This guest post is brought to you by April Atwood of Scott's Marketplace: If you haven’t figured out your 2014 resolutions yet, you’re not alone. Many small business owners are still trying to make sense of 2013, while trying to figure out what matters most in the upcoming year.
But goals, much like cupcake recipes, are best when they’re specific. Hazy goals like “sell more products” are built to let you off the hook. Just as the Cheshire Cat explained to Alice, if you don’t know where you want to go, then it doesn’t matter which direction you take. So instead of being a directionless tween who talks to cats, commit yourself to concrete and achievable small business goals this year.
Need some motivation? How does $300 sound?
We can’t think of a better motivating factor than cold, hard cash, so this year, Scott’s Marketplace is holding a New Year’s Resolution Giveaway for small business owners.
All you have to do is tell us your 2014 goal – and you’ll be entered to win $300 to help you reach it!
And to get in the goal-setting mood, we’ve highlighted the top 3 goals that are not only completely doable, but will help you achieve measurable success before the year is over.
1. Join a Local Business Association
This is the first and easiest thing you can do this year.
Belonging to a local business association means so much more than a nifty membership card. It means you’re on the inside track to the best small business support system you’ve ever been a part of.
Local business events, a listing on the association’s website, even marketing material and seasonal campaigns are just a few of the ways your small business will benefit from membership.
These associations exist to bolster the local economy by educating the public on all the reasons why they should shop local, and your membership will not only increase exposure for your business, it will give you the opportunity to network with other small business owners, forge relationships and find mentors.
2. Get Online
Whether you’re home-based or sell out of a retail location, the time has come to recognize the power of selling online. In fact, according to statistic website eMarketer, by 2017, ecommerce sales are expected to grow to $434 billion. Wow. Isn’t it time you got in on the action?
Even those who prefer to purchase in-store will usually do their homework online before leaving the house. And if your products aren’t showing up in online searches, you’re already behind your competitors.
Oh, and the old “it’s too hard and expensive” objection doesn’t work anymore either. In fact, at Scott’s Marketplace, we have created a process that can be mastered even by beginners.
Selling online levels the playing field between local businesses and big-box chains, and will catapult your business to the next level of success. So what are you waiting for?
3. Refine Your Customer Service Skills
Sometimes, small business owners get so bogged down in the nuts and bolts of running a business that the actual customer experience goes untended. Sure, managing your supply chain, dealing with employees, and negotiating with your landlord are important tasks that need your attention. But without customers, you can say goodbye to everything else.
Keeping your customers happy is the key to return business. So this year, get inventive with how you reward customers. Contests, giveaways, even simple reward cards can encourage return business and bring in new customers at the same time. The key is defining what your customers value, and using that to entice them to return.
Low-cost ideas such as monthly trunk shows featuring other small business owners, or a weekly newsletter with special discounts, will go a long way to keeping your customers satisfied. And never underestimate the power of a hand-written thank you note for their business.
However you do it, make improving your customers’ experience a priority this year.
Ready to Rock 2014?
Simple though they may seem, these goals can help you turn the corner with your small business, and give you the motivation you need to make 2014 a successful year.
Maybe your goal is to spend a certain amount of time every day on social media, or maybe it’s to create three new products a month. Whatever you’re hoping to achieve, setting realistic, specific goals will help you get there - and so will we!
So before you do anything else today, set your goals, share them with us for a chance to win $300, and resolve to make 2014 a banner year for your small business!
April is the marketing coordinator for Scott’s Marketplace. She combines her marketing and writing experience with a love for supporting small businesses. She writes, bikes, and uses a coffee press, but not in the pretentious way. Connect on Google+.