Year 1 and year 2 are probably the hardest and leanest times for new startups – trust me I know, I’ve been there and experienced the nerve-wracking, grinding of teeth moments where you think me and my business aren’t cut out for this. Whatever stasis you’re in, just know that things usually get better as your become more confident in managing to day to day activities of running a business, or more self-aware about what needs to be done and how much of that being completed is critical to success.
I’m sure we’ve all come across the popular saying from most business experts: “If you fail to plan then you’re planning to fail.” While business experts who say such things have the luxury to utter such profundity, for those of us who are struggling to finish the task of 5 people would say that having the time to plan would be welcome fact.
I recently read in a column in the Harvard Business Review that time-strapped management executives should spend the first 15 minutes of their day writing down all the things they need to do and then prioritizing them in a list from most important to least important. By doing this, research found that those who prioritized their activities actually accomplished more and finished projects at a higher rate because they were getting the bigger items finished first.
They say that success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Well if 99% of your time is spent on getting things finished, then possibly you could afford to spend 15 minutes of your day (which is 2.5% if you’re working 10 hours) prioritizing what you need to do – if management professionals are doing, then maybe it works across all spectrums of business.
For all small businesses out there who are looking to really push their bottom lines this year and make a difference in their performance, here are 5 tips you might want to add to that list of priorities.
1. Make sure your website isn’t the decrepit old house on the corner
We all know that old, broken down home that seems to reside on every neighborhood corner. The one with the jungle-like lawn, the peeling paint, and the grimy, battered look. You can only imagine the type of person who lives there as you deliberately cross the street in order to pass the house; could you imagine actually visiting it? The same goes for websites. Imagine that your website is a home for your products and services. If your website looked like the dilapidated house on the corner would your visitors actually stick around to take a look inside and see the wares? I’m sure you get the picture, but a slick and clean website can do wonders for your CTRs, page stickiness and shopping cart sales.
2. Get a blog and get some personality behind your brand
Blogs are quickly becoming the modus operandi for any business with a website. While most blogs are very tightly connected to the products, services or diatribe from an executive at the company, blogs are an appended does of personality to what else is a very monotonous process. If you look at how a business process takes place between a prospect and a visitor, it more or less like couch shopping. You go to a dozen stores, try to remember which couch you sat on felt the best while the sales person bombards you with why that couch is such a good fit for you, your brain self-haggles over price and value, and then you buy the couch. Ultimately, having a blog is replacing the annoying sales person with a knowledgeable couch specialist who has really good insight, likes the same sports you do, and makes you laugh.
3. Make sure your logo is meaningful and memorable
Ask yourself this, when you walk down a busy street lined with small business: pizza places, restaurants, printers, grocery stores, after about 5 minutes how many of those do you remember? One of the biggest plagues that small businesses face today is unmemorable logo design. Why do businesses even have logos? Because psychologically people relate to images more powerfully than they do to words or concepts. Logo design doesn’t have to be a painful process where a designer will provide ask you 21 questions about your business and come back with 15 different designs for you to choose from. Obviously you know your business and your customers best, take some time to observe who your customers are and try to identify what kinds of images, colors, shapes these people would react to. Then work with a designer to get a logo that is simple yet meaningful gracing the entry page of your website.
4. Create some slick looking brochures to highlight your products
While getting a Brochure architected and designed might be the last of your worries, it does help to put your products in a new light. While you might have a well-structured showcase on your website, an online brochure or printed brochure helps you position your products to those prospects who refuse to come to your site, are adverse to the internet, or just don’t know you have a website. An online brochure that is e-mailed to a database is a good way to extend your product’s reach outside of your website, and by connecting the two through links creates a good marketing framework that helps attract visitors.
5. Slick and sexy business cards
With the advent of smartphones and computers that fit in the palm of your hand, it’s a wonder why business cards still exist. My opinion would be that there is still a tradition surrounding the act of handing one your business card. While this tradition continues to be attached the how we conduct business, it serves any small business well to have business cards that are unique and one-of-kind. I find that of all the business cards I receive, the ones that I really do a onceover of and stick in my mind are the ones that have really cool designs or are different shapes or material than your traditional 2”x4” card stock.
If you need some more tips visit me at vancouverwebandgraphicdesign.ca or you can contact me directly email@example.com.
Article By Giessel Razavi