5 Tips Small Businesses Can Take Away From The Tiny House Movement

What on earth could small businesses learn from the tiny house movement if your industry is unrelated? It comes as no surprise that the growth, mission, popularity and purpose of the tiny house movement have grown over the past decade. People are joining this movement for financial freedom, environmental and leisure enjoyment. These owners reduce skyrocketing maintenance costs and living expenses that come from soaring mortgage payments of capacious houses. This movement also frees up more time to spend with family and travel.

Over the past decade, we have seen the increase in restructuring, downsizing and corporate dismantling by many large firms. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 99.7 percent of all employer firms are small businesses. While this percentage is an impressive number, there are some great tips many small businesses can take away from the tiny house movement.

  • Compact and mobile: Owners of tiny houses downsize to reduce the overabundance of clutter, high mortgage payments, and freedom to do more things they want to engage in. They have the capability of hitching their home on the back of a vehicle and can save money on hotel costs when traveling. Depending on your type of business, with the ease and digitization of many applications and smart devices, you can mobilize your business and take it anywhere. Even if you relocate, your business can be just as portable. Small businesses may be compact in scale, but can be substantial in their return on investment.
  • Energy and cost-efficient: Tiny house owners save money by lower operating costs, energy usage, and maintenance costs. You will find innovative ways to curb your budget in certain areas that will free up money for other important business investments to grow your business. Small businesses may not use up as much energy and power as larger organizations. You can operate more efficiently as well as effectively.
  • Environmentally conscious and sustainable: Tiny houses may be built using environmentally friendly and repurposed materials. They are built to last but are as unique and aesthetically appealing as the details in a larger home. Small businesses can apply similar eco-friendly elements and recycled supplies to their organization. Make a statement with personalized and customized brand installations on a smaller scale, but with great innovative curb appeal.
  • Technological advantages: Technology is not as big and bulky as it once was. Tiny houses can embody the same level of digitization as larger homes, just on a smaller scale. At one time, big businesses had the upper-hand with harnessing more advanced applications in technology. Nowadays, not only is technology more advanced and constantly evolving, many elements are far more affordable than they’ve ever been.
  • Innovative: While tiny house living is not a new phenomenon it is increasing in popularity. The idea of living a quality life on a small-scale pushes us to new levels of residential creativity. We are inspired to try something new, creative, and innovative that will make us stellar in our industry. Since many quality products and services are more affordable and reliable, small businesses can make quality purchases and outsource services that will save on equipment and personnel budgets.

Just because a small business may adopt a few ideas from the success of the tiny house movement, some of these applications may not be feasible or appealing to your particular industry. You don’t have to sacrifice quality for affordability. Small businesses have the power, however, to promote their business with creative, personalized and exceptional customer experiences, regardless of size and budget.

18 Easy Tips to Start Your Business

Blueprint to starting a business -from ideas to implementation.

Starting a business, where do I begin? Information overload. I’ve complied what I’ve learned over the last 8 years of being on the internet.

    1. Write down a list of services in your area that could be filled.
    1. Write down a list of what your hobbies, interests are.
    1. Research and see if there is a need for the service. Check if there is competition. If there is, see if you can do something easier/better/different. Is there a problem you can solve for your customers? In our area, I would love a delivery place that offered healthy foods such as good old-fashioned green beans with a hamburger instead of fries. Research a need in your area and see if you can fill it. Research the laws in your state. If you’re thinking of starting a bakery, check with your local health inspector to find out what is allowed. If you’re thinking of running a business out of your home and will have customers pick up orders, make sure and check with your local business zones. Some areas may not allow excessive traffic, it’s best to do your research.
    1. Once you’ve decided what you want to do, research the business name and make sure it’s available. You’ll need to register it with the state. Most states allow you to do this online for a minimal fee.
    1. Taxes- get legal. If you’re selling a product, see if you need to collect state sales tax. In my state, I collect taxes on products purchased in my state only and then forward to the Department of Revenue once a year.
    1. Buy a domain name with your business name. 1and1.com and GoDaddy offer domains. This usually costs less than $10 for a year.
    1. Hosting-ask friends and family for referrals. I love my host. Uptime is very important as well as response time. I host with a smart entrepreneur who owns her own servers and monitors them regularly. If there is a problem or I have a question, I know that she is one email or phone call away. I don’t get referred to another person for another issue.
    1. Create a website. There are tons of ways to do this. There are many templates you can find, both paid and free. I’ve used both, plus created mine from scratch as well as paid to have my website created from scratch.
    1. Shopping cart-How are you going to sell your product/service? There are as many shopping carts out there as there are ways to start a business. A free shopping cart that is easy to use is Mals-e. It integrates easily with Paypal.com. PayPal also has their own shopping cart and buy now buttons. When considering a shopping cart, look at the features that you are going to need. Are you selling 20,000 different products? If so you’ll need a shopping cart that lets you use Excel or other programs to upload information. If you’re selling 10 or even 50 items then Mals-e will probably work for you. Mals-e creates a HTML button to insert into your page. The customer is taken to a secure form where they input their payment information.
    1. Are you secure? If you will be accepting credit cards, you will need to be certified PCI compliant for credit cards. Some shopping carts take care of this for you. I currently use Ultracart and they offer PCI compliance with their cart. I have a SSL certificate that I pay a yearly fee for. To get the certificate, I had to prove who I was and get it verified. This protects both you and your customer.
    1. Learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO)-Learn it and keep learning it. This is how you get the best search engine results, which can mean the difference between your business making a profit or losing money. If your website is optimized correctly Google and other search engines will find you and send traffic to your website, resulting in more sales. Cricket’s search engine optimization class is the best and it’s free!
    1. Now that your website is up and running and you have a working shopping cart, it’s time to advertise. When you built your website you used keywords that others would find you with, right? It’s important to understand that just because you have a website up and running, it doesn’t mean customers will magically find you. There are many new websites going up every day so yours has to stand out. You can start by adding original, unique content using your keywords. To find your keywords, use a keyword finder. Google has a free one. Another way is to brainstorm. What would you type into Google to find you? Who needs your services? Who is your target market? Where can you find them?
    1. Accounting- set up a method to keep track of sales and expenses. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet or even old-fashioned pen and paper. QuickBooks is a popular program that is easy to set up and maintain, just do it from the beginning or you’ll spend time backtracking to put information in.
    1. Marketing plan-Create a map of where you’re going and how you are going to reach your goal Get your free business marketing plan workbook.
    1. Ideas- Keep track of all your ideas. I write them down and put them in my folder of ideas that could be implemented with time and money.
    1. Have a support system. I have a fabulous group of women who have their own specialties. I’ve learned so much from them. When I’m having a bad day I can go to them and vent. It’s extremely important to have a support system in place. Realize that you can do this but it will be hard work, long hours and little pay up front.
    1. Work, Love and Enjoy- My best advice comes from Kay Green, work your business like a business every day. Set up a business schedule and stick to it. Work on your business every day. My friend and mentor taught me this. She went from one product to having a storefront and being a leader in child safety and baby products, all within less than 10 years..
  1. Read these tips, make notes and read it again. Remember that although this is step by step, it can be accomplished by doing more than one thing at once. When you’re an entrepreneur you will wear many hats. If there’s something you don’t know, reach out to your network and ask for help.

Build a Sales Strategy That’ll Increase Your Customer Base

What does it take to turn your carpet cleaning business into a success? If you’re like most cleaning companies, you’re looking to grow your customer base. You can never have too many leads, but this won’t mean much if they’re not hot. Becoming a marketer for your brand is essential if you want to entice prospects to becoming customers. You’ve got commercial carpet steam cleaners and other carpet cleaning equipment you can use to perform excellent jobs.

Now, you need a quality sales strategy to start raking in more customers. There are five key systems that every business should have to grow their company:

  • Marketing: This is everything to do with spreading the word about your company and its services.
  • Administration: You need organization, so that numbers are being properly tracked.
  • Leadership: Without this, everything will be in disarray. Order begins with your teams, so leaders are needed to keep your business moving forward.
  • Operations: This is your business model of how you please your customers. The better quality your service, the more happy customers you’ll have (and keep).
  • Sales: You can’t expect to grow your business without a sales plan and team. Your company should be actively seeking ways to convert prospects into loyal customers.

Marketing and Sales Go Hand-in-HandDon’t get it twisted – marketing and sales are not the same. The two have a similar end goal, but the methods used to reach it are unique. Marketing is all about attracting customers and sales is about closing the deal. What keeps them around are your operations. If you’re not great in these departments, then you can always resort to hiring an expert or agency that can handle these tasks for you.

When you use sales and marketing together, you can potentially build a winning strategy that will attract more clientele.

Building a Sales System

There are times when businesses get their marketing and sales all wrong. Take for instance this scenario: A guy was looking around for a new car for his wife. He went to the Chrysler website and was impressed with the quick form on the side that put him in touch with a sales agent. The woman was courteous and professional and scheduled an appointment for him to come by the following day. This is all the marketing process. However, once he arrived to the dealership, the woman he spoke to wasn’t there – she was in the internet marketing division. Then the guy that did assist them was poorly trained to where the guy decided to purchase his vehicle from elsewhere.

With that said, you don’t want to focus too much on the marketing and forget about training your sales staff, so they can learn to seal the deal. In sales, it’s all about converting prospecting into paying customers. And it’s all about consistency, just like for your commercial carpet steam cleaners – they need to perform well each and every time.

There are seven key areas of a great sales system:

  • Establishing rapport: Build rapport with the prospects that contact you. Find out how they heard about your business and whether someone specifically told them about your company. If so, use that person to help build rapport.
  • Connect with customers emotionally: Consumers make purchases based on emotions, so learn how to trigger the right ones.
  • Build up your credibility: Start establishing trust and believability right away. Don’t oversell your services – focus on showcasing the benefits of your portable carpet cleaning machine and other carpet cleaning equipment.
  • Identify key problems: Then use it to sell them on the benefits of your services.
  • Focus on solutions not features: As they say, sell the sizzle not the steak!
  • Quote the investment: Not the price – carpet cleaning is an investment that can improve the quality of living in a home.
  • Learn to overcome objections: Not everyone is going to buy into your sales tactics, so you need to be prepared for potential objections.

Why Documenting Business Processes Are Important

I think there are two topics that make anyone cringe. The first is taxes (shudder), and the second is structure and by structure I mean establishing documents that detail the processes we use to do what we do.

Crazy fun (ick)!

But crazy essential.

Documenting the processes that keep your business running accomplishes several goals:

  1. It’s a basis for training new team members
  2. It can be a way to review the steps, hence creating timelines and assigning tasks, that make up your individual business goals
  3. It identifies opportunities for delegation
  4. It allows you to step away from aspects of the business (think vacation, or just an afternoon off), and get out of the weeds

Let me share a story of a client of ours, who provided business coaching to groups, globally. Each group event was targeted towards C-level executives, and there was a high expectation of perfectionism.We knew that based on the marketing initiatives in play, that business was going to grow. For each coaching engagement we knew the following tasks needed to be completed:

  • That travel arrangements had to be made
  • Onsite arrangements (space logistics) had to be tended to
  • A Statement of Work (including an invoice) needed to be initiated
  • A coaching package (handouts) had to be created

We devised a system where an email would go out to the team with the dates and locations of the coaching engagements, including a checklist of the items that needed to be in the package. We had one team member that would own the travel arrangements, another handling contracting, and another that created the package, etc. Each team member worked within their relative strengths.The checklist for the package was key. What we helped this coach do was create a listing of the different documents he used previously, and he could just check off which ones he wanted again, with a spot for comments for changes. We were then able to pull these templates and compile them in one document.

We all had a shared calendar, we knew who was doing what, and because many of the documents were templates (also stored online), there were no concerns if one team member was unavailable.

It become seamless. Yes, there were bumps in the road as processes were refined, we accepted that this would be part of it.

Our client was thrilled because he knew who was doing what, he had confidence in the process and confidence in us.

His clients experienced the professionalism they expected.

Processes work. And they work much better when everyone knows what they are, their role within them, and how each step connects to the whole.