How about now? If your answer is yes to these questions, then great…but keep reading!
Not sure how to respond? Or, is the answer a definitive no? Here is some help to get you going.
Starting today, do (think about and write down) one thing a day for 10 days and your business will be on its way to a great 2011.
Day 1 - Choose an employee to recognize
It does not have to cost anything, but recognizing an employee is good for morale and retention. Write a personal note, give a token gift card, bring in lunch (if your business is a restaurant, yes, from another restaurant – they may return the favor!), get a masseur in for free neck and back massages or buy some movie tickets. A simple thank you goes a long way
Day 2 - Pick an area of focus
What is your business focus this year? Is it revenue generation, cost cutting or hiring? Is it expanding or trying to do more with the same resources? It is necessary to know what your business should focus on in 2011. If it is more than one thing, you may need to prioritize your attention on each one so you do not get overwhelmed, or worse, lose focus in one area at the expense of the other.
Day 3 - Write down your business’ goals
Just as you had a written business plan when you launched your business, having a written set of goals can keep you on track. Identify your business’ focus, then write down three goals for each principal area of focus. If a focus is revenue generation, then the goals may be to increase online purchases, to increase in-store purchases, to increase product offerings or to partner with another business. Whatever the focus is, set goals on paper to keep you and your business on track.
Day 4 - Market your business
Take each goal and decide how best to market your business to meet that goal. Analyze where you currently are and where you need to be to meet your goal. If your goal is to increase online purchases, determine if you need to increase new visitors or convert repeat visitors or both. Offer free shipping coupons to your online customers to give to their friends and family or a % off coupon for your in-store customers to give to their friends and family. Whatever your business’ goals are, decide what initiatives you want to pursue to market your business and meet those goals.
Day 5 – Delegate tasks
Nobody can do everything. Make a list of what you should delegate. Not “good” at delegating? Make a list of the tasks you want to unload and then place a name beside it. If the person is paid to do the task, is better at doing the task or will look at it as a growth opportunity (maybe the person(s) you recognized on Day 1?), add them to the task. Taking tasks from your to-do list gives you time to work on promoting the business.
Nearly half way there…keep going…
Day 6 - Know what you need help with
Just as you delegated work to others on Day 5, seek help from others to keep your business running optimally. We cannot all be experts at everything and even if you were - - who has the time? The quickest way from point A to point B, may not be a straight line. While delegating tasks you may discover that there are important areas like bookkeeping or tax accounting or event planning that need the attention of an expert. Make a list of what you need help with and research the options. Check out your local universities for the skills you need. Many students would welcome the experience.
Day 7 – Reach out to the government
The Small Business Administration (SBA), http://www.sba.gov/ has lots of tools and services that you can take advantage of such as:
- Articles on various topics from finding a mentor and preparing your finances to energy efficiency.
- Links to beneficial sites like:
- The SCORE website, a partner of the SBS dedicated to the success of small businesses. http://www.score.org/
- The Women Business Centers, representing women business owners. http://www.awbc.biz/
- The Veterans Business Outreach Centers. http://www.sba.gov/content/veterans-business-outreach-centers
Day 8 – Read all the time
There are lots of good websites with beneficial information that you can adapt to your business. There are also books that give ideas for you to apply to your life or business, e.g., the concept behind “The Tipping Point”, by Malcolm Gladwell, is that little things can make a big difference. Like that, small changes in your business can make a big difference.
Check out some periodicals (online/print) that are related to your business. They will have topics of interest and a list of vendors. Yahoo has a list of periodicals by industry or business topic: http://dir.yahoo.com/Business_and_Economy/Business_to_Business/News_and_Media/Magazines/Trade_magazines/
Sign up for email newsetters from relevant new sources so you keep updated on industry-specific information.
Take what you think is a good, relevant idea for your business and add it to your list of things to consider.
Day 9 – Buy used
If you need cutlery for your restaurant or a chair for your office - - why buy new? Used is cheaper and it may be all you need. Make an inventory of what you need, prioritize it, and then shop around. Some potential sites are:
• Government surplus:
• Auction sites, http://www.e-bay.com/
• Used Autos, http://www.autotrader.com/
• Kitchen Restaurant Supply:
• Computers, http://www.usedcomputer.com/
Day 10 – Thank your customers
This should be done on Day 1, but I left it until Day 10 because, you need to do this every day going forward. Every business is different, but the reality is the same; it costs less to keep a customer than to gain a new customer. Taking the time on a daily basis to thank your customers and then reaching out to them periodically is vital to the success of your year and your business. Make a list of suggestions that might apply to your business. Consider how you can communicate with your customers by whether you see them, talk to them, email or mail to them. Some suggestions are:
- Gather emails and send a periodic update about your company with an offer included.
- Gather mailing addresses and mail out a postcard with a call-to-action offer. Increase sales and keep your customer coming back.
- Thank them after every purchase, in person or via email.
- Create a rewards program, like a punch card for a free lunch or free spa treatment or a referral program for 10% off coupon for referring a friend.
- Offer promotional items like annual magnets, calendars, pens, notebooks as a thank you.
- Give on the spot discounts to repeat customers.
- Request suggestions to make your business better and give a gift and a thank you when you implement their suggestions.
To recap, get excited about your business this year with 10 things to do:
1. Choose an employee to recognize
2. Pick an area of focus
3. Write down your business’ goals
4. Market your business
5. Delegate tasks
6. Know what you need help with
7. Reach out to the government
8. Read all the time
9. Buy used
10. Thank your customers
Small Business Administration, http://www.sba.gov/
US Chamber of Commerce, http://www.uschamber.com/
AMI’s website, http://www.advanceme.com/
NewLogic’s website, http://www.newlogicbusinessloans.com/