Friday, 11 May 2012

How to keep a small business going in a financial crisis

So you know it's hard out there. Everyone's holding on to their money tight and trying to find ways to make extra money to pay the bills. So you figure, "I know, i'll start my own business!". It seems like a great idea and you work your little butt of figure out the business plan, you set out a budget and dollar signs light up when you estimate how much money you can make by doing something you love. So you go for it....
It's 6 months in now and you're starting to ask yourself "What happened to all this money I was going to make? I seem to be spending more than i'm making!" Well the hard cold truth is, you're only about a quarter of the way there until you start making some money. 
Most businesses take at least 1-2 years to get off the ground, even in better financial times. I know what you're thinking "This is too hard, i am never going to make any money" Well no you're not if you quit right now. The only way to make a business work is to keep at it. Pace yourself, set yourself short goals that are actually achievable. Put your long terms goals to the back of your mind and focus on the here and now. It's kind of like a 12 step alcoholics anonymous program, just take each day one at a time. (Although a little wine at the end of each day might actually help). 
At the moment, consumers are all cutting back their spending and trying to only buy what they need. What you have to do is work out why they NEED your product. What can you offer them that makes it hard to reason why they shouldn't buy it. I'm not talking about some silly 40% off sale or throwing in another item if they purchase, i'm talking about  offering them something that is actually of value to them. A great way to do this is to offer knowledge. Everyone has some great tips on something, even if it is not really related to your product, pass on the knowledge. By helping people with tips, you can gain respect and increase your brand awareness without being pushy. 

The other thing that is highly regarded in hard financial times is customer service. A lot of the larger companies are cutting corners in this area to try and save money so they can offer cheaper prices to their customers. How many times have you gone with a cheap service only to end up bashing your head against a wall because you can't get any customer service if something goes wrong. 
Being a small business, we often ARE the customer service team. Simple everyday politeness will go a long way to making your customer feel happy and more likely to buy and return again to buy from you. I know most of you are already feel like you are giving the best possible customer service but have a think and see if there are other extras you can add to their experience. It might be somthing like "have a lovely weekend" or "Thank you so much for supporting our small business" on the phone or end of an email, or a simple brown wrapping paper with some old fashioned string on their internet order to make them feel like they're opening a gift, even if it isn't. A comps slip that is hand written by you rather than just a generic printed receipt. 

And remember, even when you're having the sh*ttiest day from hell, never let your customers feel it.  

Software Review

We test drove the My Memories Suite digital scrapbooking software last week and it was so great, we contacted them to ask if we could give one away to our readers! 

For your chance to win, simply have a look at the My Memories site and anwer this question by commenting below: What is your favourite album template?

As an added bonus, they have also given us a $10 voucher for all of our readers. Simply use this code at the checkout when your purchase the My Memories Suite V3. The software also comes with a $10 coupon so you'll save $20 all up.   Code: STMMMS33288

OK enough chatter for now, i'm off to write the weekly Kids Style Hub e-newsletter to tell everyone about the gorgeous new winter products we have in store.  

Sneak peek: 

Happy designing. 

Nicole Herrick