“John is the founder of liveyoungandwell.com, which powers businesses by building their websites and amplifying its reach through PR and SEO.”
He shares his experience of struggling to get their training business off the ground and how Google Workspace (formerly known as G Suite) helped them to increase their sales and enhance the workflow.
He also stresses the importance of credibility markers such as having a company registration number, custom website domain and email domain, and how these markers, when taken together, can improve a business’s flywheel effect.
Lastly, John also discusses why businesses are looking for contractors who can deliver what they need reliably, and how Google Workspace helped them to improve their customer support and work efficiency.
When I first started a training business, delivering speaking and training to schools, universities, and other organizations, all the cold emails I sent was met with… crickets.
I would send one, then a follow up, and even a message, but would never hear anything back.
Maybe that’s you. In the early stages of your business, you may be cash strapped. Paying for a business domain, then hosting, and a custom email account, may seem a little too much.
Add on the costs of company registration in Singapore with ACRA at $300, and you might be wondering what the point is.
I know, because today, we pay about $1040 a year for all of that.
It may seem silly to even pay, when you’re struggling to pay yourself.
I confess. In April 2022, I was eating baked beans. Lots of it.
Simply because I couldn’t afford much else.
We were earning an average of $1900 from our business. We didn’t know how else to earn more.
Then I saw the Go Digital Programme under DBS, who we used for our corporate business banking.
Since then, the benefits have been tremendous.
From hearing crickets when we used to send out cold emails, the 10% reply rate has now risen to 70%. From the initial conversation to the eventual closing of the sale, that has now risen from 20% to 50%.
But why should you bother?
Markers of Credibility Come Together
In and of itself, things like:
- Company registration number
- Custom website domain (rather than something like liveyoungandwell.wordpress.org)
- Custom email domain,
may seem to have little point.
But taken together, they have a flywheel effect.
The flywheel effect, popularised by business guru Jim Collins in his book Good to Great, shares about how the initial phase of the flywheel can be difficult, and slow.
But as you constantly and consistently turn the flywheel, it eventually comes to a point where it reaches escape velocity, and starts to spin rapidly on its own.
In the same way, in the early phase of your business, when you’re earning less than $3000 a month, when you’re getting all these things in place, it may seem like things are moving slowly.
But as you continue to put them together, you will see how fast things start moving.
Think about it this way.
You’ve probably received the scam emails from a random Gmail account, asking you to transfer money.
Your suspicions are piqued.
Why then do you expect someone to hand you money, if you’re emailing from a personal Gmail account?
Here We Need to Understand Why Businesses Are Getting Contractors
Why do big businesses buy your service?
Let’s take a step in their shoes.
After all, they have money and could possibly hire someone fulltime to do training for them. Or think about their strategy. Or write for them.
Why buy you?
Because you’re cheaper than getting someone fulltime to do it. A fulltime member of staff would need a salary, medical benefits, insurance, a space to work, IT equipment… the list goes on.
But if they brought on a contractor like yourself, you can offer something cheaper for a very specific piece of work.
It’s not enough just to be cheaper though. There may be many other businesses though.
That’s why the next differentiator, at least from our experience as a business, is reliability.
Reliability Wins You Clients
Businesses want to pay contractors who are able to deliver what they want, on scope, on budget, on time.
In Botelho and Powell’s study of 2500 employees who eventually made it to the top CEO position, they found that the most important factor was…
Take a guess.
You may think of Steve Jobs and think it’s creativity. Or Barack Obama, and think it’s charisma?
Sounds boring, but it’s not.
It was the one factor that they found was more vital than anything else in predicting whether someone eventually became a CEO.
That’s why in your business, reliably delivering is that important. Businesses want to trust a service that delivers the goods, without any fuss.
How Does This Relate to Google Workspace?
As a web development agency, we were not new to the idea of custom domains. In fact, we were using Webmail, a custom email service provided by our hosting provider to process our emails.
But it was a real hassle to get into it. We had to go into our hosting provider, toggle through the tabs, and then find the mailbox. And often, we would get nothing inside. It just wasn’t worth it checking.
So we simply stopped checking it.
We bit the bullet and decided to commit $104 to 3 accounts, for a year, for our team under the Go Digital plan.
Whilst $104 doesn’t sound like a lot, it was a lot for us, especially when we weren’t necessarily sure if we would even survive for the next 6 months. Committing for a year seemed incredible.
But Google Workspace’s email helped us in 3 specific ways.
We Could More Reliably Handle Customer Support Emails
With access to a central customer support email, our whole team could now reliably deal with customer issues, without worrying about missing them.
This raised the sense of reliability in the business world, where there were expectations that one would reply within 24 hours. And yes, this meant weekends too.
After all, in a competitive centre of commerce like Singapore, if you couldn’t reply fast enough, someone else would do the job better, faster, and more cheaply.
We simply had to compete to provide faster customer support.
But It Also Improved Our Workflows.
As a web development agency, much of our work does involve plenty of back and forth with the clients.
In the past, we would have to save documents, send it through to the client, get back the next version, and send it back again.
But with Google Workspace, we could all work on the same shared document.
Whilst this sounds elementary, the other part was in terms of collecting all our team’s documents in a central, shared location.
A big decision behind why we used Google Workspace was because of how easy it was to share across organizations, compared to other providers such as Microsoft OneDrive.
Having used OneDrive in the past, we found that it was rather restrictive in terms of sharing externally.
With a central hub like Google Workspace to share our documents, we could now focus on getting the real work out of the way.
Perhaps the Biggest Change is Psychological
In the early stages of business, when you’re considered with a do or die, when you’re not sure if you would go beyond a year, buying these things can add up.
You might hear those ‘entrepreneurs’ on YouTube telling you about how to make $1m from an online course in 7 days.
You and I know the realities though. That making money isn’t that easy. And that in the early stage of business, it can seem wiser to ‘save money’, and focus on the business.
But when we took the plunge to buy Google Workspace, things changed.
It was almost as if we started taking our business more seriously.
It no longer was a game. But we now had a real domain that we used to regularly send emails from. We weren’t playing anymore.
We were running a business.
And here, if you’re starting out, I want to say this.
Starting a business is crazy. Sometimes, you want to give up. You wonder why you’re working so hard, when the payoff seems so little. It’s even worse because you don’t exactly know what to do.
But here’s the thing. It isn’t about what you do.
But it’s about how you do it. Determining your brand promise, and what you want your customer to feel at the end of the day.
For us, it means reliability and credibility. We know customers trust us with their hard earned money, and we want to make sure that trust is repaid.
What about you? What do you want to deliver to your customer, and what would the solution be to do that effectively, and efficiently?
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