We’re hurtling through another year. You just get done saying “Happy New Year” and it’s already time for Valentine’s Day. If the cliché of “he who hesitates is lost” is right, then small business entrepreneurs who don’t have a strategic plan in place for 2017 could be lost. To get you back on track, here are some small business hacks that will make your life a little easier and your business a lot more successful:
• Ask your customers what they want: This might seem a bit too obvious, but it’s an important point many business owners forget. Find out what your customers want, and then give it to them. It doesn’t have to be any big, scientific study – just connect and ask, “How are we doing, and what could we do better?” Send out an e-mail, post it on Facebook, or actually talk to somebody in person.
• Get a mentor: You don’t have to learn everything from the ground up by yourself. Identify a few individuals you admire in your community or your industry, and form a relationship with them. Ask questions about what they did to become successful, and pick their brains on topics that are giving you difficulty.
• Do a little planning: Many small businesses operate on an “ad hoc” basis, paying attention to whatever fire needs to be put out at the moment. There is no overall strategy, which leads to nothing ever being completely finished. Set out five achievable goals for the year, and decide what steps you need to take to achieve them. Put together a marketing calendar for the year so you don’t get behind on what you need to promote. For businesses that deal with the public, February 1 is too late to be thinking about a Valentine’s Day Sale.
• Let people know you want more business: Another tip from Captain Obvious, you say, so why don’t more entrepreneurs do this? Tell customers you would like them to come back again, inform them of other products and services you offer, ask for referrals, and get in touch with those who fell off the face of the earth to find out why they aren’t doing business with you any longer. Customers can be easily distracted by “shiny penny” offers from your competitors, so make sure your relationship is strong enough to overcome their brief interest.
• Once and for all, start using social media: You may not feel comfortable, you may not like it, or you might not think it works. But take a quick look around when you’re out in public and see all those eyes firmly trained on their digital devices. What do you think they are doing? They are checking all their social media sites. If you’re not on them, how do you think they will ever learn about your business? If you don’t have a functioning mobile website, Facebook page, and Twitter account, make 2017 the year you finally decide to go social!