The challenges of 2011/12 have been more worrying than ever before. There are some real reasons for this. Italy and Spain are in preparation ot sell debt amid concerns that Europe's fiscal crisis is infecting bigger economies, debt levels are more than 25% higher than the Great Depression and the US - well, we are all aware what is going on there.
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:
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:
It is that time of year again, whether you like it or not, that small business owners need to review how their business is going.
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.
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.
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...