I’ve been getting a lot of questions in November and December related to my best advice for small business owners and entrepreneurs, so I decided to put it into a post. Here are a few things I would offer up to get you ending 2013 and beginning 2014 on the right foot:
- Follow the money. Follow your work. If you want to know what’s important to you, look at where you spend your money. Does it match your values? Is it aligned to what adds value to customers? It should be. If it’s not, start there. Change that.
- If you can’t see it, you can’t be it. Take time to visualize what you want your company to be. Start building your company with “an end” in mind. If you are successful, what will it look like? Now go and work on that.
- Passion doesn’t run your business. If you’re thinking of starting a business because you love ______________ (fill in the blank), realize that you will only get to do ______________ about 15-20% of the time. The rest of the time, you will be running your business – things like marketing, sales, accounting, data analysis, strategy development, etc. If that doesn’t sound at all exciting to you, I hope you have a) a good business partner, b) good sub-contractors who are honest or c) a good attorney. If you can envision how you would accomplish all those things and maximize the time you get to spend doing your passion, you’re on your way to running a successful business.
- Likes and Retweets don’t buy things. Those measurements don’t give you accurate data on the interest people have in your product and/or service. It’s easy to click Like, to share, to RT or to Follow. It is something completely different to purchase, and it’s not so easy. Look at lead conversions to sales for a better indicator of your likeliness to sell. Don’t know how to do that? Talk to Leigh Roessler or other geeks who love online data. They can help you.
- It’s all about money, time and quality. The only reason a customer buys from you is because you save them time, save them money or improve their quality. This is the most important thing to understand about your customers. If your products and/or services don’t do one of those things, then back to the drawing board for you.
- Know your customer. I can’t say this enough. KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER. Where are they? How do you reach them? How do they shop? What do they need? What expectations do they have? What problems are they trying to solve? Have you taken these things into consideration as you designed your products and/or services? If not, you may want to take another look, because little is more important than being able to answer these questions about your customers.
- It’s your money or your life. Don’t spend your time trying to become an expert at everything. If you don’t enjoy it, try to find someone who does (and is good at it) to help you out, then monitor the execution. You can always make more money. You cannot buy back time (your life).
So there are a few things for you to think about as you reflect on 2013 and plan for 2014. What advice would you offer other small business owners or entrepreneurs?