small business

6 Months Old

October 26th 2009
Author -

Today marks the end of our first 6 months in business. 12 months is the do-or-die mark. It is the point at which my wife and I have to look at how we are doing and decide to continue or not. From the 6 mth mark, it looks like we might get a good first report card.

Speaking with peers in the industry and general business advisers the next assessment is at 2-3 years. I think the absolutely crucial mark is a word of mouth tipping point. That point where you have done enough work for enough people that word of mouth gets you a regular amount of new work.

So what has happened in 6 months?

We have done 27 websites.

3 have been community service or personal websites.

20 have been from Armidale.

The remaining 4 from Newcastle, Coffs Harbour, Tamworth and Uralla.

At this early stage the vast majority have been from direct proposals. I prepare a 1-2 page proposal specifically written for a target business. I present it to them in person and follow up with them.

4 of my websites have been word of mouth. People contacting me on recommendation of a previous client. This is an ideal source of new work.

I have had repeat work for 1 client where I upgraded the static website I did to include a specials section they can update. So word of mouth and existing client upgrades is where we would love to grow.

Now to the rejections, which have been tough for me. I have 31 proposals in the declined folder. Some of these are "maybe later" but the majority is outright Nos or unresponsive. So 24 people accepted my proposal out of 55. Thats a 44% hit rate, not to shabby. Some factors to consider are I have no salesman experience, I am reasonably priced (20-30% competitor discount) with great turnaround and service and Armidale has little competition in the web design market.

Even though it is a good result, some rejections are tough. I spend time analysing a company and only pitch to businesses I can see gaining benefit from a website. I can see myself really helping these people's business. When presenting this, some people see me as another business parasite that wants their money with little return. Learning to deal with this is one of the many lessons learnt in the last 6 months.

I think it comes down to remaining focused on where you want your business to go. Step forward from disappointment and strive for your dreams. Client focus has been important for us too. Ongoing work and word of mouth will only occur with satisfied clients. For each client I need to step in their shoes and focus on what type of website would bring them the greatest return and benefit.

I also need to approach and accept the types of clients that would fit into my business plans.

In summary, I have loved these 6 months, working for myself and my family. I work longer hours but I am less stressed and enjoy time off a lot more.

I look forward to speaking to you at our 12 month mark.

Might have cracked 50 clients by then.