Self-employment doesn’t have to mean going it all alone. Customers and friends who support your business might be the most valuable marketing resource you have. And word-of-mouth marketing only gets more powerful when you look at the networks of people online who are happy to tell others about their experience doing business with you.
In fact, according to a study published by QuickBooks Self-Employed, word-of-mouth is the channel most respondents said had a positive impact on the growth of their business.
Of responders, 84 percent agreed that word-of-mouth had a positive, rather than negative, impact on their business, and only 11 percent said they didn’t use this as a growth channel.
Growth is the top goal for self-employed
Respondents weren’t afraid to talk about growth and marketing. According to the QuickBooks survey, the top five goals self-employed workers have for their businesses are:
- Customer happiness
- Maintain business
Since 71 percent of the self-employed respondents in the same survey reported their business is growing (over a quarter are tracking at least 31 percent growth) self-employed people see the value in working for themselves and making their dream business a reality.
While building word-of-mouth buzz is an invaluable method for creating a diverse customer base and growing your business, being self-employed should also mean you branch out to find growth potential in every nook and cranny. First, though, take the first step toward a more dynamic marketing plan and hack your way to big growth.
Set measurable goals
If there’s one takeaway from the research on self-employed workers, it’s that the secret to growth is first prioritizing it with actionable goals (and 73 percent of self-employed people say their goals are measurable). Set a milestone and watch how your business performs over the course of four months, then at the year mark. Set SMART goals for everything else.
If you’re unfamiliar, SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Focus on a very specific part of your business you’d like to see grow, set a target (that you believe is achievable), make sure it’s completely in line with where you want your business to go, and give yourself a time limit.
Successful outcomes depend on a certain level of risk. Nearly 60 percent of self-employed people say they’re either comfortable or very comfortable taking risks for the sake of their business. It may be that becoming self-employed is a risk in itself, but this number shows resiliency is a major factor in keeping the ball rolling after deciding to set out on your own venture.
Whether it’s asking someone for help, investing more in an idea less traveled, or partnering with another business to inspire growth, taking calculated risks can help you understand what your business is made of and what opportunities are available to you.
Explore possible channels
As we mentioned, word-of-mouth is the avenue for growth that most respondents said had a positive effect on the growth of their business. In that same vein, when it comes to customer referrals, 82 percent said it has a positive impact on growth. But following the impact of word-of-mouth and referrals were Facebook and Instagram. If you aren’t already exploring these channels, you might be missing out on the top ways other self-employed people are getting the word out about their businesses.
Facebook is easy to set up and feeds into your word-of-mouth growth targets. If you don’t have a website, create one, and make sure it presents a great user experience. For more information on how to give your website a facelift and make it more user-friendly, look no further. Meanwhile, Instagram is great for businesses selling products, but it also works well for services and building relationships with people who share similar interests.
Wherever you are in your self-employed journey, you will see increased growth if you approach your marketing from new perspectives. Starting with these three steps can help put your word on the street with real, quality word-of-mouth referrals.