If you think the statistics for small business success are discouraging, you should see the ones for small businesses offering consultancy services. Everyone thinks they have advice worth paying for, but the key is to find a business that agrees. Sharifah Hardie’s small business success story proves that consultants can succeed if they have the drive and the knowledge of their field.
Sharifah Hardie noticed in the mid-nineties that she was spending an increasing amount of time responding to queries about how to build a successful small business. She decided to turn her know-how into a successful career. She launched a business offering guidance to small and medium sized businesses, and was subsequently offered an internet radio show as well as a television series.
However, the road was not always as easy as it sounds. Hardie reports that she initially struggled to present a legitimate and credible image. Many of her prospective clients felt that a small, home-based business was not as legitimate as one with multiple offices and a long track record. Another key problem was one faced by many small business owners. As the sole proprietor of her consultancy, Sharifah Hardie was expected to become an overnight expert on a diverse range subjects from accounting to marketing.
These can be significant setbacks, but Hardie has succeeded by being willing to put in the time and research needed to work through them. First, she always did research before making a decision. She advises that it is crucial to know your market, from products to customers to competitors. One of the key advantages of a small business is the ability to respond quickly to trends and changes, so it is important to keep your finger on the pulse of your market.
Another advantage that Hardie created for herself is a superior product. Instead of focusing on finances, she put her energy initially into creating the best possible services. This not only kept her current customers coming back, it lead to positive word of mouth marketing. This increased her customer base exponentially. Hardie also used social networking to further market her business. She emphasizes the importance of constantly and actively spreading the word about your business.
Ms. Hardie worked on her brand. In her case, she was the brand. She managed her public image the way a small business must manage their own public persona: by consulting an expert to settle on a desired image, and then making sure that every experience with her company bolstered that image. As a small business owner and a small business consultant, Sharifah Hardie feels that branding is one of the keys to finding success in any field.
Ms. Hardie advises believing in yourself as a business owner. If you cannot have confidence in your own abilities, it will be difficult to inspire others to pay for your products or services. Tell yourself daily that you are the best, and then work hard to live up to that image. If you adhere to this formula, you too may find the small business success that Sharifah Hardie and others just like her have enjoyed.