Does your business need a boost? Are you in need of a few fresh ideas to reignite your passion? Revamp your operations? How are your employees performing?
The effects of the global pandemic has left many entrepreneurs exhausted. Many businesses have been left with no choices other than to sacrifice ‘the pause of their operations’, downsize, lay off employees, and sadly, many have closed their doors. And, yet, as with all entrepreneurs, there has and will always be a burning desire to ‘never give up’, to rebuild and find new ways of making our business work. In addition, many entrepreneurs have made decisions to start with fresh new ideas and even better products.
All in all, whether we are reassessing our operations or considering opening up a new company, we must be ready to make adjustments as needed in order to maintain our forward momentum.
“Defeat brings a lesson, it gives a chance to rebuild, a chance to start again, with the knowledge of what does not work.”-Leon Brown.
Listed below are a few helpful tips, resources, and questions for you to consider in hopes of providing you with a little inspiration and give you that boost you may be looking for. So, take out your notebooks and be prepared to dig in. Your answers may surprise you.
YOUR PASSION…YOUR PRODUCT…YOUR SERVICES
Remember the feeling you had when you first started your business? Yes, next to rolling up your sleeves and the endless hours, there was this excitement and passion for your business. Is this still alive?
- Do you still believe in your product and services?
- What makes your products and services unique? The best?
- How does the delivering your products and services support your mission?
- How do your products make you feel? Peace of mind, comfort, satisfied, happy, empowered, etc.?
How about YOU as a shopper? Do you have any favorite restaurants, clothing lines, restaurants, or vacation spots?
- What about the product or service makes it ‘worth’ your time and dollars?
- Is it the atmosphere? Location? Convenience? Ease of purchase?
- Do you like how the employees treat you?
- Do you tell your family and friends about this company?
- What makes you keep going back?
- Most importantly, how does the customer/client experience make you ‘feel’?
Considering your answers-How could you transform the feelings you have into your products and services? Are there some areas you could you switch up? Add a bit of color, flavor, or design? Are you able to bring in some other talented colleagues and brainstorm new ideas?
Remember, entrepreneurs are full of creativity, vision, and tenacity. You got this!
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY, ASSESS, & HAVE A PLAN
“The Buck Stops Here.”-Harry S. Truman
Accurate and timely data is a must for the survival and success of any business. You must schedule the time to assess, strategize, and fine-tune because no one will do this for you. Monitor your finances, set goals, reporting, and ongoing trend research.
- Strategic Business Plan-No matter how small your business may be, a plan is critical for sustainability and growth. There are plenty of templates and resources to check on the web. You could also check with your accountant for any recommendations.
- Revisit your business model/plan several times throughout the year to ensure you are on track, make adjustments as needed.
- Have a Contingency Plan and test it.
- Save for a rainy day-Check for financial institutions who may offer free Business Savings or Money Market Accounts.
As far as funding, most businesses do not think of funding until they need it and by that time it may be too late. It may be wise to consider obtaining some sort of modest and safe funding, i.e., Line of Credit, etc. when your credit is good and you qualify. For any advice, contact your trusted financial and tax advisor for guidance. As always, beware of overextending yourself with too much credit. This is where you will go back to your business plan finances and forecasts to know exactly where you stand and a little peace of mind.
GOT EMPLOYEES? APPRECIATE THEM!
Be the leader your employees need and deserve. Provide and nurture a healthy and vibrant company culture where your employees can thrive. A place where they feel valued and appreciated.
- Include them in regular Team Meetings
- Empower them with the tools they need for success; mentorship or training programs?
- Ask them for their input and ideas relating to Key Strategic and Operational Decisions
- Provide them with honest and constructive feedback
- What is their take on your customers, their feel in the community?
“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”-Simon Sinek
Your employees are the real face of your company and, in some cases, have the power to either make you or break you. Make time to motivate them, thank them, and teach them. They are working for you, so why not invest in their career growth as a mentor or through an employee leadership program?
Sharing ideas and creating teamwork will go a long way and strengthen your team’s performance and profitability.
THE BENEFITS OF A CRM PLATFORM & YOUR CUSTOMERS
Having a reliable Customer Relation Management (CRM) platform is a fantastic way to manage and expand your customer base. Most CRM’s will have user friendly tools to help build your pipeline, focus on keeping in touch with your advocates, set follow-up dates for contact, etc. Make time to research and compare various CRM platforms that will efficiently support the needs of your business. Not sure for what to look for? Reach out to trusted professionals in your network for their suggestions.
If you are not quite ready for a CRM, no worries! Pull out your calendar or iPhone and schedule in your key customers for outreach, i.e., telephone calls, thank you cards, etc. This tried and true method can work wonders until you choose the right platform for your business.
Now what how about your Customers?
There are countless and creative ways a business can appreciate their customers. How well do you know your customers? Your target market? A few tips to help you deepen your customer relationships and build new ones are:
- Thank…thank…thank…your customers
- Be genuine
- Ask for their business
- Ask for referrals
- Surprise them with a card or small gift of appreciation
- Pick up the phone and call them
- Gather their feedback through customer surveys
- Could you invite them to join a community event or cause you are supporting? Why not tie in your appreciation and celebrate together?
“No matter how good your feedback is, you always start over with the next customer.”-Shep Hyken
Do you have a Customer Experience Strategy that has all the key elements of extraordinary service, goals, and expectations for your company to follow? If not, it is never too late to strategize and design a good plan.
- Customer Experience and Customer Service are different
- Do you know what your customers like/dislike about your company? If yes, what?
- Have you asked your customer’s opinion?
- Do not ignore unpleasant customer experiences, Find out the ‘why’ and find ways on how you can improve, i.e., long wait times, lack of products, poor customer service, etc.
- Look for ways how you can improve your customer experience
If you want your customers to become advocates, you must invest in their experience. Use your Customer Experience Strategy as a tool to train and engage with your employees.
According to the Nielson Norman Group (nngroup.com https://www.nngroup.com/articles/how-long-do-users-stay-on-web-pages/), “…Users often leave Web pages in 10–20 seconds, but pages with a clear value proposition can hold people’s attention for much longer. To gain several minutes of user attention, you must clearly communicate your value proposition within 10 seconds.” This article may be an oldie but it provides some very good concepts for consideration. How to Create Client Worthy Website
Websites provide your prospects with a peek into your business, a first impression. If you are an IT guru, fantastic! But if you need a little help…Simplilearn (www.simplilearn.com) provides a Google Analytics tutorial on YouTube that you may find interesting to help explain how Google Analytics work, set up goals, create events, and more. Here is the link to check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6ntvZDErQ4&t=15s
Social Media is a worldwide platform for you to simply, ‘tell your story’ and engage your audience! Yes, think of ways to show what makes your product/service special. Do your research and come up with some clever and attractive content that people will enjoy.
Make time to post quality content and interact with your fans. Post your events, sales, and set up convenient payment channels for your customers.
Social Media is a topic that deserves its own article entirely! Until then, please check out this article in Forbes on, “5 Ways To Engage Consumers On Social Media” at https://www.forbes.com/sites/square/2020/12/04/5-ways-to-engage-consumers-on-social-media/?sh=20b2cd51b3f4
GET INVOLVED AND NETWORK
Be active, be seen, volunteer, support your community, and collaborate with other businesses to build your network, i.e., LinkedIn is a fabulous site to meet professionals from around the world.
A few ideas may include:
- Chamber of Commerce Events
- Hold your own Business Open House
- Host a fundraiser for a nonprofit, i.e., in-kind donations, gift basket, volunteer
- Become a sponsor for a good cause, depending on your finances.
People love companies who care about their communities and make a positive impact in our world through corporate social responsibility. Check your community event calendar to see what interesting events your company may in interested in. (Read Customer Experience.)
RESOURCES AND RESEARCH
Schedule 1-2 hours for your own personal learning and explore what reliable resources and training you can take advantage of per week. Is there any additional training you could provide your employees?
Check with your local nonprofit and government agencies for free and reliable business support educational programs. You may consider free to low-cost online training further enhance your skills. Here are a few online resources for you to check out:
Grow with Google offers free virtual workshops, events and 1:1 Coaching sessions on variety of topics to help your business grow, tips on customer engagement, work smarter tips, and more https://growonair.withgoogle.com/
In the US? Check out the America’s SBDC for free and low-cost training to new and existing businesses in your area at https://americassbdc.org/about-us/
LinkedIn.com provides a host of learning modules that may help boost your inspiration and confidence. Here is the link for you to explore what they have to offer: www.linkedin.com/Online-Training
MAKE TIME FOR YOU
The global pandemic has changed our lives and how we operate. It has also reinforced the need for flexibility, ongoing strategic planning, and self-care. It is easier said than done, but making time for “YOU” is important to recharge and stay healthy. So, take that walk, read, enjoy a nap, take a trip to the beach, do whatever makes you feel good and rested and keep your passion alive.
I will end this short article with one of my favorite quotes…
“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling, What if you fly?”
Managing Director | Sailor | Global Goodwill Ambassador | Freelance Strategic Advisor | Bringing Communities Together From Around the World
Feel free to connect with Christina on LinkedIn at Linkedin