I’ve been in business for over a decade now with multiple successful ventures under my belt, and I learned so many valuable lessons and skills while building those businesses! But I’m not going to lie, sometimes the learning process was a little painful as I discovered hard truths and made mistakes along the way.
So in today’s episode, I’m going to save you some time, energy, and hopefully a little heartache by walking you through my five proven steps to business success. If you haven’t already, grab my free guide that lists all the resources I refer to in this episode.
We’re going to cover all the basics for you to get started on your business today as we go through my five steps: from how to get clear on your offers to building trust with potential clients or customers to organizational advice that’ll help you get back time and money.
Whether you’re just thinking about starting a business or you’ve got a business up and running that needs a little more clarity and direction, this episode will have something for you! Thank you so much for letting me share it with you today.
In this episode, you’ll learn...
- [03:23] How to get clear on what you’re selling
- [04:35] Why you need to identify your ideal customer before you can build your audience
- [06:38] How to connect and build trust with your audience
- [11:24] Why you need to build a strong sales funnel
- [16:32] Why getting organized will change your business — and your life
- [20:38] Why connecting with other entrepreneurs is so important and why it’s the reason I launched my own community The Friendly Entrepreneur (TFE)
If you want to learn more about growing your business in a way that feels good to you, grab my free guide to success in your business!
Links mentioned in this episode…
My free guide to growing your business
Join my group coaching program, The Friendly Entrepreneur!
Check out my coaching programs (I offer 1:1 business and social media consulting!)
Follow Nicole on Instagram
[00:00:06] Welcome to the More than Clothes podcast. I'm your host, Nicole J, a mama wife and entrepreneur who makes the most out of the hours in between morning school drop off and afternoon pickup. After ten years of building a successful clothing boutique, I decided to close the doors. When I realized that the fast fashion world just did not align with the slow and simple life that I had been craving. You're in the right place if you're looking for real life advice or proven steps to building your business. I'll be going behind the scenes of my life as a working mom, surviving in the chaos and choosing to start over. And details of how I built a multimillion dollar business by the time I was 30 years old. We're sharing some of the mistakes I made. I'm hoping to help you avoid them. And by telling you about some of the hard lessons I've learned, I'm hoping to inspire you to finally let go of other people's expectations and start prioritizing your happiness. Thank you guys, so much for being here. Let's get to it.
[00:01:12] Okay, so if you haven't downloaded my free guide yet, we're going to include a link here in the show notes for you to grab it. It is the How to start and Grow a business guide. And inside is my five proven steps to success. And I can say proven because these are steps I have referred back to over and over again within the boutique business and the business that I'm building now. They're steps that I give to my clients when they are building their own businesses. These steps can apply to any type of business. They are really just the basics of growth and the basics of seeing success. So we're going to talk a little bit more about them today. If you haven't downloaded the free guide yet, like I said, it's free. Lots of great information inside. I'm going to go over kind of the basics of it today. And then also with this free download, you will get some of my absolute favorite apps and softwares and different resources that I use within my business and that I've used for several years, such as the scheduling tools that I have, the editing tools, the app I use to chat with my clients, how I said contracts and invoices and the website provider. There's so many resources inside of here. So listen today, check it out. If it's something that you're interested in, you can download the entire guide for free. Like I said, we will include that in show notes, so let's just dive right in. The Five Proven Steps to Success. These steps, like I said, I have used over and over again on my journey, and they are for anyone who is either starting a business or somebody who is already established and looking to grow their business. So whether you are a newbie or a seasoned business owner or entrepreneur, you can refer back to these at any time. All right? You can even refer back to these when you're starting like a new project within your business, right? So say you're launching like a new sort of product or a new service. You can go back to these steps any point, at any point throughout your business.
[00:03:23] So let's dive in step one, get clear on what you are selling. I know this may sound simple, but I have been kind of surprised by how many business owners are not super clear on this. We want to rush right into the branding and the website and the logo and all that. Things when we're not even really sure how to talk about the product or service that we're selling. And you guys, it is so true when they say a confused customer never buys, it's just the truth. All right. You should truly be able to talk about and to say, you know what it is that you do and what you sell in less than 30 seconds. And just when somebody says, okay, cool, what is it that you do? Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Like, you know, you know how much it costs. You know what's included. You know who it's for. It is super clear inside of your brain. It's not like, oh, well, sometimes it's this, sometimes it costs this. And then I have this to add on or these options and of course, options and add ons are fine, but you need to have some sort of set package set product set price that you can focus on when you're promoting your brand, your business and yourself.
[00:04:35] So number one is to get clear, find that clarity on what it is that you do and what you are selling. Number two, find your ideal customers before we can find your ideal audience and sell, sell, sell on Instagram, on Facebook, on your website, in person. We really have to figure out who they are. Like, Who is your ideal customer or client and where do they spend their time? The truth is, you guys, like some ideal audiences, aren't spending time on TikTok, or maybe they're on Facebook more than they are on Instagram. Or maybe your ideal clients are looking to hire your type of services on LinkedIn and you don't even have a LinkedIn account going before we can sell, sell, sell and pitch this product or service that we've gained clarity on, we have to figure out who we are selling it to. And we can't just say, Oh, moms, busy moms or female business owners who are just busy, you know, we have to get really detailed. Like how old are they? What is their typical daily schedule look like? Are they married? Do they have children? What are their evenings like? Are they busy on the weekends? You know, are they traveling? Maybe you're like a travel planner pitching to people who don't even travel, you know, like there's so many different scenarios, but it's not enough to just say, Oh, it's a busy mom. Like, No, we need to get more specific. Is she a busy mom with toddlers? Is she a busy, busy mom with college age kids? Is she a busy. Mom who's about to have her first child. Like, we need to get really, really specific and really clear on this. And that is essentially going to help you target this ideal audience, because then you can get more specific with hashtags. You're using captions, you're creating type of roles that you're putting together or videos that you're editing. It all starts to make sense when you can really narrow down your niche and who it is that you're talking to in a more specific sort of way.
[00:06:38] Number three, connect and build trust. I'm going to say it again Connect and build trust. People buy from people. Making sure that you're sharing relatable content and letting your audience get to know you. If you've been around on my business journey for quite some time, one of the greatest compliments that I receive is that people feel like they already know me before they met me, and I put a lot of time and energy into making sure that my audience feels connected to me in that way. Because, you know, that's really how they get to know me on a more personal level. And there's ways to do it without sharing too much of your personal life. Like, I've really had to test and see what feels comfortable, what doesn't. But still letting my audience in enough to Where are you guys? You can relate to me in a way you can truly understand that I'm a real person who appreciates you and appreciates your feedback and your business and your support. I'm not just asking for you to buy, buy, buy, buy, buy. And that's a mistake that a lot of business owners make on their social media pages is that we're we're only committing to selling, selling, selling. And then we get frustrated and burn out when the sales aren't coming in.
[00:07:54] One of the biggest tips I have for you in this area is making sure that you're sharing photos of you and who you are. And if your family owned business, it doesn't have to be every day that you're sharing a family photo or a photo of yourself. But it should be somewhere on your page, your website, your social media pinned to the top of the pages, a picture of you and why you started your business and what it means to you for your customers or clients to show their support, or how much a simple review means for a small business or a family owned business like yours that truly creates that personal connection. And people feel like they know you in a way that they want to support you, they want to connect with you, and they want to share you with other people. They might not necessarily need your services or product at that time, but when they're having a conversation with somebody else, they'll think of you because they're thinking of you and the why of what you do versus the product or service that you're selling. And it also just build that trust that they know, okay, I'm buying from a legit person. This isn't just a scammy website or this is it just something random on the internet that's popping up as an ad like this is an actual person. There is an actual person behind this business and they really trust that they're going to be taken care of.
[00:09:24] So some other ways to do this sharing reviews or testimonials to show proof of purchase, proof of people actually having positive experiences with you. Something I talk about a lot is one of the first things we do before deciding if we're going to work with somebody or purchase from somebody is checking reviews. This is such an easy way to build trust. I don't know about you guys, but when I'm shopping online, whether it's clothes or buying something for the kids, I always go over to the reviews and see whether it's a positive review or a negative review. I'm constantly checking to see, okay, what was somebody else's experience They needed to make a return. How was it handled? You know, was it difficult for them to do what is the return policy? So reviews are so important. I think the stat is that over 90% of customers will make their purchase based off of a review that they read. Over 90% will make a purchase off of a review that they read. So if you're not including reviews somewhere on your timeline or somewhere on your feed or your website, make sure that you make a note here so that you can start doing that. Okay. So building trust is just a key component to building a business or a brand. There are so many options for our customers and our clients out there to choose whether you are an online boutique or a business coach or whatever it is that you do. There are so many options. So why should your potential client or customer work with you? And a lot of it comes down to that, that building trust factor. And like I said, you don't have to share. Everything. There is a fine line of sharing too much and not enough and all of that. And I really think it comes down to your personal preference and making sure that what you're sharing is something that you're comfortable with. Okay.
[00:11:24] Number four, strong sales funnel, a strong sales funnel and excellent customer service. So kind of going back to the reviews, let me let me touch one more thing on the reviews, too. So say you get a bad review on your Facebook page or on Google or Yelp or wherever it is that you're collecting reviews. Don't delete it and don't get discouraged by it. I think the most important thing that you can do is to respond to it in a professional way. So that way, if somebody is reading through and they see that there was a bad review, they can also see how you handled it as a business owner, because the truth is that most of the time bad reviews come from somebody who's just upset and unable to please. So you've probably already offered them a reasonable refund or some way to make them happy, and they're just not having it. It's just life that's a part of running a business. It's going to happen. I think the most important thing is how you handle it and how you respond. So don't rush to delete a bad review. I don't even know that you can on most of these platforms. Leave it there. Respond in a way that you would want a potential future customer or client to see how you handled that situation. And if that means you have to reference to a conversation you had with this person, do it, but do it in a professional way. So whoever's reading through will see it and know that like, okay, this person is overexaggerating and, you know, the business really did handle it properly. So just a little side note for reviews for you.
[00:12:51] Excellent customer service is so, so, so important. Okay. I guarantee that you can think of a time that you were in a store or dealing with a business online and you can remember the good situations, but you can also remember the bad situations because we've all had a right, we've all had it. We weren't clear on a return policy or we didn't understand that something was vinyl sale or whatever it may be. You know, maybe the description wasn't super accurate and something was a bit smaller in person than you thought it would be and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Right? Those things are just going to happen. But I guarantee you can remember the good, the way things were handled in a good way, but also the way things were handled in a bad way. So if you've had a bad experience or a good experience, you remember, you remember each of those. So making sure that your customer service and your replies and your policies are all really clear and that communication is open and it's easy for customers or clients to reach out to you when something's wrong or something's right, or they just have a question. People have questions, you guys. And one of my biggest pet peeves is when people are annoyed, when business owners or entrepreneurs are annoyed by Somebody asked me a question, you know, like we would always joke when I had the boutique, I would post our hours or I would post that this top would be available Wednesday at 8 p.m. or, you know, here's our address or here's how you call, here's our email. Like, we would try to include that stuff on every post. And if you went to the website or if you went over to Google like you could see our hours. It was all there, but it never failed that somebody would always comment and say, What are your hours or How do I purchase this? You know, when really all they had to do was scroll down a little bit further or go over to Google. And the answer was, they're never did I get annoyed by that. And one of my biggest pet peeves is when business owners get annoyed by that because people want convenience, they want quick, they want a simple response. So myself and my team are set up to always respond to those comments because that's a part of customer service. Yes. Could they go over to Google and find it? Obviously. Is it easy to just simply reply with here's our hours Monday through Sunday? Yes.
[00:15:03] So don't get frustrated when people are asking questions. Just give them a quick answer. It's okay. And in order to avoid some of those questions, make sure you're putting all of that information in any post that you're putting up. Make sure that links are there, that it's easy for them to click to purchase, that it's easy for them to leave a review that day. They know how to send you an email or they understand your return policy and how to send things back, or the expectation of what to expect when they're working with you is is really outlined in a contract or really talked about before they sign on with you as a client or whatever type of work that you have, just making sure that you're repeating yourself really over and over again. So all the information is there and all the information is clear. This is a huge part of customer service and making sure that they understand the entire journey from, I like to say, start to continue because most of us want to continue and have repeat customers or clients. So excellent customer service is honestly probably the most important thing within your business is just. Treating people like people, handling situations in a way that you would want it handled if you were on, you know, in their shoes and just making things super simple for them to buy or to reach out or whatever it may be. We live in a world where people just want ease and convenience, so that is our job to provide that. All right.
[00:16:32] Number five, not going to lie. This one took me a little while and still sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed and chaotic with certain things. But number five is being organized and having your systems in place. Getting organized is crucial when you're running a business because it can get so overwhelming with all the ideas and all the things you have to do and all the emails you need to send and phone calls you need to answer and vendors you need to respond to customers you need to chat with. Like it's just a lot. And that's not including the marketing aspect of it, the buying aspect, the building out packages and filming video and creating content and paying your bills and all of the things that go into building a business. But if you're organized and you have systems in place, this can be so less chaotic and so less overwhelming and truly help you be more productive with your time. Time blocking is something that will forever be a part of my life and my scheduling and how I run my business because I have a short period of time in between school, drop off in the morning and school pick up in the afternoon. So for me, you know, I have to know, okay, from 10 to 11, this is on my list from 11 to 12, from 11 to 1 or whatever it may be. That is one of my personal systems and one of my personal organizational sort of tips. And when I don't do that, I am way off track and I feel just kind of chaotic and overwhelmed. Another thing to have systems in place is like your point of sale software. If you're running in-person sales or whatever, just having simple reports that you can refer back to, right? Like if you're still running a business on pen and paper, you guys, it's time to step into 2023, get yourself a sales software so that way you can organize things and see what your true costs are, see what amount of inventory you have on hand. Like these are all important pieces to building a business. Whether you're doing $200 in monthly sales or $200,000 in monthly sales, I don't care. Having those reports and taking your numbers seriously in your business, it's just a non-negotiable. Okay. It's a non-negotiable.
[00:18:44] And don't forget to download this free guide, because I include some of these softwares and programs that I use to keep my systems in place. If you are somebody who has to send invoices and send contracts and have communication with certain clients about projects that you're working on, having a true CRM customer relationship management software is important. It gets just this automation in your business of having templates set up, and when you signed somebody on, you send it easily with the work that I'm doing now. So I'm a social media manager and business coach and with my one on one clients, I have a contract and a template invoice and all that already set up. So as soon as somebody signs on, I can customize it, add their information, add the outline, the details. We've gone over and send it within like 10 minutes, 10 minutes or less, and then it's done. They get it, they can click on it, they can pay, they can sign, send it back, and their work begins. You know, And before we were kind of I talk about my before process, but it was a hot mess. And now that I have this system in place, I know it's one less thing I can just send with ease. It feels more professional and the business itself just runs smoother with the onboarding process. Also, just having systems in place when you're hiring, you know, when you're bringing on a new team member or staff member or employee or whatever, or even like a freelancer or somebody who's helping you out, this will make the hiring process so much easier, the training process so much easier because you'll have sort of an outline of what it is that you need to go over. You'll have a system of how you save things, how you communicate. And not only will it be easier for them, but it will make things easier for you. And, you know, I truly believe in just saving time and money and getting organized and having your systems in place is an easy way to do that.
[00:20:38] All right. I think that running a business I've said this before and I'll continue to say it, it can be extremely lonely. You guys like being an entrepreneur is something that is really difficult to explain. I always tease. I say, you know, I love my husband to death, but he just doesn't get my brain sometimes and sitting on the couch and just kind of like sharing my ideas and all that. He's so supportive, thank goodness. But sometimes I'm like, I just I need somebody else to talk to, somebody who understands my brain. And I really felt this way when I had. The boutique. And now that I'm building my business, you know, I've had coaches of my own and I have had communities of women to lean on, to have support with, and to ask questions and things. But they were sometimes really specific to like boutique industry or specific industries. And I, I really just was craving the space to have multiple passionate entrepreneurs or business owners of different types of businesses or different types of ideas. And just this general place to bounce around ideas, to ask for support, ask questions, to celebrate, to have a place to celebrate small wins and big wins. So towards the end of 2022, I launched the Friendly Entrepreneur, which is a community, a space for business owners and entrepreneurs to connect, to learn, to grow. I go live in there every single week with new topics and trainings. I answer questions live. We do a monthly zoom call with no agenda. It's just a completely open space. I call it like my open office hours where you can come on, you can ask me any questions. You can share with us a win that you've had, or if you're seeking support or if you need help with something that you're stuck on. The space itself takes place in a Facebook group page, and the women in there are so incredible. Not only do you get the daily support from me as your business coach, as soon as you join CFP, consider me your business coach, but you get the support from the other women inside of the group. So people are asking questions in there. They're sharing different things or cheering each other on. It's really just a space that I wish I had when I was getting started and when I was really in the thick of it to just feel less alone. Honestly, that's really the overall mission that I have for the friendly entrepreneur is for women entrepreneurs and business owners to just feel less alone on this journey and to have a place where you can reach out and ask those questions, whether they're about taxes or setting up license, your business license or social media things, video trainings, you know, whatever it may be. It's just a place for all things business related and building your brand and building your business. So if you want to join, we'll include that link in the show notes. Definitely download the free guide. There's more detail in there. And like I said, I've included resources that I use within my own business. The Friendly entrepreneur. As soon as you join, you get access to past trainings. I've done so many trainings in there already, so you get to watch the replays. You can ask me questions on those at any time. You can watch them. You could just binge watch them if you want. You can refer back to them any time. There's always replays posted. Some of them include Finding your Ideal audience, how to Use Hashtags, why video content is so important, how to manage your stress, how to organize your schedule. I even include a tutorial of exactly how I organize my schedule. I did like a whole share screen and just walked you through my schedule, how it looks and how I organize it and so many different things. We dive deeper into these five steps that I've talked about and like I said, I'm live there every week with new topics and trainings and it's just really a fun and positive space to be in.
[00:24:22] So if you're looking for that type of support, that type of connection, we would love to welcome you inside of the friendly entrepreneur a.k.a TFE. So check out that link included and there will also be a link for the free business guide. And yeah, thank you guys for listening. I hope these steps were helpful. I know some of them seem simple and it's easy to dismiss, but truly take the time to go through each of these Download the free Guide. There are seeds and questions to ask yourself that will help you sort of brainstorm and dive deeper into each step. But really, guys refer back to these. Any time you're feeling stuck or feel like you're reevaluating certain things or your plan or whatever it may be or whatever it comes down to, with just finding success and growth within your business, whether you're a newbie or seasoned entrepreneur or a business owner, this guide can apply to anyone starting or building a business. So I hope you found this helpful. If so, tag me. Send me a message. Let's chat in my Instagram DMS. It's me responding to you guys. I'm the queen of voice memos, so if you have more questions or whatever, just send me a message. I'm an open book and I would love to chat. Have a great day. Hey, friend, real quick, I would love to stay connected through Instagram. You can follow me at more than Nicole J. When you get a chance, would you mind leaving a review? These reviews are so helpful for a podcast like mine. If you leave a review, send me a screenshot on Instagram when you do so I can personally Thank you. And one last thing your friendly reminder you get to choose what type of mood you want to be in. And today I hope you choose happy.