On the eve of this 2010 New Year, there are a few things I want to share. The end of a year is always a great time to evaluate where you started, where you ended, and where you want to be down the road. With the economic times we now face, there is much uncertainty about future plans. So many are closing up shop and the bigger guys just keep gobbling up the little guys. Certainly, nothing new. However, it seems to be happening more and more. The small home-based businesses can't survive and import items seem to offer the better bargains though not necessarily the better product.
Sad, but true, customers are looking for the best price. If they see it on another site for less, they assume you are overpriced. The truth is, many small online businesses are selling at discount prices and are happy to make just a marginal profit. That's great...except for those of us who operate small businesses and pay commercial rent, warehouse space, IT people, web site developers, employees, and purchase manufacturing equipment and inventory product at all times.
As I look ahead to the future of small businesses, I see many changes. Not because we want those changes, but because the government, economy, customer interest, competitors and trends will ultimately dictate how well a business survives. So how do you survive? Here are a few tips to help jump start your New Year Business Resolutions:
- If you haven't already, start a blog and then make sure you post every few days. As a business owner, I know it's sometimes hard to post everyday...BUT...you need to post on a regular basis.
- Remember, you don't need to market to the masses to make a living. Market what you know and make sure you do it better than the other guy. Figure out what you need to make per month and then focus your marketing strategy based on that figure. Determine the steps needed to make each sale to enable you to reach your goal.
- If you need help, consider hiring a virtual assistant. I know, it sounds crazy, but it's the wave of the future. If you need help with marketing, problem solving, or answering emails or setting up monthly newsletters but can't afford to hire multiple people to fulfill those tasks, then a virtual assistant may be your ticket to survival.
- Find an untapped niche. Yes, there are still plenty of new ideas out there. It's not so much about "what" you do as it is about "how" you do it. You need to have a detailed business plan on how you will execute your product to the marketplace. You could even make "customer service" your niche. Out service the other guy!
- Change your behavior and attitude to meet the needs of your customers, not the needs of your company. This is a tough one but will ultimately yield a big return. You may have the skills to do your job, but does your behavior and attitude lend themselves to generating new business?
- Make use of social media marketing... like Face Book. With so many hand-held search devices, you can't afford to not diversify your search marketing options. For small companies, this can become all consuming. This is where you might want to earmark some funds to hire someone to help you set up a social media network.
- There is nothing wrong with NOT expanding your business. Sometimes it's easy to look around at what everyone else is doing and believe you should be doing more. It's OK to reach a point in your business where you have no desire to expand. Hey, I'm in my mid-fifties and quite honestly, I want to retire at some point and expanding the business will no longer be a priority.
- Join a network of people that can help you grow your business. Brainstorm with these individuals. Bounce your marketing ideas into their arena for shared input. Find out what business growth strategies have worked for them and learn from their experiences. LinkeIn.com is a starting place for networking with others.
I am getting ready to sign off the computer for today as I prepare to entertain a few friends for a New Year's Eve dinner party. I hope that each of you have a safe New Year's Eve and a joyful and prosperous 2011. All of us at GoPlanet will be back to work on Monday. We look forward to servicing your soaping needs in the next year.