How To Scale Your Small Business Without Hiring Employees

A successful home-based business is the result of years of hard work, sacrifice, and a fierce belief in a positive future. Eventually, your determination and dedication start to pay off and your business starts to grow.

Expanding your small business means increasing your ability to accept orders, provide a greater range of services, and make more profit. If you’re looking to build your business without adding to your permanent payroll, these tips will help you prioritize, reorganize, and revitalize your routine.

Move Into the 21st Century

Technology is your friend. Make your smartphone do double duty as a virtual assistant.

  • Use the cloud to your advantage. You will have access to the files you use most, like contracts and sales information, from any mobile device. This simple step can save mobile business owners a lot of time and missed opportunities.
  • Productivity and financial apps can help you run your social media sites, save information found on the internet, track hours and expenses, create invoices and take credit card payments.
  • If most of your work is done away from your office, invest in a mobile data plan and a portable wireless printer for your laptop. Use any extra time you can to work on your advertising efforts, project plans, or explore additional streams of income.

Virtual Hands to Lighten Your Load

You can get outside help for everyday tasks and special occasions without hiring a permanent employee.

  • Need help for a trade show or large job? Check your local listings for temporary employment services. Candidates often come with background checks, references, and a variety of skill sets.
  • A local accounting service can keep your financial records straight and give you expert advice that can help you make important decisions as your business grows.
  • Virtual receptionists can take your calls, respond to emails, and help your customers via online chat. Professional customer service agents handle your simple client communications while you concentrate on the next level. Urgent or complicated issues can be routed directly to you.

Scale your business by increasing your capacity for work with a minimal rise in operating costs. Streamlining your daily processes will allow you to utilize more valuable time to sell more of your products or services.

Time Management Techniques For The Home-Based Business Person

While working for yourself has many perks, traditional employment has a leg up in one big way: time management. Most managers spend their time figuring out how you can use your time most efficiently. Your workload and rest periods are conveniently portioned out, leaving you mentally free to concentrate on individual tasks.

Working from home can challenge even the most developed time management skills. Constant distractions, too much comfort, and an unrealistic sense of flexibility can nibble away at your productivity. Here are some ways you can control your most precious asset for home-based business success.

Decrease Distractions

Control your environment so you’re less tempted by disruptions.

Turn off the television. Use upbeat instrumental music for background noise, if you really need it.

Take breaks away from your computer. A quick round of the latest online game can easily turn into several hours of wasted opportunity.

Don’t accept personal calls during work hours. A professional answering service can help you screen calls.

Embrace Discomfort

Is there such a thing as too comfortable? According to Psychology Today, there is if you actually want to accomplish something. Schedule some time to step outside your comfort zone to increase productivity.

Schedule regular exercise breaks. A brisk walk outdoors is best. If not, jog in place, skip a rope, or dance to your favorite song.

Drink lots of water. Even mild dehydration can affect your ability to concentrate. Bonus: the extra walking from bathroom breaks and refills boosts blood circulation to the brain.

Use peer pressure. An accountability partner will lovingly bully you out of any temptation to procrastinate.

Rebuild Boundaries

Potential clients love to hear about flexibility. They want to believe that you will do whatever it takes to justify their purchase, no matter the cost to you. Set realistic expectations with your clients and yourself.

Use a virtual assistant to mediate customer contact. They can take care of simple requests, take orders, and route calls to you or a team member.

Put your limits in writing. Return policies, minimum payable hours, cancelled appointment policies, and any other restrictions on your time and energy should be spelled out clearly.

Choose your work hours and stick to them. Think before you accept projects or offers that will require overtime.

Make these small but significant changes in your daily life to reclaim your valuable time, increase your productivity, and get your business tasks completed.

3 Tips To Make Your Business Seem Larger And More Well-established Than It Is

 

Fake it until you make it” is a psychological tactic that has helped countless people find the confidence to go out on a limb and try something new. While the mantra is often used to find dates, this invaluable advice can also be customized to help you grow your small business. Read on for 3 ways your company can look big, no matter how small your operation.

Don’t Skimp on Web Development

For many businesses, your website is the first thing potential customers see. Give customers a great first impression with informative blog posts, clean interfaces, and constantly updated pages showcasing your expertise. While web site services are useful for those just starting out, their cookie-cutter features won’t win you any popularity points. A professionally designed web site makes you look like a big shot. Add online shopping capabilities for 24-hour profit potential.

Hire a Virtual Receptionist

Your office may be a curtained-off corner of your unfinished basement, but that doesn’t mean you can’t provide customer service like the big boys. Hire a virtual receptionist to answer incoming calls, respond to basic customer concerns, and take messages when you aren’t available. Nearly 61% of consumers still prefer to do business over the phone. Use this opportunity to show your professionalism, and callers will think you are at the head of a multinational economic force.

Speaking of Your Basement…

It may be time to upgrade your work space. If meeting with clients in person is part of your business, rent a meeting room or temporary office space. Many business centers will rent spaces that can be used to meet clients and collaborators, or offer large work areas when a project demands extra space. Many business centers bundle administrative services with P.O. boxes and common business equipment. Some small business owners have teamed up to created co-working spaces. For a small fee, you get access to a desk, break room, and all the luxuries of cubicle life without the time clock and angry supervisors.

As a one-man powerhouse, you are ready to take on any assignment regardless of size or scope. But to get those lucrative assignments, your potential customers need to believe you are capable, and your website, customer service capabilities and work space can get you to that point. These strategies will help you look like a million dollars, even if you’re on a shoestring budget.

How To Leverage Your Time While Your Business Is On A Shoestring Budget

As a small business owner, time is your greatest asset. Creating new and innovative products and service offers, keeping up with marketing efforts, and handling administrative tasks all demand attention during work hours. If you’re looking for ways to get more done at work without compromising precious cash flow, use these tips.

Do Things Digitally

Millennial shoppers are changing the face of customer service. This generation uses technology like an extra appendage. Give them ways to solve their problems digitally to reduce your customer service hours and increase customer satisfaction.

  • Use social media marketing strategies to connect with potential and existing clients. You can run your own pages for a zero-cost marketing strategy. However, it might be worth the extra investment to hire a social media consultant.
  • Beef up your website. Today’s consumer prefers to avoid customer service calls. Give them access to the information they need to make purchasing decisions with FAQs, product description pages, and educational blog posts.
  • Include an electronic contact form on your site. Visitors will be able to send you questions. Use these contact requests to increase sales.
  • Hire an answering service to ensure customer calls are always answered 24/7/365.

Connecting digitally with your customers lets you control your customer service hours, reduce time spent on lead generation, and offers low-cost, real-time market research information.

Delegate

Just because you run a solo operation doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Use professional services for lower-priority tasks to create space in your day for more lucrative activities.

  • Work with other freelancers. You can hire them to help design your website, collaborate on large projects, or team up for cross-promotional efforts.
  • What are your least favorite tasks? Outsource them! If customer service isn’t one of your better skills, contract with a virtual assistant. Professional customer service agents will answer your calls and digital contact requests.
  • Make the best use of your email list with a minimum investment of time with email auto-responders. These programs send periodic messages to your email subscribers. Those messages can be personalized with their names and offers based on their purchase or browsing history.

Use digital tools and help from your professional network to organize your time and tasks, so you can put your attention where it needs to be, as the face of your business.

How to Scale Your Construction Business and Land More Jobs

In 2016, almost 40% of Canadian homeowners planned to spend an average of $13,017 on home renovations. These funds were earmarked for everything from new wallpaper, carpet, and paint to a complete bathroom or kitchen overhaul.

Is your small construction business ready to profit from the increased demand for professional home improvement services? Implement a plan to scale your construction business, and claim your slice of the home improvement pie.

Plan for Success

  • Know your market. Do some research to understand local needs. Wet, low-lying areas may be prone to mold or water damage issues. Wooded areas might need more foundation and paving services.
  • Find the most common need you can fulfill. Consider offering that as a loss leader service or as a discounted service in exchange for references or being contracted for other jobs.
  • Identify financial resources. To scale a construction business, you need funding. Research your lending options, credit potential, and existing cash flow that can contribute to growing your business.
  • Develop a strategy. Write a detailed business plan to scale your business at a steady, sustainable pace.

Expand Your Base

  • Lucrative government contracts are an excellent source of long-term and well-paying gigs.
  • Teamwork makes the dream work. Partner with colleagues in different professions to qualify for bigger, more complex, and better-paying jobs.
  • Let the world know. You can’t get jobs if no one knows you’re there. Invest in newspaper ads, sponsor a local school or sports team, and encourage current clients to share their happy service experience with friends.

Hired Hands

  • Outsource small yet essential tasks. A local accountant will keep the books balanced and the bills paid. Hire an answering service to field sales calls and inquiries. It saves you time and reduces interruptions while giving your company a more professional image.
  • Hire smart. It’s easy to be over-optimistic when you see all the opportunity available. Consider hiring temporary help on a per-job basis until you’re sure you can afford to keep someone full-time.
  • Make it a family affair. Family and friends are a great potential labor pool. You don’t even need to do a background check.

Use your connections, build a strong network, and use your resources strategically to scale your construction business and take advantage of the current home renovation boom.

Small Business Owner Struggles: How to Manage Incoming Calls

As a small business owner, you want your phone to ring. Those familiar tones could mean your marketing strategies are paying off and interested prospects are eager to hear more. Better still, your inbound calls could be flooding your operation with repeat orders, referrals, or enthusiastic thanks for a job well done.

Inbound business calls are exciting! But they can also be time-consuming. How can you manage incoming calls for your small business without a large investment of cash flow?

Do It Right the First Time

According to the Genesys Global Survey on customer satisfaction, 70% of a customer’s experience is based on how they are treated. Customers want more than a great product or service. They want to feel valued.

  • Control the call’s flow. Emotional callers can make productive conversation difficult. Allow them to express their feelings by asking open-ended questions that uncover the true nature of their complaint.
  • Practice first call resolution. Resolve all of your caller’s issues the first time they call. This will reduce callbacks while increasing overall customer satisfaction. Always ask if there is anything else needed before disconnecting the call.
  • The biggest lie ever told is “I don’t need to write that down”. Don’t risk your customer’s happiness. Take notes during phone conversations. Write down names, numbers, dates, and any actions you promise to complete.

Get Professional Help

A recent survey by Aspect Software found that 42% of respondents would rather “clean a toilet” than contact customer service. Your business is your life’s passion. You put your heart, soul, and your most marketable skills to work every day to make your dream become a reality. If customer service isn’t one of your strengths, consider using an answering service. Let professional customer service representatives manage incoming calls while you concentrate on what you do best.

Learn to manage incoming calls to improve customer satisfaction and increase your bottom line.

Scaling a Small Business: What Can You Outsource?

As your business grows, your time and energy become spread over a vast network of management challenges. Marketing strategies, product development, interpersonal relations – these are the components of your company that require direct input to thrive. When you focus your energy as a leader, the time you have for day to day workings quickly disappears. You need a strong, knowledgeable team to support your business from the ground up – that’s why the best component to outsource is your customer service.

The Perks of Outsourcing

Particularly when scaling a small business, creating a team with training and experience can often be a challenge. You don’t always have the option to develop your employees and your company simultaneously, nor can you rely on automated systems that don’t offer a human connection. That’s where a virtual receptionist comes in – by outsourcing your customer service, you get the
benefit of dedicated staff without having to expend time that could be focused on business development.

In addition to a team with extensive interpersonal training, outsourcing can also save you significant expense. With costs 30-50% more affordable, you can redirect funds that you would have spent on full-time staff back towards the growth of your company. Cost efficient, quality service, and time saved from your busy schedule – what’s not to love?

How it Works

The final perk is that outsourcing customer service is a very simple process to establish. You create an information profile, and a virtual receptionist delivers that knowledge to your clients. When a call comes in, they can instruct the customer, take a message, or direct the call to your personal line. Virtual receptionists even provide outgoing call services, freeing up your time to address the needs of your client base. No call goes unanswered, and the personal nature of the customer interaction sets you apart from businesses that rely solely on digital response systems.

Scaling a small business is full of challenges, but none more prominent than a simple lack of time. There aren’t enough hours in the day to address every aspect of your growth, so channel your focus as a leader by outsourcing routine operations. A virtual receptionist can save you money while delivering friendly, experienced customer service – leaving you free to inspire your company to the next tier of success.

When The Phone Won’t Stop Ringing: Tips for Business Owners Tied to Their Phones

When someone calls your line, the voice they hear becomes the voice of the company. You want that voice to be sunny, helpful, courteous, and always efficient. However, the realities of running a small business can make it difficult to hold onto a joyful disposition when repeated interruptions draw you away from your primary activities.

For small operations where person-hours are at a premium, managing phone calls can be tough. Here are some tips for small business owners to help control busy phone lines while still delivering legendary customer service.

Appreciate Every Call

In August 2016, Forbes found that 49% of surveyed customers have switched companies due to a negative customer service experience. What behaviors left clients feeling blue?

  • Rude or unhelpful staff
  • Multiple transfers during calls
  • Not being able to reach someone via phone
  • Long hold times
  • Lack of resolution

Show appreciation with active listening, empathy, and clear resolutions.

One of the most important tips for small business owners regarding phone etiquette is to make every caller feel valued. Vendors, freelancers, and other contacts are just as important to your business as paying customers.

Control the Flow

Keep incoming calls short and sweet by setting the pace and controlling the conversation.

  • Introduce yourself. State the company name and your name and position in your greeting.
  • Let them speak. Give the caller time to express themselves, without interruption. Take note of key words, facts, and other relevant information.
  • Confirm. Repeat the caller’s concerns to ensure you’re on the same page.
  • Respond. Place the order, set the appointment, do what is needed to resolve the issue.
  • Review. This is a good time to have them note down things like account numbers, dates, or instructions.

Ask if you can help with anything else before disconnecting the call. It sounds professional and keeps repeat calls to a minimum.

Automate Your Services

  • Create a self-help portal on your website. Customers can handle routine tasks online, without time-consuming calls.
  • Consider a virtual receptionist. Professional customer service representatives handle your incoming calls with a personal touch, so you can concentrate on growing your business.
  • Go digital. Instead of spending hours on the phone discussing specs, requirements, and other complex issues, use e-mail, instant messaging, or internet conferencing.

Good customer service is vital to the success of any business. These tips for small business owners will increase the value of your brand and your customers’ satisfaction.

Struggling to Grow: Advice for New Solopreneurs

You are a hard-working titan of the work world! You use your marketable skills to live life on your own terms. You are a solopreneur.

The solopreneur life offers a level of personal freedom few get to enjoy. But it can be tough. The personal satisfaction that comes from creating your own job is intoxicating, and can contribute to unhealthy workaholic behaviors. And when you are CEO (Chief Everything Officer), carving time from your daily duties to grow your business and increase income can seem impossible.

Don’t let obstacles stand in the way of your personal vision of liberty! Be realistic and make planning a priority to emphasize the positives in your solo career.

Focus

  • Write your own job description. What exactly is it that you do? Identify the core skills and services you will use to make money.
  • Create a career map. Where would you like to see your operation in 3 to 5 years? What training, information, or materials do you need to get there?
  • Schedule. Decide how much time you are going to use on various aspects of your job. How many hours a week do you need for bookkeeping, invoicing, and doing inventory?

Grow

  • Technology is your friend. Use apps to track your time, create invoices, and automatically generate sales reports and advertising statistics. Use your extra time to work on growing your business.
  • Take a class. Stay educated in the new developments in your field. Learn new skills to expand your offerings.
  • Network. Conferences, local business groups, and other freelancers are a source of inspiration, information, and important contacts that should not be neglected.

Live

  • Live your life. It’s a fine line between workaholic and dedicated solopreneur. Give yourself time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
  • Delegate. Create more time in your day by outsourcing secondary support activities. Hire a part-time assistant to run errands, do deliveries, or complete simple administrative tasks.
  • Be kind to yourself. You are not a machine. Take breaks, allow yourself to fail, and always be honest about your needs and abilities.

The solopreneur life is not for everyone. It takes a strong will and robust determination to walk your own path. But for those willing to do the work, true freedom can be achieved.

Do You Work from Home or Live at Work?

Your friends and family think you’re lucky. You skip rush hour traffic, never have to worry about the office gossip, and fluffy pajamas and flip flops are your Casual Friday wardrobe.

You probably feel pretty lucky too. More than a job, your work from home career is your passion. You have the freedom to create and carry out your personal vision, on your own schedule.

Stress!

But what you and your loved ones don’t realize is that those who work from home experience more stress than their traditionally employed peers. According to a study published by the United Nations International Labor Organization in February 2017, 41% of participants who work from home experienced job-related stress. Only 25% of their office-bound counterparts reported the same.

What causes home entrepreneurs to lose their cool?

  • Lack of organization that makes it difficult to get your work done.
  • Poor physical boundaries.
  • Goals that are unrealistic or not clearly defined.

Prolonged stress can ruin your health and chip away at your personal relationships.

Take Control!

Don’t let work-related stress destroy your home-based career. These simple tips help you organize your life, so the lines between work and life hours stay clear.

  • Defend your space. Choose a spot in your home that is dedicated to work and ONLY work. It will be easier to stay focused in a devoted space. And when you leave your work area, you are magically transported back to real life, completely unconnected to your business.
  • Outsource. Consider hiring a temporary assistant to help with heavy project loads. A virtual assistant can help organize your schedule and provide personalized customer service to your clients.
  • Take more breaks. Sounds counterintuitive, but frequent short breaks give you the opportunity to take care of smaller chores. You won’t be tempted to stop working when you remember these small details.
  • Plan your work. Base your daily to-do list on your long-term business goals. If your financial goal is to make $10,000 this month, break that down into a daily amount. When you reach that, you can be done for the day without guilt.
  • Stand your ground. Make regular visitors, roommates, and other cohabitants aware of your work schedule.

Stress doesn’t have to hold you back from creating the lifestyle and career you desire. With a little forethought, you can combat the causes of work from home stress.