We get it… everyone who is a business owner was once a newbie. We all started out with that grand idea of how we were going to change the world with our product or service. Our idea was revolutionary! It was in demand! And we were going to deliver it better than anyone else! We had already picked out that dream home, new car and lifestyle in our minds eye.
Sound familiar? Well then you know what happens next. REALITY! Yes, as days turned into weeks and weeks into month’s you’ve realized running a business is tough, really tough.
Everything costs money. Time is precious and you try to stretch your hard-earned green as far as possible. Often the very first expense as a small business owner is our marketing budget.
While it’s important to be thrifty, here are four ways that extreme thriftiness can hinder rather than help us…
1. Bursting our brand through branding bargains
Nothing screams “cheapskate” more than getting a business card handed to me that was printed on a piece of paper. Sometimes it’s just black and white or just one color… BOTTOM LINE – It’s tacky!
The problem is although you may offer a great service or product; poor presentation sends doubt in the consumers mind. You wouldn’t go into some dark alley to buy a pair of Nike shoes right? I know that’s probably a little dramatic, but you get the picture.
This is one area worth splashing out ona little. Flyers, business cards, brochures, letterheads and other print material can make a much greater impact if they are in full color, glossy printed and professionally designed.
2. Wading through the woes of an online web presence
Do you really need a website? It sounds expensive and unnecessary, not to mention website designers often take too long to produce results. Plus,every time, I want to make a change it costs me… Yes I hear you and feel your pain.
The fact is YES you need a website, and NO there is no cheap solution to an EFFECTIVE website.
Just like our tacky business cards, homemade and fast fixes for a website also look tacky. You have to spend a little to look good. I can just hear you asking, “But how do I find someone that is affordable, reliable and has the skills?” Well, here are some ideas:
- Portfolio – Look at the work they have done, phone their customers, and ask if they are any good. You will get the picture soon enough.
- Testimonials - l can’t believe how often this is overlooked. Look for what others say about the designer. Not just on their website, but on their Facebook Business Page, LinkedIn, Twitter and other relevant social profiles.
- Flexibility- Costing, layout, and time frame should all be flexible. The designer needs to listen to you, customize their approach to your needs and work within a time frame. There needs to be a flow of check points along the way and a clear picture of what is expected from both parties.
3. The tedious task of finding time or social media
Many small businesses normally do one of two things when they hear about social media:
- They say “I just don’t have the time for that.”
- They embrace it, fill out a half-baked profile and start pushing their products, thinking “HEY this is another way to sell…”
Both are incorrect. First, you need to make time for social media, because although you may not have time for it, your customer will. Second, take the time to fill out all areas of your social profiles, just like offline business cards and marketing materials. The better they look, the better they will perform.
Just because the social media came along, doesn’t mean that you need to throw out good, time honored tactics like good customer service or going the extra mile. Rather see social media as an extra helper and extension of what you are already doingIt’s just an online version of it with more reach.
4. Focusing ferociously on an “A” but failing on “B” priorities
Getting your business right from the beginning is important. You all know there are things you need to do, improve, purchase, or learn to improve your service. This requires planning; perhaps some early mornings or late nights and a lot of extra work on top your current busy schedule.
For example if you were a nursery owner selling seedlings, you may be thinking how do I get more customers buying my plants…
- “I could talk at this year’s gardening show, but I am scared of speaking.”
- “I could also do some videos on how to plant seedlings correctly, but how do I get it on YouTube – it sounds too technical.”
- “If I offered extra gardening equipment I could generate more income, but cash flow is tight.”
All of the above requires one to learn a new skill, save money or require a plan of action. You know what needs to be donein order to improve your service or business. Often it doesn’t get done because, “Well, I just don’t have the time”. If you don’t focus on B priorities (important tasks), eventually they will become A priorities (emergency tasks).
Let us know how you have improved your business, overcome a challenge or have extra input to add by commenting below. We would love to hear your thoughts.
Geoffrey Gordon is a WordPress/ Website Designer and partner @ Blaze Web studio. He loves helping small businesses gain exposure by getting their branding right, Designing simple attractive websites and then showing them the ropes with social media. He is a techie and people person at heart, helping people is a great passion, especially when they succeed.You can find him on Twitter, or on Linkedin.