Atlanta, GA., July 12th, 2019 / Giselle Ave. Media – That’s it, I’m speaking out. One of the main reasons I created Giselle Ave. was to find my own voice, and to share my own story. Today, I’d like to dive right into Business 101. First, let me admit that I am a MBA Dropout. Soonafter undergrad, I relocated to my hometown and started pursuing my MBA, but after the first semester, I decided it wasn’t for me. I didn’t want a cookie-cutter version of business. I wanted the real deal; practical, real-world experience. I wasn’t all that great in statistics. And frankly, I knew I could hire a CPA to handle my multi-million dollar financial portfolio, when the time was right. Most of all, I knew that my purpose could not be fulfilled in my hometown. So the following summer, I moved to Atlanta and began working on my Master of Public Administration. Two years later, I graduated, and continued to fine tune how to run my small business like a pro.
Here’s my theory: some stuff you simply can’t learn in school.
When I took on my first consulting role in the public sector, my superiors would always comment on how advanced my professional and business skills were.
On my last project, I was even told that, “You’re not like a lot of the millennials I’ve worked with in the past. You’re extremely mature, professional, organized, and self-sufficient. Where did you learn all of these skills?”
My reply? “From running my own business.”
What they DON’T tell you in graduate school is that every field has its ups and downs. Every industry has its own set of people trying to get over on their customer. Every industry has its own set of people who, “didn’t even go to school for this,” and they’re KILLING IT! The economy has changed, and the future is in freelance and self-employment. My theory could be wrong, but it could also be right.
Quality Control in Business
With the rise of the digital age, it appears as if being an entrepreneur is the most desirable job title. Even if you have a “good job,” people are getting creative, employing their own skills, and are taking side-hustling more seriously. Here’s the gag. With the growth of “I’m going to start my own brand, and charging people for it,” there’s a HUGE quality control problem. The digital age is slowly taking the esteem of being a “successful” business owner DOWN. The lines are blurring between Master’s level business administrators, and high school dropouts, that run million dollar tech companies. While this equal opportunity in small business is a huge advantage for all, its causing a huge PROBLEM across industries.
Since officially launching my business in 2015, I’ve worked with various small business owners, working towards increasing revenue, growing their brand, and sharing their story. Although I have a LONG way to go, I’m noticing common trends in various groups and forums online, where people are simply fed up with poor business practices. Whether undercharging for the market rates for the services you offer; or simply allowing clients to take over your business, for the sake of having clients, I’m here to set the record straight.
Here’s my question: How can we bridge knowledge gaps so that we ALL continue to WIN while running a small business? I’d like to share my thoughts on five strategies you can add to your own operations, to run your small business like a PRO!
5 Ways To Run Your Small Business Like A Pro
#1 After Connecting on Social Media, Send Customers to Your Website
Yes, we know.. “It’s going down in the DMs.” While social media has made it easier than ever for potential clients to reach you, it’s very important that you handle real business off of social media. Why? Because reputable businesses are not cutting checks and wiring funds via DMs. As a small business owner, its important to teach your potential customers how to purchase products and services offered by your small business. Think of your business as a high-quality brand, like Apple. Do you try to purchase an iPhone in the DMs of Apple’s Instagram Account, or on Twitter? No. You take time to visit the website, or Apple store, because you’re serious about making an investment, for a high-quality product. The same goes for your OWN small business/brand. Of course, you can be responsive to potential customers online, but it’s important to direct them to your website, where they can shop the high-quality products and services you offer. You can add relevant links in your Instagram bio, such as Link Tree, or your website address.
As a consultant, I don’t accept meetings or offer ANY advice on branding, marketing, or media services without a booked, paid consultation. I’ve included a simple web form on my website for potential clients to let me know exactly what they’re looking for. This cuts the small talk and helps me fizzle out who is serious about doing business, and who simply wants to see how much they can get, for free. Set the standard for your own business, it will save you a TON of time.
#2 Use Quality Control When Accepting New Clients
This is a new lesson for me. Oh boy, some clients are NOT worth the headache they will cause in the long-run. Therefore, always, always use your own form of Quality Control when accepting new clients. As an agency, a lot of my work depends on the type of relationship I develop with my client. I’ve created an Internal Use-Only Quality Control Test that clients must pass, prior to our team taking on their project. Does this client have a solid foundation to build upon? Do we believe in the mission of this client? Will this client help our company grow? Most important of all: does this client have a BUDGET that meets our company’s minimum requirements for new projects? If not, just say no. “Thank you for your interest in working with Giselle Ave., but we are unable to meet your current business needs.” This statement may sound familiar if you’ve ever applied for a job, but again, you have to starting thinking like a SUCCESSFUL SMALL BUSINESS ONWER. You’d be surprised at how many people will come knocking on your door, because you’re the only person they know who does this type of work.
Recently, I came across an EXCELLENT article that illustrates warning signs of bad clients and how to deal with them and I was so HAPPY to know I wasn’t the only one. Every obstacle you overcome in business is one step closer to the success you’ve dreamed of. Learn from your mistakes, and keep going forward.
You can read the full article, 10 Warning Signs of Bad Clients and How to Deal With Them, written in 2017 by Maggie Patterson of Scoop Studios.
#3 Don’t Sell A Service or Product, If You Can’t Stand Behind It
That’s it, that’s the tip. This sounds self explanatory, but I’ve been noticing this common theme on various social media platforms where customers feel scammed out of the service or product they’ve purchased from another small business. Welp, news flash: if you can’t deliver it, don’t sell it. You can take on new types of projects to gain new experience, just be VERY CLEAR with that customer, and don’t charge them for it. I took on a few pro bono projects to get my feet wet, but that was early on in my consulting career. If you can’t deliver it, then don’t put a price on it. Whether advanced graphic design work, or bulk orders of your products, it’s important to set client expectations so that they aren’t confused about the outcome of the service delivery. I’ve had a client inquire about my company 1. finding a part-time worker for their law firm 2. ask if our team can perform paralegal work 3. make them famous — all in one inquiry.
The answer is no. We are NOT a staffing firm. We do NOT offer ANY type of legal work. And we can’t make you famous, the people make people famous. Again, teach clients how to shop your products and services by learning when and HOW to say no. There are clients out there who are in need of your services, and will happily pay your rates.
#4 Focus on Adding Value, But Don’t Lower Your Rates to Fit Someone’s Budget
Speaking of rates, focus on adding value, but don’t lower your rates to fit someone else’s budget. I’ve done this in the past, and it simply isn’t a good idea for a small business owner. In fact, you want to keep in mind you’re the business owner, not the client. Remember why you started your business, it wasn’t to make a little more than what you were making in your former job—- it was to establish an entire new financial outcome for yourself and for your family. Don’t cheap out. I’ve come across social media managers changing PENNIES for their services, $100 for a logo, $25 for social media management…………
And while that’s none of my business, I know that you always get what you pay for. I value the rates I’ve set for Giselle Ave. because I KNOW my company’s worth.
#5 Hire a Consultant, When You Have A Budget
Last but not least, hire a consultant — when you have a budget for a consultant. A consultant is defined as a person who provides expert advice professionally. This means that he or she has invested time, and energy into becoming an expert in their respective field. If you’re doing something on the side, it may not be time to invest in a consultant, simply because there is a certain time and financial commitment that comes with bringing an expert on your team. Our perfect client here on Giselle Ave. is a business owner and/or someone who would benefit from having a valuable personal brand that attracts new clients of their own. Also, running a business isn’t easy, and there are consultants that will help you develop a business strategy to start and grow your business. If you have a budget to invest in a consultant upfront, do that! It’s a great way to save time and energy in the long-run, and it will help you get started quicker. The most important takeaway when it comes to hiring a consultant is the fact that they will offer expert advice, they will NOT do the work for you! You have to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself, but a consultant is a wise investment when you can afford it.
Start a Mailing List
Launch, Grow, Scale!
These are five ways you can run your business like a pro, but there are a TON of other ways you can launch, grow, and scale your business. Networking and learning from others is another cheat code to running your business like a pro. In addition to things learned from my own experiences, I love attending networking events that force me to level up and take notes from successful business owners.
You can read my recap of the Self-Made Event Series presented by Square to learn how Square creates software and business solutions for busy business owners like you.
What do you think? Are you using these tips already? Is there anything I missed that’s helped you grow your own small business? Are you ready to start your own small business, but you’re unsure where to start?
Let me know in the comments section, or schedule A Talk!