I may not be rolling in riches but I have gathered a solid education in the school of small business. My professors are people I follow on Twitter, Face Book and subscriptions to blogs. The most important professor? You. It was while working with you I have learned these 7 valuable lessons.
Make a noise, stand out! Okay, you don't have to be garish or overly obnoxious with the "selfie" (self promotions). You do need to learn enough about selling your business to get your name out there. With a world of businesses just like yours, finding your niche, making your brand and moving your business name to the top takes more than passing out colorful flyers.
When your doors open for business, you are on the clock for the entire life of your business. I may take only a few hours a day with alterations or handmade gifts, but there are countless hours of behind the scenes (the back room) tasks each day. Would I trade this for a 8-5 job? Never.
During the first few years, it's rare (if ever) a small business owner will be paid with their profits. All the countless hours you put in will pay off in the long run. I feel paid already with the boost in confidence, self respect, and the ability to sharing my skills. I can't recall having a job where I received the benefits I earn from owning my own business.
Every now and then a customer will challenge you, demand more or work hard to promote their opinion they are right, simply because they are a customer. I have learned I would rather tell the customer their demands are unacceptable than worry whether or not they will be a repeat customer. Learn how to work with the difficult customer; however, keep in mind abuse by a customer is not acceptable. You own the business and can tell them a firm "No" to accepting further business from them.
Your reputation is as good as your word. No matter how many followers you have in any social media account, in the end your reputation is what matters. The local reputation is especially important. Are you doing all you can to create positive reviews when a customer shares their experience with your business? Don't be discouraged if you have only a few followers; be encouraged those few did!
What beast? The one who circles your website and begins relentless calls, emails and mail with how they can help you increase sales for your business. They have a "formula" for the best SEO, marketing, etc., and it only costs $49.99 a month for x months. You invest and before you know it.....(insert silence here). They either vanish or claim because you had 1 more sale than the previous month they did what they promised.
If you can afford to hire a company or individual to help with your sales and analytics, research them. Ask for references and check those references. After all, they will be working for you - not the other way around.
Reward your customers or thank them with a small gift. It can be a special discount just for them, a cookie (I loved that I recieved a cookie from a vendor!), or something from your store, free. Of course, we can't give the store away but giving back, brings them back.