Well there are two things to say in response to this. The first is that if going back to work is seriously messing with your happiness you need to start looking for an alternative career, and if you’re not working for yourself you may well want to seriously consider that.
The second is that while you may not fancy making New Year Resolutions for yourself, making them for your own business might actually be a good idea. So here are some tips for you.
1. Use technology to get organised
Besides keeping your in-box really well organised and making use of folders etc. so that you can actually find that important email that Fred sent you three weeks ago, invest in software for your PC that will help you keep a diary – ideally something that you can access from your mobile too when you’re on the move.2. Engage your customers
I know I’m forever lecturing about customer service, but you know that customers are they very heart and soul of your business so your relationship with them is absolutely crucial. Deliver excellent and friendly service before, during and after the sale. Engage with them on social networking sites. Take an interest in them. The more you learn about your customers, the more you will understand their needs and you can then invest this knowledge back into your business. Customer engagement and interaction is invaluable, so get to it!
3. Make customer service a priority
In fact, after number 2, the next resolution you need to make is ensure that customer satisfaction is an absolute priority. Small businesses can do what many large and even medium size businesses cannot. They can take a proactive and personal approach to customer service and make customers happier. In the USA a recent survey discovered that one in six customers would rather see their dentist than speak with a customer service agent. Why would that be? A personal service? Cheerfulness? A desire to put the customer at their ease and to give them what they need? Probably all of these.
4. Refresh your social media strategy
Along with Facebook and Twitter, it’s time to make a serious consideration about the other popular social networks out there. Do you have an up to date profile on LinkedIn? What about YouTube and Pinterest? You can also consider other visual-based social networks like Instagram, Tumblr and Slideshare. If you’re a bit long in the tooth or not really technology savvy, consider hiring someone to update these things for you on a weekly basis. You can hire a freelancer for a few hours a week from a number of freelance websites.5. Vive la difference!
Some of the mega companies are continuing to increase their market share so as a small business you really have your work cut out to provide something that they don’t. The first of these is, of course, a personalised customer service. The other is that you can be quick to alter your pricing strategy or respond to customer needs and fads. Play up what makes YOU different.
6. Operate with integrity
Something else that is very close to my heart is that I believe in treating people well and keeping prices reasonable. I don’t want to make my living by robbing other people blind. I extend this through my personal life and where possible through my business. What’s important to you? How can you meld that with your business operation? If you can, make the effort and do it.7. Embrace the young
Now here’s a challenge. How do you embrace the generation that are used to living out their whole lives on the web? How do you persuade them to come and shop at a physical store?
8. Take time to focus
It’s easy to get lost in your day to day business so that your desk becomes a mess, your emails are just in your inbox and there are thousands of them, you have piles of correspondence everywhere and you forget to pay the electricity bill. Consider factoring in some time every week where you can spend time clearing up and sorting. This is a really important and it need only be an hour or two. You’ll find that it’s quite therapeutic and will actually help you to clear your mind.
9. Learn something new
Keep your brain active. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you will always benefit from learning something new so why not give it a go. Colleges tend to start courses in January or you can sign up for an online course of some description. What you choose to learn is up to you. You could consider something that is directly related to your business such as Sage Accounting, website design, marketing etc. or something completely unrelated. Besides the new skills you will learn, you can add a new dimension of interest to your life – and that will help you to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
10. Have a great weekend
If you’re lucky enough not to be working 7 days a week (and I know a few people with small businesses who have to) make sure that you spend your weekend doing things that are worthwhile. What I mean by this is that you actually make an appointment with yourself (and your loved ones) to do things. This will ensure that you don’t then spend the weekend shopping, cleaning and staring at the television. Now obviously you need to do some of that stuff but you should at least make sure you do one or two things a weekend (or on your days off if you work weekends) that help you feel like you’ve escaped. Plan a few key events – be they dinner at Nandos or a trip to the cinema or the bowling alley. Book ahead and then you can’t break them. Strangely, you’ll find yourself really looking forward to what you have pre-planned.So there you have it. What would you add? Let me know below or visit us on our Facebook page.
Have a great New Year everyone and bring on 2014! 🙂