Interviews

Business basics for micro-businesses

4 min read

17 July 2013

Though it's easier for a micro-business to focus on the details, such as more transparent pricing or friendlier staff, large corporations constantly up their game by utilising advancing technology.

As news of rising consumer spending hits the UK, micro-businesses need to focus on retaining and gaining new customers. 

As a small business owner who works one-on-one with customers, you can give them that extra personal attention they don’t get with large corporations. This will allow you to gain knowledge about your customers and build trust. Make sure to continue these one-on-one interactions and find ways to add personal touches to your products and services wherever possible. More than two-thirds of long-term customers stop buying simply because they don’t feel “loved”, according to John Coe, author of ‘The Fundamentals of Business-to-Business Sales and Marketing’.

Numerous small businesses are still not online. No matter how micro your business, get onto the social media bandwagon and start showing your customers some love! Customers will ‘follow’ you, ‘like’ you and expand your customer database through their online friends. Most importantly, if you are not online, you won’t be found in Google search. Don’t have a website? Then you’re loosing out on potential business. The internet offers ways to inexpensively market your products and increase your visibility. Think about signing up for AdWords as well. 

If you have the time, start a blog! In this way you can become a go-to resource for whatever you’re selling. There are many free blog platforms that will allow you to customise the look and feel of your personal page. Regular updates, however, are needed to keep readers interested.

Going mobile will give your customers the option of paying by card. It will be easier to collect payment from customers on the go, instead of waiting for checks to clear. If your customers have a credit or debit card on hand, then you can swipe and sign from your smartphone. 

Consider these options:

Intuit – Intuit Pay is an all-in-one solution for secure mobile and over-the-phone payments and includes a free mobile app and free chip and PIN card reader. Transactions are charged at a 2.75 per cent flat rate.

PayPal Here – This option from PayPal is exclusive to the Apple iPhone and android phones. The standard fee for transactions is 2.75 per cent.

iZettle – iZettle provides a smartphone and tablet app along with their chip and pin card reader. The card reader costs £99, but there are no monthly fees and pay a 2.75 per cent transaction fee on chip and pin purchases.

Evaluate your marketing materials to see what has to be updated or completely re-modified. If you’re not getting business, try something new: email marketing or re-branding your business. 

If you don’t have the time to create and maintain a website, then think about setting up shop on Etsy (for those with handcrafted goods). Although the processing fee is 6.5 per cent per item sold, you can always include the fee amount into the item price.

Don’t be afraid to go old school! Some of the cheapest methods of sales are through flyers in local shops or schools. But be unique by adding pull-tabs on the bottom, for example. Also make sure to advertise customer incentives to garner those repeat visits.