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Is your business where you want it to be? Are you feeling frustrated or stuck with the growth of your business? You can do many things to try and give your business a boost. Some solutions may require a substantial financial investment. Other solutions may require a lot of time. How do you know where to start? I’m a fan of starting with lower-cost solutions first, before investing large amounts of money in programs, systems, or equipment if I’m not sure that’s the answer.
Along those lines, here are five of my most-recommended ways to improve your business–and these are affordable to pretty much any budget.
Create a focus for your business
Has your business wandered off track from your original vision and plan?
Do you feel like you’re wandering in the business wilderness and you can’t find your path?
You know what you’re good at but you’re not really sure how it translates into customers and dollars? I know that feeling, too. Take a time out if you need to and figure out where you want to go.
Sometimes our business can be led in directions we really didn’t intend for it to go. When you discover that is happening to you, you may need to step back and decide if that’s really where you want it to go. If it’s not, it’s up to you to figure out where it is you want to go and create a plan to take it in that direction. There are many great business books that can help give you some insights for business planning. You’ll find a few of mine here.
Changing the direction or focus of your business may require the help of a business coach, a mastermind group or some additional training. But if that’s what you need to achieve the success you’re seeking, it will be worth every dollar and hour you invest getting it there. Allowing others to dictate the direction of your business will eventually lead to dissatisfaction and then failure. Taking charge of your own future is empowering and builds your confidence, which will show through in what you do and lead you down the road to success. It is also perhaps the best way to improve your business.
Ok, I admit it. I’ve fallen off the blogging wagon from time to time. And can I tell you I have really felt the effects of it? Business blogging is one of the simplest ways to attract visitors to your website–and your business. New content gives people (meaning potential customers or potential referrers) a reason to visit your site regularly.
And if they’re visiting your site regularly, they’re going to remember you—and when they need your services, they’ll know who you are. Also, if you’re blogging regularly, your readers have something to share about you via their social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn—and so do you.
Blogging regularly requires you to exercise your creativity, stay on top of your industry and gives you the opportunity to share your knowledge and demonstrate your expertise. And it costs you nothing but time, making it one of the most cost-effective ways to improve your business, and market your skills.
Improve your public speaking skills
We’ve all been speaking in public since we had to give book reports in the third grade, but public speaking still ranks at the top of nearly every list of “most common fears.” I’m not sure what it is that terrifies us so much, but it often tops things like “fear of dying.” As Jerry Seinfeld once said, this means that if you’re going to a funeral, you’d rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy.”
Public speaking is one of the most effective (and fun!) ways to build your business. There are countless networking groups, business and civic associations, conferences and even schools that would welcome your expertise.
Whether you are giving a sales presentation to a potential client, introducing your business to a local leads group, or sharing an idea to help others build their business, you are establishing yourself as an authority and professional in your field—and if you do it enough, not only can you gain new clients and build your business, but you may become good enough that they’ll actually pay you to talk about what you do.
In addition to in-person speaking opportunities, becoming a podcast guest is a great way to improve your business and your speaking skills. Being interviewed for a podcast can be less intimidating since it’s usually a virtual experience and may happen via phone or through an online meeting like Zoom or Google Meet. I’ve been fortunate enough to appear on several podcasts and meetups over the last year or so, and I am always looking forward to my next appearance.
If you aren’t sure what you need help with or how to improve your speaking skills, find a local Toastmasters’ group. They’ve been helping people improve their speaking skills for nearly 90 years.
Get out of the office and meet people
Running an online business and working in the virtual world is great, but if you really want to take it to the next level, you need to ditch the fuzzy slippers and get out from behind your computer every now and then. Online business-building and networking groups can expose you to new ideas and to clients who live outside your zip code. In-person networking groups will help you meet real people and allow them to meet you.
You can build relationships that will be both professional and personal, create a support group (being a solo entrepreneur can be very isolating and lonely) or mastermind group. Getting out of the office can also lead to those speaking opportunities and to business with people who like to do business with people they know. Small business is still personal—it’s still about relationships; expanding your business beyond the virtual can open up a whole world of opportunity for you.
Get a life
It’s good to be passionate about your business. It’s good to love what you do so much that you’d do it 24 hours a day. Working at your business 24 hours a day isn’t good. It’s not good for you and it’s not good for your business. Your life needs some balance. You need to get out from behind the desk or the camera or the kitchen. You need to have relationships that have nothing to do with what you do for a living. You need to expand your horizons, have new experiences, do something creative, develop a hobby.
All of these things won’t just help you improve your business, they’ll make you a better person. It really is true: “All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy.” If you’ve been working so long and so hard that you can’t think of anything to do that isn’t business related, start by just putting on your shoes and going out for a walk. Pay close attention to your surroundings and make note of what catches your attention, whether it’s an art gallery you haven’t been in before, a new restaurant or a beautiful scenic view—and then go check it out.
These are five simple ways to improve your business—and your life. And most of them will cost you little to nothing to get started. Regardless of whether you’re firmly in the black or struggling to keep your head above water, these are ways to improve your business that you can implement today without breaking the bank.
Have you tried any of these? What was your result? What other ways have you found to improve your business?