| By Alicia Sisk-Morris, CPA, ME |
Do what you love and outsource the rest: If your business is to make tasty cakes or beautiful and functional pottery and you hate to do paperwork – don’t do it – these are great tasks to outsource! Instead of spending a lot of time doing what you dislike and likely not doing it very well, it is best to spend that time on what you love and outsourcing those tasks to your accountant, web designer, or virtual office assistant. You will be happier, and your business will grow since you have more time to do what you do well.Never stop networking: Every visit to the coffee shop is a new opportunity to meet someone who might be interested in your business. Consider leaving a few cards on the bulletin board. Introduce yourself to the owner or the person standing in line with you. You never know when or where your next client might be.
Handwritten thank you notes will blow away your customers: There is a reason that I sign every single birthday card and Christmas card. That extra personal step is important as it shows you care. I keep a stack of notecards on my desk ready to send to thank someone for a referral or to wish them a good day. Although most communication today is digital, the touch of beautiful paper and the thrill of personal mail (that is not a bill) is still greatly appreciated.
Never stop learning: One of the greatest gifts my grandfather gave me was the knowledge and importance of lifetime learning. Keeping sharp on your current skills and learning new ones provides for stimulus and growth for your organization. As Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”
Volunteer in the community: The more people that know you, the more connections you have. By sharing your talents with your local community, you become an expert in your chosen field and will soon be the “go to” person within your volunteer organization. I participate in the “Ask a CPA” day along with teaching at AB Tech, Haywood Community College, and Mayland Community College. Where do you want to volunteer?
Be the master of your Social Media: Create a Facebook business page and post often to it, including shares onto your personal page. Maybe Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter is for you too. The bottom line is that the more people who see your product or hear about your fantastic service, the bigger your network of potential clients. Don’t forget to post photos. It’s true that a picture is worth 1,000 words. Sharing your success stories visually helps people want to include you in their network.
Reach out to Mentors and Peers: Self-employment can be a lonely profession. Find networking groups and peer associations and get involved. These groups can offer you chance to test out an idea or share a marketing piece before it goes to print. Having an extra set of eyes giving you feedback can be of great benefit. If you are looking for mentors, I suggest you seek out some of the local free and low-cost classes available through the Small Business Associations, local community colleges, and other support centers, like the Western Woman’s Business Center, to see what classes they offer.
Alicia Sisk-Morris is a CPA with over 20 years’ experience. Her firm services individuals, small businesses and not-for-profit clients that range from solo-entrepreneurs to artists, alternative and traditional medical professionals, construction firms, real estate professionals, schools, and start-ups. Learn more at: www.siskmorriscpa.com.