Many solopreneurs and micro business owners are one-person-armies, on the front line of doing business on a daily basis. It's on you to ensure all operations run smoothly, which if you're a service provider, often means delivering your service in-person or via a delegated professional.
It's also on you when things don't go as smoothly such as tending to upset customers.
All of this while constantly creating ways that generate income to sustain the business and pay yourself a salary at the end of the month. After all, that is one of the primary goals of the business, remember?
In my own career, I once became so obsessed with my lack of consistent and predictable income, I lost sight of the big picture, spending hours and thousands of euros on community managers, marketing professionals and dead-end conversations.
I lost money, time and most crucially, enthusiasm.
When I finally realised I was my own business' problem, I slowly removed myself and allowed both parties the space necessary to reassess which helped me discover that everything I needed to generate more income was already within my grasp. I propose it is the same for you.
Tool 1 : Integration vs Separation
It's far easier to do business with people who have already done business with you, and this counts even with customers from a completely different business.
Many business owners are familiar with the first part of this idea, that once someone is or has been a customer, they are more likely to buy from you again as they already know, like and trust you (assuming they've had a positive customer experience).
Yet many business owners who had or have multiple businesses, often keep them separate.
There is a psychological reasoning behind this (beyond the scope of this article) but the fact remains that it happens and represents a massive opportunity cost to owners, especially when the businesses are from different sectors and have diverse target audiences. We often think, "...these customers won't pay more than what they're used to...", or, "...they won't be interested in these types of (other) services..."
What does it cost you to test those thoughts and find out?
Look at your list of customers for each business, or only business and highlight your top customers. Considering this article focuses on generating more income, base your top customer criteria on spend or lifetime value (LTV)
Consider each singular customer and what you know about them. Why do they purchase from you? What value do they perceive? What do they desire? What challenges are they facing?
Brainstorm, journal and list.
More importantly, ask them.
Next, identify the similarities and difference between customers from the various businesses. What do they have in common?
Interestingly, you can quickly spot similar needs, fears and desires that are being masked by different contexts that are created by your different businesses.
Now consider, what would serve your customer more? Introducing them to your other business services or creating something unique to the environment they're already familiar with?
Can you connect and group them together with other clients to create new opportunities, programs or services?
Be open to possibility and get creative. There no wrong answers here, just possibilities.
Integration creates. Separation stagnates.
You will uncover so much opportunity by performing this exercise as many entrepreneurs and owners have done with me.
Tool 2 : Opportunities vs Offers
If you're like me you'll be very tired of being sold to. Everytime we open a website or turn on our phone, there is an ad of some kind.
I very rarely click on ads. It has to be something that is truly valuable for me for me to make time to read what the offer is, even from someone I am already buying from.
For example, I am subscribed to a previous mentor's newsletter and enjoy what he shares yet when I read an offer for "2 for 1" or buy "before the weekend", I am completely turned off and won't typically even open the email.
On the other hand, when my coach shared an opportunity to be with him in Santa Monica and learn new skills together with other fascinating individuals, I was ALL ears, no matter the price-tag (this comes later).
My coach could promote his event and why it's so great but that wouldn't capture my attention as much. When he makes me feel this is an opportunity to improve, deepend, increase, expand etc , then I am open to exploring what the opportunity is.
An offer is a promotion to generate a quick result. An opportunity is a possibility of value creation.
Consider how you are communicating what's available to your current clients and customers. Be honest, are you offering or creating opportunities?
If you recognise you are offering and if it's not working for you, all is not lost.
Simply take your offer and transform it into an incredible opportunity.
Study it with someone external and identify how this service can truly benefit a client based on what they already experience with you and/or the journey they are on.
Connect it to that journey through the activities and initiatives included and the language you use to communicate it.
Tool 3 : Friends vs Clients
This concept is extremely fickle and will be hotly debated. It builds on the idea of integration vs separation and in this case, in reference to the relationship you create with those who purchase your services.
Every business I have started has been built on referrals, the "gold standard of marketing".
Looking back, I managed to achieve this because of time and effort I invest and the authenticity I bring to (potential) customers.
When students would enquire as to which language program to enrol in, I would recommend just any, I would firstly ask and understand what their objectives are, their timeframe, strengths, weaknesses and concerns.
It's always been important to me to be authentic, work with integrity and help people before my own interests. Not as a strategy, those are just my morals.
Due to my nature of caring for people, I am adapt to creating long-lasting and transparent relationships. I have gone for pizza with clients, enjoyed a meal with their family and essentially crossed the divide between client and friend.
This can be extremely dangerous and potentially damaging to the business so it must be done with awareness and boundaries.
As long as each context is clearly stated and understood by all parties, there shouldn't be an issue and you can be friends with your clients.
How does this help your sales?
Creating genuine, authentic relationships is part of the foundation for long-term service. People learn to trust and rely on you as you prove this over and over, across time.
The concept is similar to Gary Vaynerchuck's in his book, "Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook". Serve people repeatedly and eventually ask for something in return when the time is right. (Rather than asking, creating a wonderful opportunity is even better, as we've already addressed).
Reflect on how you are building relationships with customers?
If you're selling a digital product and the majority of the process is automated, how can you personalise the experience or create an opportunity to connect with your customer?
If you work in service, be honest with how much you truly care about your customers, their outcomes and experience of your service.
How could an in-person or virtual coffee support your relationship and their trust in you?
How can you astonish them with something valuable and unexpected?
Eager to here how much extra you earn and how you improve your business using these distinctions.
PS Whenever you are ready, here are 5 ways I can continue helping you;