?  If you can identify their biggest problems, then you can tailor your products and services to solve them. People want to feel better, be happier, live longer, be healthier, etc. What can you and your business do to help them with this?

 

Create Products and Services That Solve Their Problems

Knowing this, you’ll be on your way to creating valuable content in the form of products and services your clients will willingly pay for. You’ve tailored your business solutions to meet their top needs and challenges. This isn’t just marketing–you’re listening to your market, doing market research within your specific niche, and you’re creating solutions to their problems. Your clients will pay for people and things that make their problems go away. With this understanding of your client’s needs, you’re well on the path to creating a great marketing funnel.

Go Where They Are and Share Your Powerful Message

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You may be wondering why the title of this post is “How to Reach Your Target Market” when I haven’t talked at all about traditional methods and venues for finding clients. That’s not an oversight; I promise. Now that you’ve customized your offerings and made them solutions to your ideal customer’s problems, you’re ready to reach out and start attracting them to you. I’ve said many times before, “I’d rather attract my clients to me than have to go hunting for them.” Show up/present yourself, your business and your marketing message to them where they are (in the print publications they read, in the blogs to which they subscribe, in the organizations to which they belong). Do so in a way that shows you know who they are, what they need, and that you understand them.  Saying: “I help families and children who struggle with chronic problems like headaches, ear infections and dizziness” is much more powerful than “I’m a chiropractor.”

Learning how to reach your target market isn’t rocket science, but there is definitely a strategy involved. Entrepreneurs who truly understand their ideal clients and who learn how to create solutions to their customers’ needs will have little trouble growing their businesses!

Want to get some more suggestions about how to reach your target market? My business coach and mentor, Rhonda Hess, has agreed to join me  for a 75-minute teleseminar to share with you some of the same proven strategies she shared with me to rapidly grow my coaching business. If you are an entrepreneur in a services business, this is the information you’ve been looking for to understand how to finally get your clients to come to you!  Please join us tomorrow night!

Here are the details:

Title: “When a Niche Is Not Enough–Three Steps to Become Essential to Your Target Market (and Win Raving Fans for Life!)
Date:  Thursday, October 1
Time:  8pm-9:15pm ET
Where:  On your phone and computer (bridgeline details and PowerPoint presentation will be sent to you when you register)
Register:  Click here!

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Four easy steps to finding new clients

If you’re one of the legions of women out there running home-based businesses, chances are that at some point, you’ve hit the wall with regards to finding new clients. You’ve had lunches, parties, coffees, get-togethers with every friend, relative and neighbor you can think of. You know that you’ve asked everyone you personally know to either buy your goods and services or to refer someone they think might benefit from them. When you’ve exhausted your inner circle, where do you go to get more clients?

Most of the direct sales companies have a ton of training and coaching to help you figure out where to find your clients. Chances are, you already know how to do all those things, but still are finding it hard to just get started again. It’s time to get outside of your inner circle of friends, but that also means getting out of your comfort zone. And that can be a little tough, since it means facing rejection, etc. But it’s also where all the possibilities for growing your business are!

Here are four easy steps you can take to finding more clients and growing your business:

1) Make sure you know who your target market is. You need to know exactly who your customers will be, where they shop, what they buy, what they read, what’s most important and most challenging for them, etc. Is your product or service something that mothers of young children would buy? Or is it something that would benefit professionals who have recently been laid off or down-sized? By clarifying who your ideal clients are, you’ll be better able to determine the next step: how to reach them.

2) Get in front of those potential customers–this can be asking friends/family for introductions to others, or attending a conference/tradeshow/event (like International Women’s Conference, a job fair, etc.) where your target audience might be, or joining groups that your target audience is a part of (professional networking groups like Chambers of Commerce, online groups like facebook or LinkedIn, playgroups, health clubs, whatever) so you can get exposure to these people and build trust and rapport with them. And when you’re in these situations, ASK FOR THE BUSINESS! “Do you know anyone who might be willing to host a party…?” or “Can you think of someone who could benefit from …(your offering here)…?” Yes, this approach takes time, but your business development is a continual process and building your network will yield the results you want. People love to buy from people they like, know, and trust.

3) Find a friend, colleague, buddy or a coach to support you in your business. If you’re doing it all alone, chances are you have little support and less accountability with regards to achieving the results you want. When you’re pushing yourself to go beyond what’s already comfortable and familiar to you, it makes sense to get some support so you don’t get overwhelmed and give up. If you can partner with someone who knows your goals and the two of you can support each other, it makes getting out there and doing the tough stuff so much easier!

4) Find an ally. For instance, if you’re a yoga instructor looking to expand your client base, you might find your next 20 clients by partnering with a wellness facility, an organic farm co-op, a health and nutrition store, or a fitness center. This doesn’t have to be any “formal” business partnership. Request an introduction to the manager/owner of the organization, set up an informational interview, and discuss the benefits you could both receive from referring clients back and forth to each other. Consider offering a discount or a bonus to clients that come from this alliance.

Are you trying to find new clients? Tell us your strategy. What was the best source of new clients you found?

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