April 6, 2016
Matt B., Marketing Coordinator
When you hear the word "startup," a tech company in Silicon Valley probably comes to mind. Yet people are starting up businesses of all kinds, and the term is not just limited to one industry. If you are building a business from the ground up, here is some advice for you from a successful new entrepreneur!
Starting up a service business is easier said than done. First, you will have to jump through many hoops just to turn your entrepreneurial idea into a legal entity, not to mention a brand. Then, you are tasked with acquiring all the right equipment, tools, and most importantly, customers. Once you’ve reached this point, it’s all fun and games, right?
Not so fast… Running a service business requires nonstop attention. You have to keep track of all of your appointments and service history, maintain relationships with your customers, chase down payments, secure new and repeat business, and try to squeeze in time with your family on top of all that.
If you’re considering starting a service business, Mitch Stonebarger, President and Owner of Hyper Carpet Cleaning in St. Louis, Missouri, advises “Don’t do it!” Haha, just kidding.
While starting a service business takes extreme dedication, Stonebarger chased after his goal and has experienced explosive growth in a short amount of time, tripling his sales in only a matter of months. After less than a year in business, he has already hired an employee and is working towards making his business self-sustaining.
Stonebarger shares some of the lessons he has learned along the way:
1. Understand the power of customer service.
Customer service is especially important in service businesses. In any type of business, it’s extremely important to support your customers, answer their questions, and help them solve issues.
Stonebarger emphasizes the importance of ensuring customer satisfaction. He warns new entrepreneurs how “one unhappy customer can ruin you,” with negative reviews that are visible to potential customers. Making sure all of your customers are happy is necessary to protect your business from criticism!
2. Pay attention to people skills.
Developing strong people skills will vastly improve your company’s customer service. Deliver your service with a smile! Greet customers with a firm handshake. Look people in the eye. These are all things you can do to come off as more likable, which Stonebarger describes as essential for repeat business.
Of running a service business, Stonebarger says: “You have to deal with people and be good with people. If people don’t like you, they’re not going to like your business or hire you.” Since you are the face of your business, people are going to judge your business by your personality. Build and maintain relationships with your customers to gain their loyalty!
3. Expect the unexpected.
Business, like life, is unpredictable. Be prepared to jump over unforeseen hurdles, rather than stopping in your tracks. Even though unexpected obstacles will stand in the way, overcoming them is essential to achieving your dreams.
As circumstances change, the best thing you can do is go with the flow. “You have to evolve and let your business evolve,” Stonebarger recommends. Nothing stays the same, and neither should your business. Pushing forward past unexpected obstacles is how you progress.
4. Don’t be afraid of failure.
You have to make mistakes to learn from them. Stonebarger emphasizes the importance of never submitting to defeat. Stonebarger became a successful service business owner through trial and error, until he found the right formula for him.
“People are afraid of failure and that stops them from succeeding,” Stonebarger says. Even if things do not feel like they are coming together at first, it is necessary to persevere through the challenges. “You have to be willing to fail to win,” he says.
Starting up a service business involves taking a huge risk. If you're still willing to take the plunge or already have, these pieces of wisdom from someone who has been there can serve as a guide to getting through the inevitable rough patches. While learning from your own mistakes is important, learning from someone else’s success is also very beneficial.
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