As the Christmas parties begin and thoughts of accounting year end fill the air, the last week of the year gives small business owners a unique time to get some important tasks completed.
SMALL BUSINESS OWNER'S "TO DO LIST"
(1) Business Year in Review
This is an exercise in honesty and transparency. Start by reviewing the information with yourself. How did you really do this year? What went well? Where did you drop the ball? These are some of the questions that should be addressed. Don’t spin the results. This is not the time to sugar-coat what happened. Prepare a simple and easy to understand one- page summary of how you did last year. Now comes the tough part: Share the information with your stakeholders. That means employees, investors, and even suppliers. Let them see for themselves how you did during the year. Transparency is vital to maintain the trust of your stakeholders.
(2) Update Your Business Plan
Writing a business plan is like flossing: you hate to do it, but you have to do it or it will cost you in the end. Dig it up, dust it off and update it – keep it current. Remember, your business plan is only a tool only if you use it as one. Using it as a door stop or paper weight doesn’t count.
(3) Set Strategic Goals
Notice that I said “Strategic”. Now is the time to review your business, marketing, & Social Media strategy. Do it, and do it on paper. This exercise keeps you accountable. Make sure to include budget in your planning. It amazes me how many entrepreneurs have New Year’s resolutions, but set no strategic business goals. The time you invest to set your strategic goals for the New Year will pay increased dividends in the future.
(4) Get rid of the Clutter
It is time to clean the office. Let go of all the things you were holding on to. Clean out your storage room and get rid of old equipment. Every business has an outdated computer that just gathers dust. Throw it away, give it to one of your employees, or donate it! You will feel better having removed this piece of unfinished business from your life. Go through that stack of paper you were dreading. Move some furniture. Start the New Year unfettered.
(5) Connect with your Clients
Personal phone calls work best. Call them just to wish them a happy holiday. Make sure that the phone call is not a sales call. You are calling because of the human interaction. Connect and listen to your clients. Show your clients that you care. You can send letters, email, or use social media. This time of year, visits and calls are the most appreciated.
(6) Celebrate with your Team
Make sure that the people who supported you this year in your business are aware of how much you appreciate them and their willingness to walk this path with you. Have a party, even if you’re nearly broke. Take the time to celebrate the small stuff. The last few years have been difficult for small business owners. Celebrate the fact that you are still in business! In Frank Capra’s holiday classic: It’s a wonderful life, in the scene after the run on the bank; they have 2 dollars left in the vault. George Baily says “A toast! A toast to Papa Dollar and to Mama Dollar, and if you want the old Building and Loan to stay in business, you better have a family real quick.”
May the New Year Bring Health, Wealth, and less Standing Inventory on the Shelf!
There is nothing better than a pleasant marketing surprise! While nursing a cold, I purchased a bag of my usual Halls Cough Drops. I noticed that they had re-designed their packaging as I hurriedly popped one in my mouth. I was about to throw the wrapper away when I discovered a pleasant surprise: “A Pep Talk in Every Drop”.
Halls, in a brilliant marketing move, has placed little “Pep Talk” messages on the wrapper. Mine included: “Bet on yourself”, “High-five yourself”, “Put a little strut in it”, “March forward”, and “Turn can-do into can-did”. The cost of this campaign must have been miniscule to Halls, since they are currently printing their logo on the wrapper anyway. By the way, the Halls logo is printed over a dozen times on the little wrapper – surrounding the “Pep Talk” messages.
This little wrapper which normally is quickly disposed of remained on my desk, I didn’t throw it away. And I have to admit, I felt a little better after reading the wrapper. It had the same emotional appeal as a fortune cookie with one exception: everyone who is using this product is feeling ill. Duh! That is why we use Halls – because we are sick and not feeling our best. Isn’t that when we all need a pep talk? Sure, there are days when we feel sick; both emotionally and physically. It is at those times when we reach for a Halls Cough Drop. Halls get it and gets us. What a perfect example of product positioning and understanding the mindset of your target market.
I researched this campaign and found out that it had been running throughout 2010. Apparently, I don’t get sick often enough. Below are video links to the TV ads for the campaign.
Thank you Halls for the “Pep Talk”
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