It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through the year. It seems like yesterday the snow was flying here in New England, and believe it or not, the last of it just melted! Although it might seem like the slow time of year for many small businesses, the busy fall and holiday seasons are right around the corner. So before they catch up to you, here are five things to try while you still have the time. Change can be good, and these easy tips may breathe new life into your business for the remainder of 2015.
- Try a new idea proposed by your team. We don’t always have the luxury of testing and vetting new ideas in a small business. Our time is precious and our resources limited. So while you have some downtime, generate some enthusiasm among your staff by implementing an idea they’ve proposed. It’s been proven the opportunity to lead new projects is one of the highest non-cash motivators for employees. And motivated employees are happy employees. Happy employees are loyal – and small businesses need loyal, long-lasting employees because turnover can be costly. Be sure to provide guidelines for the project: deadline, parameters, resources, expectations and what success looks like. Don’t micromanage, but support them throughout and provide evaluation at the end of the project.
- Hire a new assistant. Never had an assistant? Maybe now’s the time to try one. Small business owners are notorious for doing everything themselves, which means we often spread ourselves too thin. Multitasking has actually been proven to make us less efficient. . It can be difficult to give up the management of everything in your small business – after all, it is your baby – but doing so can allow you to grow and improve the bottom line. Great help can be found in many places now, and virtual assistants can be a good way to dip your toe in. Not sure what a virtual assistant could do for you? Read 101 Ways to Use a Virtual Assistant, or simply ask for some feedback from your Facebook or Twitter community – people are willing to share their experiences and tips for hiring an assistant.
- Analyze your PR and marketing plan. If you’ve read my posts before, it should be no surprise that I’d make this recommendation. Things change so quickly in today’s business environment and revisiting your marketing plan mid-year is the best way to ensure your investments are profitable, and not a cost center. Have you been able to execute on the ideas planned? Are those campaigns driving conversions? Which effort is driving the best leads for your business? Is PR paying off? There are a plethora of affordable tools to help you analyze and measure PR and marketing efforts to identify what’s working and pivot away from what isn’t. I recommend following Hubspot’s blog for a variety of ongoing advice and tips on improving your inbound marketing. Not sure what the difference is between inbound and outbound marketing? Here’s a recent article covering the topic. One compelling note: According to Demand Metric, inbound marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing, yet each dollar spent on inbound marketing generates three times as many leads as traditional marketing.
- Update your content. Perhaps you haven’t had time to focus on engaging your online community. Maybe you haven’t sent out that “quarterly newsletter” since January or your website hasn’t been updated in over a year. Take some time to review the content you have and ensure it’s still relevant and timely. Not able to keep up with all the social channels you eagerly signed up for? Consider narrowing it down to one or two quality networks that you can keep up with. Having a good presence in one location customers know they can count on is better than having a shallow presence across many channels that never engages your audience. Invest in a good social media publishing and management platform that allows you to pre populate content on a daily or weekly basis. Update your SEO terms and if you have a blog that’s getting dusty, invest some time in writing a dozen or so posts that you can easily publish when you get too busy to write (or assign that task to one of your employees as an ongoing and new project to manage).
With a few tweaks, you can bring new inspiration into your business for the rest of the year. It doesn’t have to be too daunting if you try a few at a time. And remember, being a small business owner doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself – find good help, delegate, motivate and measure.
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Here’s to a successful second half of the year!