Six years ago, I launched a company with my brother—GoodSearch.com.
It was a typical start up—we launched it from my one bedroom apartment in New York City and I found our first employees on Craig’s List. Now, GoodSearch has more than 15 million users.
A few months after my company’s launch, I was hired by msnbc to host the new program Your Business—the only television program dedicated to giving tips and advice to small business owners. We are now in our seventh season.
What does all this mean?
It means that for the past many years I’ve been in this really lucky position of getting to interview people about how they’re growing their business and then use those tips in my own company.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way:
1. How to turn “no” into “yes”
When a potential customer says they don’t want to work with you, don’t make that the end of your conversation. Keep in touch with them. You never know when their needs might change.
Ashlie Yair, from event planning company AY Dzyne, met with a woman about planning a child’s party, but that potential client decided—in the end—she wanted to plan it on her own. A few weeks after their conversation, Ashlie sent the woman an email saying , “Hi, I hope all is going smoothly with your party planning. I came across this castle while working on another event and thought it would be great for your party.”
Well, the woman sent Ashlie an email to thank her and asked if she was still interested in the job. Just a few minutes of Ashlie’s time secured her a new client!
2. Set expectations high from the start
This tip came from a woman I worked with at Cooking.com. Whenever a new employee would hand in a project, she would ask them, “Do you think this is absolutely complete and your best work?” Then she’d give them a chance to go back and fix it (if it needed fixing). She was very nice about it, but by asking that question, she made it very clear she would not put up with any kind of slacking off. Because of this, she got employees who really gave it their all. People loved working for her because she set the bar high and supported people in reaching it.
3. Get your holiday gift noticed
There’s no rule that says mid to late December is the only time to send gifts to your customers, partners and employees. Frankly, if you send them then, they’ll most likely get lost in a pile of other gifts they receive.
So, Rieva Lesonsky of GrowBizMedia, says to buck the trend—send your gifts out before Thanksgiving! They’ll not only be surprised—they’ll be thankful.
4. Never say no to a potential customer
I learned this from Kimberly and Katherine Corps from Pilates on Fifth. I was sitting in their reception area one day and a woman came in and asked the receptionist, “Do you have yoga here?” And the receptionist answered, “We have pilates and cardiolates, have you tried one of those?”
What a smart response. Most people would have replied “No, we don’t have yoga,” and the woman would have walked out the door. Instead, by finding a way around saying no, the receptionist got this woman interested in cardiolates and she ended up signing up for a class!
Want more tips?
I recently compiled all of these tips (and 179 more!) into a book It’s Your Business — 183 Essential Tips that Will Transform Your Small Business. Try one of these tips and share it on our Facebook Page.
If you have any tips you want to share, we would love to hear about them in the comments below.
JJ Ramberg is the host of msnbc’s Your Business, the only television show dedicated to issues affecting small business owners. She’s also the co-founder of GoodSearch.com, a company which turns people’s every day actions into ways to support their favorite cause. In addition, she’s the author of It’s Your Business – 183 Essential Tips that Will Transform Your Small Business.You can download a free chapter of the book on Facebook.