Being the sole proprietor of not one but two small businesses can be fantastic — it’s rewarding, I set my own hours, I can support the businesses and non-profits that I believe in, and I (usually) love my boss. But, yet, at the same time, I often find it necessary to get a second opinion on a troublesome project or an idea I can’t quite bring into fruition. The good news? I’ve discovered there are a magnitude of solutions available. All I had to do was think outside of the box, and occasionally step outside of the office…
Word of mouth is the best free advertising you can get for your business and offer for others. I am fortunate enough to work with other clients who led me to various networking events in my area, where I met like-minded professionals who ran their own businesses. It’s a fantastic way of nurturing business relationships and talking shop over a cup of coffee. One on one meetings are also an excellent use of a lunch hour, meeting with other creatives and coming up with solutions that I may not have thought of on my own.
Two years ago, by random happenstance, I ran into a friend from high school at a craft show we both were attending. Fast forward a few months, and we realized that our two businesses could be quite successful if we worked in tandem. By pooling our resources, we could attend larger craft shows, schedule trunk shows together, and double our customer base. Our customers, meanwhile, were able to shop for jewelry, accessories, soaps, and coasters and know that they could expect excellent quality and craftsmanship from both businesses. In addition, by taking each of our target demographics into consideration, we have successfully expanded our offerings to appeal to a larger variety of customers.
I cannot stress enough how important social media is to the modern-day business. As a web designer, I have a keyboard or smart phone at my fingertips most of the day, and have been drawn to a few as resources to gather feedback from customers, brainstorm with other creatives, and share my new ideas. Whether you use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or even Google+, these invaluable tools can keep that conversation open with both clients and colleagues.
So where do I go from here? I keep communicating. I never stop coming up with new ideas. I never stop evolving as a business. And I never stop listening to the most valuable asset that I have — my customers.