This one is a little bit of a different topic than usual. Also I promise the chocolate smoothie recipe is coming sooooon.
I felt like I needed a place to help out my small business friends.
I'm not pretending to be some sort expert on running a small business but I do honestly feel I have some interesting insight running three small businesses-in three very different industries.
If you don't know this about our family we own a Home Remodel Business- Haws Family LLC. When we first started we just did small handyman work and repairs. As we grew we started doing larger remodels and repairs. Although Haws Bees is the business we are most know for because it's so unique Haws Family is actually our main source of income and honestly probably a little neglected and under appreciated for what it does for our family. In this business we really focus on the quality of our service and sticking to our word. Something that helps us stand out in the construction industry enough that we don't do any marketing! Our business is all word of mouth! This business employs 3 individuals.
We also own Alyssa Haws Photography. My photography business where I shoot high-end portraits and weddings. In this business we pride ourselves on the experience and client interaction. People love beautiful pictures but the whole process of working with me is set up intentionally to feel very personal, friendly and custom. We LOVE blowing our clients away with little things we do to make the experience memorable for them. This business employs 2 indivuals and I think it will stay that way for a while. I like having that very personal connecting and control over all my sessions so they are as perfect as possible. Rather than hiring out help and sacrificing that control at this point we continue to raise our prices and cut back on the amount of people we accept as clients.
Then of course we have Haws Bees- our instagram life, honey and bee adventures. Our thrilling undertaking. Our crazy, sticky, fun mess. We don't have tons of control over what happens. Even though we started Haws Bees in between Haws Family and APH it feels like the newest because we are only active full time in Haws Bees for a small portion of the year. This is where our love of interacting with others and our passion for bees kinda explodes into an awesome mixture of personal life sharing, community building and bee saving. It's great.
So that's us!
We have been solely self-employed with no other income since 2017. And while the self-employed life isn't for the faint of heart it has some amazing perks.
Here are 10 tips for those of you interested in building your own small business OR are worried about if you can even continue during hard times like these. (I'm secretly hoping everyone reading this wants to start a business as a full time beekeeper- and if you are PLEASE reach out and ask me any questions you have!)
10) Avoid Debt- Some People don't agree but we feel the best way to run a business is the same way we run our personal life. Debt ads risk we don't want in our business. So we not only avoid it we have NEVER used debt as a way to grown any of our businesses. If you're in debt get out. If you're about to go into debt because "there is no other way in MY industry" get creative. Nothing like a Pandemic to make you realize that that 100% sure income you were counting on isn't as 100% as you thought. But you know what is 100% sure- your debtor doesn't care.
9) Talk to someone in the field- We have been blown away time and time again how many people in each of the industries we work in are willing to reach out and help us learn. This cut-throat world of business seems to only exist for those who act like that themselves. So calm down and be humble, support others, don't think you're all that or that you have nothing to learn.
8) You're a business not a school sports donations drive. I think this is one of the reasons MLM's get such a bad wrap. People go around asking for donations from people who don't really care at all about what you're selling and they just want to support you. That's all fine and dandy if it's 1x per year out of a catalog. I'm not saying don't network! Yes, reach out to family and friends when you start. But DON'T assume that because they want to support you out of the gate that they are you're ideal client. There are tons of people out there that want your product. If you happen to know them great! Show people what THEY benefit instead of focusing on what YOU benefit. This is what will help you find people who want to keep using you or referring you. Instead of guilting people into using your products and services (which turns into a constant cycle of torturing the same FB IG phone contacts)-We ALL know how this feels when an over zealous relative joins an MLM that sells a product they know nothing about! So you already have that going for you- pick something you actually care about so you can show it why it helps them! Show people what you can do for them NOT what they can do for you!
7) Thank people for what they do for you. Idealy we want people to purchase because they want the product right? We've made that clear. If it's for any other reason EVERYONE involved will get burnt out (think of that family member with the MLM with products they didn't actually care about one year later). This doesn't mean though that you can't help people recognize what they have done to support you! In fact this type of post-sale interaction helps people feel a release of dopamine. It feels good to know you did good! Do you think the grocery store is gonna call them up and say "Thank you so much for buying our bread! We love making it and you are such a loyal customer. Thanks for being one of the people who help us to continue to do what we love everyday." Nope. But you can.
6) Focus on the experience. In a society who is deprived of interaction give that out with your product or experience. People crave belonging. Give them somewhere to belong with like minded people. If you haven't read Tribes by Seth Godin DO IT NOW!!
5) Focus on the positive, but also be real. Don't pretend you're doing great when you're falling apart. So should you just tell everyone if you're falling apart then?! No... don't do that either haha. The best thing I've found is to share your struggles- through the lens of gained experience. People don't want to read a post or hear a story about how terrible things are going for you (this can lead back to number 8)! They don't want to hear all the time "we're so amazing be jealous blah blah blah either." So share your problems and then inspire people to grow past problems like you did! NEVER engage in open ended complaining to customers/ clients EVER. If you haven't found the light at the end of the tunnel yet find yourself a good friend or family member and sit down and let it all out if you have to but don't spill it on your business.
4) Share your personality. I use to think it was SOOO unprofessional for me to drop off lunch to Trent at work. We OWN the company! Honestly, you need to judge things on an individual basis but I found many times when we now introduce our family to clients and they invite Brighten to meet their dogs or say hi. Yesterday Trent went to pick up a check and I waited in the car while he took Brighten in to say hi. It's ok to be personal and you can find the balance. It's not as hard as you think. I just ask myself "Would it improve or distract from my view of this business if they did something like this to me?" Brighten making a 1-2 min visit is an experience boost for a lot of our clients because they love and invest in our family and like to see the fruits of that!
3) This is kind of a shoot off of #4 but I think it deserves it's own. The more professional your web/store/business front presence is the more personal you can be. And should be in my opinion.
2) Be warned- People will LOVE you. Don't be surprised. Remember their names. Love them back! It's amazing
1) Don't stop doing what you love! Someone once told me I needed to focus on 4 types of posts on my instagram and that's it. This is someone I totally trust and they are an UH-mazing business person and social media marketer! I tried it for 4 months. It didn't work. I honestly think I would have IF I had loved it. But I love feeling free to share what I care about and that REALLY draws people in more than anything. SO trust others, take good advice, but don't stop doing what you love because people notice.
There you go. Everything I think squished into 10 categories totally unedited or reviewed because Brighten just woke up from her nap before I could edit, so take it for what it's worth. Haha. Leave me comment letting me know if you read this because I have this unproven belief that no one reads blogs that don't have pictures so this can be my test of that haha.