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Business tips are a valuable commodity for the self-employed. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to advance an area of your business, everyone’s looking for those secret nuggets that nobody else knows.
We’ve compiled a list of business tips that we’ve gathered over the years – from which hand to hold your drink in at networking events, to the secret tricks that the most successful people swear by, there’s something here for everyone.
There’s a truckload of useful information here, but if you don’t have the time to read it all right now, you can download and keep our Ultimate Business Tips PDF guide.
There’s an endless barrage of advice articles out there offering up the same old waffle about meeting a potential client for the first time. ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’ – yes, we know, very clever.
Aside from these trite clichés, there are some helpful tips for meeting a new lead, prospect, or client that you might not have considered:
Networking events are the perfect situation to meet like-minded folk that could become customers or business partners. But how do you make the most of these events?
The six degrees of separation theory suggests you’re only ever six or fewer steps away (by introduction of course) from any other person in the world, so ask around. Tell your friends you’re looking for work, and browse LinkedIn. Make sure your Linkedin profile is up to date (our top Linkedin tips article can help). Build up your contacts and use them to your advantage.
Check out social media feeds, hashtags and join local Facebook groups, or self-employed groups like or Crunch Chorus Self-Employed Facebook group, to keep your hand in (take a look at Crunch Chorus as well our community and resources for the self-employed).
You’ll want to know all the hotspots and who the bigwigs are.
Don’t get caught on the hop when someone offers you their information or asks for yours.
As mentioned above, this is a summary of your business/service that’s so concise, you could deliver it the time it takes to ride the lift. Waffling is a huge turn-off.
You’ll be meeting a lot of new people, so it’s the perfect place to practice the tips we mentioned above.
End conversations politely and courteously, and don’t overstay your welcome.
If people gave you their contact information, don’t leave them hanging – if they haven’t forgotten you within a week of the event, then they’ll assume you’ve snubbed them. Neither are good.
Patience is key. It might sometimes feel like you’re doing a load of extra stuff and seeing no return – but it’s a long-term investment – which means you need to put in a little over a long period to see some return. Keep meeting people, keep putting yourself out there, and don’t get disheartened if you don’t see instant results.
Watching Dragon’s Den or The Apprentice can be infuriating viewing when you know how to pitch. There’s only so many times you can see a babbling, nervous wreck tell their potential investors everything they don’t need to know and forget to mention everything they do need to know.
Here are seven golden rules to remember for your next business pitch:
We’ve got a more detailed article on all the things to think about when testing our you business ideas.
Your prospect wants to know what the timing, costing, and proposed outcomes of your service for them will be. They’re happy to discuss this in person or over the phone, but then… nothing. Your prospect seems to have dropped off the face of the Earth. So what’s the solution?
First things first, identify the stakeholders. When you initially arrange a meeting, ask who makes the decision to use you or not, and establish their current stance on the decision. Maybe it’s the finance director, and maybe the budget is tight – this is useful information to have.
If you can’t get hold of the stakeholders, consider asking the prospect about the format for quoting. It’s interesting to hear what comes back in response – you might learn that John likes things bullet-pointed, and Susanne prefers timelines.
Once you know who the decision-makers are, invite them to be a part of the sales meeting to expedite the process. This also gives you the chance to clear up any concerns or objections they may have. Once an agreement is made, send them a quote promptly and agree a time to talk to the overall decision-maker. You won’t always get that chance, but it doesn’t hurt to ask – particularly if you say, “It’s so I can immediately make any adjustments and answer any final queries.”
For more ideas read our “Generate leads for your business – the ultimate checklist“.
This is the six million dollar question, or is it the seven million dollar question? Anyway, it’s an important one so we’ve written a whole article about it.
You don’t want to upset your client or cause any tension, but if your work is good enough, why should you be paid less than you’re worth?
If you’d like to learn more about how to negotiate a raise, check out our “How to get a raise as a contractor” article.
Again this is a crucial area so we’ve written a handy article looking at ten options for Startup Funding or Small Business Loans.
You can also read our article to learn about the difference between secure and unsecured loans.
One of the most attractive aspects of freelancing is that despite working from home, working online offers you many opportunities to land projects from clients across the globe. There are a few hurdles you need to be prepared to face, however:
Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to assume your client is awake just because you are. Restrict yourself to emails where possible, and schedule calls and Skype only when necessary.
Take note of currency exchanges when charging a price for your work, and consider the acceptable rates in your client’s home nation, we’ve got an article looking at the options you have for getting paid in a foreign currency.
If your client pays you via an international bank transfer, remember to budget your finances to cater for the standard 3-5 working day processing.
Talk in plain English with non-native speakers to lower the risk of a communications breakdown. Remember that each nation will have its own standards and methods, so keep an open mind.
We’ve got an article with the answers you need if you’re contracting abroad or working for a foreign client.
Most businesses, even if they’re purely online endeavours, will still have a base of customers in their local area. Crunch, for example, is an online accountancy service, yet we still have a very high concentration of clients in our hometown of Brighton.
For freelancers and contractors, working your local area can be absolutely key to success, and your local client-base can provide a solid foundation on which to expand. But how do you get started?
There are now over 3.6 billion people worldwide using social media – the population of Great Britain thirty times over – and Statista predicts that this figure is set to grow to almost 4.4 billion by 2025!
Social media is a beast that all companies need to conquer in the modern age. If you’re looking for some tips on how to make the most of your Twitter and Facebook accounts, check out our social media business guide.
There are a number of easy ways you can keep yourself “front of mind”, putting you in pole position should any more work come up.
The rise of social media platforms, coupled with customers who aren’t shy of voicing an opinion or two, means that a complaint can quickly escalate.
Here’s a quick run-down of how to handle customer complaints:
If you own your own business, chances are it’s not only your passion, but your hobby and your life all rolled into one. Few would make the mistake of starting a business in a line of work that doesn’t make their heart skip a beat.
It’s no surprise then that a study by research group Penelope found that the UK’s swathe of passionate micro-business owners work a staggering 63% more than regular 9-to-5’ers – that’s an incredible 52 hours a week, compared to the national average 37 hours.
Are small business owners guilty of overworking themselves? And if so, how could they work smarter, not harder?
We’ve all heard the phrase “work-life balance” and the importance of adhering to an even mix of business and pleasure. For some, this could be making sure you spend enough time with your family, for others it could be ensuring you have one evening off a week to spend down the pub or seeing friends.
However you choose to relax and take time off of work – make sure you do it, your health can benefit. It’s already been recommended by healthcare professionals that the UK should cut down to a four-day working week in order to combat stress. Whereas our Safety in Numbers research in early 2018 found that many self-employed workers were more familiar with the work-life blur!
The UK isn’t known for being the most productive workforce – in fact, we trail behind Canada, the US, France, Germany, and Italy in terms of productivity. If you’re working additional hours and think of this as being productive, it might be time to reassess your methods so you don’t have to put in the extra overtime.
If you feel like your to-do list is taking over your life and you’re manically chasing your tail, focus on one thing at a time. Could your time management skills do with brushing up? A great way to see how you’re spending your time is to annotate how you’ve spent each hour. Soon you might see patterns of behaviour that can be eradicated.
We all love to be in control, especially when it’s our own empire we’re building, but trying to do everything yourself won’t do you any favours. You’ll end up feeling burnt out, exhausted and quickly lose the pizazz that originally got you up in the morning. Maybe you need to hire an employee to share the load, or perhaps working with a short-term freelancer or contractor will get you through a particularly busy patch.
Outsourcing certain tasks can end up saving you both time and money. Website need a redesign? If you’re not a web designer then sure, you could spend hours learning how to manipulate images in WordPress and teach yourself code – but surely the time and effort doing so would be better spent in other parts of your business that you have a firm understanding of?
Outsourcing work also allows you to network and build relationships with other businesses. We’ve written more about working with freelancers or contractors as part of our article on taking on an employee
If you’re looking for some great tips and tricks to help you get work done more efficiently, our ultimate productivity tips article can help.
We all want to be successful, right? Well, we’ve outlined some of the best habits of successful people for freelancers, contractors, and small business owners.
If your business is growing and you need a bit more help, or you’ve been spending too long on your business finances, then help is at hand.
When you join Crunch, you get all the help and advice you need from experts and also access to great online accounting software to let you monitor the performance of your business at the click of a button. Whenever you want and wherever you are, with a super-secure, cloud-based system.