My friend Amy Posner offers the following advice … straight from her heart and wealth of experience.
My experience in working with small business owners (and being one!) is that you really have to learn how to prioritize your tasks and your efforts. For example, it's important to know what your marketing and promotion tasks are going to be and make sure you allot enough time in your week to get them done.
Unless you already have all the business you need, I think it's critical to make marketing a scheduling priority. Even if you're on a shoestring budget, there are plenty of productive things you can do to get your marketing message seen. The New Year is a good time to really assess your business and think about what sets you apart and how you can use that to focus your marketing efforts. I've got a few articles on defining your USP (unique selling proposition) on my blog Amy Posner. It's an exercise that many of us don't do often enough.
The day-to-day demands of running your business can easily get in the way of creative thinking, especially if you’re a one-woman or one-man show. I have two accountability partners. I use this term loosely -- they are both small business owners and we get together and help each other brainstorm new ideas, and keep our eyes open for opportunities for one another - that can be a very productive and simple way to incorporate other people's ideas and get perspective on your business. It can help to keep you on track with your goals.
Another thing I think is critical for small business owners is to have some kind of follow up database so as not to lose touch with any potential business or any good ideas. It’s time consuming, but I believe it can be the difference between a good business and a great one. Too many people let follow up fall by the wayside – it’s can really be the lifeblood of business. Use any system that works for you – but use it consistently.