Four Ways to Grow Your Digital Business

Growing a small business from a creative streak and a laptop into a trusted company isn’t what it used to be. With competition fiercer than ever and the cost of everything from supplies to marketing on the rise, bootstrapping isn’t really an option. What can you do then if you have a vision but very little capital to bring it into being? Check out these four ways to grow your digital business from Synergy Personal Development.

1. Network

In a Small Business Trends survey, small businesses were asked about how clients learned about their design services. The answer wasn’t surprising, as it mirrored the one from a decade earlier: word-of-mouth.

According to the results, 85% of SMBs claim that word-of-mouth is the number one way they acquired customers. While you might think that this percentage would go down with time thanks to search engines, the opposite seems to be true, as the rate was up 2% from 2005. Search engine acquisitions came in second, at 59%. No other method even came close.

The point of sharing this data is that networking is crucial to your small business’s success. Networking can be as simple as sharing your name and business information with the person behind you in the grocery store or as complex as attending industry events. For female entrepreneurs, who continue to experience unique challenges, seek out and network with like-minded professionals and get involved with organizations like Women Impacting Public Policy and the Women’s Business Development Center.

A middle ground would be to join your local chamber of commerce, which costs you nothing in some cases, but can connect you with high-paying leads. Regardless of how you choose to go about it, make sure to practice your strategy before you start handing out cards.

2. Ask for Referrals

If you feel confident that you created something special for a client, don’t hesitate to ask for a referral. Most consumers are willing to refer a business with which they had a positive experience, yet a minority ever end up actually doing so. This is because many consumers assume businesses have processes in place for garnering referrals. Don’t let this assumption hurt you, and just ask.

3. Establish an Online Presence

Whether you have a home or outside office, you need to establish an online presence. Why? For starters, according to a Verisign survey, the majority of consumers (84%, to be exact) agree that a business website helps a brand appear more credible. Additionally, 93% of consumers use the internet to view portfolios or research services and prices before making a purchase, and 91% use the internet to look for local businesses. A website also gives you a way to showcase your best work or services, establish social proof, and encourage customers to contact you.

Now that you know why you need a website, it’s time to explore how you can get one. Setting up an online storefront on Shopify or WooCommerce can be easy to do, John did this entire site, including our store, by himself. However, if you need help, hire developers for the project. A developer can help you pick an appropriate theme, add product images, manage customer orders and track user analytics. You can find developers on job boards or through referrals.

4. Use Coupons

People love coupons. It’s a fact that’s backed by numerous studies. In fact, a MarketTrack.com study pointed out that coupons are so effective that they have the power to sway as many as 80% of consumers to switch brands or businesses. Additionally, 80% of consumers say they feel smarter when they shop with coupons. As for purchasing power, 28% of shoppers who enter a store armed with a coupon end up spending more than shoppers without. If you want to convince people to give your products or services a try, attach a coupon to your offers.

Making a name for your small digital creative business and growing it into a design powerhouse is not going to be easy. However, with the right strategies in place, it is possible, and the results will be well worth your effort.

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Synergy Personal Development is a consulting and training solutions design studio that helps our clients enhance their communication abilities.

Whether you are talking face to face or delivering your message to millions via the web, we can help. Book your free initial consultation today!

Meet The Me You Don’t Know

Social situations can be difficult unless we bring the right mindset and social skills. Here are three ways to do that.

As the holiday season approaches, we will attend more social events than we have in a long time. Whether with friends, family or business associates, we will be in the company of people we may have spent time with in the past, but don’t know all that well. This is a good opportunity to develop your social skills.

You may have worked with Jane in payroll for five years, but did you know she has a cat and spends her weekends trying new recipes? The same can be said of Uncle Bob, who always sits off by himself and usually drinks too much. His business has been slow the last couple of years and he worries every day about making payroll, so he doesn’t have to lay off any of his employees. Family parties are his opportunity for him to put that anxiety on hold, even if it means downing a few too many drinks to get there.

Three ways to engage

Despite spending time in the presence of these people and countless others, we don’t take the time to get to know them, and that’s a shame. You never know who holds the knowledge that will help you grow to your next level of achievement. You can change that by looking for commonalities, showing interest in others, and having gratitude for sharing an experience. Using these social skills will help you to have a more enjoyable time.

Finding commonalities is a good way to break the ice. This may require some detective work or a keen eye towards observation. What are they eating or drinking? How about their fashion? There must be something you can find in common. Then ask them about that. 

Starting a conversation is the most difficult part. Don’t worry about being socially awkward. Many of us are. It’s the effort to apply social skills that will help you break the ice that open doors of knowledge and social presence. 

Showing interest is a courtesy that one should focus on achieving in every interaction during social gatherings. It is not hard, but it does take effort. If people are shy, you may have to share something to get them to open up. Commenting on the environment, asking questions, and following up on their responses in ways that make the other person believe you are really listening and interested in them are all the tools you need to make a success of casual conversations. 

Professionally, this is a good way to build your network. Personally, you may have added to your circle of friends. It’s always good to have a friend in the payroll department. They can help to ensure you meet deadlines for reimbursements or fast-track a change in status. And learning about running a business from Uncle Bob in a more sober moment would have its benefits, too.

These opportunities will be possible if you treat the other person with respect and gratitude for their taking the time to converse with you. These types of manners used to be commonplace, but have now been given up for more casual engagements. That doesn’t mean you need to do the same. Using people’s names, looking them in the eye, and paraphrasing their answers are examples of how you can demonstrate you are engaged.

In Japan, they call a good conversationalist someone who is good at catch ball, or playing catch. Playing catch ball means answering the question you are asked and throwing back a related question. By doing this, you can virtually keep a discussion going on forever. This will make the time, at a previously perceived as awkward and time consuming, social gathering appear to fly by. And you’ll be wishing the evening could continue. That’s usually the sign of a good time.

Succeeding in social situations requires us to be polite. We can do this by showing interest in others and finding commonalities to converse about. Applying these social skills, you may come out of the year with more high quality relationships than you had going in. That’s a great way to welcome in the new year.

This story originally appeared on Medium.com

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