Embrace your business…and love it!

It’s very exciting to set up your own business…if you’ve not worked for yourself before, it’s quite an adrenalin rush. There is so much to do…setting up your ideal working environment, buying the equipment you need and arranging it and of course getting those first customers and interacting with them. Whether you offer a product or a service, you have so many choices open to you. You choose when you go on holiday, what your days off are, what hours you will work, do you wear casual clothes or smart clothes? I guess the answer to most of these questions lies in what you actually do, but you get the gist of it…you’re upbeat, positive and full of energy.

However, after the initial rush fades away, reality sets in. You may still be very positive and proud of your business, but there may be challenges you weren’t expecting. There will be things you don’t like doing, activities that you find deadly dull and there will be some things you find impossible to do yourself. It might be you don’t have a particular technical skill and there may be things that test your patience and clients who you find challenging! But you ARE still doing what you love to do and it’s important to keep the focus on that when times are tough. But there are things you can do to help alleviate the stuff that you hate or find too difficult or challenging.

Delegate activities

id-10040854If you are a creative person, you may find that everyday jobs like email, accounts, taxes, marketing, social media or marketing, a distraction from what you want to be focussing on. Hiring someone to do those jobs for you is a great option, and hiring in an expert gives you peace of mind that everything will be done to a high standard and you can stop worrying about it.

Step back

Take time out, at least once a month, to step back and look at what’s working and what’s not in your business. Can you streamline some of the things you do to make your business more efficient? Take time to plan what’s coming next, add new goals to your business plan as you achieve your old goals.

It’s also important to take a break from your business – when you work for yourself, you rarely take time off as you’re constantly thinking about it. So, book some time away, have a holiday and switch off from work. You will return refreshed and raring to go.

Join groups

heart-3147976_640Running your own business can be very isolating and this can be depressing if you were previously used to working in a busy environment. There are always local groups of small businesses who get together to network, have lunch and generally chat about their businesses. Join some of those groups and meet other people … it’s highly motivating to talk to someone who is enthusiastic about what they do and that energy is contagious and will help you to revive your excitement about your business.

Learn a new skill

If there’s something you’ve been meaning to do, but just haven’t gotten around to, now’s the time to look at it. If you need to learn a new skill, get out there and do it…be it an online course or a short course at college or in a specialised work environment. This also gets you meeting other like-minded people and will bring a new facet to your business.

New possibilities

Is there something new you can do with your business? Is there a new market you can get into or new products or services you could introduce. There’s nothing like a new challenge to inject a bit of excitement and help calm down that restlessness.

Put the spark back

new-years-eve-1283521_640When you’re first in business, it’s like being in love. Exhilarating, exciting, stimulating. Then, after a while, it might feel like your business is losing its appeal, it’s become humdrum and a bit boring, as reality of day to day life sets in. It’s hard work and maybe not as financially rewarding as you hoped…and it makes you tired and irritable.

heart-268151_640So what’s the secret to rekindling the love for your business? Remind yourself of all the good things…make a list of all that’s good about your business, the positive things it brings you. What really matters to you and what ignited that spark to be in business in the first time? And finally, never lose hope, being in business for yourself isn’t a bed of roses, but with a little bit of patience and effort, you can learn to love it again and keep it alive and kicking.

What are your top tips for putting the spark back into your business? I’d love to know, so please feel free to contact me.

 

Is your mind-set holding you back?

think-2661191_640I came across an article online the other day about a slimming club. It gave the most amazing stories about people who had lost a lot of weight by changing the way they think about food. Then it occurred to me that this mind-set could apply to marketing. We’re all guilty of thinking that the hill is impossible to climb and that, in itself, puts obstacles in our way.

After doing some research, I found that there are some marketing mind-set mistakes that are quite common – they’re definitely among the comments I’ve heard when talking to people with small businesses.

  • Marketing is mysterious and unpredictable. Lots of people feel that marketing is just something they can’t get their heads around. It’s something you either can do or can’t and it’s too hard to do it effectively.
  • Marketing doesn’t work for my business. Most of the time, this is not that it doesn’t work, it’s just that you may have the wrong approach or you’ve tried so many different things and had little success. This is a hard one, because it will feel that no matter what you do, nothing seems to work.
  • I’m rubbish at marketing. I’ve heard this loads of times from customers who come to me to help them. But the truth is that everyone can learn and improve by learning new techniques, sometimes very simple ones. There are very few small businesses who start out as great marketers…they just learn over time what works best for them and their business…and learn as much as they can about how to get better results.

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Change your marketing mind-set to achieve more    

Do any of the mind-set mistakes above strike a chord with you? If they do, you are one step closer to more marketing success – once you have identified what it is that is holding you back, you are ready to think about a new mind-set approach.

  • No matter what kind of business you have, be it a crafting business, shop owner, builder, hairdresser…you need to realise that as a business owner, you are constantly looking for new customers and trying to attract new customers, so you are already in the marketing business. You are a marketer!
  • Secondly, it’s important to believe that you can become more effective at marketing your business. You can learn how to do this, it’s not an impossible feat. It’s about being positive. I remember when I worked at a big insurance company in the UK in slogan-707017_640the Marketing and Communications department, I wanted to go for a promotion. In a meeting with my boss, she told me that if I wanted to go further and get my next grade, I needed to act like I already had that grade. So I looked at the criteria for the next grade and started learning how to do some of things that required and started acting like I was doing the job. After a relatively short time, I was promoted – my behaviours had changed and, instead of sitting there wishing I was the next grade up, I worked and thought as if I was already there. Applying this to small businesses, by learning the right marketing behaviours and practicing them, over time you will become more successful at marketing.
  • The most important point is that marketing your business is the key to growing your business. As you become more efficient and effective as a marketer, your business will naturally grow.

A good start is to write down what your current mind-set is regarding marketing and then look at what you can do to improve your mind-set and change your current behaviours. If you need help with your marketing strategy, please feel free to contact me … I’ll be happy to help you.

How Content Marketing can benefit your small business

How Content Marketing can benefit your small business

The Content Marketing Institute, which is an online resource for information on everything marketing related, defines content marketing as…

“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action”

Stuart Miles (7)The key word here is ‘valuable’ content; content that will speak to your customers, content that they want and need, maybe information that solves a problem they have. In order to do this, you need to know your existing customers and research and get to know your prospective customers, so you can deliver that all important content. It may take some time to get it right, but when you do, you will have the opportunity to expand your business, build your reputation and ultimately be known as an expert in your field.

Once you can provide the right kind of content, it brings much more to your ‘table’.

More traffic to your website

If you can solve a problem that your customers have and write about it on your website, when potential customers search online for a solution, they will visit your site. Stuart Miles (6)Depending on what you do, that could lead to a sale or a request for your services…and they are likely to return to your site in future.

If you can find a way to tailor your content to your target customer’s needs and wants, they will trust you and you will get repeat business.

More sales

When a person finds a site they like, that speaks to them personally, or they feel that it speaks to them personally, they will return again and again. And if they are returning, they are more likely to turn into customers. As everything is online these days, we all turn to the internet if we want to buy something; I like to read about what I want to buy first and find out as much as I can about that product before I buy it. I am more likely to buy from a business that knows what they’re talking about and one that seems to know my needs.

Enhances your brand

It sounds a bit rude to say this, but it is fundamentally true – people are generally interested in themselves, in their likes and needs. This isn’t about being selfish, it’s human nature. When someone first looks at your website or interacts with your David Castillo Dominicibusiness, they are not in the least bit interested in your brand, no matter how hard you’ve worked on it. They are more interested in what you can do for them. If you provide something that makes their life easier, less stressful, and cost-effective and generally entertain them, they will then become interested in your brand as they will see it as something they relate to.

If you are consistently publishing new, unique content on your blog or website and then promoting it on social media, more people will get to see your name and start to relate to the things you write about. If they like what they see, they’re more likely to tell their friends and so your audience starts to grow and they become more aware of your brand.

Content marketing is cheaper than other forms of marketing

The title of this last section basically says it all. If you can research and write your content yourself, it is more economical as you’re not spending money on getting someone else to do it for you. You’ll also learn so much from the research you do, that you’ll find more content as you go.

Stuart Miles (5)When you publish your content on your blog or website, make sure that you promote it on every social media site that you have…with maybe a jig around of the title or introduction. You can also contribute to larger sites to get your name out there.

Finally, with content marketing, you are attracting customers to you because they’re interested in what you have to say…and ultimately they will come back again and again.

If you want to influence your audience to your way of thinking and to look at your products or services, you must provide them with something they want or need, be their solution, show them that you provide valuable content and that you value their custom.

 

Images courtesy of 1-3 ) Stuart Miles, 4) David Castillo Dominici 4) Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Building a brand for your small business

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A Brand is the image of your business; the products or services that your customers and potential customers connect with. You don’t even have to see the name of some of the famous brands to know what they are – for example, you see the big, yellow, arches in the shape of an ‘M’ and just know that it’s Macdonald’s – or see the Apple logo and you know what it represents. Building a brand for your small business means you are marketing your business to be recognisable, so the name of your business is instantly connected to the products or services you provide.

seo-1288976_640If you have a good online presence, you’re already making a start in promoting your brand. You can use search engine optimization with relevant keywords, which will show up in online searches, but you need to do plenty of research to ensure you are using the right kind of keywords for your business so customers and potential customers can find you more easily.

Your brand says a lot about you, the person behind your business – your brand is synonymous with your reputation. How do your customers see you? Are you seen as an expert in your field? What do you represent? What does your business stand for? When someone hears the name of your business or your name, what springs to their minds?

What is your current brand? 

design-751452_640Put yourself into the shoes of your customer. Type the name of your business into google search and see what comes up – then type in your name. If you were a potential customer, would you employ you? Most big companies in the UK check out potential employees’ Facebook pages – what does your page say about you? If you’re trying to build a reputable brand, be careful about what you say on social media pages – although this is controversial, if you regularly rant about your personal life in public or use expletives, does this give a good impression? Will it affect the reputation of your business?

Social media sites give you the opportunity to build your public image – it’s the one area you have total control over – you decide how you’d like your potential customers to see you. If you are selling a particular craft or product or provide a serviced, you’ll want to be seen as someone who knows what they’re talking about – an expert. What you post demonstrates that image to the public, so use it wisely.

How do you build a positive brand?    

Set yourself goals…

  • What do you want people to associate with you? What do you want your customers to think of you? If you were going to buy your products/services, what would you look for?
  • arrow-2889040_640A good brand demonstrates expertise. You need to show potential customers that you’re good at what you do. When you do a good job for your current customers, ask them for feedback and recommendations. When I want to buy something on EBay, I always look at feedback to ensure the seller is reputable and delivers what they say they will
  • Your natural style – this is about how you portray yourself. Are you enthusiastic about what you do? Do you show your passion for your product or services? Do some research on other people who offer the same or similar products or services as you – how do they put their personal style across to their potential customers? I’m not saying you should copy someone else’s style, but if their style is successful, it wouldn’t hurt to emulate some of it!

Website – If your name or business name isn’t on the first page of a google search, you need to do some more work on getting yourself recognised. Do you have a website? If you do, research keywords for your product/services and keep your website content fresh and interesting.

Logo – if you don’t have a logo, it might be worth investing the time and money in getting one that captures your business. Then use it..on your website, on flyers, on your blog, business cards and in any advertising

Blogdo you have a blog? If you don’t, it’s worth thinking about – it’s a way to show your expertise to your customers. Write blogs that are informative and that help people; write about your products and why they’re good; research other bloggers who do the same or similar to you – follow them, make comments on other blogs, become a guest blogger. Get exposure!

Social Mediause social media wisely. Post regularly with relevant content on your business pages; use photographs, quotes, put links to interesting articles – anything that you think your customers would find interesting or useful…or even funny – without being offensive.

linked-in-2668687_640LinkedIn – this is a great business to business networking site – you can comment on forums, set up your own discussion threads – all of which can help you be seen as an expert in your field. Copy the LinkedIn profile you worked so hard on to other sites, such as AboutMe.com, Naymz.com and BrandYourself.com. Ensure you change the wording slightly so that the first few lines on a google search are slightly different for each site you join.

Set up a Google+ account – setting up this account will let google know that you exist – link it to your website and social media sites.

unique-2032274_640Building your brand takes time; google takes time to recognise any changes you make, but it’s worth the time and effort. You’ll get more business as more customers find you, like you and your brand and recommend you. This, in turn, will make your reputation grow – make your brand more recognisable….and so your business name and personal name will move up the ranks of google search and you will stand out from the crowd.

If you need any help with your branding, or if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at cindymobey@outlook.com – I’ll be happy to help.

How to conduct a SWOT analysis for your small business

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Whether you’re new to running your own small business, or whether you’ve been going for a while, conducting a SWOT analysis can help your business get on the right track. I tend to glaze over when someone talks about something that sounds like it will be difficult, or something that I might not understand, but SWOT analysis is a very simple concept, which can give you great insight into your business and generate ideas to take your business forward.

What is SWOT analysis

The term SWOT is an acronym devised from four words; Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Conducting analysis on your business in these four key areas help you look at internal and external factors that affect or have the potential to affect your business. It’s a good idea to conduct this analysis before you set up your business and marketing plan as it will help you develop your business strategy.

chain-690088_640You could also consider performing a SWOT analysis on your competitors, as this will give you valuable insight into their strengths and weaknesses…and may identify opportunities for your business that they haven’t thought of.

Where do you start?

A SWOT analysis is about making a list in four key areas:

Strengths – list what your strengths are…the aspects of your business or project that gives you an advantage over others. What do you do well?

Weaknesses – these are factors that put you at a disadvantage to your competitors – what don’t you do so well?

Strengths and Weaknesses are the internal factors of your business.

Opportunities – what are the opportunities you can see for your business? You might be able to spot opportunities from new technology, new potential markets for your products or services, or even lifestyle changes or local events.

Take a good look at your strengths and see if any of those can be converted into opportunities. Similarly, you may be able to work on your weaknesses to eradicate them and open up new opportunities.

Threats – do you have any hurdles you have to overcome with your business? Are any of your weaknesses a serious threat to your business? Look at what your competitors are doing to be successful – is there something you can change to compete? Of course, there are other threats to take into consideration, such as bad debts or loans.

Opportunities and Threats are the external factors of your business.

Who can help you?

positive-letters-2355685_640A SWOT analysis can be completed by you, but it’s always good to have another opinion, so draft in some help. Ask friends, employees (if you have them) and maybe even some of your customers – ask them what they think are your strengths and weaknesses. You may be surprised at the answers and it may help you to pull together a strategy to help you succeed further or improve an area of your business.

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Action plan  

Once you have all the information you need, you can devise a strategy to capitalise on your opportunities and reduce your threats. Concentrate on these two areas first as they are the most likely factors that will affect your business and your future success.

Then you can work on your weaknesses and protect and increase your strengths.

When you have completed the analysis, go through your business and marketing plan to see if you can enhance any particular area of your plan.

If you’d like more help with your SWOT analysis, please let me know and I can send you a free SWOT analysis sheet, with questions to ask yourself in each of the four areas.

Happy planning!

Email: cindymobey@outlook.com