|John in his element as a traditional barber|
So for those who don't know both John and I are self-employed, this is both very exciting but also stressful as basically you are totally in charge of your future and your finances. The one thing I have learnt about running a small business or being self employed that visibility is key, if people don't know what you do or who you are you simply won't pull in the clients, thats what marketing tools are really key.
|My business cards at the ready|
Both John and I visit conferences and trade shows for inspiration and networking so first port of call is always having business cards on you as well as any other information about your business such as leaflets or information pamphlets all of which need to be clear, simple and straight to the point. If your actually planning on showcasing your business at a conference than I think having something eye catching and colour such as a roller banner is a must as they make a great impact while still being very reasonable in price (most starting from £20) and the perfect place to pick one of those up is at rollerbannerscheap.co.uk/roller-banners/. I always find I am a very visual person and get drawn in by images and nice prints so this a perfect way to explain what you do and who you are straight away.
So what are our top tips we have learnt so far on our journey into self-employment
1. Never underestimate the power of networking
Both John and I have benefited a lot by networking with like minded people, wether in a formal or casual situation if your passionate about what you do it alway comes across and usual makes the person you are talking too interested as well, we have both seen the benefit of this when a few weeks later that person has got in touch to know more or work with us.
2. Have a clear marketing plan
Never get complacent when it comes to marketing - it doesn't need to cost the earth and a lot of the time you can do effective promotion for free or hardly anything. Firstly know who your target audience is and work on what is the best way to reach them effectively. The internet is a great way to promote yourself for free - get on twitter, instagram, have an easy to navigate website and why not have a blog attached to it. Also in terms of physical marketing always have business cards and information on your, do letter drops and taken part in trade shows. Makes sure you stand out and having things like a roller banner and a clear well design table with promotional information is a must.
|I love working with others, meeting up, sharing ideas and collaborating|
Collaborate with other small businesses that offer something that compliments what you offer and your services as this can offer your clients and extra dimension and open up a large market to you, the power of two is often much stronger than the power of one. Just make sure whoever you work with has the same ideals and standards as you do so that there are no issues later on.
4. Let your personality shine through and don't be afraid to be different
It can be ruthless out there and often what sells is the personality and character behind the business so make sure that does shine through and you are true to yourself. You need to be passionate about what you do because if your not people will pick up on that quickly and won't be willing to part with there cash with anyone who is not sure of themselves.
|Through good customer service John has built up a loyal client base|
5. Learn to say No
If you are offered something that is simply too much or too big a job or not suitable to what you offer don't be afraid to say no, other work will come around but don't put yourself in a compromising situation if you know you cannot fulfil an order you will only create a bad reputation equally if the quality or idea is not something your happy with don't bend on your ethics.
The main thing is to persevere, nothing happens overnight and anything worth doing is worth doing properly. What we have both found is when you are starting up you have to be ready for some knock backs, the road won't always be smooth but just be confident in yourself, your brand and your marketing plan and things will happen, don't be complacent and actively try and find opportunities for your business to grow in a natural and financially beneficial way and always have customer service at the forefront of everything you do. Never underestimate small pieces of work as you are building up a portfolio as well as gaining new contacts and clients and I have noticed that sometimes this connections develop into large jobs later on.
Do you run your own business? What are your top tips?
This is a collaborated post