Over the years, I’ve owned and operated my fair share of small businesses, including my cozy knitwear shop Reverie Handmade. I’ve also had the privilege of watching my parents run their own business from home for the past 18 years. Because of so many years’ experience, I’ve picked up a few super handy tricks for running a successful, thriving small business that allows you to make the kind of money to quit your day job. Here are my top 5 tips that have always produced positive results…
Your Photos Are Everything
I’m a firm believer that with the right photos, you can sell anything. Photos really are everything when it comes to online shopping. The “visual” is the biggest connection a potential buyer can have with the actual product – it’s your first impression 90% of the time, so make it a good one. Try to capture the ethos of your brand with each shot, always work with great lighting, and make sure to take several pictures so you can capture every detail of the products you’re selling. If you’re shop mainly focusing on digital goods, dive into Photoshop and whip up some brand appropriate graphics that are eye-catching and help sell your services.
Excellent Customer Service Is The Best Promotion
I learned early on that your customers can be the best source of promotion for your business. Word of mouth is huge, and what others think of your shop can wither make you or break you. Always aim for the best possible customer service you can provide. Answer messages quickly, be flexible with custom orders, and do everything you can to ensure the customer leaves the transaction feeling satisfied with their purchase. I know you won’t be able to please everyone 100% of the time, but at least make sure you can leave each sale knowing you did everything in your power to provide excellent customer service.
These may be two tips, but they both have to do with shipping. Getting orders out to customers in a quick and timely manner will not only get you good feedback, it will also stick out in their minds the next time they’re shopping. They’ll remember that it only took 2 days for that mug they ordered from you to arrive in the mail, making your store the perfect place for them to shop for a last minute birthday gift. One of my favorite things about shopping online is when a package shows up days before I thought it would – it’s such a special surprise, and I always remember shops that ship super quickly.
Make It An Experience
From the moment someone clicks over to your shop to when they receive their order, it should be an experience. Design your online store to have focused and engaging branding that immediately captures the heart of your target audience. Put thought and live into how you package your items – don’t just chuck them in an envelope and send them out the door, but take the time to thoughtfully package everything with cute wrappings and little details (bonus points for a handwritten “thank you!”). You want your customers to remember you because you made them feel a part of your brand’s experience, so always go above and beyond to make their time shopping with you memorable.
Find Your Drive
Running a small business and building it up into a successful endeavor takes dedication, time, and a lot of passion. It’s not just something that’s going to happen overnight, so you’ve got to find your drive to work hard for the long haul. My mom and I are exactly the same when it comes to our businesses – we’re obsessed. I picked up my insane workaholic spirit from her, and it’s that exact drive that has gotten me to where I am today. You can’t just do one or two things a day and expect your business to take off. You have to dive all the way in, spending hours researching tips and tricks and ways to improve. That’s why I always say you have to be passionate about being an entrepreneur…you might be giving up the 9-to-5, but you’ll be embracing the crazy (and exciting!) 24/7 that is working for yourself.
Are you a small business owner? What tips do you swear by?