Owning a small business can sometimes be very difficult when trying to maintain the company and a home life as there is often no rest for a business owner. Sometimes you run yourself so thin that you may start to feel scattered and not focused on the big picture. It always helps to keep a reference of tips and notes at your finger tips for days or even weeks like this.
Here are a 5 tips to help you stay focused and create a business plan going into 2014:
1. Network, network, network! – In small business, it’s not always about what you know, but who you know. You need to get to know other small business owners in your area. I am in a BNI (Business Networking International) group and it has made a huge difference in my business. Not only does it bring in new business, but I also have a network of professionals that I can call on when I need help.
2. Pay attention to the online world – Lots of small businesses ignore the web. They don’t have a website (or they made one themselves which is sometimes worse), they do not have any online reviews, and they are impossible to find in the search results. In today’s world, the web is where people look to find solutions to their problems. If people cannot find you online, they probably won’t find you. Sure, you can do other forms of marketing. Direct mail is great. Trade shows can be very effective. But when it comes down to bang for your buck, it is almost always most cost effective to market your business online.
3. Business plans are not a doorstop – We all realize that we should have a business plan. But I find that most business owners fit into one of two categories – they write a business plan and never use it or they intend to write a business plan and never get around to it. Both of these groups are far less successful than the much smaller third group – those that have a business plan and actually follow it. Thinking through where you want to be and how to get there is an incredibly valuable experience. But the real value comes in following that plan and getting your business to where you want it to be. It all comes down to the fact that you need to be proactive in your business and not reactive.
4. Develop a personality – You want your customers to develop a relationship with you. To become loyal customers. Even better, to become raving fans and brand evangelists, telling everyone they know about how great your company is. To do this you need to provide a great product or service and an excellent user experience. But that is often not enough to build the raving fans. You need to develop a personality that your customers will identify with. Get to know your market and find what is important to them and then embrace it.
5. Don’t do it all yourself – The fastest way to fail in small business is to burn yourself out. You can’t and you shouldn’t do everything yourself. Find some things that you can delegate if you have employees. If you don’t have employees, find some tasks that you can outsource.
Some of these solutions cost a little it of cash but will pay off nicely and will be well worth the investment.
Do you take the time to create a business plan at the end of every year to stay proactive and not just reactive once the year is already well underway?