It’s always been tough to run a small business, but it seems like the economy is out to get us nowadays. While small businesses fight to make money, they also have to defend their customers like they’re precious seedlings in the garden.

Drawing customers in is difficult, keeping them at your store is challenging, and holding everyone’s attention seems downright hopeless. Good news: Everything good comes through hard work. Sometimes that work is stressful, and it’s easy to be discouraged. But you’ve gotta keep your head up! It isn’t as hopeless as it seems.

Do you have a hard time staying on track when it comes to getting everything done? Review this list of tips and tricks provided by Freelance Folder to keep your customers close and run a successful business in today’s rocky economy.

How to Run a Successful Business

This list was provided by Freelance Folder1, but I thought it was an excellent thing to share in the context of running a successful business. While this list was designed for freelance writers, it can easily be applied to small business owners. Take a look and let me know which tips are your favorites by adding a comment below!

  1. Don’t stop marketing. Marketing is the key to a steady flow of new and repeat clients. Don’t stop, even when you are busy.
  2. Get social. Social media and other online communities are a great way to get your business in front of prospective clients.
  3. Establish an effective website. Having a website is almost a given these days. Make sure yours conveys your message and brand qualities.
  4. Blog to establish expertise. Blogging is a great way to show that you really are knowledgeable about what you do.
  5. Know what’s unique about your business. Base your marketing on how your business is better than similar businesses – and why.
  6. Don’t be afraid to cold call. You don’t have to wait for clients to come to you. It’s okay to reach out to prospective clients.
  7. Listen carefully and ask questions. Don’t jump to any conclusions about what you think your client wants. It’s best to provide what your customers are looking for instead of offering them things that don’t solve their problems.
  8. Be polite. We live in a(n occasionally) rude or too-busy society, but that doesn’t make it right. Don’t forget to say thank you! Being courteous will make you stand out in a good way.
  9. Price fairly. Don’t base your business on being able to provide low cost services, but rather on the value you add for the client.
  10. Set a routine. It’s easier to feel (and be) more productive if your work hours are scheduled into a regular routine.
  11. Keep your office neat. A messy office can slow you down and lower your morale. It’s stressful to have messes all around you.
  12. Eat right. The last thing you want is to lose work due to illness! Eating right will also help you be more awake and productive while trying to get some work done.
  13. Get enough exercise. You’ll feel better and work more efficiently too.
  14. Take regular breaks. It goes against common sense, but working too long can actually reduce your productivity. Just step outside for a 10 minute breather. It can really help you regain your focus.
  15. Meet or exceed expectations. Don’t disappoint your clients. Deliver on time and make sure that you deliver what the client wanted.
  16. Invoice promptly. Once you’ve delivered work, it’s time to send an invoice. If you wait, you or the client may forget.
  17. Follow up. Send in an email or letter to ask how your customer felt about their product. A follow up can’t hurt, and it prompts conversation! If it’s a complaint, you can offer resolution quickly without worrying about your customer spreading their malcontent to every branch of the internet.
  18. Set measurable goals. Without goals, there is no way to measure how well your business is doing. Besides, it makes you feel better when you can cross something off of the list.
  19. Invest in your business. In the end, it is worthwhile to spend money on a high quality machine, pay for software updates, and high-speed Internet. Those reliable machines and methods to help run your business smoothly will save you time (which, as people say, is money!).
  20. Use the right tools. While some freeware and shareware software is quite useful, there are times when you will need to invest in the right tool to get the job done. Is your POS system the right tool for the job? This helps save time and keeps you from getting too frustrated.
  21. Build a strong customer service group. It’s up to you to maintain and grow the friendships, knowledge, and customer service skills of your group. This is definitely worth the effort! Paladin works on giving you the best customer service for your store. Are you doing the same?
  22. Get testimonials. An endorsement from a past or current client is a powerful selling tool. Ask for written testimonials that you can quote. Do this through a “prize drawing” of some sort or through social media for best results. Offer your customers something worthwhile to motivate them.
  23. Believe in yourself. If you don’t think you are the right person for the job, why would you expect a customer to believe that you are? You are what you think you are.
  24. Try new things. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your marketing and selling tactics. Try a new layout in your store, or position the shelves differently. This change will draw customer interest to your business (as long as you don’t change it so drastically that it frustrates your current customers!).
  25. Prepare for the future. Save money for those famine periods and have a strategy for retirement. You don’t have to be paranoid about failure, but it’s always smart to have a plan in place. It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
  26. Extra tip: Use customer incentives. Keep your customers coming back to your store by offering them a good loyalty program and customer rewards.

Your Turn

This list is a great way to get you thinking. How many of these could be missing from your store? How many do you use? There is always a way to improve, and there are many ways to appeal to your customers and run a successful business.

Are there any other tips that would benefit a small business? What do you do to keep your head above the water in today’s economy? Join the conversation by adding a comment below!

Inspired by: 38+ Freelancing Success Tips (What You Really Need to Do as a Freelancer)