As a small business owner, you are connected to your business in many ways that have the potential to make it very difficult to keep your personal life and business life separate. Although this is especially true for sole proprietors, it is also often the case with other (larger) small businesses. Your business, after all, is your baby and chances are you are much more emotionally invested in it than you even realize.
There are plenty of advantages that come from this dynamic -- you are passionate about your business, you work long hours and will do anything to get the job done, you are willing to make sacrifices for your work, you are loyal to your customers and clients. But there are also disadvantages -- you rarely take breaks, you tend to lose your objectivity when talking about business matters, you do it all in your business and often have difficultly delegating and letting go.
One other significant disadvantage, particularly for small business owners who are not sales savvy, is the need to be able to sell your products and services. And because you personally are so intertwined with your business, this means selling yourself. This makes many small business owners uncomfortable; it often feels unnatural. But if you are not advocating for yourself, you can't expect anyone else to do it for you.
The good news is there are ways to sell yourself by being proactive about exploring new opportunities, forging new relationships and positioning yourself in a positive light that eliminate any apprehensions you may have about sales. Here are a few ways to comfortably adopt a sales-driven mindset without feeling like you're selling out.
- Use Client Testimonials or Case Studies: You can make it easier for potential clients to see what you have to offer by compiling and offering testimonials from your happy clients. You can collect these words of praise and display them on a page on your website, or you can provide them to potential clients on an individual basis. You can make these testimonials even more useable by creating case studies that drill deeper to your clients and how your products and services have helped them reach success.
Keep in mind that client testimonials don't have to be formal letters of recommendation either. You can collect and ask for permission to use casual compliments and customer feedback as it comes in from clients. You can record audio or video testimonials, and even prepare a standard testimonial form for clients to complete at the end of a project to make it easier for them to provide feedback.
- Develop a Professional Website: Your website is one of the best online promotional tools you can maintain for your business. Make the facts of your past successes accessible and easy to absorb for prospective clients. Include examples of past work, project case studies, and testimonials. You can also include client references, detailed information about your work process, and answers to frequently asked questions.
- Be Willing to Help Others: Another way to establish your worth and sell your business is by being willing to share your expertise and help others. This can mean offering help to colleagues with challenges they are dealing with, promoting others through social media, and sharing tips, articles and other items of value for free.
- Provide a Guarantee: One way to show your confidence in your business is to provide some sort of guarantee or warranty for your services. If you are a plumber, for example, you may consider providing a limited time warranty that will cover the work you do and some of the potential problems that may occur. You can even use this idea to create preventative service packages which you can sell to clients.
Depending on the type of business you have you can also provide a money-back guarantee for your services. You will want to make sure you clarify the terms of the guarantee to avoid any potential conflicts later on.
- Encourage Word of Mouth: We all know the power of word of mouth marketing. Do your clients tell their own colleagues about the work you do and regularly make referrals? Don’t be shy about asking your clients to recommend you to others. You may even want to offer an incentive for referrals to encourage recommendations. And always say thank you to the introducer for any connections made.
These simple actions can help you sell your business more effectively without having to adopt harder hitting sales tactics that may make you uncomfortable. And the more you do these things, the easier it will be for you to be proactive about promoting yourself and your business.