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Cool Millions: A Marketing Consultant (and Angel Investor) Shares Her Insights

Lisa Calhoun is the Founding Partner of Valor Ventures, an Atlanta-based partnership that invests in early stage software companies.

About ten years ago, she built a company called Write2Market, a tech public relations firm, generating more than $1 million in annual revenues. She attributes her success to persistence and is committed to helping other business owners find ways to grow.

Calhoun believes that women and men make some of the same mistakes when growing businesses, but she says, “One mistake women entrepreneurs make too often is listening to advice when many of their advisors are poorly qualified to give it.  We are raised to nurture, listen and serve but when it comes to your own business,” she asserts, “You really have to make your own decisions. Other people may wish you well but no one, no one at all, can make your decisions better than you.”

Some of her tips for improving the profitability of your service business include:

  1. Giving discounts for advance bookings and charge a penalty for no-shows
  2. Refusing to book one-off engagements. Make trials a first time on a package deal. “One free service for a package of 10.”
  3. Give your employees smart incentives to work for less than the standard rate in return for a perk they value, like options, commissions, profit sharing, or non-traditional schedules
  4. Implementing call tracking–like CallRail or a similar service–to track and record inbound contact from customers. When you can’t handle every call, this kind of service can give you exactly the insights you need.

Remember that in the services business, customers fund your growth.  Make a habit of asking your best customers why they like your service, and pay attention to their feedback. Commit to one change per month in how you market based on feedback from your best three customers. She also advises service business owners to cut 10% of their worst customers each month.

Only 2% of women entrepreneurs exceed the million dollar mark in their businesses. By heeding Calhoun’s advice, perhaps you can join the club one day!

Have a business that takes appointments for services? Remember that your time has a significant value. The more you streamline, the more you earn. Start focusing those precious hours in every day to becoming a “million dollar woman.”

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