10 Tips for How to Run & Scale Your Small Business From Home
It’s time to turn your home business into an empire with these tips for small businesses!
There’s home businesses, and then there’s home businesses.
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we can do pretty much everything we need to from our homes. And as we continue to readjust to the evolving world around us, it seems that there’s no better time to ditch the traditional brick and mortar business setup and hit the ground running from the comfort of your own home.
2021 is the year we take things to the next level.
Whether you’re just starting out in your home business venture or looking for some ideas to help your dream business grow, keep on reading to learn some tips to get you there!
1. Get Organized
You might be thinking “well, duh. Next tip?!” But while being organized seems like a given first step, that also means that you might not take it as seriously as your business deserves.
Your brilliant ideas need a brilliant plan to go along with them.
Clearly define your business, your mission, and business objectives. Know which key performance indicators (KPIs) you are going to prioritize, and maintain consistent data collection so that you can accurately measure your progress.
While one of the glories of working for yourself means that you don’t have a superior breathing down your neck and micromanaging your every move, that means you need to hold yourself accountable. Don’t cut yourself slack - do the job the way that you would want someone working for you to do it!
Before you drop everything and launch your next big idea, make sure you work it out and see how it fits in to your business’s big picture. Although it is freeing to not have anyone above you shooting down your proposals, you still need to be strategic in your business decisions, big and small.
Track the right data
Use data (that you kept oh-so carefully organized!) to back up your decisions whenever you can. You want to make sure you’re making as informed of decisions as possible so that your whole business doesn’t flop based on one bad call.
One of the beautiful things about the tech-centric world we live in today is artificial intelligence (AI), which offers a simplified approach to tracking and organizing the data that’s most important to your business. For example, VOXOX SMS automation uses AI data-learning to enable small businesses to better understand their customers’ behaviors and motivations! This allows them to continuously optimize their text marketing campaigns to generate more authentic engagement.
Clearly outline your business processes
Any disorganization within your business and personal methods creates friction that you have to work against and slows you down. Make sure you aren’t wasting your time and resources sifting through the mayhem!
Create a system – and stick with it
Make sure your personal working methods are organized as well. Having no one above you to tell you to get yourself in shape is both a blessing and a curse! Find a system that works for you so that you can get in the zone and maximize productivity. The last thing you want is something to slip through the cracks on your own accord.
This might look like downloading software that tracks your productivity so that you can see for yourself what you’re wasting time on, as well as taking mental breaks to come up for air. Your home business setup and methods should all be conducive to your business objectives. Identify what’s working for you, and nix what’s not!
Remember: Your business is yours! When you’re your own boss, it’s on you to make sure your practices are optimized and that your business stays in line. Stay organized from the get-go in everything from your data collection to time management. Make a plan, and stick to it!
2. Stay Focused
People frequent your business because you do something better than someone else does, and you’re your own boss because you’ve got winning ideas that you know how to make happen. But don’t get ahead of yourself trying to do it all.
It can be easy to get carried away with your ideas when you’re on a roll, but avoid making impulsive decisions because they sound exciting in the moment.
Channel your energy into what you’re good at. Eyes on the prize!
Do a little brand soul searching.
Who are you? Who are your customers? What is it that is bringing you together? There will be noise, and it will be difficult to tune out now and then. But some new ideas are going to be more of a distraction than a true possibility.
Hone in on what you do best
Honing in on what you do well, especially in the beginning, requires less risk and is likely to rake in more reward. It will help solidify your brand persona and reinforce loyalty in your true fans.
This does not mean limiting your business forever, it just means carving out a secure niche while you’re still trying to find your footing instead of just shooting all your great ideas out into the void and hoping something sticks.
Back up every decision with data
As always, back up your decisions with real numbers. It’s not enough to just know that your best seller is your best seller. What is the data telling you? What is your ROI, and what are the patterns in fluctuations? What about fluctuations in response to different marketing tactics? Document everything!
Remember: People are frequenting your business for a reason. Identify it, perfect it, and don’t lose sight of it! Once your footing is secure, you can use the right tactics to expand on what you offer. Above all, make sure you are sticking to your plan and making business decisions in line with your objectives.
3. Know Your Customer Base
There are real people behind each sale, and they all have something in common.
Think beyond the transactions.
Who is buying your service? You are connected to them by your service, and they are driven by their current beliefs and behaviors. What motivates them?
Before you effectively can target your audience, you’ll want to define your ideal customer profile (ICP) and buyer persona. Do some research on the kind of person that is attracted to your business. What do they do? What media and social media are they consuming? How does your product or service add value to their life?
Take the guesswork out of it
This is another area where real data is important. Don’t waste your energy on guesswork! You might “know” your customer, but you want to be ahead of your intuition. You want to have the numbers, so you can monitor changes in their purchasing behaviors within the context of today’s and tomorrow’s cultures.
An AI-powered communications platform, like VOXOX, can help you track the right data and gain visibility into your customers’ motivations and preferences, while simultaneously boosting engagement levels.
Segment your contact lists
Be sure not to just lump all your customers together! When you treat all of your customers the same, your approach is generic. Today’s customer responds to personalization and is turned off by one-size-fits-all marketing. Not only is this less effective, but you’ll lose some points on your customers’ end.
Consider segmenting your customers beyond demographics so that you can match their needs with precision. When you combine data with personalization, you are better equipped to reach the person on the other end of your interaction and increase conversions!
With SMS marketing software, like VOXOX, you can segment your contact lists based on customer data to create personalized SMS campaigns.
Listen to feedback from customers
Knowing your customer doesn’t just come from their purchasing behaviors and stalking their social media habits. (Although yes, keep doing that.) Be sure to regularly solicit feedback so you can hear straight from your base what is working, what is not, and what they’d like to see more of in the future.
Consider incentivising feedback with the opportunity to win a discount. Hang on to positive feedback as insight into what you should keep doing well, as well as for personal motivation when you feel discouraged. On the flip side, reflect seriously on your negative feedback. Where did you fall short as a business? In customer service? Where are you able to invest energy for positive change that benefits both you and the customer?
Remember: Find the common denominators in your customer base and their behaviors - backed by real numbers - so that you can make the best decisions to grow your business. In addition, supplement your data with feedback straight from the source to add color and life to these insights. If you want to know something specific, just ask!
4. Know Your Competitors
You know what they say - keep your friends close and your enemies closer. (Kidding, your competitors aren’t your enemy, but there’s no shame in peeking at and keeping tabs on what the other guys are doing.)
As a business, much of your success is going to come from continuous learning. You need to be aware of your surroundings, and this includes your direct and indirect competitors. Your direct competitors offer the same service that you do, while your indirect competitors offer a service that meets the same needs that you do, but in a different way.
Build your competitor list
Create a list of businesses that serve similar target audiences and have similar services, and take note of what they are doing that you are not. What are their weaknesses? What gaps do they have that you can fill within your own business? How are they not meeting their customers’ needs? How does your pricing compare?
Consider spying on both your direct and indirect competitors’ negative reviews for inspiration on not only what not to do, but what you can do differently to satisfy your shared target audience. Are you able to pick up some of their slack?
Know your competitors’ strengths.
If you can’t do what they’re doing better, consider meeting your shared audience’s needs differently. There are gaps, and you can fill them!
Take notes on how they position themselves in front of their audience so that you can make sure that what you’re doing is unique! You want to stand out, and you can’t do that just by copying other businesses. While having a similar approach will be inevitable when you are working with similar target audiences and objectives, you need to be thinking for yourself and not just piggybacking on your neighbor.
How can you implement marketing strategies that will help you stand out amongst your competitors? One of the most effective ways to do so in 2021 is via powerful SMS marketing campaigns. At VOXOX, we provide each of our customers with text templates and out-of-the-box ideas to help them get an edge on their competition.
Remember: Your business and target audience do not exist in a vacuum. When we talk about the environment within which your business exists, we’re not just talking about current cultural trends and purchasing habits. We also need to consider how your competitors contribute to this environment with their strengths, weaknesses, and current strategies. It is your responsibility to know how you fit in!
5. Expand Your Line
You have honed in on “The Thing” you do well, and have perfected your strategies. You have a solid foothold in your niche and are holding your own against your competitors. It might be time to *drum roll* … expand your line.
Keep doing what you do best
Expanding your line does not mean you abandon your current offerings in pursuit of the next hot ticket item. In fact, you should be making efforts to maintain what’s currently working for you. What you do to expand on your business should complement what you already have, not shove it over.
Pull from customer feedback
What can you add to your services that complement your current offerings? What else are your customers interested in? Some of these answers are going to come from the information you collect about your consumers, from their social media habits and purchasing behaviors, as well as how your competitors are meeting your shared targets’ needs.
Think again to the gaps adjacent to your current services. What needs are you and your competitors currently ignoring or simply not noticing?
Additionally, analyze why your customers are drawn to what you currently offer. What can you add to complement this in a way that continues to meet their needs and solves the equation? This might come from offering a wider selection of the same service, or offering new items that go hand in hand.
Whatever you do, don’t get so wrapped up in rolling out something new and exciting that you neglect what you’ve been doing well!
Remember: Don’t risk it all with lazy guesswork! Do research before making every decision, and understand how what you’re doing fits into your overall business plan. Never lose sight of your business objectives, no matter how shiny the latest idea is.
6. Increase Engagement
The trick to growing your business might not be to rake in new customers, but rather to increase engagement with the customers you already have.
This is especially true if you’re in the beginning stages of your business, when you are still finding your footing in your niche. Concentrate your energy and resources on interacting more with the customers you already have in order to drive engagement, conversions, and build brand loyalty.
Personalize your messaging
One way to increase engagement with your current clientele is by personalizing your communications. This doesn’t mean simply including their names in subject lines! Speak to the person on the other end of the message with information specific to their interests and purchasing behaviors. Send them content they’ll actually want to see, instead of just more clutter.
Stay active on social media
Be active on the social media channels that your base frequents, and interact with your customers! Don’t be afraid to loosen up a little and joke around with your customers in the comments sections, but make sure you remain professional and that the personality that is showing through is in line with your overall brand personality and reflects your values. The goal is to increase positive brand visibility so that you remain front of mind.
Utilize a live AI chatbot
Consider adding a live chat on your website to help facilitate easy customer service and engage with your customers in personal, helpful ways. Customer service can make or break your business! When a customer contacts you for support you have the opportunity to either make them feel listened to and respected, or that you couldn’t care less about them or their business. One sour experience can take a hit to your reputation, and the damage control can be costly.
Always Be Testing
Additionally, you want to be using marketing tactics that’ll actually reach the intended recipients. Use A/B testing with messaging to see what your customers respond best to see what gets you the best conversions. Experiment with timing, message content, and frequency to maximize those ROIs.
Use SMS marketing
If you’re looking for high open rates and want to make sure that your messages don’t get lost in the sea of SPAM, consider text message marketing to get your message sent instantly to their text inbox.
When SMS messages have 98% overall open rates and 95% of the messages are opened within the first 5 minutes, text marketing is perfect for sending time sensitive information about promotions or last minute changes that people will actually see!
Remember that if no one gets your message, no one can act on it. This means fewer conversions and reduced returns. When you’re running a small business from home, consider SMS marketing for solopreneurs to help you maximize engagement!
Remember: You don’t need to be hunting down new customers for your business to grow. When you maintain brand visibility on social media channels, consistently interact with your customers using personalized communications, and maximize your messaging with the right marketing tactics, you can increase those returns and watch your business flourish!
7. Increase Loyalty
At the end of the day, it is your most loyal customers that keep your business afloat, both in good times and in bad. You need to focus on strengthening your current relationships before you get excited about new customer acquisition. Your loyal customers are your best marketers and referral sources.
Focus on providing the best customer experience
You need to be consistently delivering on quality, above what is expected of you. This includes not only the service you provide, but your customer service. Focus on the customer experience instead of pure sales. You want this to become part of your brand’s image and something that people can expect. Every interaction between you and a customer affects your overall reputation - make sure that you put your best face forward in everything you do!
Deliver regular updates on your business via social media and encourage customers to participate in the conversations. Ask for regular feedback using these channels and through SMS marketing platforms, so that your customers see that you value their input and want to work together as a team to deliver results.
Just one loyal customer helps build trust in your brand through word of mouth referrals. This is one of the strongest forms of marketing because people trust their friends more than paid partners. But know that this amazing potential can also swing the other way if you fumble someone’s experience!
Offer loyalty rewards
In addition to focusing on making the most of your customer interactions, reward loyalty in tangible ways such as VIP promotions or messages on special occasions. Find ways to incentivize repeat business and new customer referrals with exclusive deals and discounts!
SMS marketing software makes it incredibly simple to offer those special customers exclusive promo codes and discounts and send them directly to their smartphones.
This is how you not only keep your base happy but keep them coming back for more with their friends in tow.
Remember: Loyalty is going to come from consistently delivering above and beyond in the client experience, to the point that it is synonymous with your brand. These loyal customers are going to drive the vast majority of your sales and become a huge marketing asset when it comes to customer acquisition!
8. Consider Help
As a solopreneur running a growing small business, there will come a point when it starts to be too much to handle on your own. While it may be tempting to just keep doing it all, you don’t want to fall victim to your own successes! You can be the best juggler the world has ever seen, but if you keep adding to the mix, eventually you’re going to drop a ball.
Before burnout strikes and hurts not only your mental health but your business, consider some additional help. Take this as a sign of success!
Determine your budget and needs
Look at your budget and business needs to help determine what the right move is. Do you have the funds to hire someone part-time? Full-time? Would you be open to taking on an intern? Determine what business processes can be done by someone else and delegate these tasks so that you can concentrate your mental energy on what you’re best at.
Automate the mundane tasks
In addition to growing your team, automation software can help take care of the menial tasks that eat up your time. VoIP and SMS marketing for small business can help make sure your messages are getting to your customers and turning those leads into conversions!
Remember: You can’t do it all! Free up some mental energy by growing your team or investing in the right automation software so that you can spend less time on tedious tasks and more time developing new ideas.
9. Partner With Other Businesses
One way to expose your business to individuals who match the profile of your current consumer base without doing much extra work is to partner with a business whose mission is adjacent to yours and meets your consumers’ needs in a complementary way.
When you analyze your customers’ habits and how your service fits into their lifestyle, think about what else they are doing and what other businesses they frequent. Odds are these businesses are reaching like-minded consumers that could also be interested in and benefit from your service.
Note that these businesses are not your competitors. The businesses that you partner with are partnering with you because you are trying to help each other out without stepping on each others’ toes, not trying to win over each others’ customers.
Create a win-win situation
Some ideas include partnering with a related local business and advertising each others’ products or services at a discounted rate in exchange for mutual exposure, or offering mutual referrals to each others’ email lists.
Bonus points if this business is already bigger and more established than yours - you just gained visibility in front of a larger audience and are able to piggyback off of this business’s reputation and success.
Look for businesses with the same values and standards
Pay attention to how they treat their customers. If you partner with a company that does not share your standards in quality and service, the outcomes reflect on your business and might compromise your customers’ trust in you. If you wouldn’t recommend this business in good faith to your mom, then they might not be a smart partner.
Handle with TLC
Know that this is an opportunity to establish a long-term relationship with a business - handle all interactions with care!
Remember: Partnering with a business that is adjacent to yours in meeting your consumers’ needs is a creative way to increase exposure to like-minded individuals, with little risk involved! It is also a great opportunity to foster valuable business relationships and increase visibility in the community.
10. Spruce Up Your Website
If you’ve made the decision to shun the traditional brick and mortar set up, you need a rocking website to go with it.
It’s not enough for your website to just “work.” Have you ever visited a website that felt like it hadn’t been updated since the 90s? Call us shallow, but talk about an instant turnoff.
First impressions matter, and when you don’t have a traditional storefront to offer that first impression, a lot of that is going to come from your business’s website. If your website does not reflect the heart of your business and isn’t easy to use, it doesn’t matter how great your service is - you’re going to lose customers.
Make sure it’s user-friendly
User experience needs to be paramount when developing your website. Anything that is unnecessary or confusing creates friction, and too much friction will turn people away only to never return. People don’t like being frustrated. Everything on your site, from your offerings to purchasing instructions, needs to be intuitive, or else people will just give up.
Focus on concise messaging
Quality over quantity! Maintain tone and messaging that is consistent with your brand’s personality and values. Let it shine through! Use your website along with your social media handles to increase brand awareness and engagement, as well as site traffic.
Include calls to action (CTAs)
Place strategic calls to action throughout your website, such as prompts to join SMS lists to receive exclusive offers and time-sensitive notifications. Keep the visual clutter at a minimum to make sure people don’t have to scour your pages to find simple items, such as their cart or navigation menus.
Remember: Your website is your storefront and your best shot at a positive first impression. Make it count! Prioritize a seamless user experience. This is not the place for clutter or riddles!
It can be freeing (and intimidating!) to be your own boss. While it can be discouraging when you’re just starting out to see how far you have to go, there are many low-risk strategies for you to explore when you’re growing your home business that won’t require you to break the bank.
Above all, stay in touch with your values and what you are good at. You are running your own business because you want to do something different, and you don’t need someone above you calling the shots to pull it off. With the right business plan and marketing strategies getting your services to the right people, it’s only a matter of time before your home business takes off!
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