In this day and age, advice for all types of business is readily available. I believe all advice has its value, and no one is above receiving advice from someone who has been through it before. Absorb wisdom, translate it for your own business. For all the tips and tricks there are to being a business owner, these are the top five bits of advice I have learned:
- Get Yourself into a Strong Network. The trick to finding networks worth being involved in is to understand exactly what the network’s visions and goals are. At their best, networks offer the ability to gain knowledge, to share expertise, collaborate, and ways to help your business move forward. You do not have to stick to only one network. In fact, I am a member of three. The first network I joined was the Indie Business Network because it offered me product liability insurance, but it became so so much more. It’s a group of powerful artists and entrepreneurs who also handcraft skincare, soaps, candles, etc. This group is tailored especially to my business type, and I often rely on it to learn about product development and business growth for my field. The second network I belong to is The Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetics Guild, mostly for the same reasons as IBN, but especially pertaining to soap and soap materials. Finally, I created the Vine Vendor Network to collaborate with local entrepreneurs to help us build our business in the local community. We share information about events, host our own event, and help each other succeed while we’re close by.
- Make Customer Service Your Number One Priority. Our businesses are absolutely nothing without our customers. Especially as small business owners, we need to focus our attention on the needs of our customers. Customers shop at small business because they like the close-knit ties they can create with business owners. We have the ability to go above and beyond by revealing parts of ourselves, working directly with a customer, offering fast and effective service. Customers want to feel valued and the personal attention you give them is exactly how you can make them return.
- Build Up Other Small Businesses. Along with joining networks, it’s important to actually network. That means helping other small businesses grow and achieve by promoting them, by sharing them with your customers, by featuring them, by shopping there. When you build direct connections with other business owners, you are both supporting their business, but also your own; you are demonstrating that you are not just involved for personal gain, but for the good of the entire team. People will then think of you for the future because you have worked with them in the past; it’s the same concept as saving in a bank.
- Be Detail-Oriented. Whether this is pertaining to your bookkeeping, your inventory, your supplies, or instructions, one of the best ways to be savvy is to pay attention. While it’s imperative to always keep the big picture in mind as a business owner, it’s necessary to understand all the minor parts that are involved in creating the big picture. When you focus on the details, it gives you insight into the workings of your business and how to improve it. Think of it like owning a vehicle. Yes, you drive your car, but you have to maintain it through getting gas, following traffic laws, changing the oil, getting tune-ups, inspections; all of these moving parts will equate to a smooth ride.
- Know the Rules of Your Industry. You may be a ground-up enterprise, or you may be an independent consultant for a company, in any circumstance, you need to know the rules inside and out. “I didn’t know” is not a valid excuse for making mistakes. When you know the rules, and follow them, it’s the opposite of constricting – you now understand how to make your business work giving you the creative license to think outside-of-the-box. When you follow the rules, you also build trust and authority in your brand, which makes customers and people you network with feel comfortable working with you.
I would love to hear any tips and tricks you have to be a smart and savvy business owner. Please comment below!