Up Your Game: 3 Smart Steps to Small Business Success

Up Your Game: 3 Smart Steps to Small Business Success

Small business success is largely about planning. But it’s also a function of perspective – about your customer, your knowledge gaps, and your market.

You build the foundation for your success as you gain mastery of these three areas, which is what allows you to up your game. The steps are pretty straightforward, if you examine them in bite sized pieces.

Walk in Your Customer’s Shoes

Anyone who visits your website wants to know more about you and what your business has to offer. That’s a given. But beyond that, today’s customer is interested in how you ‘quack’, your perspective on things, and whether you’re someone they should connect with and trust.

We depend on our website (and not just our blog) to represent us in ‘now’ mode. To show the human side of our business, as we are today. That’s a tall order for a website, especially if our main content is as fresh as the day we wrote it years ago.

That was way back then. Before you learned as much as you know now, before you found your online voice and before you really knew what you were doing. Times have changed. You’ve probably changed. And your website should too.

Walking in your customer’s shoes will give you a different perspective. So take a leisurely stroll through your site, looking at it from their point of view.

What’s the message? What is it asking or expecting me to do? Do I clearly understand what this person or small business does? Does this site/person sound or feel stiff? Is the site visually appealing? Am I being engaged, or just being talked to? Is it interesting enough for me to return or bother connecting on social media?

You get the idea. Take a second look at your online home. Make sure it’s really saying what you want it to say, doing what you want it to do, and creating the atmosphere you want to associate with your business brand.

When you, thinking like your customer who is tuned into station WIIFM (what’s in it for me), feel like you came to just the right place, then you probably have πŸ™‚

Get the Help you Need

To become wildly successful in business, you have to learn a good many things that you weren’t taught in school. Most people who venture out on their own didn’t grow up around a successful business owner or mentor who could teach them the ropes. Even if you were lucky that way, what applied then and what’s needed now are two very different things.

It’s a bear trying to keep up with social and now mobile media. It seems like there’s a boatload of new information to learn every day, and sometimes it’s downright exhausting. But to excel, you have to keep going, and find ways to work smarter instead of harder.

Ask yourself three simple questions:

  1. What do I need to know?
  2. What do I need to do?
  3. Who can give me the best insight on how to get that done?

For example, if Twitter is an important platform for you, but you don’t know how to use it to your advantage, talk with someone who knows it inside out.

If Facebook has you stumped, find a Facebook expert or join a Facebook group that can bring you up to speed and support you on your way. Need help getting organized or managing your time? Find a pro. Need to create a master strategy for your business? Hire a success coach.

Source out your social media connections – chances are you’re already in the company of people who are expert in the area where you’re less experienced. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to say ‘I need your help with XYZ’ whatever that is. Be clear, honest and up front about it.

Remember that everyone’s time has value, so be sure to respect theirs. Ask them whether they can help, if they’re willing to help, and when they might have the time.

Ask about rates. If they’re higher than you expected, see if they’re comfortable being flexible with their pricing, or willing to barter to offset a portion of the cost. You might be pleasantly surprised at how well an arrangement like that can work.

If they agree, and you come to an arrangement, be prepared to follow through immediately. Don’t waste their time if you’re not really ready to accept the help you asked for. You’ll ruin the relationship and greatly reduce your chances of getting help from them in the future.

If their advice helps you in your business, find a way to celebrate your win together. You know that great feeling you get when someone unexpectedly acknowledges you? Be the person sending that awesome message – say ‘thank you’ in a unique way to show your gratitude.

Clarify your Marketing Strategy

When you’re running a business, creating new customers is your top priority. In this day and age, that means you have to be visible, out and about, spreading the word (in a nice way) about who you are and what you do.

The long and short of it is that small business owners need a strategy for reaching prospects online, offline and in the mobile space.

Figure out which social platforms are working best for your business. Try and focus your main efforts on a maximum of three. Schedule your posts in advance so you’re not rushing. That way when you participate ‘live’, you’re fully present. Grab attention when the time is right with contests, giveaways, Facebook ads, LinkedIn group promos, Pin it to Win It events, etc.

Have a plan that guarantees you’ll connect with people in your offline audience. You live in a community that includes people (probably thousands) for whom your product or service is perfect.

Find out who and where they are. Check out local meetups or networking opportunities that are likely to attract your ideal customers or other professionals who might know them. Sponsor a community project in your business name to spread goodwill.

Take your business mobile, so you don’t miss the opportunity to reach that massively growing mobile market. Use mobile coupons and QR codes to promote your offers. Make it easy for people to reach you with Tap-to-Call, Tap-to-Email and GPS directions. Link back to your main site and to your blog RSS feed. Let them see you’re on it.

If you walk in your customer’s shoes so you know what they want, seek out the help you need to make sure you’re on the right track, and put a marketing strategy in place that hits all the bases (online, offline and mobile) you’ll be well on your way to a stellar year. Pinky promise!

What’s your perspective on creating small business success? Share what your experience has taught you.

Oh, and feel free to Tweet This, or mention it on social media if you found it helpful.

To your business success,

22 Responses to “Up Your Game: 3 Smart Steps to Small Business Success”

  1. Kungphoo says:

    Nice post.. It is so hard to find new customers and keep them long term.. Social Media is great to advertise, and engage everyone.

  2. Sandra Beltran says:

    This was great!

  3. Nate Leung says:

    Hi Dawn,

    Sometimes the best thing we can do for our business is to find help and support. It really helps to scale a business when you can find someone who is smarter than you, that can take care of things you normally could not do on your own. Some valuable tips shared here Dawn!
    Nate Leung recently posted..Neucopia Merges With My Leads System ProMy Profile

    • Dawn Lanier says:

      I think you’re right on the money Nate. No matter where you are in the process of growing your business, having help and support (not to mention an extra pair of eyes and ears) can put you light years ahead of the game. Glad you enjoyed the tips. Thanks for your insightful comment!

  4. Sandy K Hardy says:

    I feel that walking in the customers shoes is a great way to see what is needed in order to be able to connect with them. Great post!

  5. Roz says:

    Right on Dawn. You walk the talk, meaning you put yourself in my shoes and wrote a clear, non technical article that I can understand, follow and apply. Yeah!. I read a lot to learn how to market my product and I have to extrapolate to see how what is being said, applies to me. You spoke my language and I appreciate it.

    My website is of my products and my blog is combined. Each product description is a mini blog and weekly I have been writing a text blog that reveals my personality, thoughts, shed light on topics related to my product or are entertaining and thought provoking. I do put myself in shoes of a customer and yet, its hard to be objective.

    I have experts guiding me and intend to focus 2014 on marketing strategy. That is my gap and what I am up to.
    Roz recently posted..Inner and Outer BeautyMy Profile

    • Dawn Lanier says:

      Why thanks Roz! You absolutely just made my day. I appreciate your very kind words.

      What you said is so true – even when you put yourself in your customer’s shoes, it is hard to be objective, and to speak in a voice that strikes just the right chord and resonates with your reader. I’ve discovered that tuning into WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) helps me follow my intuition, and focus on what’s valuable from their point of view. Again, thanks for your feedback – it was really nice to hear πŸ™‚

  6. Sharon ODay says:

    More than just the “know, like and trust” issues customers have about buying your product or service, they really want to know if you “get them” and if you can truly resolve whatever they feel needs resolving. Without being very perceptive and caring, no matter how good other elements of marketing might be, they may never click on the BUY button. That certainly makes that first issue a critical one!
    Sharon ODay recently posted..Financial Independence: A Quick and Dirty Path to FreedomMy Profile

  7. Thanks for sharing such valuable tips, Dawn. They are 3 smart and important steps to business success! Love your new header as well. Beautiful. πŸ™‚
    Alexandra McAllister recently posted..Coaching Women Who Want It AllMy Profile

  8. Dawn, just had a conversation about that this morning…! There comes a point in each biz Preneur’s life where he MUST invest in higher coaching. There is only so much we can learn for ourselves, we need direction, new insight, someone to come in and help us over the next step. The constant answer is there is no money BUT: It’s all about what we value the most. No one has the money as they start out… you just need to find a way to do it! I can testify to this… Great post!
    Norma Doiron @Savvy Biz Solutions recently posted..Supercharge Your Blog with Unique Valuable ContentMy Profile

    • Dawn Lanier says:

      Thanks Norma! You’ve made a very valid point about the benefit of higher coaching, and the need to find a way to invest in it as soon as you can. The value it can bring to your business and future success is well worth it.

  9. I agree it is important to ask for expert helps when needed. It will save us time and will bring great results.
    Carele Belanger recently posted..Are you ready for more success in 2014?My Profile

  10. Hopefully, I’ll be able to achieve small business success now.

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