Table of contents
Critical aspects of operating a small business - what I've learned along the way.
Table of contents
I want to share with you some of my experiences and learnings that have helped me as a small business owner - maybe some of them will help you too!
Managing a small business, in my case, an agency can be insanely busy at times, so at the end of this article, I have also included a list of my favourite tools that help me streamline my business processes and improve my workflow.
You are the brand.
Clients trust you to take care of their project - they want to work with you.
Every aspect of your business, from how you communicate to the projects you undertake, reflects on you and your brand.
Offer a unique perspective.
Your clients come to you because they want a fresh perspective on their business. Your expertise and experience allow you to provide insights and ideas they haven’t considered.
You need organised business systems.
Organised business systems take time to set up. But if you don’t have them in place, you will create more work and stress for yourself.
I was terrible at this when I started. My processes and systems were all over the place. Some still need improvement, but I have made huge strides here.
Running a small agency can be hectic, but staying organised is vital to success. Keep track of your projects, deadlines and your clients.
Implementing a system for project management and staying on top of your to-do list can help you stay organised and provide the best possible service to your clients. Include a fee for project management when you scope your projects and get someone else to manage them for you.
You need to nail down these two aspects regarding pricing to avoid cash flow issues. Because when you run out of cash, it will be hard to maintain your service levels on current projects as you look for more business. As a result, your clients will suffer.
You have to know all your margins item by item.
If you don’t know what they are, how will you be able to price your services or product correctly? It also makes new proposals time-consuming as you sit there sucking the prices out of your thumb.
Suss out how much a potential client is willing to spend on a project.
When you meet with them to gather their requirements, give them a price range before you even send out your proposal or quote. See how they react. Their reaction indicates what they are willing to spend. Setting a price range sets an expectation and gives you a better chance of getting your proposal accepted.
It will also guide you in scoping out the requirements correctly and setting a cost for each item. If a client can’t afford to spend the amount you have proposed, put them on a payment plan, or reduce the scope of work to suit their pocket.
And remember, never do anything for free!
Help your Clients to grow their businesses.
Obvious, right? But if you are just providing services that are not contributing to their success, then the likelihood of them seeking another agency is likely.
A key to providing a valuable service as a small agency is to help your clients grow their businesses. Gain a deeper understanding of your client's goals and take a proactive approach towards helping them achieve their objectives. Advice and offer suggestions, provide additional services that support their growth or connect them with other businesses or individuals that can help.
Understand your client's challenges.
Try to understand their challenges so you can solve their problems using your incredible talent and skills. Finding solutions for your clients could lead to repeat business and referrals, which is essential for any small agency to gather momentum and flourish.
Continuously educate yourself.
To help your clients grow their businesses, it is important to continually educate yourself about the latest trends, best practices, and technologies in your field. Learning new skills and applying them to your craft will help you and your client to stay ahead of the curve in this crazy, rapidly changing planet we inhabit.
Attend industry events, read books and articles, or participate in online forums. There are many ways to stay up-to-date and continuously improve your skills and knowledge.
Maintaining a healthy mindset
Maintaining a healthy mindset when business is flowing is easy. But when times are challenging, like when you have no business prospects on the horizon, maintaining a positive outlook can be a challenge.
Challenging times will come your way, especially in the early stages. When it does, your mind will wander off to dark and negative places, and if you dwell there for too long, your negative headspace will be detrimental to your health and the business.
So take care of yourself and stay positive when your situation is not going as planned. Here are some tips that have helped me to maintain a healthy mindset when the road ahead has been bumpy:
- Practice self-care:
Make time for activities you enjoy and help you recharge, such as exercise, meditation, or spending time with loved ones.
- Stay connected:
Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, family, or other business owners. Talking with others who understand what you're going through can provide comfort and encouragement.
- Focus on what you can control:
Instead of worrying about things outside your control, focus on what you can do to make a positive impact. Work on your business website, network, or take courses to improve your skills.
- Stay motivated:
Set small, achievable goals for yourself, and celebrate your progress. I have a notebook where I write ten tasks for the day that I have to complete. I do this for seven days running and then take a day off to recharge. At the end of the seven days, I tally up the completed tasks as a percentage. Ticking off tasks is good for you - it boosts your dopamine and helps you to be more productive.
- Stay positive:
Reframe negative thoughts and focus on the good things in your life. Surround yourself with positive people and positive messages.
A positive attitude is essential for success as a small agency owner. Approach each day with a positive outlook so you can tackle challenges and overcome obstacles. A positive attitude will build stronger relationships with your clients and create a more enjoyable work environment for yourself and your team.
Follow these tips to maintain a healthy mindset and stay positive, even when times are tough. Remember that every small step forward is a step in the right direction. Don’t burn yourself out.
You must believe in your abilities.
Self-belief is a crucial ingredient for success as a small agency owner. When you believe in your abilities, you have the confidence to take on new challenges, tackle problems, and navigate through setbacks. Self-belief will make you persevere through tough times and maintain a positive outlook.
Be patient and persevere.
Running a small agency requires patience and perseverance. There will be times when projects take longer than expected, clients are difficult to work with, or things simply don't go as planned. With patience and perseverance, you will overcome challenges, achieve your goals, and continue to grow your business.
Hopefully, this article helps you in some way. If it does, I would like to hear from you.
You can connect with me on my social media channels or contact me directly.
If this article has benefited you, please leave a review. It will only take a minute of your time. Thank you!
PS: Here are a few tools to make your life easier and your business more streamlined and profitable!
- Manage all your client projects and task in one place - my new, favourite project management tool.
- Excellent for standardising and streamlining client proposals. It will save you a ton of time writing new proposals from scratch.
- Loom is an easy-to-use screen recorder that I can’t recommend enough. The free version gives you 25 video uploads, with a maximum recording time of 5 minutes each.
- I use it to demonstrate to clients how to use their WordPress sites. You can even bundle your video tutorials as part of your proposals and earn extra income from them.
- I use Canva for all my marketing designs, social media and infographics. You can use the free version, but their paid subscription offers more design templates that will save you a lot of time!
- My favourite free resource for coders, but donate when you can - they deserve it. You can also check out their YouTube Channel for more in-depth tutorials.
- I recently completed their Touch Typing Mastery Course. It’s been a game changer to my workflow.
- Another fantastic online resource for learning and improving your skills in your own time and space.
- My favourite application for checking spelling and grammar on my articles, e-mails and messages - you name it! The free version offers a ton of value.
- The app keeps me in zen mode.