A little while ago I asked the crew on the Flying Solo forum what their “top tip” would be for other small business owners (or aspiring small business owners). Today’s post is the third and final in a series of top tips from soloists – and it includes MY NUMBER 1 TOP TIP – it’s a doozy!
If you’re flying solo yourself or you’re a small business owner, the Flying Solo website and forum is a wonderful resource. Lots of great tips on the Flying Solo site, lots of lovely people willing to share their knowledge and advice on the forum. Get over there and check them out!
I can probably throw in a couple pointers here, they are the same as I give a lot of my own clients who are generally new to being in business or starting a new venture.
1. Use online calendaring. If possible get in the habit of using google calendar for your appointments, because when you are on the road and need to lookup the address of your next appointment, you wont have Outlook. Naturally, you also need to get in the habit of putting all the relevant info into the appointment. Saved me DOZENS of times.
2. ALWAYS MARKET – and DON’T stop – EVER!! So many clients call because business has ‘dropped off’ and when they do they call out for marketing and lead help. Almost always when I ask what they are currently doing to generate leads, they say ‘we didnt have to’, or ‘what we WERE doing was’ – don’t fall into this trap of stopping when business is good.
3. Further to the point above, use social media for marketing. Pick an avenue you want to be recognised in and go there on a regular basis. Regular that is, like on a schedule, and stick to it. If you have 5 minutes a day for Facebook, stick to it. Or Twitter, or a forum or wherever it is.
Thats it, generally speaking anyway. And don’t give up.
The person who influenced my management skills the most once gave me the best advice I’d ever received. I was very angry about a workplace issue and he just said ‘Would you be prepared to die in a ditch over this?‘. I’ve often asked myself that question when similar work issues have cropped up, in all cases, the answer has been ‘No’. Sometimes you need to let go and place issues into perspective.
My tip simply is no matter what business you start, be patient and consistent. No business is an overnight success (or at least very few are) so having patience is just as important as the idea and the business model you choose.
My one tip is about replying to emails.
Many enquiries that small business owners receive are similar in nature and trying to find that perfect response you sent last week or last month can be a real pain.
I use Outlook Signatures to record all my typical responses, whether it is payment details, spare parts or quotation enquiries or one of a myriad of other emails that we receive.
Then when you click to reply to the email, you can now right click within the signature area and scroll down to the perfect response. Currently I have 73 such signatures and my team in the office probably have around 40 each.
The time this has saved me over the years is extraordinary.
With regards to replying to emails and using signature blocks: Outlook now actually has a specific tool to do this. It’s called Quickparts and can be found on your Insert toolbar.
Basically you type up the whole email, copy the whole thing and save it as a quickpart. Then once you have they will appear from a drop down menu. Probably a little better to use than the signature blocks – same concept though.
The other thing to know is that this function quickparts can also be used in Word. This is a little secret that not everyone knows about. It can easily help you say if you were doing a quote and there are 10 overall options that make up the letter and yet each time you chose say only 6 of those options. You simply save them into quick parts once and then just add them to the document one after the other and whoosh your document is ready!
All these time saving tips really do make a difference.
Meredith – Five Star PA
So what do you think about that? Do you have your own top tip that you’d like to share with other small businesses? Please share below in the comment!