Bringing an entrepreneurial dream to fruition is just the start of the commitment you have as an entrepreneur. So how do you keep the business you’ve worked so hard to establish afloat while bringing in the new business you need to fuel its continued success?
Here a few tips to manage the demands of developing new business, while running one.
Remind your fans of their value. The power of old-fashioned referral remains one of the most low cost, authentic, and effective ways to bring new business (and is especially helpful in bringing in the type of new customers you most want). But even your devoted fans sometimes need a reminder to help you spread the word.
Brandon Baker, owner of Manhattan-based Loveletter Cakeshop says that though his bakery has formed a positive reputation among some well-connected customers, their most successful referral campaigns used an extra incentive to encourage customers to “spread the gospel”. “We emailed all of our past customers and told them that the next person who referred a new customer to our bakery would receive free cake for a month, in any flavor of their choice. We got an overwhelming amount of exposure to new customers; it was a win-win for everyone involved.”
Commit to one development task a day. You may the long-term dream of building the biggest cleaning business in your city— but the sum total of the little things you do consistently each day to get there is real determination of whether you’ll reach that goal. In fact, studies show that highly successful athletes and business people share a common mindset: They’re hyper-specific in the goals they set and describe them in a way that is actionable, measurable and plausible.
Make the commitment to invest in at least one new business-oriented task each day. Be highly specific about what it is, how you’ll do it, and how you’ll measure your success or failure in regards to it. If you want to build brand awareness online, for example, you may set a goal to write an 800 word blog post about X, using X keywords, from the hours of 9 am to 11 am. The next day, your goal may be to research and identify the email addresses of the editors for the top ten media outlets you know your target audience reads, from 8 pm to 9 pm–and so on and so forth. Each business development task will build on the one before it—and each tells you exactly what needs to be done, why, and how. Every new business development activity will not have an immediate payoff—nor should it. But when you’re specific and intentional about what you want to achieve each day, even small amounts of time you invest in new business will lead to progress.
Go on a Listening Tour. Attending networking events without a strategy takes time, money and doesn’t guarantee you’ll meet the kind of people you need to improve your business. Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO of the marketing firm Mavens & Moguls found success revamping her client base by making a list of the people she admired in business and wanted to meet. When she had plans to attend a conference or event in a city a person on her “connections wish list” was located, she sent them a brief note. It simply expressed her admiration for their work and invited them to grab a coffee or a quick bite (her treat!) while she was in town, just to chat.
“It usually works! When you meet, ask a few smart open-ended questions, and start listening with no strings attached. It does not cost much, for the price of a few coffees and meals you will get an earful. I had no idea what to expect and got a lot of new work as a result,” says Arnof-Fenn.
Calculate the cost of your time investment. Personally handling most of your business-related tasks will protect your bottom line—but minimizing overhead doesn’t mean it doesn’t cost you—especially if your time could be better spent elsewhere.
Take a look at your business financials and determine your “hourly rate.” Calculate what handling all of your business tasks ultimately costs, and what you give up as a result. You may not want to hire a bookkeeper for $20 an hour when you’re just starting out, but it could prove far cheaper than your current “DIY” method if it means you can spend more time bringing in new business and cultivating client relationships.