Running a small business can be less complicated when you have a few clients, and everything is easily manageable including job scheduling and making payments for raw materials and tools. However, keeping track of these small daily transactions will start requiring more of your time as your business grows.
You have started receiving calls from potential clients that are interested in your service, soon you are busy getting work done and the money starts coming in and you are set for life! Well, not quite. As your Trade business grows, there are certain obligations such as tax, licensing and employment laws that come with it.
Strategy is an important aspect for any business, including Tradies. Knowing where you are coming from, where you want to be by a certain time and how to get there separates successful and failed businesses.
What’s that saying; you need to spend money to make money? Even with a low cash flow this still rings true; just be sure you are spending money in the right places. When times are tough and sales are down, don’t stop spending on marketing; in fact, spend more and spend less on other things.
However, sometimes the best option is to spend your time rather than cash. Either way, your marketing strategy should be the most productive and sales focused it can be, generating quality leads to close more sales (thus improving cash flow).
Here are some tips to squeeze the most out of your marketing budget:
1. Know your target customers and direct your marketing to being where they are. Don’t waste time or money on marketing for the sake of marketing. If the people who are most likely to buy from or hire you won’t see it, don’t bother.
2. Social media, blogs, forums, etc. These are creative ways to market your business when cash flow is tight- the main investment here will be your time. Connect and converse with other businesses and individuals in related industries on social media, comment on blog posts and give expert advice on forums. Each interaction will give you the opportunity to direct potential buyers to your social media page or website. Be sure to refer to tip #1 for each platform.
3. Utilise your current database via email marketing. Using software such as Mail Chimp allows you to track each open, email interaction and unsubscribe to ensure you are on the right track. Email marketing is a great way to keep current and former customers engaged with your product or service and redirect them back to your website; just make sure you have something of value to say each time you are in contact. This type of direct marketing ensures your voice is being heard by the right people and you will only pay for what you use.
4. Network. This is not about getting your business card in circulation at networking events; it’s about creating mutually beneficial relationships with key people who work in the same or similar industry. So, do your research- who, if you associated with regularly, would have a significant impact on your business? Call them up and introduce yourself. A 1 on 1 meeting over coffee with the right person sounds a lot more productive than attending a “can I flog you my product?" networking meeting, right?
5. Don’t stop marketing when times are good. If you have the attitude “I have enough work right now so I can save my marketing dollars” you are simply setting yourself up for another slump down the track. If you are not constantly and consistently promoting your business regardless of your financial situation, then your business cannot grow. Wouldn’t it be easier to have a continual stream of quality leads coming in rather than having to work twice as hard to find customers when times are tough?
Finally and most importantly, keep data on the source of business/sales. Ask your new customers “how did you hear about us?” and keep records of their answers. Each campaign (that’s each email, each social media platform, each networking source) should have a corresponding marketing strategy that outlines what you intend to achieve with your efforts, how much you have spent and what were the outcomes. This will assist you in achieving tip #1.