We understand that starting a business is hard work. Our CEO and Co-Founder, Derek, has always been an entrepreneur. He started his first company when he was 15 and sold it while he was still in high school. He created TextNow as a university student because he was frustrated by the high prices that big carriers were charging for cell phone service. As we celebrate Small Business Saturday, we asked Derek for his best advice for all of the entrepreneurs who use TextNow to keep your small business connected.
Starting your own business is exciting and incredibly rewarding. It’s also stressful and a lot of hard work. Over the past 12 years, we’ve grown TextNow from our dorm room to the largest provider of free phone service in the US with offices in San Francisco, Portland, and Waterloo, Ontario. I’ve been given a lot of good advice through my career, and I always try to learn from the people around me. Here are some of the things I’ve learned on the journey with TextNow.
Put people first
Whether it’s customers or employees, there is no business without people. Provide the best possible experience for your customers, and they’ll keep coming back. Build a welcoming culture, and your employees will help you solve any problem. We don’t tolerate ‘brilliant jerks’ at TextNow – everyone works together to create an incredible phone service, for free!
And make some time for work-life balance. Running your own business is hard – take some time to recharge. You’ll feel more creative, energetic, and you’ll be ready to tackle all of the challenges ahead.
Have money in the bank, even in the good times
When you’re running a small business, every cent counts. As you start to grow, it’s easy to let your expenses grow with it. But having some money set aside gives you peace of mind when you hit unexpected bumps in the road. For example, nobody predicted the coronavirus pandemic – but having financial flexibility let us weather the storm and come through the challenge stronger than ever.
Be resourceful and scrappy
Creating a financial buffer is easier said than done, especially when you’re just starting out. That’s why being resourceful and scrappy is one of our main values at TextNow. Get creative and find ways to save money wherever you can.
Do you really need an office? When we first started TextNow, we were working out of a dorm room. When we opened our first office, money was tight. Instead of buying brand new equipment, we found second-hand monitors from a business that was closing.
And, obviously, save money on a dedicated phone line for your small business by using TextNow. With a TextNow number you can set up a professional voicemail message and keep your business contacts separate from your personal contacts, for free.
Get creative to find customers
Paying for advertising is one of the most expensive ways to find new customers – and that’s money most new businesses don’t have. Time to be resourceful and scrappy.
You can promote your business on social media for free. Ask your family and friends to share the posts to help spread the word. You can also post on local message boards to beyond your normal network.
Ask your customers to review you online. Customer testimonials on sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp are powerful advertisements that will help you get noticed! And if your customers are happy with your work, ask them to refer you to their network. Customer referrals are a great way to build a loyal customer base. If you can, start a referral program that gives your customers an incentive to refer you.
Lastly – it’s easier to keep a current customer than to find a new one. Keep your customers happy! Small gestures like an email on their birthday can go a long way, and it gives you a good reason to stay in touch. It can also give you a chance to expand the relationship by selling them additional products and services.
When you’re starting a business, it’s great to dream big. But remember – it’s a marathon, not a sprint. All of the little steps you take every day will add up to something much bigger!