Customers are the heart of all small businesses and without them the business is sure to fail. Therefore, it important that they are treated properly and you strive to build a relationship with them, to ensure you gain a loyal customer.
Here are six essential steps to consider when building a strong client base;
Whether it is via email, text, phone, newsletters, websites, social media or face-to-face it is vital that you are letting people know you exist. Let them know what your business is about and how customers can get your services or products. Why should they get them from you and not somebody else? A good tip is to share some knowledge or useful tips and tricks. Communication is also important in the aspect of replying quickly and professionally.
2. Customer Service
Go the extra mile for your clients and make their experience personal. Customers will always remember the companies that treated them well and those that treated them badly. Ensure you deliver good customer service by ensuring staff are well trained, customers are listened to and not rushed. Reply to queries complaints or emails as soon as you can. This will ensure that they will come back if they need your services again and they will recommend you to anyone they may know who needs those services; therefore, building up your client base.
3. Customer incentives
Incentives give customers a reason to come back to you rather than go to another company. This a good way to start building a client base from nothing, especially if your services are something new and not well-known yet. Having incentives like a free consultation or loyalty rewards can influence people to use your services over another companies; as they know what they are getting before they pay for the product or services. This allows them to make a decision based on what they want rather than what people have told them.
This is a great quality to have for customers. People have very busy lives these days, so it is essential that deadlines and agreements are met on time and up to standard. For example, someone may own a small office supplies company and an office may order some ink and the delivery date is next Monday but it doesn’t arrive until the Wednesday and they had ran out of ink between the date in which it was supposed to be delivered by and the actual delivery date. This could cause a customer not to want to come back to your business. The client may write a bad review online about the business, which may cause other people not to try your business. So ensure when discussing deadlines and deliveries that enough time is left for these to be met and communicate with the customer throughout to see if it suits them or if suddenly a deadline can’t be met.
5. Address customers by name
Make sure that you clearly communicate to customers that you respect them and make them feel important as they are by addressing them directly and taking time to know their names. Depending on which sector you’re in you will know whether to use Mrs, Ms or Mr, etc or their first name. This builds loyalty and builds a good relationship from the start. If you tell a customer your name they then know who they are speaking to and what they have discussed and can refer back to it if needed and be held accountable. Also customers are more likely to open up to you and will gain more trust to form the basis of a good long-term relationship.
6. Training staff
Training staff is essential to provide good customer service. Make sure that all staff have an overview of the business and can give customers answers for all aspects of the business, rather tah having to deal with too many departments for simple queries. Staff training allows the employees to feel more confident in their job role and motivated which allows for good work which leads to reliable and loyal customers, as well as staff retention.
If you want to talk it through how to improve your business in order to increase your customer base, give RBSS Consulting a call on 0333 355 1696 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer you real business advice and solutions for start-ups and small businesses.
Is your businesses struggling to be seen? Does it have an active presence on social media, or are you like one of the many business owners who say that they don’t have time to post regularly on social media? Do you know that social media makes a difference? These social media platforms will bring awareness to your business, organically grow your business, and one of them may even make you some extra money! By not doing so you are letting opportunities pass you by.
Most of you are familiar with Facebook, so I’m focusing on three other platform that small businesses should get to know, as they could be a real boost to your business. Although they are free, time is also money and they require an investment of time. Time well spent can generate money on the short to long run. Make it part of your wider marketing strategy, be consistent and you will get results.
Use Twitter to get your businesses noticed; especially if your competitors are using it too. By using Twitter you can begin to level out the playing field and you can have equal opportunities to show your services, products and expertise.
Twitter is a quick way to get a message across to a lot of people that you don’t personally know. For example, if you are holding an event, Twitter is a great way to spread the news fast and to an audience that you didn’t necessarily have before.
‘Retweets’ show how many people shared your tweet, this is a good way to see if people like, dislike, agree or disagree with your content. This is good for seeing what you can improve and what you should carry on doing.
Instagram is great for business that can present their products and services in a visually appealing way, for example: fashion, art, food, cars, etc.
This allows your company to create a good first impression and it also gives you the opportunity to get people interested in what you do. Instagram allows potential customers to see what service or product they will be getting before they approach your company.
When you follow people on Instagram it allows you to see what kind of content they like, this allows you to see what the competition is doing and to see what kind of things attract your target audience; this gives you ideas about how to improve your business as well. Also having followers helps because it brings your page higher up on the list when people are searching for certain things.
If you post good quality photos (which you should be doing anyway) and you post regularly, then you have the ability to attract collaborations with other companies. This spreads the word about your company faster and gives you the opportunity to earn extra revenue.
On Pinterest you can post business related pictures but unlike Instagram they don’t have to be overly aesthetically pleasing. Pictures on Pinterest just have to be eye catching and informative.
On Pinterest you can link your pictures directly to your website. This means that when people click on the image they go straight to your website. If you prefer, you can simply just post the picture and put your website in a link below. This means more people visit your website and you have a higher chance of getting more customers.
Pinterest converts browsers to buyers. This means that if someone is just looking through Pinterest they could end up visiting your website or even buying something (you can buy and sell on Pinterest too).
User engagement is high. Pinterest has a wide range of ages and they are willing to post nearly anything, because that’s what Pinterest is about and Pinterest also encourages it. The more boards your picture gets pinned to the more people will see it.
When you talk to different financial and business advisors about getting access to finance, you’ll get similar but varied advice. It all depends on the business’ particular circumstances. RBSS Consulting, a business advice and consultancy firm, has helped raise funds for hundreds of small and medium size investors. The tricky, yet simple, ones are the Angel Investors.
So I put the question to a panel of professionals and these were the answers given by the panel. Similar but still different.
The most powerful thing you can do is show operating profits. If you are in the early stages, show a compelling plan, prototype and comparable companies who are already in your market. Demonstrate how much and when cash flow begins.
Remember that Angel Investors invest in people, just as much as the product or service. They are evaluating if the person who is raising the money has his/her heart and soul in the concept. Are they committed? If not, then they may turn you down. Being ‘all-in’ is the only way to be when building a company, particularly when it involves other’s money.
Assuming you are totally dedicated to making this a success, and depending on what your product is, start selling as soon as you can. There’s nothing that inspires investors more than a sales ramp. If selling you’re not good at selling, invest some money in someone who can.
And finally, don’t give up. It is likely that you will be making many presentations to angel groups before you find the right one. Don’t give up!
When approaching an Angel Investor network, I recommend that you enter the opportunity seeking to build a relationship above all. Plan your first meeting as an introduction only and follow up with a second meeting when you pitch your offer. As much as you need the investment, don’t act desperate.
If you have a partner in your business, then perhaps use them to make the pitch with you. Two people sometimes appeal more to a group of investors. Make sure you have practiced your pitch thoroughly so that you are both on the same page. Try to connect through social media networks.
Angel investors look for high quality business cases supported by financials with scenario planning – optimistic, realistic and pessimistic. They need to understand the promoters understanding of business and ability to read the unfolding environment and marketplace.
Some investors are keen to see what personal wealth has been put behind the idea and the passion displayed to go for the concept over long term.
Have a great idea. Know your numbers inside and out. Appeal to their generosity and how the business will benefit from their support. Show them why it is a great investment and why you are worth it.
The biggest mistake that businesses make when approaching investor is to spend 90% of the time talking about the product and 10% of the time on the financials. You need to reverse the percentages if you want to engage investors.
If you want to talk it through with a professional business adviser first, contact RBSS Consulting. We offer you real business advice and solutions.
For more information contact RBSS Consulting at email@example.com or 0333 355 1696.
If every time I was asked business advice on this question, I would be sitting on a beach somewhere right now, instead of writing this blog.
Not all businesses need to be VAT registered. What type of set-up you choose is up to you, in most instances. Here are some facts and guidance to help you make the right decision.
First it's important to know that there is a compulsory threshold of £85,000, and if a business’ turnover in the previous 12 months go above this, then they have to register for VAT, and if they don’t there could be fines to pay. Your accountant will be able to keep an eye on this as it works on a rolling basis for any 12 month period, not by tax or business year.
What are the benefits to being VAT registered?
As a new start-up there is no need to register for VAT straight away but you may choose to for the following two reasons:
Financially better off
VAT is a tax that you collect for the taxman, so if you sell a product at £1,000, that becomes £1,200 and the £200 goes to HMRC. If you buy a product which has VAT on top you can also claim this back though, so if you buy an item for £100 with £20 VAT on top, the money you pay HMRC becomes £180, making you £20 richer.
Depending on what your industry is, it may make financial sense to become VAT registered.
If you haven’t reached the turnover threshold, becoming VAT registered may still be in your interest as it will make you look bigger than you are. Again depending on your target market and the businesses you are trying to connect with, you may feel this will help your overall marketing efforts.
What are the downsides to becoming VAT registered?
There are a few reasons why you may not feel it’s a good idea to voluntarily register, when you are still under the threshold of £83,000.
The overall price increase of 20% on your goods or services, could be off-putting if you are trading with businesses who are not VAT registered. If you trade with many businesses like this then it could be problematic. As a new business when researching your target market make sure you have a clear idea of whether this likely to be the case. Of course if you will predominantly trade with businesses that are VAT registered, they can claim it back so it isn’t a problem.
Many businesses say that the VAT paperwork is a lot, so depending on what your accounting team looks like this could be burdensome. However you may find an accountant who can take it on, or has the software that makes it easier to manage, but it’s worth thinking about this when starting-up as there will be many other administrative processes that take up more time than you think.
Businesses that cross the VAT threshold will be required to comply with ‘Making Tax Digital’ for their VAT affairs from April 2019. Read more about making tax digital.
What VAT schemes types are there?
There are different types of VAT schemes. This could influence whether this is right for you or not.
Standard (Accrual) Scheme
This means you pay and reclaim the VAT at the end of the quarter in which the invoices are dated. This could be problematic if you don’t get paid or purchase the items in the quarter you are invoiced.
Cash Accounting Scheme
With cash accounting, you account for VAT on the date you’re paid instead of the date you send the invoice. This can be helpful for those companies that have slow payers, since you don't have to pay VAT before you’ve been paid.
Flat Rate Scheme
You pay a flat rate regardless of how much you reclaim, not only is this less paperwork, but for some lines of work, this can be a benefit. The percentage you say depends on your industry. Only smaller businesses, with annual turnover up to £150,000, can use this VAT scheme. Check with HMRC to find out whether yours is eligible.
You have to weigh up whether it’s worthwhile when starting out as there could be some benefits to doing so, but equally it could be way more hassle and costly than it’s worth. The correct business advice on this is speak to a business consultant or your accountant.
The business advisors at RBSS Consulting in Romford are up to speed with all VAT matters and can help explain the different options to help you decide which one is right for you. Call us on 0333 355 1696 today.
If you’re serious about your business you will have to resign from your day job at some point. Making this decision is like jumping out of a plane. At first, you are eager to put on the parachute and get up in the air, the idea of free falling on your own is exciting.
You are now several thousand feet up in the air, with your feet hanging out of the plane. Then the question come into your mind. Is it safe? Am I ready? Should I wait? But if you wait too long the moment might pass completely.
The first thing you should do is double-check your business plan. Has it covered everything? Do your finances make sense? Do you have accurate financial projection? Do you have a marketing strategy? What about staff, equipment, premises? All of these things need to be considered and you need to be confident in your plan.
Next, are you sure that your product or service will work? Make sure that you have sufficient market research and that it is something the public want and need. Are they willing to spend money on your product or service?
Most importantly, can you financially afford to give up your job to focus on your business? So many people think that the reason their business isn’t doing as well as they expected is because they don’t have enough time to put into it. Make sure this is the real reason it’s not doing so well and it’s not just that the business really is viable.
Think ahead. It’s likely that your business will take longer than you expect to become profitable, make sure you are financially secure enough to cope with it. So before quitting your job, perhaps see if there is the option of part-time, freelance or contract work with your employer – an arrangement that will give you far greater flexibility and won’t tie you down, but will still give you some regular income. Alternatively, are there other sources of funding you can fall back on? Can you release equity from a home? Can a partner’s income cover over both of your financial needs? Do you have savings?
Before taking the plunge, it is well worth investing time and money with an experienced business advisor. They can really help you to ensure you have considered everything and bring experience and knowledge to help make the right choice for you. Remember that quitting your job will put an enormous amount of pressure on your new business to succeed. It might not be ready for that. You might not be ready for that.
Give RBSS Consulting based in Romford, Essex a call on 0333 355 1696 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.