How to Grow Your Business in a Tough Economy
I've had three businesses in my life, and over the years I have learned a lot. In my current business, I frequently come across business owners who don't do enough to empower themselves to really understand their marketing or other aspects of their business. Ultimately, they end up wasting valuable resources on things that don't work. Sometimes they even get taken advantage of by unscrupulous service providers. Whether you are seasoned or unseasoned in business, doing these things will definitely help you scale your business, even during an economic crisis.
1. Learn to devour business books: You do not know what you do not know, but you could learn something new if you opened your mind and began to read something useful. Read business books , blogs and anything else you can get your hands on to learn about marketing, sales, business strategy and things that will help you build a stronger business. Personally, I never read fiction, but I always read about things that will help me in business. If you hate reading business books, then you should probably reconsider being in business altogether.
2. Learn to leverage social media: People of a certain age are often disinterested in social media and fail to understand how important it can be to their business. Learn as many things as you can about how social media works and where to place your efforts. Learn how to create engaging content and where your strengths lie as you talk about your business.
3. Learn to be an excellent sales person: Uh, if you think sales people are slimy and that you are above selling, then you will definitely go broke in business. Here’s a newsflash: slimy people are slimy. Professional sales people sell professionally. Learn how to attract business and what you need to say and do to close a deal.
4. Learn where to spend your time: Some people are great at networking and some businesses do better in small business networking groups than others. Having said that, I know a lot of people who waste a lot of time in breakfast networking groups, after hours networking groups, board of trade groups, etc. All they really get for their time is coffee. When you spend all of your valuable business time talking to people who aren’t buying, then you are wasting valuable time. You can’t sell in a room full of sellers. Try to form alliances by networking with people in complementary industries, one on one. Just don’t do it all day!
5. Learn how to build credibility: Establishing yourself as a subject matter expert is critical if you want people to come to you. Once you are the “go to” person for information about your industry, then you don’t need to run around chasing people to sign up for your services. They will seek you out. In order to build credibility, you must write. Post and distribute blogs, write articles for trade journals or business magazines and write little e-books to give away. Always write about things that relate to your area of expertise. If you aren’t a very good writer, then do get help.
6. Learn about changes in technology: This one is simple . If you don’t keep up with technology as it relates to your business, it will run you over! I can’t tell you how many people I have met over the years who couldn’t do anything worthwhile with social media, or their own website. They were constantly at the mercy of others to do it for them because they were intimidated by the technology. When business dipped, they had no money to pay people to do things for them and could not help themselves. Guess what happened? Knowledge is power. Always learn about the technology that affects your business.
7. Learn where to spend your money: When you are new to business, it is easy to make the mistake of spending money on all the wrong things as you try to create the impression that you are more significant in the marketplace than you really are. Stop right there and re-read point #5. It is the things you do that will build your credibility, not the things you pretend you are. Write down all of the things you believe your business needs to be successful and don’t spend any money on anything unless not spending the money gives you great pain. For example, don’t rent an office if you can work from home. If you work from home, then don’t spend money on business enterprise internet. Upgrade your residential service and live with that. Use your cell phone instead of paying a premium for a business line. In this world of internet impressions, you can manipulate the optics of your business in more profitable ways.
8. Learn to be fearless: Don’t be afraid to actually start doing things to further your business. I see a lot of self-employed people, who actually do very little because they can’t get out of their own way. These people are usually perfectionists, and since perfection is an impossible standard, they are paralyzed. Being willing to try new things, even if they can’t be done perfectly, will help you a lot. Daring to move out of your comfort zone will allow you to gain confidence and be more self-reliant. You can also save money once you learn to solve your own problems (see #7).
9. Learn to design your day: There is something about not being tied to a boss, that makes people believe you have nothing to do all day; especially when you work from home! If you don’t have a plan for your day, then your family and even your friends may have you running all over, on their behalf. Don’t let others dictate how you spend your day. At the end of each day, make a checklist of things you are going to be working on the next day. If you want to make any money, your business needs to be your priority during business hours.
10. Learn how to succinctly describe your offering.This can take some time to really refine, but it is critical to the success of your business. Make the description of what you do as simple and uncomplicated as possible. People have to know very clearly what you can do for them, and so do you!
11. Learn about SEO and SEM. For those of you who don't know, these acronyms stand for search engine optimization (getting your website to come up in web searches) and search engine marketing (getting all of your web content to come up in web searches). You don't have to be an expert in these areas, but you should know enough to be able to help yourself in the beginning and keep yourself from being ripped off once you have to start paying people to do it. I daresay, there are an awful lot of business owners who pay monthly fees for SEO services that are never being done. That pisses me off, actually, so I offer marketing audits to business owners and show them what's not being done.
12. Learn to build a sales funnel. If you want to leverage the power of internet marketing (and it is VERY powerful), then you'd better learn how to create a sales funnel. If you learn about most of the things I mentioned above, then you will at least have a foundation to create a compelling offer and use the tools available to get that baby up and running for you.
Renée Cormier is a marketing coach and business consultant who shows business owners how to easily get value from their marketing. Knowledge is power! Discover what tactic works best for your business and refine it without stress or overwhelm. Visit reneecormier.com for more info.
Renée is also a brand ambassador for beBee.com, the best blogging platform for professionals.