1. Get Clear On Your Why
You’re a business owner, which means you’re someone with energy and drive. You’re a risk taker. You thrive in exciting situations.
That’s why when your business is doing well, and you find yourself doing the same thing week after week after week, business starts to feel like a drag.
Going back to why you’re in business gives you energy and drive. Discover your why to gift your business with a new lease on life.
- Hoped to provide a nest-egg for your family.
- Wanted to make the world a better place.
- Longed to be your own boss and set your own schedule.
- Aimed to prove to yourself and others what you’re capable of.
- Needed an outlet for your creativity and energy.
- Wanted to create jobs for others and boost the economy.
Write down as many reasons as you can think of for why you started your business and why you stay in business. Then 2014 won’t seem like an uphill climb but a smooth downhill ski run.
2. Dig Deep into Your Values
Today’s consumers are savvy. They (or we!) don’t fall for marketing gumpf. They see behind your posturing and posing to what’s at the heart of your business. They don’t only want the products with the best value; they want to know you care.
That’s why it’s so important to be open about your brand values and to live up to those values.
Your brand’s values come from your story and the things you really care about. If you’ve yet to put your values down on paper, it’s time you got started.
3. Open Your Eyes to Opportunities
The world is changing faster than ever. New technologies are emerging and disappearing all the time. Facebook will soon be celebrating its 10 year anniversary, but in another decade, it could be in the social media graveyard alongside Bebo and MySpace.
It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur. With all this change, there are opportunities everywhere – if you open your eyes to see them.
Brands can no longer afford to stay the same, year after year. You must grow with the times. Seize the day – it’s yours to grab.
4. Be SMART About What You Can Achieve
We business owners are audacious. We set big goals because we have big dreams.
But with big dreams come big disappointments. Humans might have gone to space, but we’ve yet to reach the stars.
So instead of aiming for the stars, set your sights on something achievable. Making your goals SMART is a great way to do this. SMART goals are:
- Specific. So you know how they’ll be achieved.
- Measurable. So you know when you’ve hit them.
- Assignable. So you know who will make them happen.
- Realistic. So you know they’re possible – leaving you with little wiggle room for excuses.
- Time-bound. Because a goal with no time limit is merely an aspiration.
5. Listen to Your Employees
Have you ever watched the TV show Undercover Boss? If you’ve yet to see it, you should check it out. In the show, the boss of a company goes undercover in his or her own business, disguised as an employee.
In every show, the bosses discover something new. They find ways to improve their businesses.
That’s because the people on the ground know your business better than you do. They know the best ways to improve things, but they’re often too scared to say anything, in case you don’t want to hear it.
It’s time you started rewarding honesty at all levels of your business. You might discover things you’d rather not know, but in the long run it’s better for your business. Trusting your team makes them happier, too.
6. Create Space for Creativity
Talking of trusting your team, why not allow innovation from everyone in your business – from the cleaners to the CEO?
Let people know you’re looking for new ideas to improve your business. Even better, trust them to implement the ideas for themselves. Give every employee three pass cards for the year ahead. They can try new things, as long as they admit it if they go wrong. They’ve got three chances for things to go wrong and unlimited chances for things to go right.
Now I enjoy working for myself, but if I were an employee, that’s the kind of company I would love to work for.
7. Listen to Your Customers
No business can survive without customers, whether that’s one customer or one million customers. No customers, no business.
You may well know that the customer is king. But if all the king’s courtiers are deaf, then his throne is meaningless.
You’ve got to keep your ears open to what the king wants. Talk to your customers. Ask them questions, and listen to what they say. You can do this face to face, or if you want to keep things simple, on social media or with an online survey.
Make sure you’re meeting their needs in a way that works for them. Are you helping your customers get to where they want to be? If not, your business won’t last for long.
You might love your secret sauce, but that’s not to say your customers do.
8. Create Value
What is value? Value is giving your customers what they want. When you’re meeting their needs, your customers are willing to pay.
We’ve already looked at how important it is to find out what your customers want and to meet those needs through your products or services.
But more than that, you should always be on the lookout for new, better ways to meet their needs.
Value isn’t just about products or services, either. Good marketing involves giving away value for free, so potential customers associate your brand with value. Don’t be afraid of giving stuff away to build a relationship.
9. Keep an Eye on Your Numbers
You might think your business is doing well, but your stats might tell a different story.
- Is your revenue growing or declining?
- How many people are visiting your website?
- How much is your content being shared and talked about on social media?
- How many leads are you generating every month?
Even if you don’t have a head for numbers, you need to watch out for trends in your stats. If the numbers are telling you that you need to buck up, then you need to buck up.
10. Get on the Right Social Networks
If you’re not on the right social networks, then you’re wasting resources and missing out on customers. To make the most of social media, choose the networks that match your industry and customer profile.
Most social networks are wrong for your brand, so make sure you choose the right ones.
11. Be a Copycat
To come up with the best ideas, you don’t have to go it alone. Look at what’s working for others, and try those ideas for yourself.
Yes, it’s copying, but remember: no one can genuinely create an apple pie from scratch.
Get ideas from all around you. We all do it, all the time. It’s not about where you get your ideas. It’s about the unique mix you create, and where you take them.
12. Drop What’s Not Working
However big your business gets, it will always have a limited capacity. You can’t do everything. Put a finger in every pie, and your hands become useless.
Take an honest look at your business, and decide what’s working well and what’s not. Dropping projects in which you’ve invested time, money, and your emotional energy is never easy. But only by doing this can you create space for something better to happen.