Can I run my business solo or do I need help? Who and What do I need?

Mar 07, 2024

How many of you are running your business solo?


Have you thought about acquiring "help" but your budget (and time!) can't afford it?


Your business starts with YOU. But it doesn't have to end with you.


Helping hands make light work, and while I started out being my own boss and doing ALL the groundwork pretty well solo, I slowly but surely created opportunities to hire staff with the skills and support I needed to GROW.


Below I share my exclusive interview with Few & Far and Indigo Love Marketing Manager, Caillie, who walks us through, step-by-step, where to start when marketing your business!


What key areas of marketing are essential to establish and grow a small business? As a small business owner, where would one start?


The number one (and first key area) to establish is your customer list - regardless of what people call it, be it a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM), a list from your Point of Sale or your email database - what is essential here is that you have a list of details of people who have shopped with you before. If your business, from a cash flow perspective, needs $1,000 in sales tomorrow - reaching out (via phone call, SMS, email) to the people who know you is a lot more efficient and effective then trying to reach out to people who have never heard of you. So having a database is key. Plus, you own this list which is a valuable asset of your business (should you ever look to sell) that can’t be taken away from you (vs. Instagram where you build up your followers then your account gets hacked and you lose it all).

While marketing to your existing database is effective (e.g., creating reasons to get repeat visits from your loyal customers and deepening your relationship with them), you don’t want to keep pushing all your marketing activities at this group as they will get fatigued by your message, or worse, get annoyed because they feel bombarded.

So the second key area you need to do to GROW is to find a channel to bring in new customers to your business. The best channel to focus on to achieve this differs from business to business - for an online retailer I would suggest Meta (Facebook / Instagram), Google Shopping or Pinterest Ads as the best way to bring more traffic to your site. (Note: just start with one ad platform to ensure you don’t just pour money into all of them without having the time to check their performance and make changes to ensure you’re getting a positive return on your ad spend). 

For a physical retail store, you might find that the one key channel to bring in new customers is hosting after hours in-store events to bring locals that may have not visited you before into your store, or collaborating with a popular dining spot or accommodation provider to leverage their audience and encourage them to visit your store through a promotion. I would suggest here to focus on one channel with the goal of bringing in new customers and measure this (see how many new customers are added each month to your database!). Don’t try to do too many things at once, just do one, do it well and then later look at a second channel.

What are the key marketing mediums that require the most time, money and attention? Where will they make the difference to business?

Email marketing is often quite low cost and requires a medium amount of time and attention to create content and strategise things like Subject Lines and having a strong “Call To Action” to maintain high open rates and click through rates. Email marketing is the most effective channel in terms of “Return on Investment'' as it doesn’t cost much to reach out to your already warm database and say “We Have 20% OFF”. You will directly see people taking action from this - be that converting online or coming into your store because they saw the email. I recommend leveraging automated email flows, such as welcome flow for new customers and win-back flow for customers who haven’t shopped with you in a while, as these are often some of the highest performing emails and run while you're asleep (only needing periodic updating).

Organic social media and content marketing requires very little cost but a lot of time (note: this is similar for SEO marketing). This is typically the route many small businesses take, attracted to the fact that it’s low cost. But for this strategy to work (using solely organic marketing to GROW), you have to be consistent, spend time understanding trends so the algorithms push your content, and ensure you're creating content that will attract your ideal customers (for example creating content that will go viral on TikTok and grow your TikTok followers is only good if those new followers will ultimately shop with you). Also, if you actually price in your time or hourly rate (which so few business owners do!) this method can actually be expensive. If you love social media and making videos (as videos always perform best - especially videos with people in them) then this method may be most effective for you, as it aligns your passion and skills. But if you don’t, it’s okay to just do the bare minimum here. Just ensure you show up on the social channels your audience is on so it doesn't look like your business didn’t close down 5 years ago!

Paid ads cost more and while they don't require as much time as organic, they do require attention to ensure you are making a positive return on the money you are putting into ads (and adjusting your ads when it’s not a positive ROI). For retailers with an online store and a lot of products, the ads that require the least amount of time and best financial return are 1) Facebook dynamic retargeting ads (they pull products from your website that people have browsed or added to cart and reshow these specific products to that person on IG/FB) and 2) Google Shopping ads (pulls your product listings from your website to create ads so you don’t have to do anything!). 

Press features are a tricky marketing medium. You often need to pay PR agencies as it's hard to get featured in publications on your own (unless you know people!). PR agencies cost $15K+ so it can be an expensive channel to break into. However, the trust stamp, brand legitimacy and reach (getting in front of a new audience) by being featured in Vogue or 7 News can be extraordinary for a small business.

There are many other marketing mediums - from direct mail flyers and billboards, through to influencer marketing. They can all vary in cost. The one thing I would recommend with any medium is ensuring there is a way to measure its effectiveness. If you work with an influencer, give them a discount code to use so you can track how many customers used their specific code and therefore how many sales did partnering with that influencer bring. If you don’t measure these mediums can become very expensive money pits!

Where would a Marketing manager be essential for small businesses, and what areas could be self-taught?

With the internet and accessibility of information, there are so many skills that can be self taught online. But as a small business owner you often don’t have time!

Marketing is your lever to increase revenue, so hiring a Marketing specialist will help grow your business means you can hire more people to help do your accounting or have others on the shop floor. Having someone solely dedicated towards optimising your marketing channels, be it emails, ads, collaborations, so traffic is coming in the door or to your online store, will always be more effective then trying to juggle it along with a million other things yourself!!

If you don't have the time to test, learn and analyse various marketing channels, specifically, the ones your customers are on, hiring someone in Marketing will grossly benefit your business. 

However, I know hiring someone could feel far off for some! So the easiest self taught marketing channels I’d say are:

  • Email newsletters
  • Social media
  • Collaborations, events, partnerships (e.g., finding influencers or content creators to work with) 

Ultimately, I think it’s important every small business owner knows a little about each of the channels they are marketing on and what success looks like, so if they hire or outsource to an agency, they know what questions to ask and how to keep them accountable.

Do you ever daydream about starting your own successful business, thriving online store or beautiful retail space but don’t have a single clue where to begin?

Is your excitement and enthusiasm continually squashed by confusion and doubt over what you physically need to do to get started? 

 Perhaps you feel like you don’t have the right tools in your kit to actually build your dream business? 

Let me tell you right now - you are definitely not alone! In fact, when I launched my business back in 2009, I had no idea what I was doing. I am the living proof that you can start a business without any prior knowledge.

But… a little help never goes astray, right?


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