This week, Clearly Conveyed Communications turns seven! It’s hard to believe my little venture is hitting the 7-year milestone on May 15th, but I’m so grateful to so many people who I’ve met and worked with along the way.
As we celebrate our seventh anniversary, I want to share seven tips I’ve learned during our seven years in business.
You can be a small business owner. Entrepreneurship isn’t only for people with extensive resources, a trust fund or a Harvard MBA. It’s hard work to build a business, but it is possible to do it from scratch. Have an idea?
Remember your why. The day-to-day grind of running and growing your business can be overwhelming at times. Remember why you started your business, and keep a prominent reminder in your office or close at hand, so you can see it when you need a boost.
Celebrate the little (and big) victories. Small business owners have big dreams, so remember to take the time to celebrate victories, large or small. These successes will keep you going during tough times and losses, which will happen. What are you celebrating?
Be ethical always. Some people say there are no ethics in business today, but I disagree. In the digital age, trust is more important than ever. As we spend more time online and on social media, it’s imperative that you’re honest with customers, partners and yourself. Don’t promise results you can’t achieve, or work with people who use unethical business practices.
Your time is your most important asset. As a small business owner, you have to weigh every request on your time, and learn to say no to opportunities that aren’t a good fit for your business. It’s hard to turn down a potential project or client, but it may help you grow in the long run.
Focus on paid work. As a small business owner, you need to focus on revenue-generating activity as much as possible. If you can’t bill for an activity, can you delegate it or stop doing it? That may not be possible, but you need to regularly review how you’re spending your time to make sure your cash flow remains strong. Too much non-revenue work can put you out of business.
Put your current customers first. We all want to grow, but remember to put your current customers first. You’ve probably heard that it’s much less expensive to do more business with current customers than to find new ones. By spending time on (and with) your customers, you can find new opportunities to grow your business with them, and you’ll deliver an impressive customer experience that will encourage referrals.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us along the way. What an incredible journey it’s been, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds!
As a small business owner or entrepreneur, you have BIG ideas for your business. But do you have the budget to match?
Don’t let a tight budget keep you from marketing your business and showing your tremendous products or services to potential new customers. These three tips will help you market your business in a big way without blowing the budget.
Think Big on a Short-Term Scale
Would you love to shoot drone footage of your landscape projects? Rent a drone for a day and capture footage for your website, blog and social channels. If you’re interested in high-priced equipment or technology, see if you can rent it. You’ll stay on budget and test the equipment, so you’ll know what you want if you can buy one in the future.
You can also rent big-ticket items for occasional needs to keep capital free for other purchases. Looking for designer clothing for a photo shoot? Rent styles that fit your project if you don’t plan on using them regularly. There’s no need to buy them to use one or two times.
Along with renting big ticket or low use items, barter goods and services with fellow small business owners or professionals. Perhaps a graphic designer will design a marketing piece for you in exchange for you writing copy for her website. If you go this route, be honest about the value of your services, so it’s a win-win for both parties involved. You don’t want to damage your reputation by shortchanging a fellow small business owner or business professional and losing potential business.
Stock photos and other tools draw a bad rap, but they are lifesavers to small business owners everywhere. Search sites such as Pixabay or Creative Commons to find photos you can legally use in your marketing efforts. (Note any citations required and follow any stipulations mandated by the photo owner.) Then, modify these photos to fit your needs with tools such as Canva or PicMonkey. Canva offers free and low cost stock photos as well.
You can use PowerPoint to remove backgrounds from images (if you have permission to do so), add text to images and add filters. Create a visual for a specific social platform by changing your slide size to the preferred size of the platform, and then save your design as an image file (JPEG or PNG) to share. Screenshots are another visual option, depending on what you’re trying to show.
Don’t forget about social platforms when editing photos! Most platforms offer an array of filters, stickers, text options and more to add personality to your photos and make them stand out. Keep your brand in mind when modifying photos or editing visuals. Does it fit your brand image? Do you stick with a certain aesthetic on social? Have fun and show your brand’s personality, but don’t use a filter, sticker or other edit that doesn’t fit your brand.
Build a WordPress site (or pay someone to build you one) instead of having a custom website designed from scratch. WordPress offers hundreds of themes, both free and paid, that allow you to find a look that fits your business. You can customize your site extensively, even if you don’t know how to code. Build a beautiful, user-friendly site on a much smaller budget that will serve your customers and potential new customers well.
With the internet, there is more information and tools at your fingertips then ever before. You can handle a lot of tasks for your business yourself, but be honest about your capabilities. Don’t try to DIY something that ends up looking cheap or unprofessional and hurts your brand.
Take photos of interesting sights when you’re out and about to use for future content. It’s nice to be able to use your own photos and not have to worry about finding stock photos like we mentioned earlier. If something captures your eye, take a photo. You never know what will be a good fit for a future blog article or social post.
Can’t afford a professional video crew or photographer? Ask a friend with a steady hand to film a short video of you talking about your business or take some pictures of you in action. The cameras on most smartphones today are high tech, so you can still look professional while staying in budget.
While we’re on the subject of creating content, there are a number of free, online tools to help you create a variety of content types. Create GIFs, convert videos to GIFs and edit images with EZGIF.com. Find out what colors are on a website or in an image with Color Combos or ImageColorPicker.com. View vector art, find free fonts and much more at PRISM. Create videos with Adobe Spark or Animoto.
Know Your Tools, Capabilities and Limitations
We’re not trying to dissuade you from hiring a professional. At some point, you’ll come across a situation or project where you need professional skills and expertise. However, we understand that budgets can be tight for small businesses and startups. It may make sense to handle as much as you can internally for now until you can afford to outsource tasks and free up your time to focus on why you’re in business.
If that time has come for you or you’ve hit your limits with your marketing efforts, let’s talk. We offer professional services and experience at affordable rates, so that time may come sooner than you think. Have a question or looking for a specific tool? Ready to recommend another affordable tool? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
A small business owner thinking big (on a budget), Jaime
Let’s connect! Say hello on social, share your favorite affordable business tools or ask us a marketing question on the platforms below.
I started running later in life (i.e. post-school), and I’m so glad I did. Besides being excellent exercise, it’s fun to be a part of such a wonderful community. The running community embraces runners of all capabilities and provides support in the form of running partners, groups and tips from more experienced runners.
A Supportive Community
A supportive community is one way that running translates to running a business. As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you’re probably working alone. Tapping into the entrepreneurial community can help you grow and manage your business. Whether you frequent a co-working space or join an online community, fellow small business owners can give you advice, help you brainstorm ideas and offer support from someone who understands what you’re experiencing.
Runners tend to have a long-term plan, incorporating when they’re competing in races, rest days and specific things they’re working on (i.e. a stronger kick, running technique). Small business owners need to plan as well, so they can run their business effectively and look for growth opportunities. Looking at your bigger picture helps when making decisions about what opportunities to pursue and which areas to focus on at specific times. Of course the best plans should always be adjustable.
Rest Days / Down Time
As noted above, part of a runner’s long-term plan is incorporating rest days. They’re vital to performing well, in running and business. Small business owners tend to wear a lot of hats, which can make it difficult to unplug. It’s important to your long-term outlook (and health) that you take time for yourself so you can be at your best when focusing on your business. Don’t burn yourself out and short circuit your business before you’re able to achieve your dreams. Running a business is a marathon, not a sprint.
When I run, I listen to my tunes and try to empty my mind (or think of inspirational movie scenes if I need an extra boost to reach the top of the hill). I’m not thinking about customers, business issues or other important topics. That’s probably why I come up with some of my best ideas or feel confident making a decision I’ve been thinking about after a run. The combination of physical activity, clearing my mind and the euphoria of finishing my run seems to spark creativity and clarify my decision-making process. The next time you’re struggling with a business decision or client project, go for a run. It may spark an ‘aha moment!’
Running translates well to running a business on several fronts. Runners can draw inspiration and insight from their hobby while they tackle the tough task of running a business. Not a runner? It’s never too late to lace ’em up and hit the pavement or trails. Couch to 5k can help you get started, or find a running community to join. You’ll find the same support, camaraderie and inspiration as you find in your entrepreneurial or small business community.
Happy running (a business)!
Just a (small biz owner &) runner from Akron,
Let’s chat (about small business life, running, your marketing needs or otherwise):