There, I said it.
I spend hours talking with business owners about the importance of breaking the mold, of going where their competition hasn’t been–of creating change. They nod, in what seems to be an understanding, and then they keep on keeping on with the same old tactics.
Well, that’s why your small business is failing. Now, here’s what you should be doing:
You need to work harder than you’ve ever worked before
It’s no joke. Successful business owners put in more hours than they’d like to care to admit. If something goes wrong, it’s your job to fix it (yes, even on your day “off”). Owning a business is not anything near a 9-5 job; it’s 24/7/365. And the sooner business owners accept this, the sooner the success will come.
Working on your business is just as important as working in it
Set aside time for your business. Keeping up with client needs is important, but if you don’t make time for your own business, you won’t be there for your clients. Managing your business means managing your time. Know your priorities and your goals and have a plan to work towards them. Then, do it. No more excuses.
Understand the importance of a good brand
You cannot do everything yourself. This means, if you’re not a graphic designer leave your logo alone and let someone help you who understands visual strategy. You’re too close to your business anyway; you need to collaborate with someone who can ask the questions your customers are going to ask; who can draw information out of you before slapping together a black and red typeface version of your business name only to realize 3 months later than no one can read it and your customers think you’re an auto dealership rather than an IT firm.
Traditional marketing is not going to save your business
Stop running advertisements on the radio and TV and put your focus into online communication. Think content. Think strategy (and strategy is not which coupon you can offer to discount your merchandise again so customers will stop buying it regular price since they know it’s always going to be on sale).
Give your customers a way to engage with you. Create an experience. Do it with social media or blogging or, better yet, both. If you don’t know how to use social media or a blog, find someone who does to help you. Pushing products and services is out; stop selling. Customers want to know who you are before they’ll buy from you, and they want the entire process to be easy, fun and to make them feel good. That’s not easy (see section on how you need to work harder than you’ve ever worked before).
Spend money to make money
Invest in yourself, your employees, your technology. If you want to make a difference, you need to have the correct tools to do it. It’s true, you need to spend money to grow, because you can’t do it all and getting good help isn’t always free.
Knowing when, where and how much to invest in your small business is not easy, but I never told you this was easy. You need to do it, and you need to do it the smart way. Don’t hire employees you can’t afford to pay or who won’t improve your bottom line.
You can’t be good at everything; stop telling yourself that you can do anything your clients or customers ask of you. Pick a focus and own it. It’s OK…you want to be great and the way to do that is with a primary focus.
Spreading yourself too thin means you can’t concentrate on being really good at any one thing. Stick to your strengths a find your niche, that way, you’ll be able to focus on one thing. If you focus on your niche, you won’t have to worry about so much competition, and that can make a big difference.
If your business is focused on doing something well, doing it differently, engaging your customers, investing thoughtfully and you’re working hard on it every day, you’ll soar to success soon enough. And that’s a great thing, because as a small business owner myself, I’m rooting for you!