Holistan, a psychometric consultancy firm, has come up with 10 tips that people can use when they are starting their own business. File Image: IOL

DURBAN - Holistan, a psychometric consultancy firm, has come up with 10 tips that people can use when they are starting their own business.

Here are the the tips:

Tip #1: Do not underestimate the power of marketing

In my line of work, a large proportion of what I do is intangible. If you are in any form of consultancy business (and even if you do sell products), it’s imperative that what is tangible, you ensure its branded! In other words, your invoice, branding, the look and feel of your website, your pricelist – those are all things a person can see and potentially hold (if they print it out). Make sure your branding captures who your business is. Secondly, ensure that your branding is consistent. That means that the font you decide to use is applied to your invoices, the emails you send right through to the reports you compile for clients.

Tip #2: Build credibility

This ties into Marketing, but building your credibility and reputation is imperative for growth. Content marketing is said to be the way of the future – and I absolutely believe it. Look at any successful business, and you’ll find they invest time, energy and money into providing quality content related to their business (over and above paid for advertising). Content marketing is also great as it helps you get found on Google – but make sure you are posting your content to appropriate platforms.

The best way to share content is by blogging and /or sending out newsletters. And it’s not as difficult as you may think. This very email is sent using MailChimp (free for less than 2000 subscribers).

Tip #3: Social Media is a must

Like blogging, your social media activity needs to be consistent too. Because I am in a service industry, what I do every single day is post inspirational quotations related to the work context. Although I don’t see tangible items, I realise that pictures are more captivating, so I always create social media images by inserting quotations onto beautiful imagery. I personally use Canva as it’s quick, free and easy to use (and you can create bucket loads of other really cool marketing materials). However, don’t forget that you cannot use any old image you swiped off Google; you need to have permission to use images.

Tip #4: Business premises 

Whatever line of business you are in, I am sure you’ll agree that a business space is imperative. Enter... virtual office space! It’s such a phenomenal concept that works so well for me and where I am at with my business. Different providers will offer different plans, but in my case, I pay a small monthly fee to have access to a dedicated landline number, a receptionist who answers my calls in my company’s name (and simply puts the potential client through to my mobile), full use of a common workspace area, Wi-Fi, access to hot beverages, secure parking, and absolutely stunning facilities. 

Tip #5: Building a Client Base 

What’s so important for us Entrepreneurs is to realise is that not EVERYONE is your client. Once you establish WHO your client is, you also need to dig further and ask yourself who you WANT to do business with. When deciding who is your “perfect client”, you need to ask yourself the following questions: What is the size of their business? What type of industry are they in? Where are geographically situated? What are they buying from me? Do I have the capacity to sell to them? How much would they spend with you? How often would they buy from you? How would they pay you? Are they traditionally or digitally inclined? Etc. The aim of having this profile is making sure you focus on the RIGHT opportunities, and park the ones that aren’t right for now.

Tip #6: Meeting your clients – cold calling 

Cold calling is big business. I know what you’re thinking, and before you skim through what I have to say, just humour me and read on. Consider this statistic: For every 10 calls you make, you’ll get one meeting. For every 10 meetings you attend, you’ll sign up one client. For every 10 clients you sign up, you’ll get repeat business from one client. And for every 10 clients who bring repeat business, 1 will be the ideal client in that they pay on time, are a pleasure to work with, etc. 

That’s 1000 calls for the ideal client. Sounds scary…but the moral of the story here is that cold calling actually works. The trick is to not try and actually make a sale over the phone – all you want (industry dependant) is a meeting. Because in today’s day and age, business is based on relationships. 

Tip #7 Meeting your clients by doing anything except cold-calling

Now I’m going to let you in on my personal marketing desk drop. Picture this: you receive a black gift bag, wrapped beautifully with ribbon (in my company colours). You open the bag to pull out a black box, and on the lid you read “All I need is 20 minutes of your time…” and you peer further down “to tell you about our Psychometric Assessment Offering. We’ll be in touch. www.holistan.com”. 

Once delivered (give it about 24 hours or so) I call the prospective client and ask them if they like their gift. Usually caught quite off guard, they sheepishly thank me for the gift, to which I respond, “great, when can we meet?” and before you let them answer, you give them a date and time, “How’s Thursday at 10:00?” Don’t give them a chance to decline. I promise you… it works every time.

Tip #8 I’ve got the meeting with a prospective client… now what? 

You need to go into the meeting and do as little talking as possible. Prepare questions you may want to ask Mr. Client, but keep him talking. People love talking about themselves and the phenomenal work they have done in the business. Recognise his efforts, commend his work and stroke his ego. Once you have gathered all you need to know, you can quickly tell him why he absolutely needs to do business with you. Remember, you are the itch to his current scratch. Come up with a solution to make all his problems go away…But remember, never over promise and under deliver.

Tip #9 How to price?

The rule of thumb is when assigning prices to your services or products, never get into a price war. At the very least, be the average price, but never the cheapest. Keep in mind too that at least half your time spent doing anything related to your business will be billable hours. That means 50 percent of your time you will essentially be working for ‘free’.

Say no to clients who cannot afford you. In terms of discounts… it’s not bad to be flexible and willing to negotiate. 

Tip #10: Being an effective salesperson

We’ve moved into an era that is referred to as the Emotion Economy, where customers and clients are no longer seeking the fastest service or cheapest product. 

As consumers, we are spoilt for choice. We choose where to shop based on the entire experience we encounter, as well as how competitive the offering is, and how convenient it is to get to. 

The point is that clients will keep returning if they feel you:

1.  Appear trustworthy & honest
2.  Make them feel special
3.  Provide tailored services to their needs
4. Take social responsibility seriously
5. Treat your clients like human beings, not biological machines