There are some learning curves that are really hard to ride. This morning I re-entered the world of Pinterest at my peril (this is why Virtual Assistants exist and I should remember that), for example... and tackling accounts, website building and tax returns are all endeavours that are on the more complicated side of how to grow your business.
But there are some business practices that are quick, easy and cheap to achieve and will boost your growth significantly. Yet somehow they fall under the radar all too often, and my experiences of this as a consumer have highlighted the need for small businesses to take some simple steps to success.
1) Are you telling customers how they can actually buy from you?
You see a gorgeous product on an Instagram post. Lovely flat lay, fun caption, appeals to you... so you want to buy it. But there's no visible way of doing so. No link on the post, no website in the bio, no shop tag, no direction to message them even. Without an obvious call to action, a lot of customers will just scroll on by even if they WANTED to buy from you.
2) When they buy a product from you, does it give them a pathway back to you for repeat orders?
A few years back, I bought a box of macarons from a stall at Borough Market in London. Now frankly they weren't to my taste so I wasn't going to return there, but they were given to me in a plain white box with no other marketing or packaging. Should I have loved the macarons, I would have had no way of contacting them for
future orders or even knowing if their stall was there the next time I was at Borough Market. Even a sticker just with your brand name and logo on is better than nothing - but better yet, a business card or flyer with full contact details and some information will ensure they have a clear breadcrumb trail back to your business - and we know repeat customers are total #goals.
When someone buys something, make it easy for them to find you again.
3) Are you only using awkward payment methods?
Most of us like it to be quick and easy to pay for stuff. There's a reason Apple have invented ApplePay and that cheques are dying out. And the quicker and easier it is to pay, the more people will do it, and the more money you'll make. Now I'd highly recommend getting some kind of e-commerce on your website - Square, Stripe and Paypal are all highly respected platforms - but if that seems a
bit daunting at the moment and you're not in a position to pay someone to set it up, there are some simple ways you can make it easier for people.
No one really wants to faff around with bank transfers, and having the right cash on you is even more of a struggle if you're anything like me. If your business works a lot of fairs and events, only accepting cash payments is going to cost you hundreds if not thousands of pounds. You can get a card reader for as little as £19. All people have to do is hover their card or watch over it and they've paid.
Paypal is pretty easy to set up for businesses, even if you're not linking it to something on your website. Then you can invoice people using their email address and they can pay in seconds, usually using touch ID to login.
Make it easy for people to pay you.
4) Are you telling people what products and services you offer?
Might be obvious, but sometimes we're so immersed in our own businesses that we forget what an outsider view looks like. Make your products obvious to people, especially the ones with good profit margins. (Note to self: market my online classes better!) No one can buy what they don't know exists.
So get the word out, get pictures on social media, send newsletters to your subscribers, have leaflets printed to distribute, get your website SEOs honed to perfection.
Once we start thinking like this, it's easier to spot other ways we might inadvertently be making it hard for people to buy our wares. Business is ultimately about solving a problem - you want your problem-solving products to be easy to buy, not create more pain points for the consumer who's interested but ends up getting put off by issues like those I've described. If you try any of these tips, let me know - hopefully it'll make a difference!
Visit www.threelittlebirdsbakery.co.uk for luxury cakes, macarons and online tutorials. Based in the West Yorkshire area, we deliver around Yorkshire and the UK to bring you more joy for your celebrations.