Tag: human resources degree

Eighteen Ways to Find Customers

Last Updated: Sep 11, 2018
What’s the hardest thing about starting and growing a business? For many small businesses, the answer is finding clients or getting customers. Customer acquisition is particularly difficult if your marketing budget is limited. Here are 18 time-tested strategies to help build your customer base.

Finding customers is one of the most difficult challenges for startup and established small businesses. 

Having a great product or service that you are sure many people will need isn’t good enough. Customers won’t find you, your store, your website or your Facebook page just because you start a business. You have to go out and find potential customers and clients. In fact, customer acquisition needs to be an ongoing focus for most businesses.  Even successful businesses will have customers or clients who stop buying for one reason or another. Those customers have to be replaced just to keep your business on an even keel. 

 When a business is small, finding ways to bring in business usually falls on the business owner’s shoulders. But business owners often don’t have much experience in marketing or selling. If you’re a startup or an existing business that’s looking for more ways to grow your customer base, these strategies will help.

The secret to creating a successful acquisition plan is to know who would make the ideal customer.If you sell to businesses, consider what department is most likely to buy your products or services, and what individual (what level of responsibility) would be the one to determine the specific purchase requirements. (Make some calls if you don’t know!) Determine how long the buying cycle is. Is buying your product a decision that can be made quickly by a single person? Or are you selling something that has a long buying cycle, possibly involving multiple individuals?

Next think about how the typical buyer normally finds products or services like yours. What circles do they travel in? Are they active in social media?. Who are they likely to listen to or where do they look when they want to buy your type of product or service. Write all this information down and look for patterns. Then, to get more customers, plan ways to put yourself and your information where the people in your target market can find it when they are ready to buy.

FREE Market Research Worksheet from Business Know-How

Figure out who your customers are and where you can find them with this free, fillable Market Research Worksheet.

Figure out who your customers are and where you can find them with this free, fillable Market Research Worksheet.

2. Look for and follow business prospects on social media. Don’t try to sell to them on their social media feeds. Instead, try to develop relationships with potential customers. Retweet or comment on their posts. Mention them if appropriate in your own social media posts (ie, “@JoeSmith gave a terrific presentation on retail security at today’s Chamber meeting”) Your goal: to get known and seen as a friend. Selling is a lot easier when you sell to people who feel like they know you.

3. Work your local newspapers. Even in the digital age, daily and weekly newspapers are still an incredible source of contact information and leads to potential new customers. Watch for names of people who have been promoted, who have won awards, who have opened new businesses, or who in any way may be potential customers. Send those people personalized mailings congratulating them on their success or telling them how interesting the article about them was. Include your company name and slogan plus any appropriate product information with your signature. (Example: Jane Smith, ABC Associates, Financial and Retirment Planning Help For Business Owners)

4. Be sure your website and social media pages make it easy for visitors to know how to reach you. Better yet,  give them a reason to give you their contact information.  An offer of a free newsletter, a free guide to something related to your industry, or a coupon can all be good devices to use for lead capture. Then follow up regularly on those leads.

5. Go door-to-door if you sell to homeowners. Sure, a lot of people won’t answer their doorbell, or will tell you they’re not interested, but especially if you’re already doing work for one or more homeowners in a neighborhood, canvassing the homes nearby may land you some new business without spending another penny on advertising. 

6. Use coupons and special offers to attract customers. Everybody loves a bargain. Offer a discount to new customers on their first purchase. If you sell products or services that need to be purchased repeatedly, consider making that first discount contingent on the customer signing a contract for a year of service.

7. Sponsor Events. Events that may bring your potential market together. Look for fliers about the event at local networking group meetings. Or, call and ask the organizers if there are sponsorship opportunities available. Local events can be quite inexpensive to sponsor. Or if the sponsorship cost is high, they may have  a “Friends” of the event option that will give you the right to have fliers at the event for a very small fee.   

8. Attend meetings and seminars that your prospects might attend. If you’ve been doing that and haven’t made contacts that could lead to sales, try new networking groups. Look in the newspapers to see what other organizations hold events that might attract your target market and attend some of those meetings. 

Related: 5 Simple Networking Follow-Up Strategies

9. Follow up after meetings. Contact the people you’ve met to see if they may be prospects. If they say they don’t need your services now, ask when a good time to call them back would be, or if they have business associates who could use what you sell now.

10. Give a little to get a lot. To acquire new customers, you need to build trust. And one of the best ways to do that is to give away free samples of your product and ask the recipients to tell their friends if they are pleased. Or, if you are a consultant, give away some free advice. This could be in the form of a newsletter with that contains news or tips and hints, or it could be a free consultation during which you provide just enough information to help the client scope out their project and know that you have the ability to handle it.

11. Work your personal network. Ask your friends if they know of people who can use your services, or people who may know others who could use your services. If your pricing structure will allow it, offer friends and business associates a finders’ fee for referrals that turn into jobs.

12. Put your business name, phone number and website address on anything that you can. If you are in a service business that uses vans or trucks, your name should be on all your vehicles, so that people who see you servicing others in their neighborhood can quickly spot how to contact you. It should be on any products  and/or labels on your products (whichever is practical).  Have magnets made up with your name and phone number and attach them to appliances  you repair, or hand out to customers and prospects.  The more people who have your name and contact, the more customers you can acquire.

13. Study your successful competitors. Where do they advertise? Where do they network? What tactics do they use? What works for them may work just as well for you.

14. Use multiple small ads instead of one big one. If most people in your type of business advertise in print to bring in customers, you should do the same. But don’t plan on making a big splash with one large ad. Plan smaller ads to run over a long time in the same publications that your competitors advertise in. 

15. Test pay-per-click (PPC) and other online advertising. To keep costs down, target your ads so they reach people who are similar to your most likely prospects, and target them so they only show up in the geographic region you service. (Example: women between the age of 40 and 55 who live in Boulder, CO.) Set daily budgets and monthly budgets, and check your account frequently the first few days you set it up.

16. Claim your place  in Google My BusinessWhile you’re at it, be sure to list yourself (and make sure your website address is correct) in any directories you qualify for. Chambers of commerce, and other local business groups often have member directories in which you can list contact information and website url.

RelatedClaiming Your Local Small Business Listings Online

17. Ask for feedback when prospects don’t buy. Did they find a product that better served their needs? Did they decide they don’t need the product at all? Did they just postpone their buying decision? Did they find it difficult to place an order on your web site? Use what you learn to make needed changes and watch your sales start to grow.

18. Realize there is no one path to success. Sales often happen because prospective customers hear about your products and services in several different ways and from several different sources. The more often they hear about you, the more likely they are to consider what you have to offer when they are ready to buy.

Need more help? Check out these marketing ideas.

© 2018 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved

About the author:
Janet Attard is the founder of the award-winning  Business Know-How small business web site and information resource. Janet is also the author of The Home Office And Small Business Answer Book and of Business Know-How: An Operational Guide For Home-Based and Micro-Sized Businesses with Limited Budgets.  Follow Janet on Twitter and on LinkedIn


Pros and Cons of Driving for Uber

Last Updated: Nov 14, 2017
Thinking about picking up a side job driving for Uber? The promise of a good income and flexible schedule is enticing, but consider these pros and cons first.

Looking to make some money on the side as your business grows? Some entrepreneurs are generating extra income by driving for Uber or Lyft but like any good entrepreneur, you know that any time not spent directly building your business better be time well spent.

What are the pros and cons to working as a for-hire driver for Uber?

Possibly the biggest advantage to a job like this is the flexible schedule. You can work as much or as little as you would like and during any hours. No need to schedule your driving around other activities. You can drive when you have time.

Often, part time jobs with a flexible schedule come with a salary fit for a high school student working their first job. That’s not going to work for a budding entrepreneur.

According to Uber, drivers make around $17 per hour.

But what seems like a pro could actually be a con. Another study found that after expenses, drivers in Houston, Detroit, and Denver were making less than $13.25 per hour and even worse, drivers in Detroit brought in only $8.77 per hour. In contrast, Walmart pledges to pay its employees at least $10 per hour.

Like any job of this type, as drivers learn the platform, they’re able to maximize their efficiency driving up their hourly wage and if Uber were to respond, it would likely say that the flexibility of the work is a better value to its drivers than the fixed schedule of Walmart.

Courts ruled that Uber drivers are independent contractors rather than employees. Because of that, drivers are not eligible for overtime pay or benefits and the driver is responsible for paying their own taxes. Fortunately, as an independent contractor, you can deduct expenses associated with your business income, including taking the standard mileage deduction for the miles you travel for your business. A good rule of thumb is to save 25% of your income for taxes but you’ll likely pay much less after deductions.

As a for-hire driver, your personal auto insurance policy doesn’t cover your vehicle when you’re functioning as a driver. Many have mistakenly said drivers have to provide their own commercial policy but Uber provides commercial insurance that covers the vehicle from the time the trip starts to when it ends. Also included is uninsured motorist coverage along with other coverages including coverage when the driver is between trips. Read more here.

You’ve heard it before. Cars depreciate rapidly and probably the biggest enemy to your car’s value is the number of miles. As you pack on the miles, the value of your car falls and the amount of repairs increases. There’s also the normal wear and tear of having people in and out of the back of your car. There will be stains, spills, accidental damage, and the normal wear and tear that comes with frequent use.

Although Uber will help you with some expenses—cleaning up vomit or other stains, for examplethe wear and tear on your car is an expense that falls on you. Save a portion of your earnings to purchase a new car. You’ll need that money long before the casual driver will.

Most people would think twice about picking up a hitchhiker but as a for-hire driver, you’re letting strangers into your car. Uber does its best to screen riders by having a feedback system where both driver and rider rate each other but there’s no way to completely mitigate the risk to your personal safety. There are also plenty of reports online of passengers making inappropriate advances on drivers and the reverse. But like any service as large as Uber, the reports of negative incidents will always gain more attention than the majority of trips that happen without incident and end up being an enjoyable experience for all involved. All drivers should take appropriate precautions and be safety-minded at all times.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a little extra money, driving for Uber might be the perfect choice given the flexible schedule. This allows you to build your business when you need to and extra money when things are slow.

However, don’t expect to make $20 per hour anytime soon. As you learn the ins and outs of how to drive for maximum efficiency, expect your revenue to rise but until then, be patient.

Finally, have realistic expectations. If you’re building a business, you need to concentrate as much as possible on that effort. Uber drivers making a salary high enough to live on are driving full time in most cases.

© 2017 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.


Don’t Let Fear of Failure Slow Your Business Growth

Last Updated: Jul 16, 2018
Is your fear of failure causing you to turn down opportunities that could help your business grow? Of course you want to be smart about your business, but for it to grow, sometimes you have to take risks. Get past your fear of failure so you don’t hold your business back.

Failure – it’s one of people’s biggest fears in the business world. They fear it so much they end up running from anything that seems like it would lead to it. This causes them to miss great opportunities that could have resulted in big success

Instead of running away from failure – what if you ran to it? What if you took every opportunity, and didn’t worry about it failing? This would likely lead to many failures, but some really great growth opportunities for your business.

The problem is getting over the high anxiety of failure. The good news is that all it takes is changing your perception, and using failure to help you rather than hurt you. This is how you can do it.

The reason you fear failure is because you believe it’s a bad thing.  That makes sense since even as a child you were probably told doing something incorrectly was bad. Now is the time to look at not doing something right as a good thing.

Your first reaction to failure is probably anger and frustration. After you get over that, you become depressed. Why? Because you wanted a different outcome, and you didn’t get it. You’re mad you didn’t get it and you’re really sad that you’re going to have to end that dream.

Instead of ending it, see how you can change things. For example, you tried a new marketing plan. You made NO money from it. Instead of dropping it, why not figure out what made it unsuccessful and change that part of it?

The more you fail, the more you learn. Take the lessons you get from the fails, and use them to do something different. It doesn’t have to be something radically different, just enough that you may end up with different results.  

Just because something doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean it failed. Something only fails when you abandon it completely. Moving forward with whatever you’re doing shows you’re working on making it a success. 

Sometimes, you have to abandon what hasn’t worked out. This doesn’t mean you can’t use what you learned. For example, you have a client who is unhappy with your work. It was unsatisfactory because the client believes it was low quality or didn’t follow the instructions given. You can take this information and beat yourself up, or you can move on and use it to better your business.

If the client believes it was low quality, find out why. Take that information and use it to ensure other work you do for other clients isn’t the same. If the work didn’t follow instructions, be sure to be more mindful of instructions from other clients. This may have been a good lesson in how you need to step that part up, which will make your others clients happy with you.

RELATED: 10 Things to Learn from a Business Failure

When you are able to learn from unhappy clients, failures won’t make you feel so bad. Not only that, they will help you do more for others, which will in turn lead to more referrals and business. If you’re able to do that, those failures turn into more money!

Don’t look at failure like it’s a horrible thing that will destroy you. Look at it as an opportunity to grow your business.

All you have to do is step back, look at what happened, and plan what you’re going to do to keep the same thing from happening. It’s all part of the growing pains of business. Learn to love it. 

RELATED: 10 Questions to Ask to Grow Your Business

© 2016 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.