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10 Tips for Building Your Business

Building your business doesn't have to be complicated--it just has to be effective

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Key Points
  • Just a few strategic efforts can go a long way in building your business.
  • Maintaining and growing your relations with fellow professionals and past customers can bring in new opportunities.
  • Manage your professional reputation. How customers, vendors and fellow professionals perceive you has a great impact on your business.

As a business owner, you have many concerns. From accounting and inventory to managing employees and subcontractors, you do it all. Sometimes it feels like there's little time left to work on building your business.

The good news is building your business doesn't have to be complicated or even expensive. It just has to be effective. A few strategic efforts both in and out the workplace can go a long way to generating new business and ensuring there's plenty more to come in the future. Here are ten tips professionals have shared for successfully marketing their businesses:

  1. Expand your professional network.Just because a job is done, your relationship with a customer shouldn't end. Make a point to call every customer back within a month of wrapping up their project to check in. Besides being able to respond to needed fixes, you may generate new work (a freshly painted room tends to make other spaces look shabby by comparison). Let them know about new products or techniques you've learned of, express willingness to work over holidays when they're away, and always leave a few business cards for them to share with friends and family.
  2. Keep in touch with customers.Seek to make meaningful connections with professionals in complementary industries. Interior designers, flooring contractors and furniture sales people all have a lead on people looking to make improvements to their homes, and real estate agents are in touch with people moving into new dwellings. Creating a referral arrangement can help improve the bottom line of both businesses.
  3. Manage your reputation.Your online reputation is an important element of your business. Staying abreast of what's being said about you in reviews and by competitors can help you quickly curb misinformation or minimize any damage done. Google Alerts is a good way to monitor your name on the web. It’'s easy to set up and is absolutely free. You can also track competitors and suppliers with this tool.
  4. Manage your perception.How you treat others and your job site says a great deal about your values and the quality of the work you do. Whenever you interact with customers, suppliers, partners or employees, do it with the highest degree of professionalism possible.
  5. Ask about vendor support.You might be surprised to learn just how much free marketing support you can get from vendors and suppliers. Lawn signs, vehicle magnetic signs, even helping with a presentation or proposal are among the perks that some vendors offer to help you grow your business and keep their products in demand.
  6. Add a little urgency to your advertising.It's not enough to place an ad in the local paper; you've got to give potential customers a reason to call NOW. Offering an early-booking discount for summer jobs or a limited-time special can be just the motivation customers need to make a buy-now decision.
  7. Weigh the value of a Web site.From chewing gum to dry cleaners, it seems everybody has a Web site these days. But before you jump on the web wagon, ask yourself if you are prepared to invest the time and money needed to build and maintain a professional-looking Web site. Because as with any advertising, a Web site that doesn't match up to the image of your business can actually do more harm than good.
  8. Be pitch perfect.You never know when the opportunity to pitch your business will arise. Make sure you have a quick, rehearsed pitch that describes what you do, how you do it better than others, and provides an incentive for potential customers to call (i.e., "I'd be happy to provide a free consultation and estimate.")
  9. Let the little things speak for themselves.How people perceive you and your business is influenced by many little things. From the condition of your vehicles and the cleanliness of your crew, to the courtesy and enthusiasm with which you answer the phone, to the look of your business cards--these all contribute to a potential customer's impression of your business.
  10. Build on your success.Nothing wins future clients like happy past clients. If you notice a home has sold or construction work is being done on a home, ask a nearby past customer if you can use them as a reference when calling on the new prospects. Also, keeping a photo album of past projects with you to share with customers when discussing new projects gives you an opportunity to show the full scope of your capabilities in an engaging manner.

Again, you don't have to take on all these efforts to achieve success. Start with just two or three to begin with. As they become a natural part of your routine, try a few more and stick with what works. How do you know what works? That's easy. Any effort that keeps you working is working.