What I’ve Learned From 13 Years of Not Going Out of Business


What I’ve Learned From 13 Years of Not Going Out of Business

A little over a year ago I wrote an article for Smallville called, What I’ve learned from 12 years of not going out of business.

Well, it’s been another year, and we’re still here, so I thought it was time to share some more lessons that we’ve learned from 13 years of not going out of business.

Don’t try to go it alone.

We all know Small Business is tough, and us Small Business owners often have a habit of trying to do it all ourselves. But trying to climb to the top of a mountain without help is not always wise. We’re working on a new website and brand that we’ll be launching later this year, and while we had heaps of ideas and grand plans, we’d run into a brick wall on a few issues and were having trouble finalising some decisions. So, for the first time, we enlisted a business coach. He was fantastic. In one long and thoroughly enjoyable day, he untangled all of the issues we couldn’t get past because we really needed fresh input.

Tip: If you need help, get help. It’s that simple.  

Be reliable.

This sounds obvious, right? But many Small Businesses struggle with even the basics of providing a reliable service to their clients. You’re probably not going to believe this, but in 13 years of doing my own thing, we’ve never missed a deadline. Not one. Sure, I’ve been at my desk at 3 am sometimes, but the job always gets done; and our clients notice. I receive comments all the time about how reliable and professional we are, and I have no doubt this has helped us grow.

Tip: Make being reliable the minimum standard in your business.

Take a break when you need it.

We all know the signs of burnout; tiredness, irritability, mistakes creeping into your work. If you’re starting to feel like this, it’s time to take a break. If you just need a breath of fresh air, go for a walk around the block. But if you’ve been pushing too hard for months, take a few days to get away. I know what you’re thinking, ‘but my business needs me’. And this is precisely why you must take a break. Not taking a short break now, by choice, could mean you end up being forced to take a longer one later when you get sick or burnt out.

Tip: Your business needs you; so, take a break.

Stop looking for balance.

Over the last few years, looking for work/life balance has been popular. But, like many Small Business owners, I’ve struggled to find it. And more importantly, I’ve learned that looking for something I was never going to find was actually stressing me out. I’ve recently read a few articles that encourage a different approach; simply do what works for you. It’s very hard to make being a Small Business owner fit into a 9 to 5 schedule, so stop trying! I now have a new approach, and it’s very simple; I work when I have to, and I don’t when I don’t. So, if I’m on a tight deadline, I might be at my desk at 10 pm. But if I have a morning where perhaps there’s a tiny gap to take the dog to the coffee shop, I take it. All that worry about when I ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ be working is gone.

Tip: If looking for work/life balance is actually stressing you out, maybe you’re barking up the wrong tree.

Don’t give potential clients a reason to go anywhere else.

This is one of my fundamental principles of talking to potential clients. If someone does me the favour of letting me talk to them about their project, from that point on I see it as my job not to lose that person to another business. But this doesn’t mean going hard sell; in fact, the opposite. Demonstrate from first contact how awesome you are to work with. Be friendly, approachable and helpful, provide valuable advice, and go easy on the sales spin. If you do this, potential clients will have one simple thought, “Why do I need to go anywhere else?” Of course, we don’t have a 100% conversion rate, but I’ve had numerous clients tell me that our being helpful before they even signed up with us is what got them on board.

Tip: From the minute you start talking to a potential client, don’t give them a reason to go anywhere else.

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