The Christmas festivities are well behind us and now, at the start of the year, our focus is on keeping those New Years Resolutions. Whether you believe in them or not (I believe in the ones I can keep), now might be a good time to give your business a health check and look at ways you can enhance your business in the year ahead. Here are 5 business New Years resolutions that I think are worth a mention;
1. Stop ignoring LinkedIn
Not as popular as Facebook or Twitter but believe me when I say this is a sleeping social media giant that is fast growing in importance. 80% of LinkedIn members are from 10 countries with the USA, India and UK being in the top 10 (source LinkedIn Ad Platform, July 2011). For more LinkedIn stats you can view the Slideshare presentation here. LinkedIn allows you to network in a different way than Facebook and Twitter. You don’t have the noise or the 140 character limitations of Twitter, nor do you have the distractions of Ads, requests to play silly farm games or other trivia like you do on Facebook. With LinkedIn the focus is in connecting with other professionals for a specific business aim. Lead generation is the name of the game and you are actively encouraged to do this in a respectable manner through tools like LinkedIn Groups, Answers (where you can post questions or provide answers to professional questions). These are just some of the many features on LinkedIn that awaits the intrepid business owner.
2. Step away from your business
From time to time- take some time out from working IN your business to start working ON it. This way you’ll get to see your business as an outsider, see the bigger picture of why you got into business in the first place. It’s great you’re concerned about the finer details of your business – it shows you care about quality and it’s something we’ve all done from time to time. I’ve certainly been guilty of spending just a little too much time on a project here and there, trying to perfect it to death. But the danger is that you become so consumed in the detail that you lose sight of the bigger picture. You start to lose your direction and when things start to get tough you start to lose your motivation. By stepping away from your business every now and then, you’re forcing yourself to look at your business from another angle. From the eyes of a stranger. The benefits of doing this, apart from giving yourself a breather from the daily grind, is that it can give yourself a fresh perspective on your business. You might even be inspired!
3. Learn to say no to clients
Seriously. While I understand that business is about providing for the needs of the client, I also know that to become truly great at what you do you also must understand your limitations and boundaries. If a potential client comes to you with a project that pushes these limitations or boundaries then you must learn how to say no. You can be tactful in how you choose to say no but you need to be able to say no to work you’re not happy to take on. Don’t be afraid of turning away business you’re not sure about accepting just for financial reasons because some things are more important than your bottom line. Such as your credibility. You can always make money, but if you accept a job that later negatively impacts your credibility, the negative effects can be more damaging and longer lasting.
4. Take ownership of your social media presence
Social media’s hot and it won’t be disappearing for a while yet. So you have two options- sink, or swim. Ok that’s a lie- there’s also the 3rd option, which is to conquer. I was reluctant to add this option because so few businesses (small and large) manage to achieve an effective social media presence. As a small business you can’t afford to sink with social media – that’s where your customers are and if you aren’t where your customers are then where are you? (Try saying that really fast. Or with after a few). The 2nd option to swim in social media is more common but will not distinguish you from the wades of competitors competing to be heard over the noise of the most popular social media platforms. Don’t believe me? Ok, check the number of updates per second you receive on your Twitter timeline and you’ll get the picture. What do you mean what’s a Twitter timeline? OK see me after class. If you want to belong to the elite 3rd group that conquers social media you’ll need to make sure that you have a social media strategy in place and that its aligned with your business objectives. Which, in a nutshell should ensure that all your tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn updates (because you now know you should be on LinkedIn right?) have a purpose. Whether that purpose is to bring more website traffic, get more newsletter subscribers or increase sales leads.
5. Invest in mobile marketing
Sales for smartphones continue to rocket and its been a very long time since the phone was merely used for making calls- we now shop on them, play games, connect to those social networks and many more wonderful things. And get this, 1 billion of the worlds 4+ billion mobiles phones are now smartphones, and 3 billion are SMS enabled. In 2014, mobile internet usage will overtake desktop internet usage and already in 2011, more than 50% of all “local” searches are done from a mobile device (source Microsoft Tag Infograpic: Mobile Statistics, Stats & Facts 2011). This presents great opportunities for businesses and gives small businesses a level field to market themselves against the big boys. Why? There are many low cost ways you can market your business to the mobile community- through location marketing, i.e. offering incentives for customers to “check-in” on Facebook or FourSquare when they visit your premises, SMS offers or competitions, and even optimising your website for searches on smartphones and making sure you have a mobile phone compatible version of your website.
What New Years resolutions are you’re making for your business?
About the Author: Rita Auta is an experienced digital marketing consultant and Managing Director of PR Service UK- a London based marketing agency. She is passionate about helping companies, organisations and individuals achieve online marketing success on budget.
The Internet has democratized marketing – you no longer need the biggest budget to be heard. She believes that with a little creativity, authenticity and a good marketing plan your business can go far.
Follow Rita’s @prservicesuk account on Twitter for updates on the latest SEO & Social Media news affecting business. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.