By Jessica Alex
So a new year has begun and you may be looking to #levelup your business. Here are five resolutions that may help you improve your business for 2019!
1. Create or update your marketing plan
Just like you have a sound business plan, you also need a marketing plan. This strategic plan is a great way to review your business goals and decide how you will use various marketing tools to achieve them. You can then look back at your marketing plan as a valuable guide, as well as a measuring stick. Did you achieve the sales targets for the month of January? Which marketing tactics did you set out to use, and which ones gave you the best results? Have you discovered any correlations? The thing is, often, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” (thanks, Benjamin Franklin). And this isn’t just a quote that, when used, can make you sound knowledgeable and profound; it’s an ideology that makes a lot of sense. When you plan and have goals, you have something to measure, a frame of reference. If you haven’t set any goals and don’t have a plan, then it’s a lot harder to look back and figure out at what worked and what didn’t. And even if you do “fail,” at least you’ll now have the opportunity to see exactly where you need to make adjustments to get better results next time.
2. Read more books
We’re all busy. But as Margaret Fuller once said: “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader” – so find the time to read! If physical (hard-copy) books aren’t your thing, there are other options, including ebooks and audio books. There are many inspiring books on leadership, and you can find books on almost every industry. I just finished reading The Storytelling Edge: How to Transform Your Business, Stop Screaming into the Void, and Make People Love You by Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow (2018). Next up, I will be reading The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly by David Meerman Scott (6th Edition, 2017).
Here’s my 2018 reading list:
How To Be A Bawse: A Guide To Conquering Life by Lilly Singh (2017)
You Are A Badass®: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero (2013)
Digital Marketing In A Week: Brilliant Online Marketing In Seven Simple Steps by Nick Smith (2014)
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (1987)
Crush It!: Why Now Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk (2013)
You Are A Badass At Making Money: Master the Mindset Of Wealth by Jen Sincero (2017)
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson (2016)
My goal (or resolution) this year is to finish reading at least one book a month for the entire year. How many books are you planning to read in 2019?
3. Choose your customers wisely
Knowing who your customers are (target market) is important when you are starting your business. Sometimes, though, as our business takes off, we as entrepreneurs have to make pivots. Know and understand that not only are your clients the “lifeblood of your business” (John Rampton), but also that choosing your customer base can make or break your business. For instance, choosing the right customer base can help with sales (because you are creating products — and solutions — for the right people) and help create loyal advocates and ambassadors for your brand. Conversely, take on the wrong clients, and the business you love can start feeling like a nightmare. Check out the blog post “Choose your customers, choose your future” by Seth Godin, who explains the importance of choosing your customers really well.
4. Be more engaging
Speaking of your customers, be as engaging as you can be with your current clientèle and your potential clients. Businesses have several opportunities to be more engaging with social media and tools such as blogs and (e)newsletters. But here’s the key: make sure you are choosing the right tools to connect with your customer base. In other words, be where your customers are. If it’s Instagram, be there. If it’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc., be there. And when you are engaging with your customers, actually be engaging. Don’t overdo the salesy bit, because you run the risk of turning off people who are bombarded with sales, sales, sales — every day.
And if you don’t know what to do, hire someone to help. But be weary of the “we’ll get your 10,000 followers overnight” kind of promise. What’s more important than the number of followers is — you guessed it — engagement. How many people are actually interacting with your posts?
5. Be healthy
You may wonder how health has anything to do with your business (unless you are in the health-care field). Well, I’m referring to being healthy in various forms. First, start with yourself. As an entrepreneur, no one cares more about your business than you do. So if you’re not around to take care of and run the business, well …
Think about making 2019 the year that you start to take more time for yourself, whether it be through diet, exercise, meditation, family time, etc. Although taking breaks from work may sound counterintuitive and even counterproductive, I’m learning that breaks can rejuvenate you so that you can become more productive. As a dedicated entrepreneur, taking breaks can seem like a tall task, but it’s a doable one — if you put your mind to it.
When I mention “health,” I also mean the health of your business. Whether that means being financially healthy or being healthy from a culture standpoint, your business health is vital. The financial aspect may be a no-brainer, but you may be wondering what I mean by “being healthy from a culture standpoint”? Here, I’m talking about morale. If you have employees or independent contractors, you want to ensure you are bringing on the right people to your team. Are they trustworthy? Do they share a similar vision or values with you? What’s their attitude like? Sometimes all it takes is one person to create a toxic environment. And if by chance it is you who is creating a hazardous work culture, now is a good time to make a change.
Whatever your business resolutions are for this year, I wish you all the best — and hope that they lead to a successful 2019!