Tips for growing your small business now

March 6, 2018

Mhairi MacLeod, Principal of Astute Ability, will join NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian MP and leading aggregator, Finsure’s Managing Director, John Kolenda to launch the “Women in Finsure” business networking in March.

The event to be held on March 9, the day after International Women’s Day, at the Hilton in Sydney, will see the NSW Premier present on the challenges faced by women in the workforce. Mhairi MacLeod will speak with the 110-strong audience of brokers linked to Finsure, about the challenges faced by female (and male) small business owners, after opening with a series of set-piece questions challenging her audience's understanding of what it takes to succeed in small business.

“My take-out message will be for anyone in the finance sector, or any industry for that matter, whether you’re a mortgage broker, tradesperson, a doctor or an IT professional, is that you need to be clear on what success means to you,” explained Mhairi. “Success doesn’t necessarily mean growing a business idea into the next Facebook, Microsoft or Google. It’s about sustainability and having a business model that you enjoy.”

Mhairi considers that a sustainable business grows through fostering existing client relationships rather than by lead generation activities. “There’s no point having 150 leads, where you are lucky to contact one of them. You need to organically grow a business with good information, excellent customer service and through valuable referral sources. It’s pointless trying to buy leads whether you’re a finance broker, a software provider or tradesperson.” If they are not qualified/quality leads you are wasting time and resources.

Even start-ups can grow organically by tapping into existing contacts and networks, advises Mhairi, who generates around 90% of her business from repeat and referral clients. “You’ll grow more business organically this way and for less cost,” she said. “Great communication is critical. At Astute Ability, you can call us anytime, and all members of my team have the training and communications skills to help all our SME clients. We don’t have a receptionist intercepting and vetoing our client's calls.”

Additionally, whether you’re a finance broker, builder, plumber, accountant or mechanic, you need to listen to your clients and understand their pain points, says Mhairi. Also, don’t make the mistake of setting and forgetting your customers. She explains, “If you’re a mechanic make sure you have a contact relationship management (CRM) system in place to ensure you send reminders to your clients about an impending minor or major service.

“Whether you’re tiling a roof, or laying carpet, be sure to ring the client 6 or 12 months later to find out how the job went. With carpet, you might get three years out it with a family of 3 or 4 kids. Therefore, at the 3-year mark be sure to give your clients a call with a special on new carpet.” There are free CRM software packages that can assist SMEs build more valuable customer relationships. The cloud accounting packages such as MYOB and Quick Books also carry some CRM functionality.

Not capturing enough client information is another common SME mistake, noted Mhairi. “Grabbing a client’s mobile number isn’t enough. You need an email and postal address. Once you have these details, you can market directly to your clients, which enables you to build your business organically and cost-effectively.”

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