I’ve relayed a lot of information to you about small business issues: marketing, branding, legalities, human resources and management. I think it is time for a summary of the key components you should really be sure you are aware of and practicing. You should be building a business and not a job and your business should support your personal dreams. Here are ten things every small business owner should know and act on:

1. What your USP is and why it’s important. If you don’t know what makes your business unique in some way and why customers should come to you and not your competitor, than how should they? Nail this down.

2. That you must have aptitude in addition to passion. Passion is important but if you are out of your league in terms of skills, your business may be sunk. Make sure new endeavors do not involve a huge learning curve. Passion, aptitude and USP are the ways to success!

3. That marketing no longer goes one wayit must be relational. Billboards, yellow page and newspaper ads are one way marketing. People demand more these days. Blogs, websites, video, podcasts, social media, in-person networking and exemplary customer service are the way your potential customers want to be approached.

4. How to use a video camera and why it’s important. Smartphones and tablet computers like the iPad are changing our world. Are you going to keep up or are you going to be left behind? Grab a video camera and tell a story. Get your nearest teenager to help with editing if necessary. But take this important next step.

5. How to incorporate time off to stay innovative. The first few years of starting and operating your new business were probably grueling and you may have set bad personal habits during that time. You must incorporate healthy habits including adequate sleep and time off to continue to innovate and thrive.

6. What truly motivates employees. It is the rare employee in a rare position who is motivated by just money and/or discipline. Do you know how to motivate your team?

7. What are your calls to action? If a viewer of your website or printed material is not encouraged to DO something, they leave. End of story. Is there a newsletter sign up, a video to watch, something to encourage comments or a special promotion. Do you even know what a “call to action” is? Time to brush up on this!

8. How to measure and compare marketing efforts and why it is important. You have to have a system of measuring so you know if you are wasting your marketing dollars on a particular campaign or method. Don’t run one, run several and always measure their success or failure. Be prepared to try something different as needed.

9. Who should be on your personal success team. Your team should include a top-notch mentor or coach, a qualified CPA and attorney you trust. Additionally, you should have a strong relationship with your banker.

10. What customers want. They want to be noticed, cared for and have one or all of their problems solved. That is really it in a nutshell. In what ways could you do this better? Always be looking for the answer to that and you will always be ahead of your competitors.


by Steven Schlagel