There comes a time in every professional’s career when they have turned their business of just a few clients, into something much bigger. If you’re currently there, then you know what I’m talking about. If you’re not, then trust me – if you’re good at what you do, you will get there very soon.
In business terms, this is called an “inflection point”, and that’s when you need to start building in efficiencies to your small business to help you grow in painless and scalable ways. There are 4 core elements to your business around which you can easily build efficiencies to help you not just take on more clients, but to continue to serve your clients well.
Each one of these core business pillars is like a body part that needs to be kept in shape. Just like your body, you need to hone the muscles of your business so that as you take on more work, you can manage easily and not have to spend excess energy (or money!) to succeed in scalable ways.
The core building block to every business is your client base. Your clients are the most important part of your business – you need to serve them well, and you need more of them to grow.
In order to provide the best training and health services to each client, you need to know who your clients are, how to reach them, what their needs are, and where they came from.
Putting tools in place to create profiles for each customer is crucial. Give yourself a central location to access all your client information at the drop of a hat. That means who they are and how to reach them. Give yourself the ability to jot down notes and reference them while you’re on the go so you know your clients in and out. Quickly access your transaction and communication history with each client, so you know what you’ve advised the client before, when you last saw them, and what payments they have made or owe.
Putting these “client best practices” in place will make all aspects of client dealings incredibly easy. This will also free up tons of time to allow you to take on more clients without sacrificing any quality of your service whatsoever, and without giving you a headache.
2. Your Schedule: Quads and Calves
Your schedule keeps you moving from one spot to the next. The more organized you are, the more efficiently you can move from appointment to appointment.
Set up a system to allow you to efficiently organize your calendar of client sessions, meetings, appointments, etc. A pen and paper won’t cut it! That’s just another item for you to lug around. God forbid you lose it – do you have a back-up of your schedule? I know this sounds silly, but how about if you run out of space on a page to write?
And don’t simply set up a digital or mobile calendar to make your life easier. Use a system where once you input a session into your calendar, your client’s calendar gets notified as well so you both are easily on the same page. The worst situation ever is for you to show up and your client is a no show. Or for you to show up and your client isn’t at all ready because they simply “forgot”.
Use smart calendars to also set up automatic reminders to be sent to your clients…Maybe a day or two before the session to (again) professionally reinforce the fact that there is an appointment upcoming. Your calendar should show you (and your client) the job details and location, as well as give you easy access to your client’s contact info in case you’re late, or something has changed, or any other little update.
And keep all this info in one central calendar location so you don’t have to be opening up different computers or phones, or apps or calendar programs just to get a sense of what your day or week looks like.
3. Your Payments: Cardio
Payments are what keep the engine going!
You want to not only give your clients an incredibly convenient (and pleasant) payment experience, but you also want to give yourself a very simple tracking system to ensure no payment ever slips through the cracks.
Give your client easy options through which they can pay you. Don’t force them to lug around a check book or make sure they went to the bank to withdraw cash. And avoid making the act of asking for payment feel awkward or uncomfortable. Create a simple system allowing your clients to pay you remotely so you don’t have to be physically in front of them to collect, and so they can even pay you ahead of time for any services you offer (reducing your payment risk completely).
Keep a log of these payments close so you can quickly get a glimpse of who owes you what, and how much you’ve made from each customer. You want to make sure you know who your best clients are and ask them to refer you to their friends…maybe even send them a holiday card! At the same time, you want to know what payments are outstanding so you can efficiently and professionally remind clients to pay, never letting a payment slip through the cracks.
4. Your Business Health: Brain 🙂
Exercising this “muscle” drives you to make all the right business decisions.
Instead of flipping through bank statements, or making daily logs of cash payments, leverage technology to know exactly how your business is doing each day, week, or month. Having all your client information, appointments and payments in a central location will allow you to leverage all this data to understand the overall health of your business. This health score gets increasingly difficult to measure as you start to grow as an solo professional, as there becomes so much more information to keep track of. And don’t fall into the trap thinking you have to pay an accountant to tell you how you’re doing!
A major factor in growing a business is also understanding how much to invest for growth. If you know how much income you’re bringing in vs. last month, then maybe spend some of that extra income on marketing or leads or advertising, to bring in more clients.
If you’re making less this month than the previous month, understand why – Were you working less? Did certain clients take up too much of your time? Are you waiting on payment?
Help Is Now Here!
Following the above simple steps sounds like a ton of work, but the reality is it’s not. Technology is starting to offer independent and solo professionals (of all industries) valuable tools they need to help them compete, grow, and drive their business to success. The trick is finding the tool that’s right for you, without paying an arm and a leg. But little tips like the above can help you grow your business in incredibly efficient ways to reach that scale you need to succeed.
Sam Madden Bio:
Sam Madden is the co-founder of PocketSuite, the first mobile business tool for independent professionals and solopreneurs. Sam spent most of his career researching and investing in business technology for small and medium sized businesses. He has since shifted all of his focus to build great technologies like PocketSuite to help eager and independent professionals succeed. You can read more about Sam’s mission on Entrepreneur Magazine.
PocketSuite is a new mobile app for fitness and health professionals helping them run and build a better business. PocketSuite empowers solo professionals with the ability to schedule appointments, invoice customers, collect payment, track income, and communicate with clients…All from a single app. PocketSuite is a free iPhone app to download and can be accessed through Dai Manuel’s referral link.