During the month of August thru the end of the year small business entrepreneurs often take a few moments to reassess. You may be on a family vacation, business may have slowed, or you could just be thinking about steps to take to make things better by the end of the calendar year. Whatever the motivation, here are five concerns that should be on your mind:
1. Is it time to get some help? Most entrepreneurs love the idea of being on their own until they run into the reality of doing everything alone. One big decision to make is when to hire an actual employee. This can be challenging because it involves learning about new regulations, and becoming a manager as well as an owner. You don’t want someone you’re paying doing nothing all day because you don’t know how to organize their time. Get the skills to be an employer and be prepared to take the leap.
2. What is my brand? If you can’t identify your reason for being in business, how do you expect customers to appreciate what you do? What is your unique selling proposition – that one thing that makes your business better or different from everyone else? Once you know this, distill it into an “elevator speech” where you can boil the essence of your business down to a few sentences, and start building your brand from there.
3. As I focused on my customers? Sometimes entrepreneurs get so intent on what they want to do that they forget they are in business to meet the needs of a certain population. Have you talked to your customers about what they want, what they like best about your business, and what they really wish you would do (or would stop doing)? Do your communication efforts talk more about why you’re so great, or do they clearly focus on how your business makes things better for clients?
4. Is my online presence the best it can be? In an age where smartphones and digital access are ubiquitous, the penalties for not having a great online presence are immense. Check that your website is optimized for laptop and mobile use, write regular articles for your blog, amp up your social media, and post a short video to get prospects interested in what you do.
5. Do I have an “out of the box” idea? Don’t get so focused on doing things one way that you are not willing to try something new. If all your business is done in a retail location, think about ways you can sell online. If all your marketing is accomplished through print advertising, think about what you might say in your first Facebook ad.
Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean being stagnant. Take some time to step back and really think about what you can do to make your small business even better this year and beyond.