Ten things that can improve your business:
- Start a blog: I can attribute at least six figures of income to my blog (that doesn’t include the two decimal places!). Can you afford not to try it for yourself?
- Get good help: The first step is admitting that you have a problem. I suck at certain things, so I’ve found people to work with that don’t suck at those things to do those things for me. Pretty simple, isn’t it?
I probably don’t need to say this but I’m going to anyway – if you get a great contractor working for you, do everything you can to keep them on board – you may never find another one. I am currently working with no less than 4 great contractors: one for content, one for design, one for coding, and another for testing. That’s called “how to get things done without doing them yourself.”
- Write with a twist: If you already have a blog try this with your writing: take a topic that everyone has already written about but add a new twist to it. Children and Accessibility: It Matters was one such piece for me. It was well received and got some attention, which has ultimately led to people contacting me for other work because they saw something different.
- Unplug your fax machine: Fax spam used to cost me more than email spam. Email spam takes a bit of time to manage, but I rarely have spam that gets through my spam filters (Spam Assassin on the server and Spam Sieve on my computer). Maybe 5 a week. Fax spam, on the other hand, uses paper and toner. It was utterly annoying any time a fax came in. My fax machine is now unplugged. We have achieved peace.
- Stay as small as you logically can: Small is flexible. Small can change direction in an instant if needed. I’m sure at some point my company will get bigger, but it won’t happen without good reason. Small is where it is at, baby (at least that is what all the other small companies are saying)
- Stay under the radar: I don’t send out press releases or try to make a big splash. I would bet that my local competition here in Ottawa doesn’t even know who I am. I focus on delivering a valuable service to my clients. Before you know it, I’d won a number of good contracts in town and my competitors didn’t even know I existed. Yes, I know this can only last so long, but milk it for all it is worth!
- Just turn email off: I can’t always do this, but what a liberating feeling to close my email client. My first thought is always “ok, now what?” That’s perfect. The only other thing to do is to work. And, yes, I believe that turning email off is waaaay more important than turning IM off. I find that most people are pretty respectful of IM. Either that or nobody wants to talk to me.
- Raise prices every year: Just do it. Tell people about it beforehand so that they are expecting it. I’ve heard before that if you have never had push back from your clients telling you “that’s too much” then you aren’t charging enough. I’m not sure how true that is, but I look at it this way: I get better every year, and with more experience I can provide more value. Higher value = higher rates. Just do it.
- Know when to throw in the towel: Have you ever had a project where you “know” it is dead and not going anywhere? I have. If you’re working too much for free, and don’t really have a passion to work on the project, then get out as quickly as you can.
- Get office space: Last fall I got office space outside the house. I spend roughly 3 days a week in the office, and the other 2 days working at home. I sometimes struggle with not having certain files with me as I haven’t completely moved everything out of the home office. That problem is fairly easy to work around though. Just do something else.
BONUS Smart Move #11: Make sure the core of your business is based on something that has real and lasting value for yourself, and for other people as well, if possible. If you really love what you are doing – and I mean really love it – your passion and enthusiasm will carry you far and give you lasting success. For me, it’s making the internet accessible – whether I’m developing a site or web application, teaching others how, writing or speaking about it… I. LOVE. IT.