This time of year, it seems like everyone is busy making resolutions. Whether it’s small business resolutions or personal resolutions, the results are often the same. Get healthy, travel more, spend more time with the family, become debt free, improve my time management skills… and the list continues. Halfway through the year, people become discouraged + resolutions peter out. Why? Because many resolutions lack purpose, are overly complicated, and just too vague.
As a small business owner, failed resolutions can be particularly discouraging since your success throughout the year determines the viability of your business in the future. A resolution, after all, is a decision to approach something differently in order to bring about positive change. Setting resolutions can help you reflect on your business’ progress and plan how you want to grow your business in the new year.
Below are five simple, specific, actionable goals which I plan to implement in my own business. Can I ask you to keep a few promises for me? Perfect.
In 2018, I will...
Learn How To Delegate
Get To Know My Audience
Make Sure My Brand Is Consistent + Speaks Directly To My Niche
Create a Marketing Strateg
Charge What I’m Worth
As a small business owner, you probably find yourself spending countless hours on business tasks + decisions you never trained for or wanted to be doing. Your to-do list might put you in a state of panic + you feel as though there are simply not enough hours in a day. You’re probably exhausted, stressed and not living the life you had imagined when you started your business.
I get it. I am struggling right along with you. It’s easy to think that, as the owner, we should be able to do it all. Do you struggle with planning + generating new ideas? Do you need help executing your ideas? Want someone to handle the basic admin tasks that are eating up your time? It may seem pricey now but spending all our time trying to learn something new (and therefore missing out on being able to serve our clients), is going to cost more in the long run. Let’s make this the year we allow ourselves to delegate, to hire experts where needed.
Are you still with me? Wonderful. Here we go.
Promise #1: I promise to delegate ONE thing a month from my to-do list. Feel free to be an overachiever for this one, if you’re THAT person.
Figure out who you enjoy working with most and what questions they have. Do you prefer working with a certain gender, age, or life stage? Is there a particular industry you want to serve? Perhaps you want to niche down to become an expert in a specific area of your own industry. Conduct informational interviews to find out where your potential audience is struggling and if that aligns with your own ideas for your niche. How can you be of most assistance to your audience? Find out where your dream clients hang out and become a part of their communities.
Promise #2: I promise to refine (or determine) my niche audience + find ways to authentically engage + answer their questions. Become known as an expert + helpful friend, not a stalker.
Take a minute and think about your business brand. What experience are your customers receiving when they open your “door”? Are your website + marketing materials clear + consistent with your overall business image? Do potential customers in your niche resonate with your brand or is there a disconnect?
For some, this challenge may create an opportunity to start delegating. Brand strategists can help determine your best business voice. A visual designer can craft a unique + memorable business face. Studying your competition can be another great way to learn about branding or, you can look for certain small business signs to know when you should invest in brand strategy + visual identity.
Promise #3: I promise to create an overwhelming brand experience that speaks directly to my target audience. OVERwhelm them.
Marketing is a broad category and, while certain marketing techniques have been shown to be more effective than others, there is no “right way” to market your small business. A lot will depend on your personal priorities, your service or product offerings, + your niche and their desired method for finding + receiving information. There are many types of marketing strategies which you can explore in more detail. Below are a few strategies I anticipate focusing on this year. Be sure you streamline your marketing strategy to allow the time (and money) needed to fully evaluate the effectiveness of each chosen marketing technique.
Content Marketing is the creation + sharing of valuable, relevant, and consistent online content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience - and, ultimately, to drive profitable sales. Examples of content marketing include videos, blogs (internal link), search engine optimization (SEO)(external link), e-mail marketing, webinars + social media posts.
Paid marketing includes print, radio, direct mailing + online paid advertisements. Basically, anything that directly promotes the brand + service or product offerings.
One of the best forms of marketing, referral marketing is a method of promoting products or services to new customers through referrals, usually word of mouth. Most referrals happen spontaneously though businesses can influence the outcome through appropriate strategies.
Promise #4: I promise to create a marketing strategy that works for me, my current business goals + target audience. I will then determine the best course for implementation. Marketing is a complex field. For best results, delegate. (Assuming this isn’t your zone of genius of course!)
Do you often feel underpaid, overworked and undervalued? Have your business expenses + taxes gradually been increasing but not your hourly rate? Does your take-home pay shrink year to year? If so, this resolution is for you!
To begin, calculate your hourly rate (adjusted annual salary / billable hours = hourly rate). You may need to adjust your numbers slightly depending on your experience + market but this should give you a good starting point. Finally, set a goal for increasing your prices so you continue to charge your worth as you grow your skills. How many clients do you need to book before you increase your prices and how much are you going to add to your hourly rate? (Every #_____ bookings by $_____).
Promise #5: I promise to evaluate my current rates, revamp my strategy + raise my rates to accommodate the value I bring to the table and cover my basic costs. You’re worth every penny!
Phew. There it is. My 2018 small business resolutions - my promises to you + my business. Will you keep these promises with me? Comment below if you have any promises or resolutions of your own. May I be your accountability partner?
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