If you own or manage a small business you know that one of the biggest challenges is attracting and keeping new customers. Traditional advertising in print and radio can be expensive and hiring a marketing firm isn’t feasible on your budget.
I have worked with many small businesses and kept my ears open to the challenges they face and also some of the things they do that work to help them grow their businesses.
Here are five tips from several successful small business owners that are worth paying attention to:
1. Create a Support Network
For many owner, running your business can be an isolating experience at times. This can be especially true if you are the sole owner without a partner.
A solution to that problem is to stay networked in your community. That means meeting with you chamber of commerce, getting to know the other businesses in your area and creating support systems to help each other overcome typical challenges owners face.
As a busy business owner, It’s tough to find time to network, but getting better at networking and making contact can pay dividends in the future.
2. Be Specific About Your Goals
Another lesson many business owners learn is tobreak big goals into smaller ones. Have 10-year goals, 3-year goals and 1-year goals, as well as quarterly goals for your business. With regard to the bottom line set your goals on customers rather than a hard dollar amount. How many new customers do I need to obtain and service? If I know I need 100 customers to reach the revenue goal, then it’s easier to figure out how to achieve it. These kinds of really specific goals can drive your actions.
Every employee in your business should have a written list of their goals on to track their progress toward those goals. It helps keep everyone focused.
3. Keep Your Overhead Low
One of the biggest obstacles to success can be unnecessary spending. It’s great to want to be a 5 star business but over spending to get their quickly will kill your dreams. Start slow and expect to build organically with an eye on never-ending improvement.
4. Keep Your Day Job Just a Little Longer
It is a common trap: A person gets excited by a small business idea, quits his or her day job—and then runs out of money and fails. Expect to need to keep some other forms of income while working towards building your new business. Treat your current day job as a second job to keep some revenue flowing until your absolutely sure your new business is self-sustainable.
5. Avoid Distractions at All Costs
This is simple. Stay focused. In the age of social media and online interaction it can be especially hard to stay focused. Don’t let Facebook, Twitter or Instagram steal your time and energy.
Stay task focused. As a business owner, often you will be required to multitask but it is important to maintain as much focus as you possibly can to completing one mission before attempting to solve the next problem. You may feel like your always putting out fires. Understand that your personal bandwidth is limited and prioritize to stay focused.