How Stylists, Dog Walkers and More Are Making Six Figures -- and What You Can Learn From Them
Your average dog walker may not consider herself an entrepreneur, but that kind of thinking risks selling herself short. She is the CEO, CFO, CMO and more, and at the same time she's the one down in the trenches handling day-to-day service delivery. It doesn't matter that her company's revenue might be a few zeroes short compared to a large enterprise; as a solopreneur she is delivering value in the market and succeeding on her own terms.
With limited time, then, how does our dog walker focus on the activities that will help her run an efficient and effective business? Over the past few years I've worked with more than 50,000 of these individuals. And with the right approach they are now averaging six-figure incomes, shattering the mold of small-business owners living paycheck to paycheck. Let's look at a couple of these professionals and see what makes them successful -- and how you can follow suit.
The logistics master
Peter is a massage therapist in San Diego. He immigrated from Austria and started his own business 20 years ago. He loves interacting with people one-on-one and spends most of his time helping them ease physical tension and stresses in the massage room. But, with little time to manage administrative tasks like scheduling, payments and marketing, he struggled with retaining clients. He tried some coupons and advertisements, but found it challenging to connect with new clients and truly understand their needs. Peter turned to technology to streamline his business, managing his time and income without having to hire an admin or spend all his time bogged down in paperwork.
Peter's lifeline is his phone. With a simple app he can now schedule his clients, run targeted marketing campaigns and collect his payments. This has helped him maintain the focus he desires on serving his clients. Since he started using the app-based approach to his business his year-over year income has grown 25 percent, and a $440 investment in targeted marketing has yielded over $11,000 in returns.
How you can benefit
To book more clients and optimize your time, you can keep things straight with a simple scheduling system on your phone. You should also set up an online scheduling option for clients to use, so instead of spending time on the phone scheduling you can be out earning revenue. This is evidenced by the experience of companies like Rhino7, which implemented a scheduling solution that reduced the time spent scheduling by as much as 75 percent, and nearly doubled weekly sales appointments.
Because it's less costly to retain customers than to find new ones, repeat business should be a top priority. Keep track of customer information to help with retention. One of Peter's challenges was that he just swiped a card and didn't collect information that would help with ongoing marketing efforts. Keep in touch and you're more likely to keep them coming back for more. This was the experience of the British Formula One Grand Prix marketing team, which sent out 45,000 SMS messages to individuals who had purchased a ticket or expressed interest. The campaign had an ROI of more than 600 percent.
William is a barber in a tough New York neighborhood. While he has enjoyed providing great personal grooming services to his customers, his true passion is in brand building and marketing. He loves the challenge of bringing new clients into his business, helping them and developing a relationship that will keep them coming back. He got to know three other barbers who excelled at cutting hair, but were less savvy on the marketing side of things. He brought them together to work for him and focused his time on bringing in the clients and managing those relationships with a mobile productivity solution.
William now uses his organizational solution to make his barber shop more mobile and easy to manage. One major concern he faced was cancellations, which meant lost time and money. Now he can have customers pay a non-refundable deposit when they book a haircut online, which has virtually eliminated cancellations. All payments are electronic, which means his barbers don't have to carry cash in rough neighborhoods. Best of all, his bookings and income are three times what they were, pushing him well past the $100,000 mark.
How you can benefit
This sounds simple, but you must make it easy for people to pay you. When they can complete transactions with a few taps on their phone it makes the experience much more pleasant, and it's easier to spend more money for additional services. They also feel they are getting their money's worth when they see a professional invoice. You're more likely to stick in their mind next time they need that service.
The client builder
Another individual I know is a fitness trainer in Milwaukee. Most trainers start working in a gym, but have the goal of being their own boss with a long-term customer base. The key to financial independence is cultivating a loyal clientele that they can take with them when they strike out on their own. This individual was able to make the transition to his own business without a pause, making $4,000 his first month and moving up from there. His first year he has brought in nearly $300,000 and has worked with more than 1,700 subscribers.
How you can benefit
Client contact is everything for a fitness trainer, but any small business owner needs to develop good relationships -- and keep track of clients. You need to keep your business contact information in one simple application. You should even consider using a discrete phone number for all business communications, from the same phone.
SMS is your best friend for developing your client relationships. Research from Constant Contact shows that while only 20 percent of phone calls are answered, 99 percent of texts are read. When you can make sure the information reaches the right people, you are more likely to see your revenue grow.
Let go to take control.
What do all of these people have in common? To succeed at what they are passionate about they have learned to let something go. Most solopreneurs start their business because they want to make a career doing something they love, not because they want to spend all day performing administrative tasks. By increasing the efficiency of day-to-day business functions, and simplifying the customer experience, they are able to help more people and increase their earnings potential. My final piece of advice is this -- let technology make it easier for you to focus on your dreams.