For many small business owners, we are now down to the business end of the year. To make a dollar or for some, to survive another year.
While it has been tough and most small businesses can attest to this, those who are investing in their product and service offering, are fairing better than those who are saving every penny and hoping for a better day.
I am an optimist in every sense of the word. My glass is half full and there is a lot more left in the jug. But as I use positivity to spearhead my next steps, I am acutely aware that 'having all your ducks in a row' is paramount to not only surviving but growing your business and moving forward.
As a small business owner, there are many things to consider:
- Writing your business strategy for the next 6 months, 12 months, 5 years or adjusting the one you already have
- Getting departmental heads to buy-in to the strategy and provide valuable feedback
- Setting some BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) for the business
- Innovation: keeping your business moving forward across all pillars
- Application: not just thinking about where you want to be, but working out how you are going to get there
- Doing end of financial year accounts
- Cash flow forecasts for the year
- Review of debt or investment accounts
- Quality control and security over financial records and bank accounts
- Development of marketing strategy. A marketing strategy can be developed for as little as $199 at a Marketing Eye workshop or have an expert develop one for you for just $2,990. It will be the best investment you have ever made, because this direction and accountability will ensure that your business capitalises on your assets (people, product, services) and delivers on your business plan.
- Website: Never underestimate the power of a website. I still hear companies say that their websites are not important to their business. That is a load of bulls**t. These companies just have not figured out how to use the internet to influence a buyers decision making process. Improving your website through Marketing Eye conducting an audit costs as little as $350, with a refresh starting at $990. There are literally thousands of web companies in the market, so choose one that works with your business and has the same philosophies as yourself. Also, ensure that they understand where your business is heading and how you want to get there.
- Social Media: Every business in today's competitive environment requires a social media presence. That may mean just a Linkedin account, or it may mean a complete integrated social media strategy around mediums that influence the buying decisions of your target audience. In 2012/13, a small business cannot afford to not invest in a proper social media strategy that ties into their marketing plan.
- Marketing Campaigns: Every business should have 2 or 3 hero marketing campaigns for a 12 month period. If you have not already started, then perhaps sit down with your marketing people or your senior management team and work out how marketing can underpin your sales initiatives. Integrate offline marketing with online marketing.
- Sales: Whoever leads your sales team needs training - regardless of how good they think they are. They can be better. We all can. Sales Coach Academy is a company I highly recommend as being instrumental in training and coaching sales managers, entrepreneurs and sales directors. www.salescoachacademy.com
- Invest in your people: host a workshop to work out what your team would like to see 'more of' in the next financial year. Is your company culture on track? Do your people feel inspired and proud of the brand they work for?
- Invest in good leaders - yourself and others in your small business that are already in management positions or that are potential future leaders.
- Re-jig your bonus scheme to accomodate the current market conditions. Ensure that there is plenty of upside to people who 'bring in the business' and perform.
- Get rid of the dead wood. Anyone who is not 100% on the team will only infect the future of your business.
- Share your business plan with every single employee. Not just management and sales teams. You will be surprised by how much this will inspire everyone to work towards the one common goal.
Today, I am going through this list and ensuring that Marketing Eye is 100% on track to success and reaching our company goals. Can you add anything to this list?
So many communications today is done by texting, facebooking, tweeting, emailing, video conferencing, skyping - you name it - we are doing it! All of our talking has gone online.
Have you ever been stopped at a traffic light and made a false start when it wasn’t your green light? Three colours control the daily commute of billions of people around the world, green means go, red means stop and yellow means slow down. To most people.
These colour associations are universal and worldwide. So if colours can tell us when to stop when to go, what else can it tell us to do? What is the colour of your brand telling customers to do?
I was sitting outdoors at a Japanese restaurant when it happened and at first I thought my friend was moving the table with his legs. When it was clearly not him, we both looked on in amazement.
Then, a Japanese chef came racing out and asked us if we felt the earthquake. We both said yes, and I told her that I thought it was exciting, "My first earthquake".
That went down like a lead balloon. Of course, in Japan, earthquakes are very dangerous and has killed thousands of people - so in rememberence of that, being excited by it, may not be in seen in the best light. I remember when this happened in Japan. It was incredibly sad.
Moving on from that, the earthquake certainly was "trending" on all social media and within minutes there was a picture up on facebook with a table and four chairs. One had fallen over. I then saw that same image posted on at least 100 facebook accounts. The world of viral marketing.
Businesses that do not engage in a strategic marketing plan, often find that they are chasing their tail. They fly by the seat of their pants and have no real sales and marketing strategy in place. Instead of being proactive, and placing key performance indicators behind each and every marketing investment, they generally go with 'gut instinct' or what is available at any given time.
While being flexible to invest in marketing opportunities is always a good thing, it can be some small businesses biggest downfall.
It's nearing the end of the financial year or mid-year for those in the US, and its time to start looking back at what you have achieved in terms of building your brand, creating brand equity, increasing your sales performance and improving your customer relationship management programs.
Capitalising on your investment in marketing is not only a no-brainer, but it is also one of the clevest business decisions you can make.
Start the new year with:
I had the day before went online to the Book Depository (www.bookdespository) to see if they had it. As I went to pay, the website came up with an error message and then my phone rung and that was it. I had moved on from that moment.
Happy to pay a few dollars more at an old-fashioned bookstore, I spent more than 45 minutes perusing the thousands of books that were beautifully layed out in the store. When I went to pay, I was pleasantly surprised that the store had given me a credit from 3 years ago, for $35. I had bought a few hundred dollars worth of books as Christmas gifts that year and when Avenue Bookstore gives you a voucher, it has no expiry date.
Imagine how happy I was! Not only that, I bought two other books; The French Dog by Rachael McKenna and The Best of Business Card Design by publishers Rockport and not only did I benefit from the voucher, they also beautifully gift wrapped the books.
The big bonus was that the price of book was exactly the same as it was on Book Depository and after freight, the same as it was on Amazon. No difference. Except, I was supporting a local business and experienced the enjoyment of browsing a real store, with real people, with my dog following behind and gift wrapping.
Before you choose to make a purchase of a book online, consider this story. There is nothing more enjoyable then spending time in a bookstore.
Is your business ontrack to achieving the goals that you set out for your business to achieve in 2012? Is your brand where it should be? Are your leads inbound or outbound? Is your sales team performing?
If the answer is "no" to any of these questions, then it's time to start figuring out what you can change today to alter your outcomes of tomorrow.
Driving through the country roads, gave me time to think about the new direction of my business, Marketing Eye. There is so many things to consider when you are growing a business that is successful.
As I looked up, I decided to capture the moment.
The seagulls flew off and I began to think...