Expanding, Networking and Making Your Small Business Work

JMA’s Expansion – What We’ve Learned

Being a small business owner, as any SBO will tell you, is both freeing and terrifying all at the same time. With the economy trending the way that it has and the sheer lack of job security in all fields, many people have turned to self-employment as a way to supplement or even entirely replace their previous income. More people are focusing on local, small businesses and shying away from larger corporations. Keeping their money close to home and searching for a business that will not only give them a great deal, but will give them the personalized experience that they need. So what do you do when you finally make that “leap of faith”, you start your own business, you want (and need) it to succeed? I’ll tell you what you do…you get smart and make a strategy.

Making a business strategy seems like a very vague task at first, so do it in steps. Take your time and follow through with each phase entirely and completely before tackling the next. Sit down and assess your business (or business plan if you are just starting out). What does your business do or provide? Are you providing your services to the best of your ability, where can you make improvements or add in additional services that would better fit the needs of your clients? Who are your clients and what are they looking for? These seem like simple questions, but the further you delve into what you do and what you can do better, you may discover areas that you can improve or expand upon what you already do to satisfy the most important person in this equation: your customer.

Now that you have thought about your business and it’s services, perhaps you made a couple changes to help round out our services, or make yourself more specialized in your field (always a good thing…do something other people don’t!), now it’s time to market your business. There are so many ways to do this: Comprehensive Web Presence (easy to use website, search engine optimized, links for cross promotion built), Social Media Marketing, Networking Events, Print Marketing, Conferences, Non-Profit Organization Partnering, the list goes on and on. Anything that you can do to get your name and your business out there will directly benefit your small business’s traffic. Think outside the box…do things that don’t necessarily directly correlate with your business: ie. Sit on a Board for a Non-Profit Organization, Host a Networking Event at your home or business and invite other local small businesses to attend, Volunteer – whether it’s for Habitat for Humanity, your local soup kitchen, or at your kid’s school…volunteerism is a great way to get out there and set a positive vibe for you and ultimately your business, sponsor a local fundraising event – and not just monetarily: donate items or gift certificates for your services to raffles and fundraising give-aways, hand out water at 5K’s, help set up and break down for school functions. Why? Because this gives you the opportunity to not only help your community but to meet people you may not otherwise meet, strike up a conversation, talk about what you do…maybe, just maybe you can help one-another or you may know someone who can use their services…better yet, they may know someone who can use your services.

*LIGHTBULB!* The more people you know, the more involved you become, the more people know you and your business. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to always bring along business cards or wear a shirt with your logo on it. “Hello” brand recognition!

We have learned a great number of things being in business for ourselves for so long, and with each small business that comes to us for websites or consulting, we like to bestow some of the things we have learned along the way to help them succeed. Whether it is something as small as where to purchase bulk packaging products that are good quality and great price (www.uline.com) or helping connect business we know with each other that can help one another grow (PinkHope.com and Laurie Sullivan Design), we are always looking for ways to help not only our clients but all small businesses succeed.

Give a little, get a lot. It works. It takes time and effort, and not always money, and it works. Now get out there and help your small business grow!

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