Our very own QB Community business guru Julie Gordon White (@JulieatTheWELL) knows a thing or two about helping small companies succeed. After all, she grew her own service business to $5 million and has since helped thousands of women entrepreneurs significantly grow their businesses, too.
Julie offered some valuable (perhaps even priceless!) tips and insights during a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) session. Here are five Qs and As we think our QB Community members will appreciate.
1. Present yourself as premium to charge premium prices
wabiguan: I'm a graphic/web/anything designer, plus I do hand lettering. I have trouble justifying my rates to customers. Do you have any advice on selling the VALUE of creative services? It’s definitely a weak spot in my salesmanship. I believe the issue is the perception that I create things from "nothing,” so it’s less obvious to the customer what my overhead costs are. How do I explain that just because I can draw a snazzy logo on a napkin in 15 minutes when I'm inspired, it doesn't mean my services don't command a legitimate rate?
JGW: wabiguan, this is one of my favorite questions and easy to answer:
~ Read more tips and strategies for figuring out your perfect pricing.
2. Small things will set you apart from the big guys
CurlyyLife: I run a small vacation rental and property management business that my parents own, and we operate in an area that is heavily dominated by much larger vacation rental businesses. We manage 35 properties now (compared to 100's/1000's that the bigger names manage). How can we stand out and gain business?
JGW: This is such a fun question CurlyyLife! You can absolutely stand out because you are "smaller" and can do special things for your guests that the big guys haven't thought about or don't care to do. Ideas might be: a concierge service where they can call a special line for help with reservations, or pick up and drop off of bikes, skis, or welcome baskets for the kids with inexpensive coloring books and treats, or simply a welcome call or text upon arrival! That's practically free and will make a lasting impression.
Bottom line, get creative! Think of low-cost things that you can implement that are BRANDED so they know it's from you, because as we used to say when I worked for Sheraton Hotels... Little Things Mean A Lot!
~ Read more about how one QB Community member relies on outstanding customer service to stand out from the competition.
3. Don’t give up, pivot instead
Monopolization: At what milestone should an entrepreneur think ... is this worth my time/money or is it not?
JGW: Great question! I'm pretty stubborn, so I would never get to that point!! However, I have PIVOTED many, many times with my businesses. My advice:
~ Find out what motivated some of our members to pivot and become dedicated entrepreneurs.
4. Increasing margins to cover shipping costs
Heatstroke422: I am currently running a small business in a vertical industry and shipping is a big expense of mine. Any tips or suggestions to more efficiently streamline this portion of my business?
JGW: Most of my work is with service companies, however, I understand that shipping costs are a major issue. So my question for you is, is your product valuable enough to charge a premium price? If you have more margin in the product, shipping will be less of an issue. So bottom line -- try to uplevel your product so that you are selling to a customer that isn't really concerned about the price or even the shipping cost. Good thinking opportunity here!
~ Check out what our members had to say about what happened when they raised prices.
5. How to outsource successfully & JGW’s favorite business model
_Joker1: My brother and I just bought our first company! What's your experience with outsourcing to cut costs? An option we are looking at now is outsourcing some processes to then focus the US team on business development, client maintenance and on-boarding. Also, what service-based businesses/business models interest you over the next 5-10 years?
JGW: Congrats on buying a company! I used to own a boutique mergers and acquisitions firm, so I know that exciting process well! Regarding outsourcing ...YES!! It's a great way to expand quickly. The key is to have vetted partners, written agreements and EXCELLENT COMMUNICATION. Most relationships fail if even one of those elements is missing, so take your time when choosing.
Regarding business models, I LOVE service businesses because the profit margins are AMAZING!! And if you create a recurring revenue stream with your service business, you are cooking with gas!
~ Meet one QB Community member who realized outsourcing was critical to her business success.
[This chat was edited for clarity and flow]
Before you go
QB Community Members, you can keep this conversation going! Did you know Julie has a group right here in QB Community where she’s helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses to $1 million and beyond 5 days a week? You can join the group by clicking right here: Momentum to $1 Million!
Thanks for these awesome highlights @SarahGonzales! On the Reddit AMA thread, there were terrific entrepreneurs asking very thoughtful questions. It was also really fun for me to be on my toes giving high-value advice while typing as fast as possible!