1. Get a deposit before you do any work
Forcing people to put some skin in the game ensures they are serious about doing work with you, and helps weed out people likely to skip out on payments.
2. Bad clients make you better
No one wants a bad client but having someone challenge you helps your business mature and teaches you to put policies in place that will help you avoid future problems.
3. But it’s okay to let them go
One of the greatest pleasures of owning your own business is that you get to choose who you work with. Yes, you need to bring in revenue, but if a client isn’t a fit, it may be better in the long-term to let them go.
4. Stay on-time and on-budget
Doing what you say you’ll do sounds a like a no-brainer, but it’s something that amazes – and thrills – many of our clients.
5. Keep the lines of communication open
Most of the problems we’ve had come down to different expectations between our team and the client. We’ve learned to focus on clarity, but to keep the clients in the loop throughout the life of the project.
6. Show gratitude
Referrals are a key part of building a business, so when you receive them, make sure to show your appreciation.
Hand-written cards, a box of chocolates, or an account credit are all good options to show your thanks.
7. Pay it forward
Chances are you had some help to get where you are today, so repay that good karma with some of your own. Consider:
- giving a free workshop to people who can’t afford your services
- contributing a percentage of your income to a nonprofit organization
8. Hold on to good people when you find them
The biggest – and most continuous – challenge I’ve faced over the years is having a strong team that will let your business grow while keeping up the quality of work you’re known for. When you find people that fit, do everything in your power to keep them!
9. Build partnerships
You can’t be everything to your clients, as sometimes they ask for things you just don’t do. In those situations, having partners that you can bring in to supplement your services keeps the client happy, and creates a referral engine for you.
There’s also something to be said for having trusted peers that you can reach out to when you’re struggling with a thorny issue, or just need a sounding board.
10. Remember to celebrate the wins
Many of us get so lost in keeping up with day-to-day work, that we don’t stop and relish our accomplishments. Take the time to be proud of yourself and what you’ve built.
Bonus points if you gather other business owners together over a glass of wine to celebrate each other.
11. When you focus on high quality work, price is less of an issue
During a recent consultation, a prospective customer said:
“If Christine trusts you, I trust you. You’re hired, I’m not going to bother talking to anyone else.”
At no time during that conversation did we discuss fees.
Admittedly, it’s not always that easy, but if you focus on providing quality work and creating happy customers, price is not the deciding factor.
12. Don’t get stagnant
If you find yourself saying, “that’s the way we’ve always done it,” it may be time to shake things up. While there’s something to be said for standard processes, you need to evolve with changing technology and customer expectations.
13. Work-life balance is a must
You are going to spend a good chuck of your life focus on your business, so you have to make sure it’s something that makes you happy (most days J ). But it’s also important not to let it absorb your whole life.
- Spend time with friends and family.
- Make sure to have a hobby.
- Exercise to relieve stress.
- Take a vacation.
You’ll love your business so much more when you give yourself a break from it.