Back in April 2009 we started our business. It has been hard work and we have made mistakes, we are not rich (yet), but we do enjoy helping businesses online. Here are a few lessons we have learnt.
I am surprised how much things change. I thought you would get a list of customers and make them happy, pay the mortgage, retire. But everything keeps on changing. My customers businesses grow, changes hands, changes direction, people leave us, people come to us for help. Technology changes. This is continual, the latest has been the rise in mobile use and Googles mandate for an encrypted web. We have seen social medias growth and now we are sensing a shift where people are sick of their feeds and dispersing into niches of interest. The challenge is for us to keep our customers businesses represented well where people are. We keep at this edge by reading and learning, by watching other businesses, by talking with our customers about their business and customers regularly.
Good staff are absolutely crucial. In recent years as we have moved from a lifestyle business, we have learned a lot of lessons here. You need to support your staff, have systems in place, policies, ongoing communication, create job satisfaction. If they are happy and productive they will please your customers, take a weight off your shoulders, and allow you to grow the business. When recruiting we rely on word of mouth and we need to see that person demonstrating the passion that we want in the job. We are not recruiting that often, but having these systems in place will help the next one and the next one.
The customer is not always right
The best businesses we have worked with the owner is willing to collaborate. To discuss the issues, to define objectives; we give a little, they give a little and we end up with a great result. Developing a relationship like this means as things change in the future our discussions become easier and we become quicker at adapting to change needed in the online world. We have noticed over the years the collaborative businesses tend to be larger and more successful. They have got to that position by requesting expert advice and receiving support from others.
The caveat to this is you can’t think you are always right too, you must listen. You both must have the same objective. For us that is a great online presence to make their business money.
Money pays the bills
This is still one I am learning. I want to help people, I love to see an enquiry or a sale come through my client’s website. If someone comes to our business and asks for help I do not often say no. I justify it by saying when they are making good money they will compensate us adequately then. But it does not work that way, I have already priced myself in their eyes. In business we need to get a pricing structure that appeals to clients, but also keeps the lights on, pays the staff, gives you a little something for your efforts. We also need to identify and seek out good clients, those with cashflow that value our assistance. You don’t need to be greedy or stab people in the back, but you need to have a healthy self-interest. If your business stays open, it can employ more people in your community and help grow your client’s businesses. Everybody benefits.
None of this would be possible without you. Thank you for your ongoing support of our family business. We look forward to helping you into the future.