Getting clients starts with knowing who you want your clients to be. Small business owners sometimes have difficulty with this concept, especially when they are just starting out. The temptation is there to skip over the important step of getting really clear and specific about who you are selling to. Often when asked whom their ideal customers are, many new business owners will say “everyone.” Changing this answer is surely the first step in finding new clients.


The Distinction between Your Ideal Client and Everyone

The question is who is your ideal client? Not who could possibly use your service or product? There is a difference. When thinking about your ideal client, don’t just think about if he or she can benefit from your services, also think about how likely they are to know that they need your service, whether they can afford your services and will be willing to pay your rates, whether they are good referrers, if you will enjoy working with them, if you will be able to achieve the results you both desire, if you will gain energy from working with them, or if they will drain you. These are just some of questions that can help you decide if someone is in fact ideal.

The Problem with Everyone

Though it is counter-intuitive, you get more clients by casting a narrower net. New business owners, especially solopreneurs, tend to want to cast a wide net, so not to leave out any possible customers. This may work for catching fish, but casting a wide net makes it harder to build a clientele. There is an adage in marketing: when you try to talk to everyone, you talk to no one. To really be able to address your market’s needs you need to know who your customers are, what their specific needs are and how you are uniquely positioned to help them. There’s no way around this one.

Choosing an ideal client and marketing to that ideal, does not necessarily mean that you will be closing anyone else out; other people can still buy your services or products, and the people you are actually targeting will become more likely to.

What You Need to Know About Your Ideal Clients

If you are looking for new clients, make sure you first identify who your ideal client is. There are different types of information you will want to gather.

Demographics: Gender, age, household income — that sort of thing.

Psychographics: Values, attitudes, interests and more. This is where you start to look at why someone wants to buy from you, what pain points you are addressing.

There are a few questions you will need to ask yourself including:

What Challenges doe my ideal client face? Why?

How do I solve their problems?

What do I want in a client? What don’t I want?

What media does my ideal client consume? What do they read? What online communities do they hang out in?

Not all customers and clients are equal. Sometimes saying no to the wrong client will open you up to meeting the right client.

Additional Resources:

Deb Pilgrim: The Entrepreneur’s Business Mentor

8 Things You Must Know About Your Audience

Guide to Segmenting Your Customers

SimplifyThis helps small business owners and solopreneurs to streamline administrative tasks with two in one online appointment scheduling and invoicing. Focus on what you do best and let SimplifyThis do the rest.



Ways to Simplify Your Small Business

Where complexity is heavy, burdensome and inefficient, simplicity is its opposite. With simplicity anything unnecessary, extraneous, redundant and useless is removed leaving room for all that is essential. Simplicity has more to do with what you take away from a design than what you add. In the words of Antoine de Saint Exupery, “Perfection is reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

ways to simplify your business

As you look to unburden yourself from complexity in your business, think of ways that you can remove any unnecessary activities or uses of your energy. Arguably, your success as a small business owner comes not just from what you do, but also from what you don’t do. To get you started, here are a few ideas.

Three Ways to Simplify Your Small Business

Automate what you can. Billing, marketing, sales are all important aspects of running your business that can actually prevent you from your core competency and delivering on your mission whether that be giving music lessons, teaching yoga

classes or designing websites. For dealing with these essential yet peripheral tasks it makes sense to automate as much as you can with software. Some tasks that you can look to automate include: billing, administrative tasks, social media marketing, computer maintenance, emailing, accounts payable.

To automate your billing, try our two in one online appointment scheduling and online invoicing software.

Decide what to outsource and learn how to delegate effectively. Delegating and outsourcing can be challenging for the small business owner whose business is her baby. Yet holding on too tightly can result in getting stuck and keep you from growing your business. Similarly, deciding who to outsource to is key. You want to know you can count on the people you hire, so to avoid energy being wasted

Do away with clutter. From keeping a clean office to keeping your inbox clean, keeping things neat and in order lead to increased productivity. Keeping your working environment clean may seems like a small point, but in truth clutter – whether it be papers all over your desk or an overflowing email inbox – creates extra steps when you are looking for what you need and distracts you from the things you need to focus on.

At SimplifyThis all of our decisions about our product design are measured against the yardstick of simplicity.

Three Small Business Resolutions for 2013

And so it goes, one year ends and another begins. As business owners everywhere take time to pause and reflect on last year’s business gains and losses, we are happy to present three back-to-basics resolutions small business owners can make in order to achieve greater success in ’13.

Small Business Resolutions for 2013

Customer Service

It’s simple, the secret to success as a small business is excellent customer service. If you’ve not paid much attention to customer service in 2012, move it to the top of your list of priorities for 2013. While customer service is important for businesses of all sizes, it’s especially important for small businesses and

solo practices. Outstanding  customer service drives customer loyalty, word-of-mouth marketing, referrals and repeat business. Make a total commitment to offering exemplary customer service in 2013.

Get Out More

As the saying goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know that matters most in business. For sure, a strong network is behind most successful business owners.  If you spent 2012 at your desk or buried under a mountain of  work, resolve to get out more in 2013. Meeting new people and strengthening ties with existing contacts are keys to success. As importantly,  connecting with other like-minded business owners will lead to a greater sense of connection and happiness.  Here are a few tips to help bring networking into regular practice.

Improve Your Cash Flow

If you spent 2012 under the pressure of cash flow problems, make a commitment to bring it to an end. Few problems feel worse than cash flow problems and living with them will have a serious consequences for your happiness, health, your reputation and long term success. Fixing cash flow problems, of course, can be very challenging. Maybe you need to bring your expenses down so that you can afford to operate. Maybe you need to make a plan to improve sales. Maybe you need to invoice faster. No matter how you fix your cash flow problems, make this priority number one for 2013.

Wishing you a prosperous and happy 2013!

What Tasks to Outsource First

Is too much multitasking holding you back? For entrepreneurs, wearing many hats is de rigueur. At the same time you know that personally handling every task that comes up in your business can limit your income and growth potential. To grow, it’s important to consider outsourcing certain tasks, but which one’s first?

If you’re just getting started with outsourcing and budget is a consideration how do you decide which tasks to outsource? What you outsource should fall into one of four categories: tasks that you hate doing, tasks that you’re not good at doing, one-time activities, and tasks that are easy to delegate.

  1. What you hate doing. Don’t think about whether you’re good at the task, think only if you hate doing it. If you hate it, put it on the list.
  2. Are you adding value? Are you using your time that can be done equally well by someone else, or doing things that you’re not even good at or that you don’t personally bring value to? Put them on a list too.
  3. One time activities. List everything that just needs to be done once. As an example, setting up and configuring a blog. Things that can easily be done once by one person and then finished. Put it on the list.
  4. What’s easy? This is related to the one above as one-offs are usually the easiest to delegate. Sometimes, however, ongoing tasks are easy to outsource and doing so will free you up to grow the business.

Read also: Five Tips for Better Delegating

Now that you’ve created your list of items to outsource, it’s time to make some decisions. Divide your list into immediate, short term and long term. Deal with first things first. Though at first it may be hard, knowing what to outsource and how to delegate is surely one of the keys to success for any business owner.

Outsource appointment scheduling and invoicing with SimplifyThis two -in-one online appointment scheduling and invoicing.

How To Deal With Competition From Lower Cost Competitors


Every business, from single freelancers to multination

al conglomerates, face competition every day. If your business faced no competition, it likely wouldn’t exist. Competition signals desire in the market, which is essential for any business’s success. In the most basic sense, competition is a good thing.

In the course of competition, businesses constantly jockey for positioning. While there are many ways to stand out among competitors, providing a product or service at a lower price is often the most noticeable. Many businesses, in an effort to increase market share, will continually lower their prices, ensuring that they have the most affordable product or service in their market segment. This can greatly hurt other businesses, especially ones of smaller scale that can’t necessarily lower prices.

If you are a freelancer or small business dealing with price competition, you’ll have to get creative in order to convince prospects that your service is worth the price. Here are a few ideas I’ve employed in my business, and have seen others employ with theirs.

1. Emphasize quality

Some consumers are driven by bargains. When they shop for products and services they look for the best possible price, so that they part with the least money possible. Fortunately for higher priced competitors, this is not a reliable market segment. Bargain hunters are often fickle, moving from company to company in search of the best deal.

Companies and freelancers who focus on the value they provide to customers will often win repeat, loyal business. Consumers in this market segment will pay a premium if they find an offer to be more valuable than a lower-priced alternative. Show the prospect the results she can expect, and she’ll pay a fair price, even if it’s not the lowest possible.

2. Over deliver

For small businesses and freelancers, the most effective marketing tactic is word of mouth. Of course, it’s difficult to start your own word of mouth campaign. Genuine ones that come from truly impressed customers provide the greatest results. If companies and freelancers have any control over the process, it’s in what they deliver to customers.

A product or service is not truly remarkable unless it delivers more than promised. Make a big promise to prospects, and when they become customers deliver them more than they expected. This can be as simple as including a handwritten note with an order, or as expensive as providing expedited shipping for the normal shipping cost. This isn’t to say you should lessen your offer and then over deliver. Instead it means making a big promise and exceeding it. That’s how businesses and freelancers develop positive, lasting reputations.

3. Add value

Every product or service has a minimum viable price: the lowest price they can charge while still making the endeavor worthwhile. Charge less than that and the company won’t make enough money to justify staying in business. When researching the market, some businesses and freelancers will find that competitors offer prices that they simply cannot match. Sometimes the company’s minimum viable price might be considerably greater than competitors. What to do then?

While price reduction might not be an option, value addition might prove worthwhile. For instance, a freelance writer can add sidebars to go with all of their article submissions. Publications love sidebars and will consider it a value add, while it doesn’t take the freelancer much additional time to research and write one. A digital marketing firm might offer free auditing services when customers purchase certain marketing packages.

There are dozens of ways to add value to any offering. By adding to an offer, rather than reducing price, companies and freelancers can make their offers more attractive to prospects, even if they are more expensive than competitors.

4. Offer bulk deals

Guarantees mean a lot in business. Oftentimes small businesses and freelancers can justify lower prices when they’re guaranteed business into the future. For example, a freelancer might have to charge a certain rate for one-off articles, but might work for a slightly lower per-article rate if contracted for multiple articles. The guarantee of income changes the equation. Your business can take advantage of this to win long-term business on pricing terms amenable to the prospect.

While there is still a minimum viable price for bulk orders, it is often considerably lower than one-off pricing. Combine bulk deals with any of the above value adds, and you just might win long-term business that will provide your business with income guarantees. For any small business or freelancer, the security can be worth the reduced rate.

Price competition can feel difficult to overcome. There is such a large segment of the market that seeks out the best deal, regardless of brand reputation or quality. But there are other market segments that will listen to offers that contain higher quality terms. Focus on these by emphasizing quality, over delivering, adding value to offers, and offering bulk deals. Executed properly, these

tactics will help any small business or freelancer forget about lower priced competitors.

Thanks to Lance Trebesch, CEO of & Ticket River for this guest post. and Ticket River offer a variety of event products and ticketing services .

How to Manage Your Time and Stay Productive as a Freelancer

If you’re a freelancer, you probably live and die by your deadlines and good time management is a must in order to to juggle all of your projects. For the new freelancer, here are some ideas to help manage your workload.

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Creating the Right Environment

To be a successful freelancer, you should create a structured working environment that will help your productivity.

Set your own hours for each day of work. When your hours start, eliminate any distractions and begin working immediately.

Don’t let your personal life distract you while you’re working. Ignore your personal email during your working hours.

Wear the same clothes you would wear in casual office environment. If you dress professionally, you’ll feel ready to start working each day.

Create a quiet environment for your work that includes all of the office equipment you need, such as a printer or fax machine.

Track Your Deadlines

If you can keep your current clients happy, you can probably expect more work from them in the future. To keep your clients pleased with your work, make a goal to monitor your deadlines. If you and a client agree to a deadline, you need to finish the project on time. You can track your deadlines and keep your work organized by using a planner, notebook or computer software.

Avoid Overwhelming Yourself

Although taking on more projects may seem tempting, you should avoid accepting too

many clients. If your workload becomes too much for you to handle, your work performance may suffer. Don’t be afraid to decline an offer from a client if you feel you already have too much work to finish.

Reduce Stress

Stress can significantly disrupt your ability to meet your deadlines. Avoid stress by taking breaks to spend time with your family or enjoy a favorite hobby. Although you may feel tempted to keep working, you will only feel overworked and stressed if you don’t take the night off.

About the Author: Jo Harris writes for the Morgan Law Firm, an Austin, Texas divorce firm.

Spend less time on administrative tasks and more time serving your clients with SimplifyThis’ two-in-one online appointment scheduling and invoicing solution.


Supplementing your Dreams: How to Work Part Time While Freelancing Without Getting Stuck

Freelance work can be very fulfilling. It allows you to make your own schedule and get paid for what you enjoy doing the most. Unfortunately, it can take a while before your business really takes off. During that time, you still have bills to pay and expenses to cover. One way to overcome this roadblock is to get a part time job in the meantime.

How to Get a Job

Actually, you need to know how to get two jobs. You need to apply to part time work and still leave time to get your freelance work. Search the internet, browse the newspaper, and ask family and friends if they have any leads. Once you have secured your part time position, you can focus the entire job hunt to bidding on freelance projects and making a name for yourself.

What Kind of Part Time Work is Best?

If possible, it would be best to find a part time job that is related to your freelance work. It may be easier to land the job if you have experience in the field. Also, if it is something you enjoy, you will enjoy going to work. However, if nothing in your area of interest or expertise is available, there are some other things you should consider.

  1. You don’t want a job that is going to be so exhausting that you are too tired to do your freelance work when you are not there.
  2. Find a job that is close to home so that you can save on commuting time and gas money. These can really add up and cut into your paycheck if you’re not careful.
  3. Don’t get “stuck.” Many people take jobs that they expect to be part time or just until they find something else, but they end up there for years. Do your job well, but don’t make it your life.
  4. If you feel comfortable enough with your boss, tell him or her about your plans. Make sure they know you will be dedicated and focused when you are on the clock, but you have other priorities in your life. This will also help so that they don’t find out some other way that you are doing other work and take it as a bad sign.

How to Balance Both?

The biggest challenge will be balancing both the freelancing and the part time job. To overcome this, you need to treat the freelancing like a full time, real job.

Just because you can make your own hours doesn’t mean you can procrastinate. Set actual hours for yourself and projects that need to be completed. If you don’t feel the pressure, things won’t get done. Knowing how to get a job or the work is one thing; actually doing it is another.

Stay Positive

There will certainly be times where it seems like it is too difficult. Keep yourself moving forward by imagining your dream coming true. You may be stressing out about having this part time job, but it beats having to worry about whether you will be able to put food on the table. When this chapter of your life is over, you can look back with pride on how hard you worked to make it happen.

This has been a guest post from Australia’s how to get a job website. If you’ve found this advice valuable, why not check into their site and have a look at their other advice?

Read Also:

Getting Better Fees as a Freelancer

SimplifyThis helps small business owners to streamline administrative tasks with our two-in-one online invoicing and web scheduling solution.




Secrets of the Successful Freelancer: Never Compete On Price

One marketing consultant shares what he’s learned about getting business in his first three years of freelancing.

Lets Work Together Kitten

There is a huge difference between other people making money as a freelancer and me making money as a freelancer. When I first started, I never realized how lucrative freelancing could be. I was a student of marketing and had heard the poignant successes that others had, but me making money online was a completely different story. I have learned more about myself and business in the past three years than I ever learned in school.

Never compete on price.

In the beginning, I didn’t have the confidence to ask for the high dollars. Asking for $800 a month was unthinkable. I saw the seasoned professionals working for around minimum wage, just to get the jobs. I never thought that I could make money on Elance or Odesk, but I overcame my fears and gave it a shot.

When I began, it was all about making money. I didn’t want to work for anyone else. One day, I would find myself writing articles, the next I would be doing telemarketing. There were no typical days. It was a hectic life, one that I knew that I could improve. I learned two things early on: over deliver and never quit learning.

How does a strong work ethic translate to making more money? I was building a stunning resume that nobody could ignore. There are rating systems on these freelance bidding sites. People can find their contractors on ratings alone! I would ask my clients for a stellar review. If they couldn’t give me a top notch rating, I would give them a full refund.

Word got out that I was willing to turn down money based on my integrity. The resume improved, the number of jobs grew, as did the number of interview requests I received. In the beginning, I had to apply for ten jobs to get one, but because of my standards, the tides were turning. There came a point where I

couldn’t take on any more clients. Rather than turn down those clients, I had an epiphany.

Don’t turn clients away because of workload. Raise your prices.

I hated turning business away, and so I tested out a theory. If I raised my prices, people would be more hesitant to ask for my services. Thankfully, it turned out that I was wrong. Raising my rates kept the clients looking for the cheap deals away, but it brought in the higher quality clients. Once you have a proven track record, you can charge higher prices and people will accept you as the expert. As the expert, people listen to what you have to say.

The best advice I can give someone who is worried about competing on price, don’t. Someone can always be cheaper than you. Make yourself more valuable.

About the Author: Matt MacLeod is an online marketing consultant working for such clients as NSW Compensation Lawyers.

SimplifyThis helps small business owners to streamline administrative tasks with our two-in-one online invoicing and web scheduling solution.

The Ultimate Conference Survival Guide

Conferences are great for advancing your career.  They offer networking opportunities, training, and a chance to find out what’s going on in your industry.  Sadly, for most of us, conferences aren’t free – they cost money to register for, require you to take a few days out of your busy work schedule, and require you to travel long distances and stay in a hotel.  How can you make the most out of your conference budget? Read on for our best tips.


Don’t Spend Too Much on Travel

If you’re not on a tight schedule, consider being flexible with your flight times – early morning flights, and flights with connections, are often significantly cheaper than daytime direct flights.  You can put the money you save towards a nicer hotel, or attending extra conferences.

Book Early

By booking well in advance you can save money on flights and hotels, and conference tickets too.  Earlybird tickets are sometimes as low as one third of the “on the day” price!

Network in Advance

Once you know you’re going to the conference, look at industry forums and see who else is going.  Set up a search for the conference hashtag on Twitter and get talking to other attendees.  You never know who you might meet.

Pack Light

Try to leave some room in your suitcase so that you can bring back all those brochures, CDs and other bits and bobs that you’ll inevitably acquire at the conference. If you don’t bring back much with you, you’ll still be glad you packed light because it will make life easier navigating the airport.

Take Business Cards

Business cards are the most important currency you have at conferences; it pays to pack far more than you need.  Get some professional looking business cards printed, and hand them out to anyone that you speak to.  When you get a card back, write on it to remind yourself where you met the person, and what you talked about.

Plan For Bad WiFi

Conference organizers always promise WiFi, but it usually ends up seriously overloaded, and as a result, either incredibly slow, or completely broken.  Consider buying a mobile internet dongle, or some extra data allowance for your phone, so that you can stay connected no matter what.

Make Time for Food


you arrive at a conference, it’s easy to get over-enthusiastic and want to see and do everything.  Forcing yourself to run from booth to booth with no breaks is a bad idea.  Try to schedule in some time for food and relaxation.  It will make you more productive in the long run.

Have a Plan

Before you go to the conference, spend a while reading the organizer’s website and making a list of speakers you want to see, booths you want to visit, and workshops you want to attend.  When you get to the conference, pick up a copy of the program and spend a few minutes checking the schedule to make sure there have been no last minute changes.

Wash Your Hands!

The post conference flu is not a nice experience.  Taking basic precautions such as washing your hands before each meal, carrying tissues for those annoying sniffles, and following good nutrition practices can help to reduce the spread of colds and flu bugs.

Follow Up

When you get home, send a short email to each person that you talked to at the conference. It will help them to remember you for the next show you go to.

This post was written by James Harper on behalf of Name Badges International who specialise in producing corporate name badges.

Use This Marketing Secret When You Have ZERO Marketing Budget

Giving away your knowledge, best practices and secrets may seem counter intuitive. In fact, doing so can be a boon to business. One entrepreneur shares his experience.

Whether you’re just starting out in the business world or a new venture brings you back to square one, profits often feel a million miles away. So, for those intrepid entrepreneurs with virtually zero dollars allocated towards a marketing strategy, how can a company best promote their business and attract customers?

The answer became clear to me after a number of failed experiments:  Give some of your secrets away for free. Odds are, if you’re starting a company, it’s because you’re great at a particular thing. It doesn’t matter what that thing is. The point is that you have a product or a service or a talent that you intend to capitalize on. Now, whether or not you have competitors in the field, share some of those secrets and best practices. Don’t worry about others stealing your ideas or attempting to monetize on your process.

My partners and I found that creating an ultimate guide for our company’s process was a helpful map for us (it helped us replicate our successful model) and for our sales process.  We decided that it worked so well, that we should create a version that we could publish and get some recognition for.  We spent a lot of time and energy on it, but it ended up being totally worth it as that single guide is the largest driver of new business to our company. It established us as industry thought leaders simply by writing down and distributing freely everything we knew about one specific topic.

Regardless of your budget, you can do the same.


Figure out a way to clearly and explicitly communicate your tactics. By writing out exactly how you do what you do, others will take notice of just how meticulous and well thought-out you are. Transparency in the business world is exceedingly rare and yet, can boost a company’s image greatly. Compile your tricks of the trade and don’t be afraid to make them common knowledge.


Create a guide so that others can potentially copy your idea if they so desire. And here’s the secret. The majority of the time, those who are reading it don’t actually want to implement. You’re the implementer. You’re the thought leader. You’re the industry expert. The content of your article speaks for itself and establishes you as someone who knows what you’re talking about within a specific niche. These readers are given the opportunity to see your approach to business and often they become your greatest advocates and supporters.


Work on gaining visibility from there. Offer up this guide to the biggest relevant blog for the content – shoot for the stars.  If they don’t accept it, fine, move on to the next biggest blog. The great part about this is that, if it is useful and well written, those big blogs WILL WANT to publish it.

Follow this up by writing good quality pieces that your colleagues can learn from. Go beyond the typical 300-word blog post and write an 1800 word, articulate article offering a clear overview of your approach. Creating good content doesn’t cost you any money – just time.  Though time may feel precious, when you’re marketing on a shoestring budget, you have more time to spare than dollars.

I know this technique may sound outlandish, and you’re thinking that you’d never give away your precious little secrets.  And, that is totally fine, we haven’t given away everything.  But, we have given away a lot of what we do, and its brought back more business than we could have ever imagined.

About the Author: Brian Patterson works with Online Trading Academy, the world’s most trusted name in professional trader education.  If you want to learn to stock trading, be sure to checkout their website.

SimplifyThis helps small business owners to streamline administrative tasks with our two-in-one online invoicing and web scheduling solution.

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