Well here we are…New Year 2013. How does it make you feel?
I always feel inspired, a fresh start, a time to make changes…to hope. And I feel the same this year. I love the New Year it’s like a blank canvas, a new exercise book to write in, opening a new pot of homemade jam. New Year 2013 gives me the opportunity to ask myself questions but I never ask them in a negative sense. I never dwell on the ‘what ifs’ or things that didn’t go perfectly. I’m a ‘cup half full’ person and like to ask…what can I improve upon this year, what can I plan to achieve. Now I don’t mean that I’m going to set myself huge unachievable targets, no, more in line with, what small changes can I make that will make a long term difference: such as how can I manage my time more efficiently, what tasks should I try to reduce, what should I be doing more of.
For those of you with small businesses like mine a lot of time is spent on administration, non-productive and therefore non-earning. How can this be streamlined? It depends on your type of business obviously but I think an important thing to do is NOT to check emails constantly. Turn off the little notification sound or envelope on your computer. There is nothing more distracting when you’re in the middle of something than seeing a little icon or hearing ‘that’ sound and feeling obliged to check. You then end up analyzing whether to continue with your work or to respond. Then your not concentrating on either.
I’m obviously not suggesting email should be ignored if your type of business requires it but if, like me, you’re are a small business trying to make the most of the hours in the week then I would recommending scheduling when you check and reply to your emails. You could check first thing, before lunch and 4pm for example, that way in between there are large chunks of time that you can set aside for your work projects, appointments etc. This small change improved my working week greatly.
Are you easily distracted by social media?
Well, retrain yourself if you need to. The tools are there to help yourself. If you have a busy week and need to avoid distractions but have things that you’d like to promote then schedule your posts. Both facebook business pages and twitter have their own functions to program the date and time you would like the post to appear. That way you can ‘blitz’ your posts by doing it all in one hit, I often do this one evening a week when the pressure of work is off. There are also helpful tools such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck that can help you post to several social media accounts at once and that can be a real time saver.
Failing that, if your only using social media for fun then if your have a separate computer for work and home just go to the trouble of blocking your own access to these websites from your work computer.
What can you do for your business this year?
The obvious things to do, if you have the budget are to invest in your business, to take time to think about whether it is time to improve your business’s branding. Especially for a small business trying to make there mark a good logo that can be used across printed literature, vehicle and building signage is always a worthwhile investment as we all make near instantaneous judgements about businesses based on their ‘look’.
The other main area is to look at your website, to ask yourself these questions:
- Does it look good?
- Does it do all the things that you want it to?
- Can you edit the content (If that;s what you’d like)?
- Can my potential clients find it? (i.e is it appearing in Google’s listings where you’d like it to?)
- Is it easy to navigate around the site (i.e does it have a structure that is easy for your clients to experience?)
- Is there information that is out of date that needs removing?
- Are people getting in touch having been on the site?
Well back to the subject of feeling inspired in the New Year…
I’m looking forward to this year…are you?
Despite these being somewhat challenging times for small businesses worldwide, on a smaller scale here in Normandy I feel that the English speaking businesses have a wonderful network for support and advice in Normandy Business Group. I will look forward to future Normandy Jelly Co-working days and to other ‘get togethers’, small business forums and other events.
Am I hopeful for my own business this year?
Well yes I am. I have made several (worthwhile) investments in terms of computer hardware, software and photographic equipment that I feel can help take my business to the ‘next level’. The feedback I received particularly about my wedding and newborn photography in the last year has been really encouraging. I’ve nearly finished my new stand alone photography business website and look forward to launching that as soon as I have finished a couple of other work projects. It doesn’t mean that I’m looking to do any less design work, on the contrary I love being busy and I love the diversity.
So how about you…what are your hopes for your business in 2013?