How to be successful as a small business owner.. that is the question of the era. Everyone you talk to seems to address this topic like it is a secret, known only to the big and wealthy. People look at you crazy when you ask, mostly because they don’t have the answer. Owners get excited and giddy when someone tells them they will learn the “next best thing” to make their company grow.
Actually, it is really nothing magical or mysterical. The answer, as Dorothy Gale simply put it, is in your own backyard. YOU. Seriously, just be you. I have run two buisnesses and the one that has been the most successful is the one where I put much more of “me” into it.
I am a Teacher of Deaf and Hard of children who recently wrote two books. My small business is selling these books and educating about hearing loss. I started on this journey focusing on these topics. The business went well. When I opened up about ME as me, as a mom, a daughter, a person, I gained more followers and more interest. I will caution, however, that too much YOU can be a turn off. Here are my 5 tried and true suggestions.
1. Be sincere. Always. If you post a comment on Facebook or Twitter or send an email, be sure you are sincere. People see right thru phoniness and certainly won’t trust you as a business owner. In order to be sincere, find your passion within your business. You might be the brains or the creative energy behind it, or you might be the financial backer. I know that I am the creative part of my buisiness. Sure, I do the financial stuff and other details,but I don’t go on and on about those topics, as they are not my forte.
2. Be professional. You can share your thoughts, your opinions, yourself,but be professional. We all learned years ago that there is a way to talk and present yourself in a public way vs a private way. I can’t tell you how many professionals I have seen at work related events holding beer, posting an inappropriate comment,etc. You should be true to who you are, but there are also high standards to hold up to. Tweet or put up a message and reread it before sending it out to make sure it is something you would be ok with your grandma reading!
3. Pay it forward. When I started a nonprofit I owned,the best thing that happened for me was a woman contacted me and started sharing all kinds of information with me on how to get my EIN, set up a Paypal account, do a website,etc. Every new business owner I meet, I pay it forward. I am more than happy to explain Twitter, Facebook, website design, Paypal,etc. If I know about it, I will help you out. Again, the fine line is that you don’t want to be taken advantage of. You have to set boundaries, but you also have to be humble and pay it forward.
4. Share about yourself. When you tweet and post, it is ok to share pictures of your family or your joys and sorrows. Again, find the line between your personal pages(I rarely mix the two) and stick to professional type wording. My mom, for example, has Alzheimer’s. I do not often post about this or try to complain. However, I did ask for positive thoughts when I was moving her to a new facility. I have found that over time, your followers/fans/clients will stick with you longer if you have personal interaction and connections.
5. Connect. That is my motto-connect often. Follow and “like” others so that you can interact with other people. Learn from them-what to do and what not to do. Share the love. Comment on people’s sites. Interact. We are a social nation, amongst the era of social media. Use Twitter and Facebook regularly and reply to your fans/followers.
Believe me, if you just be ourself and follow these 5 simple and exciting tips, you will improve your selling power and overall business. Better yet, you will end each day with a smile and know that you have given a smile or two to others.
Allison Schley, MEd
Author, Forever Friends’ series Teacher of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children www.2foreverfriends.com firstname.lastname@example.org www.facebook.com/2foreverfriends
How to be successful as a small business owner